726,7730.2% of the US population (2009)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Northeast · Midwest|
|American English · Lithuanian|
|Majority Roman Catholicism · Agnosticism|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Lithuanians · Latvian American|
Lithuanian Americans are citizens of the United States who are of Lithuanian ancestry. According to the United States Census, there are 712,165 Americans of full or partial Lithuanian descent. New Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has the largest percentage of Lithuanian Americans (20.8%) in the United States.
It is believed that Lithuanian emigration to the United States began in the 17th century when Alexander Curtius arrived in New Amsterdam (present day New York) in 1659 and became the first Latin School teacher-administrator; he was also a physician.
After the fall of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795, most of Lithuania was incorporated into the Russian Empire. The beginnings of industrialization and commercial agriculture based on Stolypin's reforms, as well as the abolition of serfdom in 1861, freed the peasants and turned them into migrant-laborers. The pressures of industrialization, Lithuanian press ban, general discontent, suppression of religious freedom and poverty drove numerous Lithuanians to emigrate from the Russian Empire to the United States continuing until the outbreak of the First World War. The emigration continued despite the Tsarist attempts to control the border and prevent such a drastic loss of population. Since Lithuania as a country did not exist at the time, the people who arrived to the US were recorded as either Polish or Russian; moreover, due to the language ban in Lithuania and prevalence of Polish language at that time their Lithuanian names were not transcribed in the same way as they would be today. Only after 1918, when Lithuania established its independence, the immigrants to the US started being recorded as Lithuanians. This first wave of Lithuanian immigrants to the United States ceased when the US Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act in 1921, followed by the Immigration Act of 1924. The Immigration Act of 1924 was aimed at restricting the Eastern and Southern Europeans who had begun to enter the country in large numbers beginning in the 1890s.
A second wave of Lithuanians emigrated to the United States as a result of the Soviet occupation of Lithuania during and after the Second World War. After the war's end and the subsequent reoccupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union, these Displaced Persons were allowed to immigrate to the United States and to apply for American citizenship thanks to a special act of Congress which bypassed the quota system that was still in place until 1967.
Immigration of Lithuanians into the US resumed after Lithuania regained its independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990. This wave of immigration has tapered off recently as the decline of the dollar and the entry of Lithuania into the EU have made countries such as Ireland and the United Kingdom a more attractive option for potential Lithuanian emigrants.
Lithuanian days in Pennsylvania is the longest running ethnic festival in the United States.
Lithuanians differed from most immigrant groups in the United States in several ways. They came to the US not only to escape poverty, but also to avoid bitter religious, political and national persecution, and compulsory military service in 1874. They did not plan to remain permanently and become "Americanized." Instead their intent was to live in the US temporarily to earn money, invest in property, and wait for the right opportunity to return to Lithuania. Official estimates were that 30% of the emigrants from the Russian provinces of Poland-Lithuania returned home. When adjusted to include only non-Jews the number is closer to 50-60%. Lithuanian immigrants who mostly came to the United States from Imperial Russia lived in a social environment akin to early European feudal society, where classless Jews performed the essential middle roles of artisans, merchants and moneylenders.
American employers considered Lithuanian immigrants, like the Poles, as better suited for arduous manual labor in coal-mines, slaughterhouses, and steel mills, particularly in the primary stages of steel manufacture. Consequently, Lithuanian migrants were recruited for work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania and the heavy industries (steel mills, iron foundries, slaughterhouses, oil and sugar refineries) of the Northeastern United States as well the Great Lakes cities of Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Buffalo, Milwaukee, and Cleveland.
Many famous people in the United States are or have been aware of their Lithuanian ancestry, including famous anarchist Emma Goldman, movie directors Robert Zemeckis and John Milius, actors Ruta Lee, Blackie Dammett, John C. Reilly, Charles Bronson, Brendon Small and Daniel Jason Sudeikis, rock stars Anthony Kiedis, Brandon Flowers, Michael Gira and Thalia Zedek, model Jurgita Valts, notorious criminal Alvin Karpis, radio host Tom Leykis, scientist Marija Gimbutas, and Bishop Louis Vezelis, OFM. Current Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin is half-Lithuanian. Famous skateboarder Natas Kaupas, one of the innovators of street skating in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is of Lithuanian heritage. Others, such as J. D. Salinger, Sean Penn, Moe Howard, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard and Pink, had their Jewish ancestors come from Lithuanian lands.
Many American sport celebrities have Lithuanian heritage: Eleanor Dapkus, Johnny Unitas, Vitas Gerulaitis, Frank Lubin, Dick Butkus, Joe Jurevicius, Jack Sharkey and James Laurinaitis to mention a few. Lithuanian Americans have also distinguished themselves in the arts such as stained glass artist and painter Adolfas Valeška as well as modern artists such as Jonas Mekas, the avant-garde filmmaker and George Maciunas, founder of the Fluxus movement.
Several fictional characters of Lithuanian birth who immigrated to the United States have prominently captured the American imagination. The first is Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant around whom Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel The Jungle chronicles the life of the Lithuanian community in Chicago and the treatment of workers in the Chicago Stockyards. The second, Hannibal Lecter, is the fictional villain from The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal was born in Lithuania but later moved to the United States and took US citizenship. Marko Ramius, the Soviet submarine captain in The Hunt for Red October, is also described as "Lithuanian by birth" and as the "Vilnius Schoolmaster".
Chicago, Illinois, is home to the second largest population of Lithuanians in the world, and the old "Lithuanian Downtown" in Bridgeport was once the center of Lithuanian political activity for the whole United States. Another large Lithuanian community can be found in the Coal Region of northeastern Pennsylvania, particularly in Schuylkill County where the small borough of New Philadelphia has the largest percentage of Lithuanian Americans (20.8%) in the United States. There is also a large community of Lithuanian descent in the coal mining regions of Western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia Panhandle and Northeastern Ohio tri-state area. Grand County, Colorado's Lithuanian-American community has the unusual distinction in that it is the only sizable immigrant population in an otherwise fairly homogeneous population in a rural, mountainous community. There is also a small but vibrant Lithuanian community in Presque Isle, Maine. Many Lithuanian refugees settled in Southern California after World War II; they constitute a community in Los Angeles.
- Pink (singer)
- Anthony Kiedis
- Liūtas Mockūnas
- Jonas Mekas
- Vitas Gerulaitis
- George Maciunas
- John Shimkus
- Dick Durbin
- Victor David Brenner
- Dick Butkus
- Charles Bronson
- Johnny Unitas
- Jason Sudeikis
- Antanas Smetona
- Andrew Bacevich
- Jonas Valančiūnas
- Robert Zemeckis
- Aleksandras Štromas
- European American
- Hyphenated American
- Lithuanians in the Chicago area
- Our Lady of Vilnius Church (New York City)
- 2008 US Census Community Survey
- History of St. George Parish
- First Latin School of New Amsterdam
- Lithuanian emigration to USA
-  Lithuanian genealogy
- Lithuanian Days in Pennsylvania
- The Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture
- Lithuanians in Pennsylvania
- zipatlas.com: Lithuanians in America