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Serbian Americans

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Serbian Americans
Српски Американци
Srpski Amerikanci

American Serbs
Амерички Срби
Američki Srbi
Total population
191,538 (2022)[1]
500,000 (est* 2000)[2]
Regions with significant populations
American English and Serbian
Serbian Orthodox Church
Related ethnic groups
Serbian Canadians and other Slavic Americans, European Americans

Serbian Americans[a] (Serbian: српски Американци / srpski Amerikanci) or American Serbs (амерички Срби / američki Srbi), are Americans of ethnic Serb ancestry. As of 2013, there were about 190,000 American citizens who identified as having Serb ancestry. However, the number may be significantly higher, as there were some 290,000 additional people who identified as Yugoslavs[b] living in the United States.[3]

The group includes Serbian Americans living in the United States for one or several generations, dual Serbian–American citizens, or any other Serbian Americans who consider themselves to be affiliated with both cultures or countries.


Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery and Seminary in Libertyville, Illinois

One of the first Serb immigrants to the United States was the settler George Fisher, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1815, moved to Mexico, fought in the Texan Revolution, and became a judge in California. Another notable early Serb in America was Basil Rosevic, who founded a shipping company, the Trans-Oceanic Ship Lines, around the year 1800.[4] In the early 1800s, many Serb sailors and fishermen from Montenegro and Herzegovina immigrated to New Orleans seeking employment. In 1841, Serbs founded the Greek Orthodox parish with Greek immigrants in New Orleans, further solidifying their presence in the region.[5]

Serbian Americans fought in the American Civil War, primarily on the side of the Confederacy, as most Serbs living in America at the time were in Louisiana and Mississippi. Several Confederate military units were formed by Serbs in Louisiana, such as the Cognevich Company (named for Stjepan Konjevic, who immigrated to Louisiana in the 1830s), and the First and Second Slavonian Rifles. At least 400 Serbs fought in these three units during the Civil War.[6] Several other known Serbian soldiers in the Civil War came from Alabama and Florida, specifically from Pensacola.

Other Serbs settled in Alabama, Illinois,[7] Mississippi and California, where they joined the Gold Rush.[8] Serb immigrants first came in significant numbers to the United States in the late 19th century from the Adriatic regions of Austria-Hungary and areas of the Balkans.[9] During this time, most Serb immigrants to the United States settled in mid-western industrial cities or in California, which had a climate similar to that of the Dalmatian coast.[3] Serb men often found employment in mines, and numerous Serb families moved to mining towns throughout the country.[9] Serbian miners and their families also settled in great numbers in Alaska, and the primary hub of Alaskan Serbs was in Juneau. In 1943, many Serbian-American miners were killed in the Smith Mine disaster in Montana.[9]

First meeting of the NACA in 1915 (Mihajlo Pupin seated first from right)

The number of Serbs who immigrated to the United States is difficult to determine as Serb immigrants were often variously classified by their country of origin, thus as Turks, Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Dalmatians, Bosnians, Herzegovinians and Austro-Hungarians.[3] In the 1910 census, there were 16,676 Serbs from Austria-Hungary, 4,321 from Serbia, and 3,724 from Montenegro.[10]

Serbian-Americans volunteered in the First Balkan War.[11] During World War I, as many as 15,000 Serbian-American volunteers returned to the Balkans to fight for the Allied cause in their homeland. Serbs in the United States who did not volunteer to fight marched for the creation of Yugoslavia, sent aid to the Balkans through the Red Cross, formed a Serbian Relief Committee, and urged notable Americans to support the Serbian cause.

Distinguished Serbian American scientist Mihajlo Pupin, a friend of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, led the Serbian National Defence (SND), a Serbian-American organization which collected money and attempted to influence American public opinion with regard to the Balkans.[12] During World War I, Pupin's Consulate in New York served as a center of Serbian-American diplomacy and volunteering of Serbian Americans to the Serbian front.[13] In the 1912–18 period, thousands of Serbian-American volunteers came from Alaska and California.[14]

After World War II many Serbs immigrated to the United States from Yugoslavia after the country came under the authoritarian rule of Communist leader Josip Broz Tito.[15] Since then, many Serbian American cultural and religious organizations have been formed in the United States. A number of Serbian American engineers worked on the Apollo program.[16][17][18]

With the fall of Communism and the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Serbs in the United States have established several interest groups, the most organized of which is the Serbian Unity Congress (SUC).[19]


Alaskan Serbs
Аљаски Срби
Aljaski Srbi
Members of the Serbian Society in Juneau in 1928
Regions with significant populations
Juneau, Sitka, Fairbanks, Ketchikan
English, Serbian
Serbian Orthodox
Related ethnic groups
Serbian American, Montenegrin Americans, Serbian Canadians

Serbs (and Montenegrins) have lived in Alaska since the earliest days of American settlement in the 19th century. Many Serbs came in the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s to seek fortune, just like they had done in the earlier California Gold Rush.

The primary areas of Serbian and Montenegrin settlement were Juneau, Douglas, Fairbanks, and Sitka. Many Serbs settled in the Canadian Yukon during the gold rush as well, such as legendary prospector Black Mike Vojnić.

The St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Juneau, which was built by Serbs and Tlingit natives.

In 1893, Serbian miners in Alaska built the Orthodox Church in Juneau alongside the native Orthodox Tlingit people, who had been converted to Orthodoxy by the Russians decades before.[20][21] By World War I there were two Serbian societies established in Juneau and in Douglas (Saint Sava Church) for the preservation of Serbian and Russian customs and heritage in Alaska.[22] In 1905 a newspaper called "The Serbian Montenegrin" was founded in Douglas.[23]

St. Sava Church (also spelled "Savva") was a church of the Russian Mission that was located in Douglas, Alaska. Its construction was due, in no small part, to Fr. Sebastian Dabovich (now St. Sebastian of Jackson and San Francisco), who, in 1902, had been appointed Dean of the Sitka Deanery and the superintendent of Alaskan missions. Although under the Russian Orthodox Church, and a "daughter" parish of St. Nicholas Church in Juneau, St. Sebastian found it important that the Serbians that had come to the area— mostly to work in mining— had a church that was "home" to them. On July 23, 1903, Fr. Sebastian, along with Hieromonk Anthony (Deshkevich-Koribut) and the priest Aleksandar Yaroshevich, consecrated the Church of St. Sava in Douglas. However, the sparse records that remain of this church indicate that by the 1920s it may have been sitting empty, and in 1937 a fire swept through Douglas, destroying most of the town, including St. Sava Church. It was not rebuilt.

Serbs also made up a large number of the miners at the Treadwell gold mine until its collapse in 1917 and subsequent closure in 1922. In 1907, during the union conflicts involving the Western Federation of Miners, two Serb miners were killed in an underground shaft; one was a union member, one was not. The funeral procession for the nonunion man was accompanied by a march from the Serbian Slavonic Hall and they ran into the union group of Serbs. The union Serbs demanded the nonunion deceased not be buried in the same cemetery, and some two hundred Serbs of both sides filled the streets. The U.S. Marshal and neutral townsmen had to calm the group in order for the funeral procession to continue.[24] In 1910, there was a massive explosion on the 1,100 foot level of the Mexican mine at Treadwell. 39 men were killed, 17 of whom were Serbian.[25]

During the World War I, many Serbian Americans volunteered to fight overseas, with thousands coming from Alaska.[14]

In 1930s and 40s Fairbanks, Yugoslav immigrants, mainly Serbs and Montenegrins, owned a great number of businesses and bars in the city. In between the world wars, many Serbian Alaskan men returned to Yugoslavia to find brides and bring them back to Alaska to start families.[26]

Today there is a vibrant Serbian community, particularly in Juneau, but Serbs can be found across the state.[27]

Recently, it has become commonplace for Serbian workers to come to Alaska annually to work for a few months in canneries, where food and accommodation is provided. These workers stay on temporary work visas, and speak English.[28]



Serbian Americans have historically published and continue to publish a number of newspapers in both the Serbian and English languages. The oldest Serbian American newspaper currently in publication is the Pittsburgh-based bilingual American Srbobran, which has been in circulation since 1906.[29]

Notable Serbian newspapers published in the United States[29]



Serbian language in the U.S.


Number of declared Americans of "Serbian ancestry"
Year Number

A total of 187,738 citizens of the United States declared Serb ethnicity in 2010 (while the 2012 American Community Survey has an estimate of 199,080). It is highly likely that among the citizens who declared Yugoslavian ethnicity (328,547 in 2010; 310,682 in 2012 estimation) are additional ethnic Serbs.[3]

Major centers of Serbian settlement in the United States include Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Milwaukee (12,000[34]), Pittsburgh, Phoenix, and Jackson, California.[3]

Various ethnic organizations put the number of Serbian Americans at more than 350,000.[3]

Serbian-born population


Serbian-born population in the U.S. since 2010:[35]

Year Number
2010 30,715
2011 Increase30,758
2012 Increase35,765
2013 Increase36,160
2014 Decrease33,628
2015 Increase36,969
2016 Increase37,654
2017 Increase38,203

Notable people


Notable Serbian Americans among others include recipients of the Medal of Honor such as World War I veterans Jake Allex and James I. Mestrovitch.[36] In 1905, Rade Grbitch, a Serb from South Chicago, was awarded the Medal of Honor by the United States Navy for heroic action on the Pacific Coast (Interim Awards, 1901–1911). The most decorated Serbian veterans of World War II were Mitchell Paige and John W. Minick, both recipients of the Medal of Honor, and George Musulin, an officer of the Office of Strategic Services and naval intelligence, better known for Operation Halyard. In Vietnam, Lance Sijan, received the Medal of Honor posthumously. Butch Verich, Mele "Mel" Vojvodich, and Milo Radulovich are other notable veterans. George Fisher was a 19th-century Serb settler who played an important role in the Texan Revolution.[8]

Embassy of Serbia, Washington, D.C.

Rose Ann Vuich was the first female member of the California State Senate. Helen Delich Bentley is a former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the State of Maryland (1985–95). The port of Baltimore was named Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore after her in 2006. Mike Stepovich was the last appointed governor of the Territory of Alaska in the 1950s. Many notable Serbian Americans have been active in the fields of film and art, such as Slavko Vorkapić, Brad Dexter and Peter Bogdanovich. Karl Malden won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor while Steve Tesich was Oscar-winning screenwriter, playwright and novelist. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1979 for the movie Breaking Away. Predrag Bjelac is mostly known for his roles in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Catherine Oxenberg is an actress who is a daughter of Princess Jelisaveta Karađorđević, from Karađorđević Dynasty. Darko Tresnjak is a theatre and opera director born in Zemun, who won four Tony Awards in 2014.[37]

Nikola Tesla Corner in New York City

Charles Simic and Dejan Stojanovic are notable poets. Gerald Petievich is a writer of crime novels (turned into movies) and Walt Bogdanich (1950) is an investigative journalist. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Specialized Reporting in 1985, the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2005 and the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2008. Bogdanich led the team that won the 2008 Gerald Loeb Award for their story "Toxic pipeline". Branko Mikasinovich is a scholar of literature as well as a noted Slavist and journalist. He has appeared as a panelist on Yugoslav press on ABC's "Press International" in Chicago and PBS's "International Dateline" in New Orleans. Alex N. Dragnich is the recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award for distinguished service to Vanderbilt University, and he is author of numerous books on Serbian/Yugoslav history.

Nikola Tesla and Mihajlo Idvorski Pupin are world-known scientists. Another accomplished Serbian-American scientist, Miodrag Radulovački, was named the 2010 Inventor of the Year at the University of Illinois[38] for producing a dozen potential therapies for sleep apnea. Hall of fame basketball player, Pete Maravich (1947–1988) is listed among the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Sasha Knezev: is a Serbian American filmmaker known for American Addict, American Addict 2, Fragments of Daniela and Welcome to San Pedro.[39]

Predrag Radosavljević is a renowned former Serbian-American soccer player and famous for scoring a goal against Brazil, the then-no. 1 team, to help the United States defeat Brazil for the first time with a 1–0 win in 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup.[40]

In Alaska


See also



  1. ^ The community is commonly referred to as Serbian Americans in English, and more rarely as Serb Americans. In Serbian, the community is known as [the] American Serbs (амерички Срби / američki Srbi), and more rarely as Serbs in America (Срби у Америци / Srbi u Americi).
  2. ^ Yugoslav nationality or panethnicity of the 20th century was made up of 6 South Slavic ethnic groups who inhabited Yugoslavia: Bosniaks, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs and Slovenes. The Serbs were the most numerous of the groups.


  1. ^ "Selected Population Profile in the United States". U.S. Census Bureau. 2022. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  2. ^ Lopušina, Marko (2000). Srbi u Americi (in Serbian). Beograd. ISBN 9788663290976.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Powell 2005, p. 267.
  4. ^ Dorich, William. "Who Are the Serbs?" World Affairs Council of Orange County. California, Irvine. 1995. Speech.
  5. ^ Durniak, Gregory, Constance Tarasar, and John H. Erickson. Orthodox America: 1794-1976: Development of the Orthodox Church in America. New York: Orthodox Church in America. Department of History and Archives, 1975. Print.
  6. ^ Vujnovich, Milos M. Yugoslavs in Louisiana. Gretna: Pelican, 1974. Print.
  7. ^ Doughty Fries, Sylvia (1992). NASA Engineers and the Age of Apollo. Washington, D.C.: NASA. pp. 5. ISBN 0-16-036174-5.
  8. ^ a b Henderson & Olasiji 1995, p. 124.
  9. ^ a b c Alter 2013, p. 1257.
  10. ^ Blagojević 2005, p. 30.
  11. ^ Rodney P. Carlisle; Joe H. Kirchberger (January 1, 2009). World War I. Infobase Publishing. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-1-4381-0889-6.
  12. ^ Bock-Luna 2005, p. 25.
  13. ^ Serbian Studies. Vol. 4–5. North American Society for Serbian Studies. 1986. p. 19.
  14. ^ a b Serb World. Vol. 5–6. Neven Publishing Corporation. 1988. p. 40.
  15. ^ Powell 2005, pp. 267–268.
  16. ^ "Srbi "poslali" Amerikance na Mesec!". www.novosti.rs (in Serbian (Latin script)). Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  17. ^ Vladimir. "To Christ and the Church". Serbica Americana. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  18. ^ "Serbs of the Apollo Space Program Honored | Serbian Orthodox Church [Official web site]". www.spc.rs. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  19. ^ Paul 2002, p. 94.
  20. ^ "The History of St. Nicholas Church". stnicholasjuneau.org. Archived from the original on February 23, 2015.
  21. ^ Archer, Laurel. Northern British Columbia Canoe Trips. Surrey, B.C.: Rocky Mountain, 2010. Print.
  22. ^ Arnold, Kathleen R. "The Mining Frontier and Other Migrations." Contemporary Immigration in America a State-by-state Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, an Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2015. 28-29. Print.
  23. ^ Nicolson, Mary C.; Slemmons, Mary Anne (1998). Alaska Newspapers On Microfilm, 1866-1998. Fairbanks/Juneau: University of Alaska Fairbanks/Alaska State Library. pp. 63–64.
  24. ^ Kelly, Sheila. "Labor Troubles and the Western Federation of Miners." Treadwell Gold: An Alaska Saga of Riches and Ruin. Fairbanks: U of Alaska, 2010. 143. Print.
  25. ^ Kelly, Sheila. "Tough Grind of the Hard-Rock Miner." Treadwell Gold: An Alaska Saga of Riches and Ruin. Fairbanks: U of Alaska, 2010. 110. Print.
  26. ^ Ferguson, Judy. "Interior Immigrants: From a Tiny Country to the Great Land." Heartland Magazine 21 Mar. 1999: n. pag. Print.
  27. ^ "HOME". mysite.
  28. ^ "Man from Belgrade Earned Serbian Annual Salary in Alaska in 55 Days." Telegraf.rs. N.p., 5 Jan. 2017. Web. 12 June 2017.
  29. ^ a b "Newspapers Published in Serbia and the Diaspora". Library of Congress. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  30. ^ "Rank of States for Selected Ancestry Groups with 100,00 or more persons: 1980" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  31. ^ "1990 Census of Population Detailed Ancestry Groups for States" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. September 18, 1992. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  32. ^ "Ancestry: 2000". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  33. ^ "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 18, 2015. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  34. ^ "[SNN] Serbian Americans savor the good times, each other". Mail-archive.com. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  35. ^ "American FactFinder - Results". Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  36. ^ Sourcefabric (November 11, 2014). "Oni ne zaboravljaju: Predstavnici ambasade SAD obišli grob Joka Meštrovića". Vijesti.me. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  37. ^ "Performing Arts CT: Live Theater Shows - Hartford Stage". Hartfordstage.org. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  38. ^ "Serb is Inventor of the Year in Illinois, UIC OTM Announces 2010 Inventor of the Year". Usaserbs.net. Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  39. ^ Knezev, Sasha. "Official Website". 888films.
  40. ^ "USA vs. Brazil history: Preki, Keller, Confederations Cup, more". September 7, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2021.

Further reading