Serbian Americans

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Serbian American
Амерички Срби
Američki Srbi
Total population
( 199,080 (2012) [1])
Regions with significant populations
Serbian Orthodox, non-religious/atheist
Related ethnic groups
European Americans, Serbian Canadians

Serbian Americans (Serbian: Амерички Срби / Američki Srbi), Serbs in America (Serbian: Срби у Америци / Srbi u Americi), Serbs in United States (Serbian: Срби у Сједињеним Државама / Srbi u Sjednjenim Državama) or Serbs in United States of America (Serbian: Срби у Сједињеним Америчким Државама / Srbi u Sjedinjenim Američkim Državama), are American citizens of Serbian ancestry. As of 2012, there are 199,080 American citizens of Serbian ancestry. However, this number may be much higher as there are some 328,547 people who identify as Yugoslavs living in the United States.[2] Those can include 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 to both cultures or countries.


One of the first Serbian immigrants to the United States was the settler George Fisher, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1815 and later fought in the Texan Revolution. In the 1830s, many Serbian sailors and fishermen from Montenegro and Herzegovina immigrated to New Orleans seeking employment. Other Serbians settled in Alabama and Mississippi, as well as California, where they joined the Gold Rush.[3] Serbian immigrants first came in significant numbers to the United States in the late 1800s from the Adriatic regions of Austria-Hungary and areas of the Balkans.[4] During this time, most Serbian 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.[2] Serbian men often found employment in mines, and numerous Serbian families moved to mining towns throughout the country. In 1943, many Serbian American miners were killed in the Smith Mine disaster in Montana.[4] The number of Serbians that immigrated to the United States prior to World War II is difficult to determine as Serbian immigrants were often variously classified as Turks, Bulgarians, Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Dalmatians, Bosnians, Herzegovinians and Austro-Hungarians.[2]

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 US 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.[5]

After World War II many Serbians immigrated to the United States from Yugoslavia after the country came under the authoritarian rule of Communist leader Josip Broz Tito.[6] Since then, many Serbian American cultural and religious organizations have been formed in the United States. With the fall of Communism and the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Serbians in the United States have established several interests groups, the most organized of which is the Serbian Unity Congress (SUC).[7]


A total of 187,738 citizens of the United States declared Serb ethnicity in 2010 (while the 2012 American Community Survey has an estimation 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 siblings to or offshoots of American Serbs.[2]

Major centers of Serbian settlement in the United States include Indianapolis, Chicago, New York City, Milwaukee (12,000[8]), Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Jackson, California.[2]

Various ethnic organizations put the number of Serbian Americans at more than 350,000.[2]

Number of Serbian Americans[clarification needed]
Year Number

Notable people[edit]

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Notable Serbian Americans among others include recipients of the Medal of Honor such as Great War veteran Jake Allex. 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, the tragic name of Lance Sijan, another Medal of Honor recipient (posthumous) is always mentioned. Butch Verich, Mele "Mel" Vojvodich, a major-general with great reputation and many decorations, Milo Radulovich are just a few of a long list of military veterans. George Fisher was a 19th-century Serbian American settler who played an important role in the Texan Revolution.[3]

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. Many notable Serbian American come from the field of film and generally art, such as - 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 should also be mentioned among actors, she is a daughter of Princess Jelisaveta Karađorđević, from Karađorđević Dynasty. Darko Tresnjak is theatre and opera director born in Zemun, who won four Tony Awards in 2014.[13] Charles Simic and Dejan Stojanovic are the finest among poets. 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 the world-known scientists. Another accomplished Serbian-American scientist, Miodrag Radulovački, was named the 2010 Inventor of the Year at the University of Illinois[14] 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.[15]

Volunteers in the Serbian Army[edit]

Serbian-Americans volunteered in the First Balkan War.[16]

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.[17] In the 1912–18 period, thousands of Serbian-American volunteers came from Alaska and California.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]




  • Alter, Peter T. (2013). "Serbs and Serbian Americans, 1940-present". In Barkan, Elliott Robert. Immigrants in American History: Arrival, Adaptation, and Integration. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, LLC. pp. 1,257–1,263. ISBN 978-1-59884-220-3. 
  • Bock-Luna, Birgit (2005). The Past in Exile: Serbian Long-distance Nationalism and Identity in the Wake of the Third Balkan War. Berlin, Germany: LIT Verlag Münster. ISBN 978-3-8258-9752-9. 
  • Paul, Rachel (2002). "Serbian-American Mobilization and Lobbying: The Relevance of Jasenovac and Kosovo to Contemporary Grassroots Efforts in the United States". In Ambrosio, Thomas. Ethnic Identity Groups and United States Foreign Policy. Westport, CT.: Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-97532-0. 
  • Powell, John (2005). Encyclopedia of North American Immigration. Infobase Publishing. 
  • Henderson, George; Olasiji, Thompson Dele (1995). Migrants, Immigrants, and Slaves: Racial and Ethnic Groups in America. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America. ISBN 0-8191-9738-6. 


External links[edit]