Memory Project: Hungarian-American Visual History Archive

Memory Project: Hungarian-American Visual History Archive

Réka Pigniczky PRO

Early in 2015, Andrea Lauer Rice (author and producer) and Réka Pigniczky (journalist and documentary filmmaker) launched the Memory Project. In Phase I, funded by The Hungary Initiatives Foundation, they traveled to seven locations in the United States…


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Early in 2015, Andrea Lauer Rice (author and producer) and Réka Pigniczky (journalist and documentary filmmaker) launched the Memory Project. In Phase I, funded by The Hungary Initiatives Foundation, they traveled to seven locations in the United States and Hungary and conducted more than 35 interviews with Hungarian immigrants to the United States after World War II and following the defeat of the 1956 Revolution.

Everyone has a story to share that often yields incredible insights into the world and times around them. Stories from the Hungarian American community are no exception. In many ways, these stories of immigration to the US are very similar to other ethnic groups from the European Continent that came after the World Wars. But, the Hungarian community also has a rather unique experience of immigration due to 35,000 Hungarians coming to the US following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. These immigrants were often referred to as the “cream of the crop,” some of the most active and passionate members of society in Hungary who were involved in overthrowing the Soviet Union for two weeks in 1956. Many were forced to flee.

For the Hungarian American community, two groups of immigrants have lived half of their lives in Hungary and the other half in America. These grand elders form the very backbone of this community, and although their story of immigration happened some 60 years ago – after World War II and following the Revolution – in many ways the stories mirror what we hear today from other ethnic communities.

Due to the age of our interview subjects, we are working to document these stories as quickly as possible, before they are gone forever. In doing so, we hope to share these stories with the next generation and shed some light on the story of immigration to America.

ALL MATERIAL: COPYRIGHT CALIFORNIA EUROPEAN CULTURAL INITIATIVE/MEMORY PROJECT

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