Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ukrainians in America

The first documented Ukrainian immigrant to the United States was Levrenty Bohun, a doctor who was in Jamestown with Captain John Smith in 1608. Immigration from Ukraine to the US can be divided into four main periods. The first major period was from 1870-1899. During this period, approximately 240,000 to 500,000 Ukrainians immigrated. The second wave of immigrants, 250,000 Ukrainians came between 1900-1914 ending as World War I began. The third immigration period was from 1920-1939 between the World Wars. An estimated figure of between 20,000 to 40,000 Ukrainians arrived in the U.S. during this time period. The last wave of immigration came after WWII when approximately 85,000 Ukrainians came to the US. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, there are about 750,000 Americans of Ukrainian descent.

The Ukrainian Americans have had great impact on professional sports in the US.
Many have excelled in hockey, football, baseball, and soccer. Three Ukrainians have been inducted into the NFL's Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. These three athletes are Bronko Nagurski, Church Bednarik, and Mike Ditka. Bill Mosienko of the Chicago Blackhawks holds the NHL record for the fastest "hat trick" scoring all three goals with in 21 seconds.

Wayne Gretzky, holder of many NHL records and currently #1 on the list of top 50 hockey players of all time, is also of Ukrainian decent. His Grandmother was born in Pidhaitse Ukraine, and his Grandfater is from Belarus. Wayne's father spoke Ukrainian as his first language.
Two Ukrainians still playing in the NHL are Nikolai Zherdev of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Alexei Zhitnik of the New York Islanders. Another famous Ukrainian is the host of Jeopardy, Alex Trebek. Alex Trebek, who woulda thought? Its exciting to learn about famous Americans of Ukrainian decent and specifically, their involvement in professional athletics!

For more information on Ukrainians in the US visit:

1 comment:

Myles Miller said...

I'm an avid sports fan, especially hockey, and I had no idea about those professional athletes with Ukranian backgrounds. Pertaining to hockey, I had no idea about Wayne Gretzky having a Ukranian background. I knew he was born in Ontario, Canada but didn't know his Grandfather was Ukranian and his fathers first languange was Ukranian. The other two NHL players that were mentioned are also very good players. Zherdev is a very good up and coming player for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Zhitnik is a long time NHL player and a numerous time NHL all-star.

Great post, very interesting