Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Yugoslavians


Beginning in the last half of the nineteenth century, significant numbers of South Slavic migrants from Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro arrived in Chicago. From 1918 (the year the Treaty of Versailles created the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes ) to 1991 (the year Yugoslavia disintegrated), these immigrants were lumped together and labeled Yugoslavian by a U.S. government supportive of Yugoslav nationalism. As well, non-Slavic Chicagoans unable to differentiate the various ethnicities often used the term. However, pre-1918 immigrants had already built substantial ethnic communities in Chicago, and post-1918 migrants retained their separate ethnic identities. They rarely self-identified as Yugoslavian. Those who came to the United States often did so to escape the various Yugoslav regimes and therefore had little interest in Yugoslav nationalism. A handful of institutions on Chicago's Southwest Side, including the Yugoslav Hall, attempted to serve as a gathering point for both Serbs and Croatians and had some success until the early 1990s. Between 1991 and 1995, when independence movements broke apart Yugoslavia, tensions among Chicago's South Slavic communities increased, though not to the point of violence.