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Last updated 1:21AM ET
November 21, 2017
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WVIA to Premiere Three-Part Mini-Series on Local Immigrants
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WVIA-TV will premiere a new mini-series beginning Saturday, Dec. 3, that tells the tale of the largest eastern European ethnic groups to settle NEPA the Polish, Slovaks, and Ukrainians.
The Extraordinary Journey, a lively, three-night original documentary mini-series produced by WVIA chronicles the precarious emigration of more than 100,000 eastern Europeans from 26 different homelands and their settlement in Northeastern Pennsylvania between 1880 and 1930. The film, which runs Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 8 p.m., encompasses a cultural history of another 20 ethnicities, including Russians, Lithuanians, Hungarians, and Czechs. These people left almost all material possessions to face the extraordinary risks presented by America's complex urban life and settled here, in the hills and valleys of NEPA.
The production blends remarkable personal stories of eastern European immigrants who settled in our area and the historical events that affected their lives, such as the Red Scare of the 1920s, the Depression of the 1930s, World War II in the 1940s, and the demise of the coal mining industry in the 1950s. These stories are complemented by presentations of regional ethnic traditions in cooking, music and religious faith that produced family values which continue to define Northeastern Pennsylvania today.
The film utilizes personal photographs and archival images from six regional historical societies as well as from the Polish Room at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, the Slovak Museum in Danville, and the Ukrainian Museum in New York City. This regional history is framed within the national context of America's immigration history through the use of historical photographs from the Library of Congress and newsreel footage from the National Archives.
The film features interviews with several local residents including 100-year-old Mae Gelb of Scranton; 99-year-old Jule Znaniecki of Nanticoke; Susan Kamarunas, Forty Fort; Joseph and Oksana Krawczeniuk, Wilkes-Barre; John and Margaret Zavada, Jessup; Andrew Sofranko, Pittston; Colleen Thomas, Alden; Edmund Kotula, Scranton; and Philip and Trude Tuhy, Wilkes-Barre, amongst others.
In addition to local interviews, insightful commentary on diverse topics related to the immigrants is provided by an engaging range of experts, including Diana Pardue, Chief of the Museum Services Division at Ellis Island National Monument, and John Bodnar, Chancellor Scholar of History at Indiana University and a Northeastern Pennsylvania native.
DVD and VHS copies of this program will be available as gifts during December's Pledge Drive. For more information, go to or call 570-602-1123.


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