Posts tagged 1916
Continuing with the theme from Wednesday…
This photo depicts the burial of Archimandrite Theoclitos Triantafilides, the great priest of Galveston, TX, on October 27, 1916. We actually have several photos of this event — all courtesy of Ss. Constantine and Helen parish — but this one particularly interests me because of the individuals standing on the stairs on the right side of the photo. Look closely, and you’ll see that they are black — possibly Copts or Ethiopians. These Oriental Orthodox Christians were members of Fr. Theoclitos’ flock. In fact, this is the earliest evidence I’ve seen for Copts or Ethiopians attending an Eastern Orthodox parish in America.
In this way, as in so many others, Fr. Theoclitos was decades ahead of his time — today, it’s quite common to meet Copts, Ethiopians, and Eritreans at an Eastern Orthodox church, but that is a relatively recent phenomenon.
As far as I can tell, in the year and a half we’ve been publishing articles here at OH.org, we’ve never once posted anything on the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The main reason is simply that our authors are all Eastern Orthodox, and really can’t speak with any kind of expertise on the history of Non-Chalcedonian Orthodoxy in America. But, while very real theological issues exist between Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, and while we Eastern Orthodox are not in communion with our Oriental Orthodox brethren, nevertheless we shouldn’t ignore their history. They don’t appear to have their own website to discuss their history in America, and when I stumbled upon the following reference recently, I thought that our readers might find it fascinating. Here, then, is an excerpt from the entry on the Armenian Church in the 1916 Census of Religious Bodies:
For many years, as a result largely of the influence of schools established by Americans, the attention of the people [of Armenia] had been turned to the United States, and a number of young men had come to this country, chiefly for education. With the increase of political disturbances and the disappointment of political hopes, others followed until there were several large communities of Armenians. Some of these had belonged to the Protestant Armenian Church, and, on coming to America, identified themselves with either the Congregational or Presbyterian denominations. The greater number, however, especially as the immigration grew, belonged to the national church, and felt the need of special services.
In 1889 Rev. Hovsep Sarajian, a priest from Constantinople, was sent to minister to a few hundred Armenians, most of them living in the state of Massachusetts, and in 1891 a church was built in Worcester, Mass., which became, and is still, the headquarters of the Armenian Church in the United States. The great increase of Armenian immigrants made it necessary for him to have several assistants, and the still greater influx of Armenians during and after the outbreaks of 1894 and later induced the Catholicos to raise the United States to a missionary diocese, Father Sarajian being consecrated as first bishop. Since then the Armenians have increased so rapidly, in both the United States and Canada, that the Catholicos found it necessary in 1902 to grant a special constitution, and in 1903 to invest the bishop with archiepiscopal authority. The mission was then recognized and divided into pastorates — the nuclei of future dioceses — over each of which a pastor in priest’s orders was appointed. All places outside these pastorates are regarded as mission stations under the direct management of the archbishop, who either visits them or sends missionaries to them from time to time.
Pending the building of churches, arrangements have frequently been made with the rectors of Episcopal churches for weekly services, to be conducted by Armenian pastors for their congregations. In other places halls have been rented and fitted up as churches, and regular weekday services have been conducted in them. Besides these regular weekly services, the pastors have biweekly, monthly, or quarterly services in different places, either in halls rented for each service or in Episcopal churches, while occasional services, such as baptisms, marriages, and other devotional exercises, are frequently conducted in private homes.
The 1916 Census reported 34 Armenian parishes and 27,450 members, served by 17 priests. Males represented about 2/3 of the population, which is comparable to the Eastern Orthodox numbers in the same census. The largest concentration of Armenian parishes and people was in Massachusetts, followed by Michigan, California, and New York.
A brief timeline of Armenian Orthodoxy in America may be found here.
If anyone out there has a good knowledge of Oriental Orthodox history in America and is interested in writing some articles for OH.org, please email me at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com.
This article was written by Matthew Namee.
Before I get started, I wanted to let you all know that I do plan to finish my series on St. Raphael and the Syrian controversies of 1905. However, I’ve got several other irons in the fire, so I’m going to take a little time off of that project to present some other research. But don’t worry; we’ll get back to it.
Anyway, recently, I took another look at the 1916 Census of Religious Bodies, conducted by the US Census Bureau. The census includes data on numerous aspects of American Orthodox church life in the mid-teens, including clergy salaries. Of the seven Orthodox groups reported in the census, six — all but the Syrians — provided data on clergy pay. Of those six bodies, three — the Albanians, Bulgarians, and Romanians — provided salary information on just two priests apiece:
- Albanian priests averaged $780/year, or $15,187 in 2009 currency.
- Bulgarian priests averaged $850/$16,549.
- Romanian priests averaged $570/$11,098.
Obviously, the sample sizes are small, but it’s clear that none of these priests were making much money. Here is the data for the larger groups:
- 93 Greek priests reported an average of $913/year, or $17,776 in 2009 currency.
- 149 Russian priests reported $762/$14,836.
- 11 Serbian priests reported $1050/$20,443.
The average salary for all American Orthodox priests in 1916 was $828, equivalent to just $16,117 in modern terms. (Inflation data courtesy of www.westegg.com/inflation.) I should emphasize that these numbers are based only on the clergy who reported their salaries to the Census Bureau; other priests did not report, including, as I said, all of the Syrian clergy.
Obviously, the 1916 salaries are startlingly low. Even the Serbs — the highest-paid group — were scraping by by modern standards. However, things were quite a bit different in 1916 than they are today. Many parishes had rectories or parsonages, so a lot of these priests didn’t have to pay for their housing. Some of our biggest expenses — health care, transportation, various forms of insurance — would have been minimal 94 years ago. And while I don’t have any hard data to support this, it’s my impression that a higher proportion of clergy were unmarried in 1916 than in 2010.
In addition to all those facts, there is a high probability that the reported salaries don’t include honoraria for weddings, baptisms, funerals, house blessings, and the like. In other words, simply taking the 1916 base salaries, plugging them into a calculator, and figuring out their modern equivalent, is not really an accurate way to determine how well American Orthodox clergy were actually compensated in 1916.
Beyond the seemingly low numbers overall, I was struck by the fact that the Russian clergy reported significantly lower salaries than their Greek and Serbian counterparts. The Russian Church in America was substantially subsidized by the Russian government in 1916, whereas the Greek and Serbian parishes primarily relied on local funding. Nevertheless, the Russian clergy were among the lowest-paid in America.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
Last week, Alexei Krindatch released his landmark 2010 census of Orthodox churches in the United States. (Also last week, Krindatch was interviewed by Kevin Allen on Ancient Faith Radio. Click here to listen.) Sifting through the census data, I naturally got to thinking about historical censuses. Every ten years, from 1906 to 1936, the US Census Bureau conducted a thorough census of all religious bodies in the country. And they did a good job of it: like Krindatch so many generations later, the Census Bureau gathered lists of individual congregations and then contacted each local congregation directly. They didn’t just ask the various denominations, “How many members do you have?” By working with each parish, they were able to obtain very reliable results. (For details on how these censuses were conducted, see the journals of the American Statistical Association from December 1920 and September 1927.)
In addition to the 1906-1936 censuses, a less rigorous study was conducted by the Christian Herald in 1947. It’s in this latter census that we begin to see the inflated numbers that would become the hallmark of Orthodox population data until Krindatch did his work over the last decade.
Today, I’m going to focus solely on raw population data from the historical censuses. For starters, here is what American Orthodoxy looked like in the 1906 census. Keep in mind that these numbers don’t include Alaska:
- 90,751 Greeks
- 19,111 Russians
- 15,742 Serbs
- 4,002 Antiochians
That’s a total of 129,606 Orthodox in the United States of America. A decade later, the Orthodox population had nearly doubled, to 249,840. Much of this growth was from the Russians, who grew by more than 80,000 members. I assume that most of these new members were former Uniates.
- 119,871 Greeks
- 99,681 Russians
- 14,301 Serbs
- 11,591 Antiochians
- 1,994 Romanians
- 1,992 Bulgarians
- 410 Albanians
You know, I’ve always had it in my mind that the big growth of the Russian Church in the continguous United States came during the era of St. Tikhon (1898-1907) and St. Alexis Toth (1891-1909). But this data shows that the really big increase didn’t happen until 1906-1916. I find this fact especially ironic in that this period coincides almost precisely with the episcopate of Archbishop Platon, who ruled (and I mean ruled, with an iron fist) from 1907 to 1914. Abp Platon did encourage Uniate conversions to Orthodoxy, but he also wanted the ex-Uniates to become “real Russians” — to give up their distinctive ethnic languages and traditions and fully embrace Russian-ness, in all of its meanings. It’s all rather contrary to the traditional Orthodox missionary outlook espoused by people like St. Innocent; nevertheless, Abp Platon oversaw a period of massive growth in the Russian Archdiocese.
Moving ahead another ten years, to 1926, we find that the population has leveled off. At 259,394, American Orthodoxy had grown by less than four percent in the preceding decade. However, I strongly suspect that the actual numbers were higher than this. Remember that 1926 was right in the middle of a period of schism, with competing jurisdictions for almost every Orthodox ethnic group. Do the 1926 census numbers include, for instance, both the Russy and Antacky factions of Antiochians? The same sort of question could be asked of the Russians, Greeks, and others. It’s just a hunch, but I’d wager that a sizeable number of Orthodox Americans fell through the cracks in this census. Anyway, here’s the breakdown for 1926:
- 119,495 Greeks
- 95,134 Russians
- 18,853 Romanians
- 13,775 Serbs
- 9,207 Antiochians
- 1,993 Albanians
- 937 Bulgarians
It’s especially striking to see the Romanians jump to the #3 spot on the list. Realistically, I think the Antiochians may well have been as populous as the Romanians, but by 1926 there were three strong claimants to leadership of the group — Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh (Russy), Metropolitan Germanos Shehadi (the original Antacky), and newcomer Archbishop Victor Abo-Assaley (leader of the newly-founded Antiochian Archdiocese). As I said above, it’s likely that the Census Bureau didn’t get data from all three factions, the result being an apparent decline in the Antiochian population.
Anyway, growth had resumed by 1936. The Orthodox population (counting mainstream jurisdictions only — that is, excluding the Ofiesh spinoff groups and such) was 348,025 — a 34% increase over the 1926 figure. Most of that growth was fueled by the Greeks, whose numbers rose by 58%:
- 189,368 Greeks
- 89,510 Russians
- 20,020 Serbs
- 18,451 Antiochians
- 15,090 Romanians
- 11,480 Ukrainians
- 3,137 Albanians
- 969 Bulgarians
This was the second decade in a row that the Russian Orthodox population had declined. Keep in mind, though, that the Russian data has much the same problem that the 1926 Antiochian data had — the Russians were split into three groups (Metropolia, ROCOR, and Moscow Patriarchate), and I think that only the Metropolia was counted in the census.
The 1936 census was the last one conducted by the Census Bureau, but as I said earlier, the Christian Herald did its own census in 1947. The numbers aren’t quite as reliable. I don’t know what their methodology was, but… well, take a look at their data, and then I’ll offer some thoughts:
- 300,000 Russians
- 275,000 Greeks
- 42,000 Serbs
- 39,500 Ukrainians
- 21,000 Romanians
- 20,300 Antiochians
- 3,137 Albanians
- 1,336 Bulgarians
It seems that the Christian Herald‘s numbers came directly from the jurisdictions themselves, rather than from the individual congregations. And look at the growth: the Christian Herald reported 702,273 Orthodox in 1947, almost exactly double the population in the 1936 census. Are we really to believe that America’s Orthodox population experienced 100% growth from 1936-1947? Looking at the jurisdictions, some of the numbers are more believable than others. The Antiochian, Romanian, and Bulgarian figures are reasonably in line with their 1936 populations. And notice that the 3,137 number for the Albianians is exactly the same as it was in 1936 (meaning, obviously, that it was taken directly from the ’36 census, without additional research).
Could the Greeks have grown from 189,368 to 275,000 in just 11 years? Absolutely. That would be a 45% increase for the Greeks, after a 58% jump from 1926-1936. It might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s well within the realm of possibility. Even being conservative, the Greek Archdiocese must have had well over 200,000 members in 1947. But I simply don’t buy that there were 300,000 Russian Orthodox in 1947, when there were fewer than 90,000 in 1936. Here, I think we see the beginnings of a process that culminated with the OCA officially reporting a nice, round, 1,000,000 members until recently. Reducing the Russian data to a more reasonable level — say, 150,000 rather than 300,000 — we’re left with somewhere around 550,000 Orthodox in America in 1947. If we accept that as roughly accurate, here are the approximate increases in population from 1906-1947:
- 1906-16: 93%
- 1916-26: 4%
- 1926-36: 34%
- 1936-47: ~58% ?
According to Krindatch’s 2010 census, there are 799,400 members of the mainstream Chalcedonian jurisdictions. If we take the 1947 data at face value — that is, if we accept that there were 702,273 Orthodox Americans in 1947 — then the US Orthodox population has grown by just 14 percent in the past 63 years. Even if we halve the 1947 Russian figure, the growth since 1947 has been 45%, which is pretty modest considering over six decades have passed. While the 1947 data isn’t precise, I think it’s safe to say that we grew more in the 11 years from 1936-1947 than we have in the 63 years since.
Finally, note the exponential growth of the Serbs and Ukrainians from ’36 to ’47 — 110% and 244% (!), respectively. The Ukrainian figure, while very high, is definitely plausible, as the Ukrainians were a fledgling jurisdiction in 1936 and grew through the conversion of Uniates in the years that followed. I don’t know enough about the Serbs to say whether their number is accurate, but I know that many Serbs came to America during World War II (including St. Nicholai Velimirovich in 1946). I’m inclined to believe that there were roughly 42,000 Serbian Orthodox by 1947.
As far as I can tell, this 1947 Christian Herald census, while obviously flawed, was the last reasonably accurate census of American Orthodoxy to be conducted in the 20th century. From 1947 until Alexei Krindatch began his work in the early 21st century, American Orthodox jurisdictions (and, in some cases, politicians) began to come up with their own statistics, and the results were way out of line with reality. Yes, there might be four or even eight million US citizens who are descended from an Orthodox Christian. And there may well be several million Americans who were baptized into the Orthodox Church as infants. But it’s incredible — literally, not credible — to count them all as Orthodox parishioners. Future historians will be indebted to Alexei Krindatch for his meticulous work, just as we, today, can be grateful for the accurate censuses conducted in the first half of the 20th century.
UPDATE (10/11/10): I happened to have lunch with Alexei Krindatch just yesterday, and he pointed out that a much higher proportion of Americans were religious in the 1906-1947 period than today. To get a real sense of the relative growth of American Orthodoxy from 1947-2010, we need to take into account the overall population of religious Americans. I don’t have the data right now, but suffice it to say that it isn’t quite so simple to compare the raw 1947 population to the raw 2010 population.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
Marcus Garvey was a widely influential black nationalist from Jamaica. He promoted black pride and championed the “back to Africa” movement. In 1916, when he was just 29 years old and at the outset of his public career, he visited the United States and embarked on a 38-state speaking tour. Not all of the black Americans who attended his lectures liked what they heard. Among those unhappy with Garvey was Fr. Raphael Morgan, the first black Orthodox priest in America. As we’ve discussed in the past, Morgan was born in Jamaica, and in 1916, he was living in Philadelphia, affiliated with the city’s Greek Orthodox church. In response to Garvey’s speeches, Morgan and some associates addressed the following letter to the editors of the Jamaican newspapers:
September 19, 1916
The Editor, Dear Sir, –
We the undersigned Jamaicans, residents of the United States for several years beg your permission to call to your attention and the public of Jamaica a matter affecting the welfare of Jamaicans at home and abroad.
Under the caption of Journalist and President of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, Jamaica, W.I., one Marcus Garvey, Jr., is giving an extended series of lectures in this Country, pertaining to the social and economic conditions of Jamaica.
We, having attended his lectures, found them to be pernicious, misleading, and derogatory to the prestige of the Government and the people.
Among the many assertions of the speaker are the following: –
1. Governmental misrule, causing economic depression, poverty, and misery with their detrimental consequences.
2. The falsity and hypocrisy of the existing social condition between the white and black races – to wit:
Absorption by inter-marriage of the intellectually superior and advanced blacks with whites, with the view of estranging and nullifying their usefulness to their race.
Result – Acquiescence, arrogance, and unapproachableness, on the part of these blacks who inter-marry. The white wife tires. There is an ultimate separation. Wife returns to her native land. Husband in Jamaica contributes to her support abroad.
3. The Governmental and Commercial interests connive to keep the scale of wage so low that the labouring classes are unable to meet the necessary demands to sustain their needsand wants. The girls of Jamaica are resorting to vice and immorality through lack of industrial opportunities and poor economic conditions. Praedial larceny is rampant and the jails are filled[.] Education is restricted and limited to the children of the poorer classes causing intellectual deficiency to the masses.
4. He drew a deplorable picture of the prejudice of the Englishman in Jamaica against the blacks, portraying hypocrisy and deceit of his attitude towards the blacks, and stated his preference for the prejudice of the American to that of the Englishman.
Mr. Editor, the above are only a few of the damaging statements being disseminated by the aforesaid Marcus Garvey, Jr., among the American public.
Further details would be a repetition of the demoralising utterances of the speaker.
The bad effects of these lectures on the minds of the American public are deplorable and are causing great indignation among Jamaicans here, who feel greatly humiliated.
Thanking you for space and hoping through this medium Jamaicans will be enlightened on the seriousness of this matter. We are,
Father Raphael, O.C.G., Priest-Apostolic, the Greek Orthodox Catholic Church, Dr. Uriah Smith, Ernest P. Duncan, Ernest K. Jones, H.S. Boulin, Phillip Hemmings, Joseph Vassal, Henry H. Harper, S.C. Box, Aldred Campbell, Hubert Barclay, John Moore, Victor Monroe, Henry Booth and many others.
This letter was published in the Kingston Gleaner (10/4/1916) and the Jamaica Times (10/7/1916). A month later, Marcus Garvey issued a reply. According to the Gleaner (11/14/1916), “Mr. Garvey said that the letter which is a concoction and a gross fabrication, was written by his enemies in Jamaica and sent to Philadelphia to be transmitted to the Gleaner, for the purpose of prejudicing him in the eyes of the Government and those who have always wished him well in his efforts in Jamaica, as well as with the intention of interfering with his success in America.”
The original letter, by Morgan and friends, raises all sorts of questions. Take, for instance, the letters after Morgan’s name — “O.C.G.” From other sources, we know that this stands for “Order of the Cross of Golgotha,” a body of which Morgan was the “founder and superior.” But what, exactly, was the Order of the Cross of Golgotha? Roman Catholicism has all sorts of religious “orders,” but the concept is exceedingly rare among the Orthodox. I suspect, but cannot prove, that Morgan may have created the Order for black Americans. Were the other 13 signers of the Garvey letters members of this Order? Was its membership restricted to Orthodox Christians, or did Morgan welcome non-Orthodox to join? Was its establishment blessed by the Church of Greece — of which Morgan was a priest — or was Morgan operating independently? The whole Order is almost a complete mystery.
Could Morgan’s fellow signers provide clues, both about the Order and about Morgan’s whereabouts after 1916? Many of the signers seem to have been working-class people. Here are a few of them, with ages and occupations from the 1910 or 1920 Censuses:
- Ernest K. Jones, 37, construction worker
- Philip Hemmings, 43, sailor
- Henry H. Harper, 29, waiter
- John Moore, 51, contractor
- Henry Booth, 32, laborer
I found another signer, Hubert Barclay, on an Ellis Island passenger manifest dated March 31, 1915 (i.e., about 18 months prior to the Garvey letter). Barclay, a 42-year-old coachman, was coming to the US from Jamaica. He was born in Chapelton, Clarendon, Jamaica — the same town as Fr. Raphael Morgan. The two men probably grew up together.
H.S. Boulin was the owner of a black doll company in Harlem. And while he signed the 1916 letter against Garvey, he eventually became one of Garvey’s closest confidants. Unbeknownst to Garvey, though, Boulin was also Agent P-138 — a spy for J. Edgar Hoover’s new Federal Bureau of Investigation. Here’s some background on Boulin, from Robert A. Hill’s multivolume collection of Garvey documents:
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1873, Herbert Simeon Boulin served in the British army from 1902 until 1907. After spending most of his term of service in Africa, he returned to Jamaica in 1907. In 1908 he visited Philadelphia, where he decided to make his home. He opened up a school for teaching shorthand, but it soon failed. Afterward, he worked as a laborer at a local shipyard and then as an employee of the Pinkerton Detective Agency between 1915 and 1920. In January 1920 Boulin became a U.S. citizen. In July 1920 he was hired by the Bureau of Investigation to investigate the Garvey movement. After J. Edgar Hoover sent him a letter terminating his services in August 1921, Boulin opened his own detective agency, promoting his services by advertising his status as a former employee of the Department of Justice.
Boulin infiltrated Garvey’s organization, funneling information back to FBI headquarters. I’d guess that Boulin met Morgan in 1908, upon his arrival in Philadelphia. It’s entirely possible that there is information on Morgan — by way of Boulin — in the FBI archives.
Philip Hemmings also became close with Garvey, although in his case, he was no secret agent. In 1920, he was one of the signers of Garvey’s famous “Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World.” Another signer of the 1920 Declaration was a man named George Alexander McGuire. Of course, we’ve talked about McGuire before — he was a black Episcopal priest from the West Indies, and he almost certainly knew Fr. Raphael Morgan. Later, in 1921, he established a noncanonical body called the “African Orthodox Church.” McGuire and Marcus Garvey eventually had a falling-out, but the African Orthodox Church spread to Africa itself, and the group in Africa ultimately joined the canonical Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.
The 1916 letter against Marcus Garvey is the last thing I’ve found on Fr. Raphael Morgan. After that, Morgan vanishes from the historical record. His end is one of the great mysteries of American Orthodox history.