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HORVATH, HELEN

HORVATH, HELEN (21 Jan. 1872-15 July 1943), born Helen Zalavary, was a Hungarian immigrant who promoted sensitive Americanization as a means of combating the intolerance of more established immigrants through her "Speak United States," "See United States" philosophy. She encouraged newcomers to remember their own culture while learning enough about America to exploit its opportunities. Horvath came to Cleveland in 1897 and was politicized by an incident in a store where a clerk mocked her accent. She studied English until her pronunciation was perfect and started language classes for other immigrants. In 1901 Horvath opened a school for Hungarian newcomers, where she imparted a working knowledge of English and American ways with the goal of making her students self-confident, hyphenated Americans. By WORLD WAR I, at the height of anti-immigrant hysteria, the Cleveland Board of Education brought Horvath and her adult education program into the city system and authorized her to open new schools. Horvath also pioneered in organizing Hungarian-American exchange programs; many events were sponsored by the Pro-Hungaria Society, which she set up in Cleveland as a chapter of a worldwide organization. From 1925 onward, she took tours to Washington, D.C. which, after 1928, were received at the White House by the First Lady. Tour members presented Hungarian art, needlework, and books for display in the White House. Horvath Educational Tours also visited other parts of the U.S. She was buried in Calvary Cemetery.


Papp, Susan. Hungarian Americans and Their Communities in Cleveland (1981).