In 1890 the Greek Catholic Union was a support organization for eastern Austria-Hungarian Slavic immigrants to the U.S. Being composed of Rusyns both from Hungary (“Uhro-Rusyns”) and the Lemko region (present-day southern Poland and northern Slovakia), the Greek Catholic Union was rife with ethnic tension. Some members, led by John Shinchak-Smith were attracted to Russian Orthodoxy. In opposition to Shinchak-Smith, a splinter group broke lose from the Greek Catholic Union in 1894, seeking stronger commitment to Greek Catholicism. Within a few years, Shinchak-Smith himself left to form an organization inspired by Russian Orthodoxy. The Greek Catholic faction sought support in various locations — Shamokin, Ford City and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and finally in Jersey City, New Jersey. Name changes reflecting the refocusing identity followed these moves — from "Russian National Union" in 1894, through "Little Russian National Union", and "Ruthenian National Association" and finally "Ukrainian National Association" in 1914. The last name change occurred in close connection with the first world war which brought about the creation of Ukraine as an separate country. It is likely that it was a desire to support and emphasize Ukrainian independence from Russia that led to the UNA's taking an early stand for Germany and against Russia in World War II. Lingering pro-German, anti-Russian, sentiments led to difficulties for the UNA during the war, but this also increased the UNA's appeal to the influx of Ukrainian refugees after the war was over, increasing the strength and vitality of an otherwise aging membership. During the course of its existence, the focus of the UNA's interests shifted eastwards, away from the Carpathians to Ukraine. This author has decided to regard the UNA as a Carpatho-Russian organization until the somewhat arbitrarily chosen year 1944 and as a Ukrainian organization thereafter. This division is believed to roughly reflect the ethnic composition of the membership.
The 1944 article, "3 Початків Нашого Життя в Америці" describes the early stages of the development of the Ukrainian National Association and a connection to the founder of the Russian Brotherhood Organization.
For a more complete overview of the UNA almanacs, readers are referred to the collection of almanacs (not searchable, however) on the Ukrainian National Association's own site.
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