The Social Importance of Lithuanian Immigrant Newspapers: 100 Years of Draugas This past year, the Chicago-based Lithuanian daily newspaper Draugas (The Friend) celebrated its one-hundredth anniversary. During its 100 years of existence it has served multiple purposes in Lithuanian immigrant life in the United Sates. Draugas helped to instill in the first wave of immigrants a sense of themselves as Lithuanians as opposed to members of regional groups, or as Poles or Russians; this national identification was an important step in the vital process of community building. At the same time, Draugas served as a means of connection between Lithuania and the United States. Articles about life in Lithuania, especially regarding resistance movements, the threat of war, and the possibility of independence filled its pages. As Lithuanians began to integrate into broader American society (a process that many immigrant newspapers helped foster) Draugas helped its local readers not only to maintain their ethnic identity, but also to connect with their countrymen in other places in the U.S. and Canada, in part by publishing letters from all over the country and covering Lithuanian events in cities other than Chicago. After the occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union, a new wave of immigrants helped buttress the readership of Draugas. The newspaper, in turn, helped these refugees adjust to their new lives by encouraging relationships with earlier immigrant communities and by fostering a renewed sense of purpose through a call to community activism and writing about Lithuanian issues.
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