Steve Frangos: An Archive of Popular Writings in Greek American History and Music
by Yiorgos Anagnostou
In 2017, a scholar in a major U.S. Modern Greek studies program made me an offer I could not resist: to share with me his extensive archive of the writings of Steve Frangos, one of the most prolific popular historians of Greek America. These works, the majority in the form of newspaper clippings that had appeared in various Greek America media outlets, provided a unique opportunity, I felt, to make publicly available, in one place, a significant corpus of public history. In addition to his published work in scholarly journals and encyclopedias, Steve Frangos has been writing regularly and frequently in the Greek American press. His research has been featured in the now defunct The GreekAmerican (1986-2002) and The Greek Star (1968-2015), and it continues to appear primarily in the English-language edition of The National Herald, as well as in the Greek Orthodox Observer.
This public circulation places Frangos in a unique position to shape Greek America’s historical memory, a position of power that renders this archive all the more important. For his work, Frangos draws from a wide variety of resources, but more significantly from his extensive research in various Greek American archives scattered across the country, as well as in municipal and national libraries and archives. He offers a wealth of information and insights on subjects often forgotten or marginalized by the community or excluded from official history. His work identifies emerging cultural phenomena such as grassroots activism to preserve community history and heritage, a phenomenon he calls “a new preservation movement” (http://www.pahh.com/frangos/grassroots.html). Frangos’s writings open up venues for new research directions but also invite reflection on a larger historiographical question: How is Greek American history written for public consumption? What knowledge does the historian produce, and how does he interpret it?
Historians praise Frangos. Dan Georgakas, for instance, singles him out as “the single most prolific and knowledgeable person writing regularly about the history of the Greeks in America.” Indeed, his contributions have been immense. Frangos often adopts a critical posture, charging U.S. Modern Greek studies programs for neglecting the study of Greek America. There is no doubt that his work requires further discussion. As a step toward this direction I have invited Dan Georgakas to share his thoughts on Frangos’s place in Greek American studies. I am also contributing an essay (Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters).
The archive is organized in two categories: Writings about (1) history and (2) music. The first folder, “Steve Frangos: An Archive of Popular Writings in Greek American History (1996-2016),” contains 116 articles, while the second, “Steve Frangos: An Archive of Popular Writings in Greek American Music (1985-2016),” contains 40 articles.1 Included in this latter collection are several archival articles published in the magazine Resound. I have compiled a bibliography for each folder, occasionally incorporating keywords, in brackets, in the titles, for the convenience of the archive’s researchers. As one would expect, there is some overlapping between the two categories, which makes my classification of some entries, such as those on early Greek American dancers, under history rather than music, somewhat arbitrary.
To the corpus I received by the donor, who prefers to remain anonymous, I have added my own collection mostly from Frangos’s pieces in The GreekAmerican, which I was keenly collecting, scissors in hand, in the 1990s, when I was a graduate student. To be sure, the archive is far from complete for the time span it covers. In the selected list of published newspaper and magazine articles (1991–2018) that appear in Frangos’s CV, included in this archive, I counted more than 575 articles on history and more than 75 in music. Important gaps in this archive, then, need to be filled. Additional work also remains to be done in relation to the available material, such as more expansive identification of keywords for each entry, as well as, possibly, annotation.
But this project is a valuable, necessary beginning. I consider it work in progress. I hope it will spark conversation among archivists, librarians, and scholars regarding the systematic digitization of archival material by institutions collecting Greek American material.
“Steve Frangos: An Archive of Popular Writings in Greek American History and Music” (hyperlink) is a collective achievement, and bringing it to fruition has been time and labor intensive. I thank the donor for generously entrusting me with the material. I express my appreciation to Antonis Diamataris, the editor of The National Herald, who recognized the value of the project and granted the Modern Greek Studies Association (MGSA) permission to post it on its website. Elaine Thomopoulos was instrumental in our effort to contact both the publisher as well as Steve Frangos, to secure his permission. We are very grateful for their cooperation and generosity. Tina Bucuvalas shared with me Steve Frangos’s CV, archival photographs, and his unpublished manuscript on singer Yiorgos Katsaros. I thank the department of Classics at The Ohio State University for offering supporting resources. Many thanks go to Khalid Jama for his administrative assistance and Kenny Lok for the digitizing. I created the bibliographies. I am delighted to have this project posted on the MGSA website, a hospitable hub for Greek American and Greek diaspora material.
1. I have also included an unpublished manuscript entitled, “Yiorgos Katsaros: Last of the Greek-Americans Cafè-Aman Singers (c. 1992, Indiana University, Bloomington), a version of which has been published as “The Last Cafe-Aman Performer” in the Journal of Modern Hellenism (12-13, 1995-1996).
Yiorgos Anagnostou is Professor in the Modern Greek Program, Department of Classics, at The Ohio State University.
Editor’s note: For photographs of Steve Frangos in fieldwork settings see Steve Frangos in Fieldwork Settings