The Mary E. Critzas Archives of the St. Louis Greek Community

Mission statement
The Mary E. Critzas Archives function as the custodian of the past and living history of the St. Louis Greek-American community. Their purpose is to document and preserve the history of Greek-Americans of the Missouri/westIllinois area from the earliest immigrations to the present.

The Archives house the following types of materials:

1) Transcripts and CDs with the interviews of elderly members of the community, produced through the Oral History Project. Currently, the Oral History Project has succeeded in producing 45  interviews and we expect the number to grow as the project expands.

2) Photographs, documents, memorabilia, and artifacts that pertain to the history of the community. The specific guidelines of which types of materials to collect will be established by the Collection Committee (see below, #6), but in general the following types of materials would be of interest to the Archives:

  • Official documents from Greece or the USA
  • Records of Greek-American families, businesses, and organizations
  • Books, monographs, newspaper and magazine articles, as well as unpublished narratives relating to the local Greek-American community
  • Audiovisual material, including photographs, films, video, and audio tapes of public events or narratives of personal histories.
  • Artifacts and other items that need to be preserved and potentially exhibited
  • Old issues from older publications of the St. Louis Greek-American community (newspapers, magazines)

The collection of the Archives will be built in three stages:

  1. Personal histories collected through the process of interviews of the elderly members of the community, as part of the Oral History Project.
  2. Collection of materials that pertain to the general history of the community, especially in regards to its social, political, and economic history and development (see above, 2.2 Contents)
  3. On-line database of family histories for the St. Louis community. The rationale behind this is to establish a central database of the Greeks in the area, which will be constantly updated with textual and photographic materials.

The Critzas Archives use digital technology to preserve the archival materials. Oral interviews are copied digitally, documents and photographs will be scanned and placed on CD-ROMs, and artifacts will be kept in a secure and safe environment on the campus of the University of Missouri -St. Louis.

Location and Accessibility
The Archives are part of the Nicholas and Theodora Matsakis Greek Culture Center, which is currently open to the public on workdays. In addition to the physical space, selected archival materials will also be placed on the website of theMatsakisCenter and will be accessible to the public on-line. On-line accessibility will be possible through an interface used to perform online searches of the entire archive. Visitors will have to register a username and password in order to sign-in and search the archives. Registration will be provided free-of-charge.

Recommendations for the collection of materials
The process of collecting the above-mentioned materials will be coordinated by the Center for International Studies and the Greek Community.  For that purpose, a five -member “Collection Committee” has been established. The task of the Committee is to set up specific guidelines as to which materials will be collected in every step of the process, to screen materials offered by members of the community, and to accept those that are appropriate and suitable to the purpose of the Archives.  The Committee functions as a Committee of the Advisory Board of the Greek Professorship and its members are either members of the Board of the Greek Professorship or members of the Greek Community at large.

The Committee is chaired by a member of the Greek Professorship Advisory Board, whose responsibilities include:

  1. publicizing the Archives and inviting members of the St. Louis Greek-American community to deposit materials with the Critzas Archives
  2. approaching the priests and presidents of the three local Greek parishes and coordinate with them in order to make the process of collection more efficient; and
  3. being in charge of organizing the maintenance and storage of the archival materials at the Matsakis Center

For more information, please contact Michael Cosmopoulos at (314) 516-6241

The Oral History Project

The Greek Professorship at UMSL is proud to announce a new project investigating the history of the St. Louis Greek-American Community. The objective of the project is the creation of a comprehensive historical account of the experience of Greek immigrants and their descendants in the St. Louis area.

The impact of Hellenic civilization on American society has been pervasive. From art, science, and architecture to political philosophy and language, Greek influences abound. In the St. Louis metropolitan area, Greek immigrants and their descendants have left a unique imprint on the ethnic mosaic of the community dating back at least 130 years, when the first known permanent Greek resident settled in America’s Gateway to the West.

The project provides students with research opportunities to explore various facets of the fascinating Greek American history in St. Louis. Students engage members of the local Greek American community in the collection of oral, visual, and written data and will submit a scholarly paper on a particular subject.

Students use  oral interviewing of live subjects, or they may choose a topic area that requires other methodological approaches, such as  researching the participation of St. Louis Greeks at the 1904 Olympics, or documenting the lives of families who became nationally known, or tracking Greek migration patterns in the St. Louis area over the decades.   At the end of the course students will write  up their experiences.

Together with completed historical narratives, copies of all material used in the research process are deposited in the Mary E. Critzas Archives of the Greek Culture  Center on the campus of UM-St. Louis. The ultimate goal is to create an online history of the St. Louis Greek-American family and to inspire publication of  comprehensive histories of the Greek Americans in St. Louis.

Dr. Michael Cosmopoulos, Hellenic Government-Karakas Foundation Professor of Greek Studies, University of Missouri-St. Louis, (314) 516-6241,