The picture below, showing a “székely kapu”, a traditional wooden gate from Transylvania and a symbol of Hungarians, and the adjacent bust of Hungary’s first king St. Stephen (1000-1038 AD), was not taken in Hungary or somewhere in the Carpathian Basin. It’s from the other side of the world, Buenos Aires. -This website aims to document and display visible signs of Hungarian presence around the globe. Churches, Hungarian Houses, social clubs, cemeteries, associations, statues, memorial plaques, businesses, street signs, and gathering places, all attest to the hard work of many Hungarians who for various reasons had to leave their motherland in the past 150 years, and to their desire to create new homes in their adopted countries, in order to practice and maintain their old-world culture. This is the only "globally" comprehensive, fully independent, in-depth picture gallery site on this topic, covering as many different geographic regions as possible and presenting all sites in detail, which indeed makes this collection unique. (In addition to close to 20,000 of my pictures uploaded so far, another 90,000+, taken since 2007, will also be gradually added!)

Most of the featured objects are the products of the great economic Hungarian emigration wave in the late 19th-early 20th century; emigration due to the 1920 Trianon peace dictate; and the two major waves of exile of refugees escaping Communism in 1944-45 and 1956. The photos are from countries outside of the Carpathian Basin in which larger numbers of Hungarians settled. Some images capture the remnants of entire, previously compact Hungarian neighborhoods (such as New Brunswick, Fairfield, New York, Detroit, Toledo, Lorain, Cleveland, Toronto, or Sao Paulo), others show items that are fairly isolated.

Unfortunately, some of the shown objects or buildings have already vanished, many of them been stripped of the original interior after ownership change, or are simply forgotten or otherwise endangered. Take, for example, the Assumption Church in Buffalo’s Lackawanna district, a formerly thriving industrial area. Due to the closure of the steel mills and factories and the consequent relocation of the area's residents, this church had to finally close its doors in 2006 and the building is now gone. Another example is the former Hungarian House of Toronto on St. Clair Ave., whose directors have recently found a new building. This fieldwork is thus also a race against time, as you cannot be sure if everything you have visited will still be around in another ten, or even two, years.

Depending on my limited financial possibilities as well as free time, I plan to continue documenting parts of the world with sizeable Hungarian communities. It’s almost a “never ending story”, as in addition to my address list, compiled since 2005 and amounting to several hundreds of pages, I always discover additional objects in new sources. Thus, you should always find new locations posted!

At the same time, I ask my visitors to share their own relevant pictures, both vintage ones from your family heritage or other sources, and new ones that you may have taken, in your own neighborhood or elsewhere. You can email these to me with some info (place, name of the object, year), and I will be happy to post them, with reference to the source. The older ones you can either scan and email in .jpg, or send them by regular mail and I will return them to you. If you have additional information (dates, names, details) for picture captioning, let me know. Thank you for all contributions which will also help to better reconstruct the Hungarian immigration history of the individual locations.

I offer a detailed presentation of my objects. This often results in 2-300 images when it comes to larger compounds, such as bigger churches or ’Hungarian Houses’ consisting of several buildings, featuring a high number of Hungarian markers, decoration, labels or inscriptions, and other details worth recording. As for external surfaces, I insist on a clean, bright and sunny photography.  

Normally I can devote about four to five weeks per year to this work. I travel with prepared equipment (which – in addition to my camera and GPS – includes a tent, a sleeping bag, plastic utensils, instant coffee, and garden shears...), in a semi-nomadic way, often sleeping on camp sites or in freeway parking lots. On North American trips, I normally drive up to 15 thousand miles per tour. On occasions when I am unable to complete external photography, due to cloudy weather, scaffolding on a building, or some large truck parked in front of the object, I make sure to return on a later trip, even if I have to drive hundreds of miles for just those couple of missing pictures.    

Every trip is preceded by several months of preparation, such as identifying objects, addresses, contact persons, accessibility, or the situation of the structures, and followed by another several months of processing the images (sorting out, comparing, watermarking, and ordering) and entering all the new information I collect each time, from informants, local guides, or from printed material. This means that, in some way, I am engaged with the project almost every day of the year.

Another large and important part of my photographs stems from printed or written material: newspaper articles or ads, church bulletins, anniversary editions, program flyers and brochures, old recordbooks, letters, invitations, entrance tickets, or old photographs. The purpose of including this supporting material is to fill the photo series with life and stories, and to provide documentation of events and people associated with the building or object. I spend several hundreds of hours annually with researching, preparing, and photographing these items alone.         

Please note: For better quality, the size of the pictures is normally large. Please be patient when opening the individual locations or images.

Due to the fragility of the objects (buildings and their belongings, markings, inscriptions, cornerstones etc.), the lack of related documentation, the "time gap", the dwindling number of informants, often restricted physical access, and my limited time and resources, assembling a complete story of the objects or communities is often practically impossible, even if this is one of my goals. But hopefully I can gather, save, and present some of it.

I am sure you will find plenty of interesting photos on the site. You may also discover childhood memories or find references to late relatives and friends, and see many objects or buildings that no one is really aware of any longer.

Enjoy browsing!

Dr. Gergely Tóth


Introductory paragraphs, and captions, as needed, will be added as my time permits, on an ongoing basis.


Picture Gallery

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