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Who are the Rusyns?


Geography & Economy

Language & Culture

The Carpatho-Rusyns are a distinct Eastern Slavic people who lived for more than a thousand years in remote villages scattered along the foothills and valleys of the Carpathian Mountains of East Central Europe.

Their villages were located mostly among those of Western Slavs (Slovaks and Poles), Hungarians (Magyars), Romanians (Vlachs) and Ukrainians.

The name Rusyn identifies them as descendants, in part, of a people from the vast lands of ancient Rus' who were converted to the Eastern Christian Church in the 9th century. Rusyn can, in fact be interpreted as inhabitant of Rus'

Over the years, Rusyns have also been known by a variety of other names - Carpatho-Russians, Carpatho-Ukrainians, Rusnaks, Ruthenes, Ruthenians, Uhro-Rusyns and Podkarpats'ki Rusyny, to name a few. Rusyns typically referred to themselves as Rusnaks or Lemko for those who settled on the northern slopes of the Carpathians. 

C-RS National Emblem

The Carpatho-Rusyn national emblem is a shield divided vertically into 2 fields. The left field is divided into 7 horizontal blue and gold alternating stripes, representing the seven largest rivers of the land; the Tisa, Teresva, Tereb'la, Rika, Borzhava, Latoryca and Uzh. In the right field on a silver background, which represents the rich salt mines of the area, a red bear is depicted, as king of the snowy Carpathian Mountains.

You might be Rusyn if....

  • You called your grandmother Baba,
  • You can be no more specific about your origins than to say that your ancestors came from Austria-Hungary or Galicia.
  • Your ancestors immigrated from Eastern Europe to the northeastern US and found work in the coal mines and steel mills of Pennsylvania and Ohio, or the factories of New Jersey and Connecticut.
  • Your ancestors spoke a language that they didn’t really have a term for—perhaps they called it “hillbilly Russian” or simply “po-nashomu” (our way of speaking).
  • Your ancestors worshiped at a Byzantine Catholic church - the priest would have called you “Ruthenian,” the Latin-based western term used for Rusyn. 
  • Your ancestors might have used other terms for the group, which included, but are not limited to, Rusnaks, Carpatho-Russians, Carpatho-Ukrainians, Uhro-Rusyns, Lemkos, or a derogatory name that’s okay when used by the people themselves to refer to one another, Hunkies.
  • Your ancestors immigrated between 1890 and World War I and called themselves Russians
  • You ate bobal’ki and pyrohy at Christmas and paska and hrudka at Easter.

    Famous Rusyn-Americans

Carpatho-Rusyn Society

915 Dickson St.
Munhall, PA 15120-1929

Friends of WhoFish.Org

The Carpatho-Rusyn Society is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to manifesting Carpatho-Rusyn culture in the United States and supporting Rusyn culture in the Homeland in east central Europe. It works to educate Rusyns and non-Rusyns about Rusyn culture and history, and to support the development of Rusyn culture on both sides of the Atlantic. As a membership organization, it boasts over 1,800 members worldwide who support the organization's work through their annual contributions of dues as well as voluntary contributions to funds that support Rusyn cultural development abroad as well as humanitarian aid for Rusyn communities in Europe.

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