Memory Project Builds Largest Archive of Hungarian Immigrant Stories

Early in 2015, Andrea Lauer Rice (author and multimedia producer) and Réka Pigniczky (journalist and documentary filmmaker) founded the Memory Project: Hungarian American Visual History Archive. To date, they have traveled to 14 locations in the United States, Germany and Hungary and have conducted 90 interviews with Hungarian immigrants to the United States following the defeat of the 1956 Revolution and after World War II.

 

Andrea Lauer Rice and Réka Pigniczky interviewing 1956er Pal Maleter II in his home.

Everyone has a story to share that often yields incredible insights into the world and the times around them. Stories from the Hungarian American community are no exception. In many ways, these stories of immigration to the US are very similar to other ethnic groups from the European Continent that came after the World Wars. But the Hungarian community also has a rather unique experience of immigration due to the ca. 35,000 Hungarians coming to the US following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

The Memory Project helps preserve the history of the Hungarian American community by sharing personal stories like no other project or medium can. The Memory Project is the largest community-wide project  to gather video interviews and thus maintain an accurate account of history.

“As a historian, I very much believe in history being preserved not just on paper and in writing, but visually and to the media, and so I think this is as important as writing a book.” – Katalin Kádár Lynn, Historian, DP

The goal of the Memory Project is to have this oral history project become part of a major academic repository in the United States, with transparency and accessibility to all scholars. To satisfy academic requirements, we would need to increase the number of interviews to ensure there is a representative sociological sampling within the model we designed.

A Searchable Online Database

In addition to the academic piece, the creators of the project are interested in sharing many of these stories with the local Hungarian American community so that young Hungarian Americans can learn about their heritage from these personal histories. In order to share these stories, Memory Project now has a custom, searchable website to house the collection pertaining to ’56-ers as well as Displaced Persons, available at:

www.memoryproject.online

Memory Project now also features a 5-part video installation and various compilation videos from the interviews that were used at a number of commemoration events in the Fall of 2016. The videos are in English and Hungarian, with Hungarian subtitles. This five-part series ran from October 23 – November 4, 2016. Available online at http://index.hu/kultur/memory-project/

Special Video Compilations

What is your most memorable moment of the Revolution?
VIDEO #1 https://vimeo.com/190954005

Why did you decide to leave Hungary in 1956?
VIDEO #2 https://vimeo.com/190956348

What did you feel when you were crossing the border?
VIDEO #3 https://vimeo.com/190964039

What was your first memory of the United States?
VIDEO #4 https://vimeo.com/190965238

What does the 1956 revolution mean to you personally?
VIDEO#5 https://vimeo.com/190968482

Memory Project Was Featured at the Following 60th Anniversary Commemorations Across the US

August 19 – September 30, 2016 “The 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight: 60 Years Later” Hungarian Club of Georgia & Honorary Hungarian Consul of Georgia Arts Clayton Gallery – Atlanta, GA

October 7, 2016 “56 Revolution: A Day of Remembrance”
The Hungarian American Fulbright Commission for Educational Exchange Budapest, Hungary

October 8, 2016 Cleveland Hungarian Vintner Dinner
Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Museum – Cleveland, OH

October 12, 2016 “1956: The Freedom Fight that Changed the Cold War – Geopolitics and Defense Policy” National Defense University, Washington, DC

October 16, 2016 “A Fight for Freedom and Democracy: Gala Dinner Evening”
Embassy of Hungary – Washington, DC

October 21, 2016 “East Bay Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight”
Heather Farms Community Center – Walnut Creek, CA

October 21, 2016  “Hungary 1956 – Chicago 2016: A Day of Remembrance and Hope” Chicago Consul General of Hungary and Hungarian American Fulbright Commission Loyola University Water Tower Campus – Chicago, IL

The Memory Project is funded by The Hungary Initiatives Foundation, Hungary’s 1956 Commemoration Fund and US-based crowdfunding.