[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]. photog M. P. Brazauskas, Defender Photo Pub. Co.
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]
[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]

[A pair of photos of enterprising Lithuanian immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut.]

[Waterbury, Conn., ca. 1910.]. 6 silver prints, approx. 4” x 5.75” to 5” x 7” (image size) on larger paperboard mounts.

Two photos documenting Lithuanian immigrants and the businesses they established in Waterbury, Connecticut, one photo taken by a Lithuanian photographer, with additional possibly related images.

One of America’s least known immigrant groups, Lithuanians began arriving in the U.S. around 1850 as a result of famine in their native country. The second wave came in 1867 after an insurrection, and by 1880 the tide increased—reaching its zenith around 1896. Lithuanian immigrants flourished in Connecticut, with many settling in the Brooklyn section of Waterbury, finding employment in local mills and factories alongside Russian, Italian, Polish, and German immigrants. The first Lithuanian church in New England—St. Joseph's Church—was established in Brooklyn in 1894, and numerous businesses were created to serve Lithuanian needs, several of which are documented in these photos.

One of these images, dated 1910 on the verso, shows Kasmir Charles Kazemekas standing in the doorway of his office. Kazemekas obtained a liquor license in 1902 and opened a store at 785 Bank St., where he sold liquors, ale, lager beer, Rhine wine and cider. By 1905, he had also established a banking and money exchange operation, and a few years later added travel services. All of these enterprises are advertised in this photo. A sign referring to Empire Rye appears above the shop window. Within the window is another sign advertising his banking and travel concerns. Also seen in the window are a number of travel pamphlets and other promotional materials, and images of steamers can be made out. The Kazemekas Bank served local Lithuanians until the Depression, when it failed and was absorbed by the Waterbury Savings Bank, becoming the bank's first branch office in the state. Kazemekas’s business is noted in T. M. Fowler’s View of Waterbury, Conn. 1917 (Waterbury: Hughes & Fowler, 1917): “Kazemekas, K. Ch. Banker, Insurance, Real Estate and Notary Public. Agt. best lines Steamship Tickets. Money sent to all Countries. 797 Bank St.”

Also included here is an image of eleven men and a dog gathered in front of a barber shop and bakery taken by Lithuanian photographer Matthew P. Brazauskas of Waterbury. The partially-legible awning reads: “[J]ohn[?] Penik and Co. Union City Lithuanian Baker Shop.” Signs in the window read “Pool” and “Barber Shop.” The men hold shovels, whips, etc., while two are dressed in shop-keeper attire.

Photographer Matthew P. Brazauskas was born in Pilviskiai, Lithuania on September 8, 1886. He maintained a photo studio at various Waterbury locations, including 217 Bank Street (as indicated on the photo included here and probably his earliest location), 9 Congress Ave. (1916–17), 25 Congress Ave. (1918–39), 135 West Main Street (1946), 639 Washington Ave. (1948–52) and 16 Charles Street (1954–55).

In addition to these photos of known Lithuanian businesses, this lot includes three images that were acquired along with them from a Waterbury family, including two shots of bakery interiors, a barroom scene, and an interior view of a store operated by Eugene Ruda, captioned in pencil on the verso: “Store at 876 N. Main St. Waterbury, Con. Eugene Ruda. Corner of Division St. Med. & Ice Cream Fountain.” Ruda stands behind the counter; tobacco products and counter-top displays are visible, and a sign on the wall reveals that he served ice cream soda, sundaes, and banana royals. These additional photos may well represent Lithuanian businesses as well but we have been unable to confirm this. At a minimum, they appear to document the endeavors of Waterbury’s immigrant population. In one of the bakery interior photos a broadside advertising a speaking appearance by Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan gives some indication of the baker’s political leanings.

REFERENCES: Adams, Robyn. “History of Brooklyn.” Waterbury Republican-American (27 Jan. 1995) at greaterwaterbury.com; Roucek, Joseph Slabey. “Lithuanian Immigrants in America.” American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 41, No. 4 (Jan., 1936), pp. 447-453; Waterbury Democrat (Waterbury, Connecticut, 30 Oct. 1902), p. 7; New York Public Library. Photographers Identity Catalog. “Matthew P. Brazauskas” at pic.nypl.org.

CONDITION: Generally good, occasional silvering, spotting, scratches; some chipping and general wear to mounts.

Item #6529

Price: $475.00

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