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Brief Biographical / Historical Sketch

History

The Committee for the Hungarian Nationality Classroom was established to coordinate the development of the Hungarian Classroom in the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. Its activities were formalized in 1928 although fundraising efforts were documented from 1926. Their work emanated from the Hungarian communities within Pittsburgh and around the U.S. gathering contributions from 57 churches and societies and 455 individuals.

The chairman of the committee was Dr. Samuel Charles Gomory, a physician from McKeesport, Pa. He worked closely with Ruth Crawford Mitchell, director of the Nationality Rooms Program, who served as the University of Pittsburgh’s representative. The two other substantive posts were held by George Zimmerman, treasurer, and Mrs. Joseph Urbán, secretary. The membership was divided among several smaller committees, such as advisory, entertainment, university, financial, supervisory, and publicity, and was well coordinated by other committee members. Later on, subcommittees were organized to assist with the group’s social activities. Some of these activities included benefit concerts with performances by the Budapest University Chorus and the Hungarian violinist, Francis Arányi. The information on many events hosted by the committee was regularly published in Hungarian and American newspapers. The activities of the committee culminated in the dedication of the Hungarian Classroom on September 29, 1939.

The room represents the history, literature, and art of Hungary. The paprika-red wooden ceiling, along with the cabinet doors, were painted with folk motifs of birds and trees, and inscribed between the ceiling and the wall is the first stanza from the Hungarian National Anthem, the Hymnus. Above the blackboard is a carved coat of arms of the University of Buda, founded in 1388, and constructed in the wall is a cabinet exhibiting Hungarian porcelains, Hereundi and Zsolnai, as well as needlework and weaving. Every element of the room, the carvings on doors, the tulip chest and the student armchairs, celebrate Hungarian social life and custom. The right window bears the portraits of Liszt, the composer; Petofi, the poet; and Muncasy, the artist. The rear window portrays the story of the mythical founding of Hungary when King Nimrod’s sons, Hunor and Magor, pursued a white stag from the east to the fertile Danube plain.