Ukrainian Fraternal Association

Ukrainian Fraternal Association (Український братський союз; Ukrainskyi bratskyi soiuz, or УБС; UFA). A fraternal insurance association founded on 25 October 1910 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, as the Ruthenian National Union (Ruskyi narodnyi soiuz). Its founders (42 delegates from 34 branches) were former members of the Ruthenian National Association, which at its 11th Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1910 had adopted the resolution to change its name to the Greek Catholic Ruthenian Association (Hreko-Katolytskyi ruskyi soiuz) and to limit membership to Catholics. This resolution was eventually overturned, but in the interim two organizations with the same (Ukrainian) name came into being. In 1918 the new association changed its name to the Ukrainian Workingmen’s Association (Ukrainskyi robitnychyi soiuz), and in 1978 to the UFA.

The UFA has always been a democratic, nondenominational, all-Ukrainian organization, initially with an anticlerical and radical orientation based on the ideas of Mykhailo Drahomanov and Ivan Franko. Its leaders have been politically active in the larger Ukrainian community, and played a decisive role in combating communist influence among Ukrainians in both the United States of America and Canada. They organized the first all-Ukrainian congress in America (1915), supported the Federation of Ukrainians in the United States, provided the core of support for Oborona Ukrainy, and helped found the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee, and the World Congress of Free Ukrainians.

Besides meeting its basic duty of paying out insurance to families of deceased members and assisting disabled or unemployed members, the UFA (through its educational committee) has organized Ukrainian schools, orchestras, and drama groups at its branches and has financed publications, bookstores, and libraries. It published the newspapers Shershen’ (1910) and Narodna volia (1911–) in Ukrainian, the English-language weekly Ukrainian Life (1941–3) and illustrated quarterly Forum: A Ukrainian Review (1967–2000), annual calendars or almanacs (1912–51), and popular books. Over the years it has disbursed over 300,000 dollars in scholarships. The head office and editor’s office are housed in the association’s own building in Scranton. In 1955 it purchased the Verkhovyna resort in Glen Spey, New York State, where it conducts summer camps, cultural workshops, annual art festivals (since 1976), and sports competitions. In the interwar period the UFA offered financial aid to various institutions in Ukraine, including the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kyiv, the Ukrainian Workers' Home in Lviv, the Union of Ukrainian Progressive Youth, the Ridna Shkola society, and Prosvita society reading halls.

From 1,800 members in 1910 the association grew to 6,800 in 1920, 15,800 in 1930, 19,100 in 1950, and 24,200 in 1960. In 1990 the group’s membership stood at 22,000, and its assets came to approximately 13 million dollars. Since 1932 it has recruited members in Canada.

The presidents of the UFA, elected at its quadrennial conventions, have been Ivan Ardan (1910–12), M. Semeniuk (1912–13), I. Artymovych (1913–16, 1922–5), O. Zaplatynsky (1916–19), Yuliian Kraikivsky (1919–22, 1925–7), P. Duchak (1927–33, 1941–6), Myroslav Sichynsky (1933–41), Antin Batiuk (1946–73), and Ivan Oleksyn (1973–). Other important leaders of the association include M. Belia, O. Lenchytsky, S. Korpan, Teodor Mynyk, E. Popil, and R. Rychok.

Iuvileina knyha Ukraïns'koho robitnychoho soiuzu, 1910–1960 (Scranton 1960)

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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