The Greeks of Colonial Florida Featured in National Hellenic Museum Lecture

Based in Chicago, Illinois, the National Hellenic Museum is the second oldest American institution dedicated to displaying the contributions of Greeks and Greek Americans alike.

The National Hellenic Museum in Chicago recently released their latest installment in their online lecture series, called “The Greeks of Colonial Florida,” lead by Menios Papadimitriou.

Menios Papadimitriou spoke with NHM’s Resident Scholar Dr. Katherine Kelaidis about the history of Greeks who initially attempted to settle in Florida at the start of 1767 before mass migration to the United States began in the early 1830s.

Menios Papadimitriou, who spoke about the early history of Greek immigrants trying to settle in Florida. Photo credit: https://fordham.academia.edu/MeniosPapadimitriou

According to Papadimitriou, “There was a desirability for Greeks to come to America to populate the southern colonies.” In a proposal sent by Archibald Menzies on how to use the southern colonies, the Scottish naturalist petitioned for Greeks to settle in the area.

Citing several aspects such as having the necessary fitness, their close religious ties as well as the exceeding beauty of their women, Archibald Menzies romanticized the Greeks, according to Menios Papadimitriou.

The lecture also goes into detail to explain the founding of New Smyrna, Florida, as well as Dr. Andrew Turnbull’s journey across the Mediterranean and Turkey to find Greek people who would come to the southern colony in 1768.

Menios Papadimitriou is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Fordham University studying the Modern History of Christianity. Papadimitriou also studied theology at Holy Cross and Harvard University.

On Wednesday, June 24, the National Hellenic Museum released more information regarding their latest online content, including a Virtual Book Group.

These new social media initiatives from NHM will include a weekly series as well as Zoom conferences facilitated by Dr. Katherine Kelaidis every Thursday. Participants who gather will able to discuss various works of literature.

More information regarding these new initiatives can be found by visiting the National Hellenic Museum’s website.