The National Hellenic Museum released its digital exhibition, titled “Snapshots of a Life: The George Phillos Photograph Collection,” in order to document the Greek immigrant experience in America.
The photos, which were taken mainly between 1910 to 1930, provide a unique account and record of life as a Greek-American immigrant during the early twentieth century through the perspective of George Phillos, revealing a key aspect of American history as well.
Beginning around 1880, many Greeks started to immigrate to the United States for the chance at a better life. From 1900 to 1920, more than 350,000 Greeks had settled in cities throughout the country, laying the foundation for what would be their communities.
Similarly, with the account of George Phillos, those who had arrived built a new life in America, either through joining the military, entrepreneurship, or community involvement.
Along with documenting the immigrant experience, the collection is also of particular value, since it was rare back then for a newly-arrived immigrant to own a personal camera.
George Phillos was born in Tripoli, Greece around 1891, before settling in Bloomington, Illinois after having immigrated in 1912. There, he worked in his family’s candy stores and also served in the U.S. Army during World War I, possibly being stationed in California.
The purpose of the exhibition is for viewers to reflect on their ancestry and the unique story that their family can tell upon learning about the experiences of George Phillos.
The virtual exhibition itself can be found at the National Hellenic Museum’s website.