Register of the Records of
ATLANTIS, NATIONAL DAILY GREEK NEWSPAPER
The history of the Greek-language newspaper Atlantis is closely related to the careers of the Vlasto family in the United States. Like many other Greek-Americans, the Vlasto family retained close ties to Greece. The newspaper throughout its history was beaded by a Greek-born and Greek-educated member of the family.
Founder Solon J. Vlasto (1852-1927) immigrated to the United States in 1873. A well-educated man from an upper-class Cretan family, he eventually formed an import-export partnership with his brother Demetrius J. Vlasto (1869-1944). The Vlasto brothers were active in New York City's Greek-American community. Solon served as president of the Greek Society of New York, Athena, and was an exarch of the Greek Orthodox Church.
In 1894, the two brothers founded Atlantis. Solon served as publisher until his death in 1927. Demetrius, the treasurer and secretary, succeeded him, and their nephew Solon G. Vlasto became publisher after Demetrius' death. All capital stock in Atlantis and its subsidiaries, despite initial outside investment, also was in family hands by 1921.
Atlantis was widely recognized as a family paper, and Solon J. Vlasto's high regard for the Greek monarchy was well known. Atlantis remained a royalist paper through the vicissitudes of war, plebiscite, and coup, until King Constantine II's differences with the regime of the colonels during the mid-1960s. Vlasto's advocacy of a strong Greek-American community in the United States which would be more than another expatriate Greek colony was as controversial in the years before World War I as his royalist views.
His brother and nephew seem to have shared his outlook. Demetrius J. Vlasto was actively involved in Atlantis, in war relief campaigns, and in church affairs. Solon G. Vlasto, son of George Vlasto, came to the United States and joined Atlantis as a copy boy in 1918 or 1919, while still in his teens. In 1944 he became publisher and managing editor. In the early 1960s, he also served briefly as editor. He too was active in war relief work and the church. Several Vlasto family members of the third generation, Solon's son James S., and Barbara, Demetrius S., and Andrew Vlasto, worked for Atlantis as well. James was managing editor and spokesman for the family when the newspaper closed.
Atlantis was published in New York City. It began as a weekly newspaper, but became a daily in 1904. A Sunday edition began circa 1910, and a magazine, the Monthly Illustrated Atlantis, appeared at about the same time. The magazine was published into the 1930s [1932?], then reappeared circa 1953. Atlantis also operated a Greek-language book department, which issued a calendar, published several titles, and distributed many others.
The Atlantis Corporation, formed in 1904, underwent reorganization twice. In 1911, Atlantis Publishing Company was organized to purchase the Monthly Illustrated Atlantis. In 1921, the subsidiary Atlantis Greek Book Company was created.
The editor-in-chief of Atlantis traditionally was hired from outside the family. Socrates A. Xanthaky, editor from 1897, left in 1907 to help found the rival Panhellinios. Adamantios Th. Polyzoides was editor from 1907 to 1933; Vladimir Constantinides, from 1933 to 1960. Solon G. Vlasto filled the post for several years. Panayiotis Gazouleas became editor in 1963 and held the position until Atlantis ceased publication in 1973.
Atlantis' nationwide distribution helped it become an influential voice in the Greek-American community. It carried social and organizational notices, fiction, classified advertising, and advice columns. It also published news of Greek-American affairs, of trade and diplomatic relations between the two nations, and of Greek internal politics.
Atlantis moved into national prominence about the time that the conflict between Greek liberal leader Eleutherios Venizelos and the Greek monarchy with its strong German ties reached its height. This decade before the First World War also was during the peak of Greek migration to the United States. Many immigrants regarded their stay in the United States as temporary and remained strong partisans in Greek politics. The pages of Atlantis and its rivals reflected that partisanship so vigorously that the Vlastos became embroiled in libel actions based on Atlantis articles. Some suits resulted from their criticism of consular and diplomatic representatives of the Venizelos government. Others reflected editorial battles between Atlantis and its rivals Panhellinios, 1908-1913, and the National Herald (Ethnikos Kyrix, 1915- ).
Atlantis faced particularly stiff challenges after King Constantine I's abdication in 1917. Many Greek-American liberals regarded "Constantinism" as German propaganda, and attacked Atlantis' reporting on Greek internal affairs as damaging to the Allied war effort. These attacks brought the newspaper's mailing permit under close government scrutiny. The Vlastos fought hard to meet U.S. Post Office regulations for foreign-language press mailings, and to modify them.
Atlantis during the 1920s is most noted for continuing themes which the more dramatic events of the war decade had overshadowed. The Vlastos' record of leadership and business experience had made Atlantis an effective channel for voluntary relief aid to Greece during the 1912 Balkan war and the First World War; it performed this service again during the 1921 Asia Minor War.
Atlantis also was a strong voice in favor of American citizenship. Naturalization became more popular after the First World War. Participation in the war effort had accelerated the Americanization process. Many Greek-Americans also recognized that restrictive immigration legislation soon would make relation to an American citizen virtually the only qualification by which Greeks could immigrate to the United States. Atlantis distributed handbooks and encouraged its readers to begin naturalization. Growing citizen participation in the American political system also led the Greek-American press to increase its coverage, and endorse parties; Atlantis supported the Republican Party.
Another domestic issue during the 1920s was the ecclesiastical administration of Greek Orthodox churches in the United States. Historian Theodore Saloutos describes Atlantis as "conciliatory" in these disputes.
Atlantis' positions on Greek affairs remained consistent and controversial through the 1920s and 1930s. Most notably, in 1937 the editor joined the Greek consul-general and the Orthodox Church to welcome a visiting spokesman for the Metaxas dictatorship as the representative of Greece's legitimate government. Mussolini's invasion of Greece in 1940 sent the government into exile. The Greek-American political debate was set aside in favor of massive war relief activity conducted through the Greek War Relief Association (GWRA). Atlantis solicited and forwarded contributions to GWRA.
The war years and the postwar period, dominated by the second, American-born generation, seem to be ones in which Ahepa and other fraternal organizations, rather than the press, led the Greek-American community. Greek-Americans argued the legitimacy of the British-supported royalist government, and the merits of the left and the Greek Communist Party positions, throughout the 1940s. Atlantis continued to support the royalists.
The circulation of Greek-language papers increased during the 1950s. The war effort had renewed Hellenic pride. The Greek Orthodox Churches became more active in their communities. There was an influx of refugee immigrants and a movement to liberalize American immigration laws. Greek internal affairs, including the defeat of the Greek Communists in 1949, the United States' role in Cyprus, and the ascendancy of the Greek military regime, 1967-1974 also continued to be of interest to the Greek-American community and Greek-language press.
The daily Atlantis was published until 1973. In 1972 the dismissal of three Newspaper Guild members provoked a strike that suspended publication. For eight weeks, publication resumed in New Jersey, but picketing halted it again. In October 1973, unable to reach agreement with one of its five unions, and pressured for back rent, the Vlasto family decided to cease publishing.
The Internal Revenue Service seized Atlantis' property for delinquent taxes and auctioned it on October 26, 1973. An unknown bidder purchased back issues, presses, and other equipment. James S. Vlasto, speaking for the family, stated that the landlord's impatience and the union's intransigence had closed the paper. "I really don't think there was reason for it to die. The market was there and it could have survived" (New York Times, October 27, 1973).
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The records of the Greek-American newspaper Atlantis span its entire publishing history, 1894-1973. Although the prewar years and the final years are best documented, there are substantive records throughout. The records are of many types: correspondence, legal files and memoranda, cablegrams, clipping and petition scrapbooks, press releases, book inventories, business records such as subscription and newsdealers reports, audits, tax returns, and accounting records including ledgers, journals, and worksheets. There also are photographs and news library files. Some business records of the Vlasto family also have survived.
Much of the material is in Greek. The proportion of Greek to English language in the subject, correspondence, and labor relations records varies. The legal files contain translations into English of all contested editorials, but the language of the legal correspondence varies. Foreign correspondents' cables are in Greek. Most financial records are in English.
Many of the records can best be described in terms of the two world wars, which transformed the Greek-American community's responses to Hellenism and Americanization. Records from the prewar years describe the Vlastos' import-export business and community work, as well as Atlantis' part in the royalist-Venizelist conflicts. They include Demetrius J. Vlasto's files, many scrapbooks, extensive legal files, and financial records. They also document the paper's tribulations during the First World War. There are no papers from publisher Solon J. Vlasto or editor Socrates Xanthaky.
Cablegrams from Europe and files from Sotirios Lontos, corporation president and de facto publisher, contain the most substantive topical information on Atlantis between the wars. Public affairs correspondence describes wartime cooperation between Atlantis and the Greek War Relief Association. Foreign cables, publisher's files and editorial files provide the most vivid documentation of Atlantis' direction after the Second World War. Topics include immigration legislation, the fraternal organization Ahepa, the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States, Cyprus, and Greek domestic politics. In addition to Solon G. Vlasto's files, there are files belonging to editor Panayiotis Gazouleas, editorial rewriteman Isak Kabelis, and managing editor James S. Vlasto. There are no records from editor Vladimir Constantinides.
The labor relations files and financial records offer virtually complete records of those aspects of the newspaper's operation. The labor records include two Greek-American union locals, the Greek American Newspaper Workers Union Number One and The New York Hellenic Typographical Union Local 817. The subscription records, compiled from several sets of circulation department records, are incomplete but extensive demographic sources.
The records are organized in twelve series, one pertaining to the Vlasto family, and eleven to the newspaper Atlantis. Records within each series and subseries are filed in chronologically arranged to folders with a few exceptions. The alphabetical arrangement of personal office files has been retained. Correspondence in each folder falls between the dates given in the folder heading, but it is not strictly chronological.
Vlasto family and business records have been brought together into the Vlasto Personal Records series. Atlantis records consist of the following series: Corporate Documents; Records of Legal Actions; Corporate Officers' Files; Editorial Files; Foreign Correspondents' Records; Managing Editor's Files; Business Records; Labor Relations Records; Financial Records; and News Library Clipping Files. Photographs removed from the records and the News Library Photograph Files are listed here but separately housed in the Balch Institute Photograph Collection.
SERIES I: VLASTO PERSONAL RECORDS, 1887-1922, 1944, 3.5 l.f., 1 oversize folder.
Series I includes five loosely related groups of records from the Vlasto family's early years in New York and condolence messages to the family after the Deaths of Solon J. Vlasto (1927) and Demetrius J. Vlasto (1944). The earliest materials include a few personal Letters to Solon J. Vlasto; his letter book as president of the Greek Society of New York, Athena; and some letters received by his brother George on behalf of the Cretan freedom movement, E.D.T.M.A.T.S.
Contracts, account summaries and other records from the Vlastos' Import-Export Business indicate their business contacts before Atlantis' founding, and during its first decade. There is also considerable documentation of mining interests in Greece. These Commercial records are alphabetized by size and company name. Business records for Spring Lake Farm, Southington, Connecticut, follow Demetrius J. Vlasto's career as a gentleman farmer during the 1910s. There also are four folders of family photographs.
SERIES II: CORPORATE DOCUMENTS, 1911-1922, 0.25 l.f.
Although Atlantis' date of legal incorporation is 1904, the files contain no record of it. Amendments to that status took place in 1911 and again in 1920. Certificates, minutes, and stockbooks document the separate incorporation of Atlantis Publishing Company (1911) and Atlantis Greek Book Company (1920).
SERIES III: RECORDS OF LEGAL ACTIONS, 1889-1932. 5 l.f., 11 scrapbooks.
Most of the legal material reflects the Venizelist-royalist conflict in Greece before World War I, and its repercussions in the American Greek community. In two cases, libel suits against Atlantis resulted from published challenges to the integrity and competence of Venizelist representatives to the United States Theodore Ion and Cleanthes Vassardakis. National Herald officers are plaintiffs in two cases, Tatanis and Castriotis-Kontos. Other extensively documented actions are the Vlastos' two suits against the National Herald publishing company, Enossis. The first, S. Vlasto vs. Enossis (1916), contends that National Herald reporting helped prevent Solon J. Vlasto from receiving the Gold Cross, an honor awarded him by King Constantine I of Greece. More damaging were the Herald's 1917 accusations that the Vlastos had received funds to propagandize for the royalists, associated with the Axis cause in the United States after Eleutherios Venizelos became Greek premier. The Post Office Permit files and the second S. Vlasto vs. Enossis case (1918) both detail Atlantis' fight to demonstrate its loyalty to the United States government during World War I. The post office files include documentation alleging a conspiracy by monarchists D. J. Theophilatos and P. A. Sioris against Atlantis.
Another well-documented action, Vassil Steam Systems Company, alleges that Atlantis' reporting damaged the plaintiff's business prospects and reputation. The National City Bank of New York case concerns authorization for a stock purchase credited to D. J. Vlasto's account. The Other Cases documented in the legal series are similar in theme to the cases described above, but did not generate such voluminous files. Correspondence and background information closely related to several cases can be found in Series IV, CORPORATE OFFICERS' FILES, Demetrius J. Vlasto.
The records of each case include legal documents, correspondence, memoranda, and news clippings, arranged in that order. Most of the legal documents are complaints, answers and depositions. The bulk are exhibits consisting of text and English translations of disputed articles from Atlantis, Panhellinios, the National Herald, and other Greek-language American newspapers.
Demetrius J. Vlasto compiled scrapbooks of exhibits for several of the cases, including translations of Atlantis editorials to show compliance with the 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act. Eleven such scrapbooks are part of the series.
SERIES IV: CORPORATE OFFICERS' FILES, 1891-1960, 4.5 l.f., 2 scrapbooks.
The series consists of alphabetically arranged subject files from three of Atlantis' most important executive officers, Demetrius J. Vlasto, Sotirios S. Lontos, and Solon G. Vlasto. The correspondence and reference materials in Demetrius J. Vlasto's files elaborate on the business, political, and diplomatic relationships in the American Greek community between 1891 and 1921. There are also two scrapbooks he compiled of clippings about the family, Atlantis, and news of Greece and Greek-Americans before 1910.
Sotirios S. Lontos, Atlantis president and family steward during the 1930s, accumulated files on corporate business, Vlasto family business, and major Greek-American issues between 1922 and 1942. Most plentiful is Lontos' advice to American depositors following the Greek banks' conversion of dollars into drachmas in 1932. There are records of the highly publicized dispute at Saints Constantine and Helen Church, Washington, DC; of differing Greek-American responses to the 1936 Metaxas coup, and of the Turkish earthquake relief. Lontos' participation in the National Recovery Administration and his interest in the moral rearmament movement are copiously documented. The Grammenis correspondence, with sidelights on Atlantis' bookkeeping practices and battle against unionization, is an interesting study in transatlantic business management.
Solon G. Vlasto's files contain much routine operating correspondence, with a few files of exceptional interest. The 1959 charges against prominent Ahepa members Leo Lamberson and Stephen Scopas for profiteering connected with the Ahepa Refugee Relief Committee's child adoption activities are well documented here. The Scopas files include Ahepa internal reports and official positions, and drafts of investigator Ernest Mitler's testimony before the Congressional Committee on Immigration and Naturalization.
Leo Lamberson's analyses of the McCarran-Walter Act, circulated to enlist Greek-American support for immigration quota liberalization, also are in these files. Other major subjects are the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Newspaper Guild of New York and other unions, and the National Herald's rivalry with Atlantis. The Ahepa and Dean Alfange files are slight. The balance of the files contain reader objections to the paper's editorial content, financial and legal correspondence, and letters from Greek-American organizations to Vlasto.
Material for 1946-1960 is in alphabetically arranged subject files. Following them are general correspondence files, 1965-1970, which are roughly chronological.
SERIES V: EDITORIAL FILES, 1912-1922, 1940-1942, 1958-1971, 3 l.f., 2 scrapbooks, 1 oversize folder.
The series contains four subseries illustrating different aspects of the editorial activity at Atlantis: two sets of office files, 1958-1971; records of public affairs campaigns, 1912-1922 and 1940-1942; and a diverse lot of manuscripts submitted to Atlantis for publication.
Files for Panayiotis J. Gazouleas, Atlantis' last editor-in-chief, include correspondence and press releases from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the national Secretary of the Press in Athens, and Olympic Airways. Correspondence and contracts from several unions are closely related to Series IX, LABOR RELATIONS. Other letters, also filed alphabetically, touch on daily operations like police press passes and circulation statistics.
Files for Isak Kabelis [also Kambelis or Kampelis], an editorial writer and rewrite man during the 1960s, contain source materials and rough copy for many articles. One file contains articles on questionable Greek government payments to individuals including National Herald publisher B. J. Marketos. Readers' letters to "Archon Politis," by-line for Kabelis' editorial column, make up a second group of Kabelis files.
The Public Affairs Campaigns material consists primarily of receipts and clippings from fund-raising campaigns and reader referenda on Greek-American issues. The clippings are assembled in scrapbooks, so they form a complete record of donors or respondents. The events here include several war relief drives, the Patriarch's visit to the United States in 1916, and two referenda supporting the Greek monarchy. There are also two petition campaigns, 1917 and 1922, to influence American policy toward Greece. The Greek War Relief Association correspondence, 1940-1942, documents Atlantis' role, as well as the Association's organization and financial practices.
The Manuscripts seem to be an example of the unsolicited work that a visible, specialized publication may attract. There are journals, historical essays and dramas, and religious and philosophic essays, all in Greek. Their publication histories are unclear, but cover letters indicate that they were meant for publication through Atlantis.
SERIES VI: FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS' RECORDS, 1894-1897, 1913-1971, 2 l.f.
The most substantive parts of the series are the London Correspondent's letters and articles, 1894-1897, and Cablegrams and Radiograms following news in Greece and western Europe through the Second World War. Similar cables from Manolis Perifanakis begin late in the 1950s and run through the 1960s. The cables are in romanized Greek. The London correspondent material is part Greek, part English, both rendered nearly illegible by a thick-nibbed pen. Other files in the series explain business expense arrangements and identify less active correspondents.
SERIES VII: MANAGING EDITOR'S FILES, 1958-1965, 3 l.f.
These alphabetical subject files seem to be those of James S. Vlasto. However, carbons of outgoing correspondence bear several signatures, including that of Demetrius S. Vlasto as Managing Editor in 1960. The correspondence Concerns news coverage, advertising, and distribution, as well as publicity requests from Greek-American organizations and businesses. Background material on George Christopher, mayor of San Francisco, and Archbishop Makarios III can be found here. There is also correspondence from and about Ahepa, but it is filed by correspondent's name and therefore scattered. Letters from local politicians of the two major parties also are scattered throughout Vlasto's files.
SERIES VIII: BUSINESS RECORDS, (1904-) 1949-1971, 2.5 l.f. 1 scrapbook.
The series is a catch-all for records describing Atlantis' business practices. It consists of the files of Office Manager John Maroudis, the files of Business Manager John Vretos, and scattered earlier records.
John Maroudis' files, 1949-1955, are alphabetical. They concern business with newsdealers and information requests, news releases, and complaints similar to the MANAGING EDITOR'S FILES. Most of the correspondence is in Greek.
The correspondents in John Vretos' files are newsdealers and subscription sales agents. The letters concern changing sales levels, continuing distribution problems, and marketing approaches. They are almost all in Greek, in alphabetically ordered files.
The older records include the initial daily circulation Mailing Permits, circulation Promotion Agreements, and Business Forms used through the years. The other files contain Promissory Notes from Greek-American businessmen, and several Directories for New York Greek businesses and associations during Atlantis' last decade of publication.
SERIES IX: LABOR RELATIONS RECORDS, 1916-1971, 1 l.f.
The series includes records about each union local to which Atlantis employees belonged. Records from Mailers' Union Number Six, the New York Newspaper Printing Pressmen's Union, the New York Stereotypers Union, and the New York Typographical Union all begin around 1920. Those from the Newspaper Guild of New York begin in 1952. Particularly interesting are correspondence and contracts from the Greek American Newspaper Workers Union, 1918, and the New York Hellenic Typographical Union, 1917-1963. They indicate the spectrum of political thought within the Greek-American community, as well as labor practices at both Atlantis and the National Herald. The series also includes State Workmen's Compensation Board claims.
SERIES X: FINANCIAL RECORDS, 1905-1973, 10 l.f., 10 oversize folders, 108 bound volumes.
The series consists of audit reports, tax return forms, Atlantis' books and supporting worksheets, reports, and correspondence. The runs of audit and tax records precede the internal bookkeeping records. Each type of record is arranged chronologically. The records provide a financial and organizational overview of the corporation that is not available from any of the office records series described above.
Audit reports indicate the financial relationship between the Atlantis Corporation and its subsidiary, Atlantis Greek Book Company, which existed from 1920 through 1934. The last ten years' records, 1958-1968, consist of worksheets in recognizable audit format. The audits include balance sheets as well as comprehensive income, profit, and loss information. The set of reports is similar to, but less complete than, the Federal and New York State Tax Returns, which span the years 1910-1967. The New York State forms and correspondence indicate other inactive Atlantis subsidiaries.
The biennial Federal Census of Manufactures reports, 1905-1967, summarize payroll, product and sales volume information through most of Atlantis' history as a daily newspaper.
The Corporate Books consist of ledgers, cash books, and journals for Atlantis as a whole. A 1921 document describes the double-entry accounting system put into effect when the corporation was reorganized. Trial balance books and accountants' worksheets cover part of the period after 1950, where ledgers are missing.
Payroll Records were selected from scattered holdings to show as fully as possible staff positions, individual names, and wage levels. No formal organizational chart has been located.
Circulation information comes from four scattered and incomplete sets of records. They form an arbitrary sample of readers' names and hometowns (or addresses) from 1909 to 1973. The daily subscription books record individual subscriptions received at the office. The traveling agents' records list individual subscriptions collected through authorized agents all over the United States. The newsdealers' department cashbooks, lists, and ledgers indicate the sales volume in many towns where Atlantis was sold at newsstands and stores. Subscription correspondence includes routine business and complaints. The correspondence files date from 1967 to 1973, when Atlantis suspended and then discontinued publication. Many of the writers comment on why they continue to read or no longer wish to receive Atlantis.
Advertising Department records from three periods1900, circa 1917, and circa 1947represent that department's organization and bookkeeping practices at characteristic points. Book Department inventories and stock lists, in Greek and romanized Greek, date from 1909, the 1930s, and the 1950s and 1960s. The dealer lists show part of Atlantis' book sales and distribution system. Real Estate Department books detail rental and expenses for Atlantis' West Forty-first Street building, purchased in 1946 and owned by them until it was torn down for construction of the New York Port Authority.
SERIES XI: NEWS LIBRARY CLIPPING FILES, 3.5 l.f.
The series consists of folders and envelopes of Greek-language newspaper clippings, filed according to general subject headings. Many of the clippings appear to be serialized articles or fiction.
SERIES XII: NEWS LIBRARY PHOTOGRAPH FILES, 7 l.f. 1930s-1970s.
These files contain black and white photoprints, in 5x7 and 8x10 inch formats. Most subject headings in use here are very broad: American Politicians, Greek National Costumes, Royal Family, Ships. There are separate folders for individuals such as John Metaxas, Patriarch Athenagoras, and Solon G. Vlasto. Many of the pictures appear to be freelance or assignment work purchased by Atlantis from professional photographers in New York and Athens. Among them there are unfamiliar images of such political figures as Nelson Rockefeller, Richard and Patricia Nixon, Nikita Khrushchev, Marshal Tito, and members of the Greek royal family. The costume folders contain photos from many traditional events, making them good research sources.
The extensive film, entertainment, and tourism folders contain more widely distributed promotional images. Atlantis did not hold the legal rights for further reproduction of studio and agency promotional material, and the Balch Institute does not have the rights.
There also are many uncaptioned or unfiled prints (1 l.f.). Some were sent in as part of family announcements in Atlantis. Others are similar to the file prints described above. Many of the family portraits are interesting social records, and more easily examined here than in their published form. These loose prints are filed at the end of the series. Researchers interested in the family portraits may also want to examine the photos separated from the following series in the Atlantis Records: VLASTO PERSONAL PAPERS, EDITORIAL FILES, MANAGING EDITOR'S FILES, and BUSINESS RECORDS.
Caption information on the news library prints varies in comprehensiveness and language. Greek is more frequent than English. The name of the photographer or news agency is clearly stamped on the back of photos from those Sources. Dates are rare. Physical condition generally is good.
Arrangement and description of the Atlantis Records was made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Processing Archivist: Judith Felsten
Processing Assistant: William Gagliardi
Translation Assistance: George Papadakis and Dr. Dimitrios Monos
Accession number: M74-123
The box list of the Register of the Records of Atlantis, National Daily Greek
Newspaper, is forty-five pages long.