The Pokrok (“Progress”) was created by Charles Jonas in 1867 in Chicago to disseminate religious and politically liberal ideas, targeting the portion of Czech-Americans who were not Catholic. It was only in Chicago briefly before being moved first to Racine, Wisconsin, then Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and finally settling for the remainder of its life in Cleveland, Ohio. In Chicago, the Pokrok was edited by Josef Pastor and in Cedar Rapids by František Boleslav Zdrůbek. In 1871, Zdrůbek purchased the paper from Jonas and moved the paper to Cleveland, a city with a rapidly growing Czech population, where it was edited by Ján V. Čapek until Václav Šnajdr took over the paper in 1873.
Václav Šnajdr was born in Bohemia and came to the United States in 1869 to fundraise for Berlin-based newspapers. Instead, he became a newspaper editor in Racine, Wisconsin, and Omaha, Nebraska. Šnajdr moved to Cleveland in 1873 and worked as editor of the Pokrok until its collapse in 1878, after which he started Dennice Novověku (“Star of the New Era”). In the papers he oversaw, Šnajdr expressed anti-clerical views and championed arts and literature by Czech immigrants. His editorials gained the national attention of Czech intelligentsia. A rationalist and free-thinker, Šnajdr wrote For a Better Understanding of Robert Ingersoll and Ladislav Klacil: His Life and Teachings. Šnajdr sold his newspaper interests to Svět Publishing in 1910, where the Dennice Novověku continued publishing until 1915.
The Pokrok was one of the largest and oldest Czech papers in the United States and was seen as the best way to reach Czechs across the nation. Its circulation averaged around 1,500 across Ohio and surrounding states, and was published in both weekly and triweekly editions; the weekly was eight pages and the triweekly was four pages. Content included local news, as well as national and international news from such cities as San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Berlin, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro. The Pokrok also discussed natural disasters, politics, accidents, and crime, and included columns for announcements and weddings.
Researched and written by Bronwyn Benson