Since 1975, the Croatian Ethnic Institute in Chicago has kept numerous valuable objects, records, pictures, memories, and traces that followed the Croatians in their search for a better life.

If you decide to visit us, you will see unique works such as the work of the great Ivan Meštrović from 1942, which represents the stigmata, that is, Saint Francis and Christ at the time when St. Francis received the wounds of Christ.

We also keep Bruno Bušić’s personal belongings, Zvonko Bušić’s prison letters, as well as valuable publishing history that was created in the diaspora.

This would not have happened without the Croatian Franciscans, those who sent letters to the White House and were chaplains at the American military base and eventually founded the Croatian Ethnic Institute.

Our Institute treasures an extraordinary triptych: Our Lady and three angels, which Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac kept on his desk. You will also be able to see the original jersey of Dražen Petrović when he played for the New Jersey Nets. The content of Michael Bilandić, who was the mayor of Chicago in the 70s, is part of our exhibition and Croatian history in the diaspora.

Our set-up is divided into nine units.

Croatian Franciscans

  • Numerous letters from the White House were addressed to the Croatian friars who, for 50 years, were always looking for something for the Croatians
  • Two original books from the Fermo camp that were brought to Chicago in 1952 by Fr. Dominik Mandić
  • Fr. Častimir Majić’s glasses and the camera with which Fr. Ljubo Krasić photographed many people and events in the diaspora
  • Old prayer books and missals from the 1700s and 1800s
  • Awards to Croatian Franciscans such as Fr. Alojzije Bambir, who was a chaplain at an American military base
  • Original diplomas and travel documents of Croatian Franciscans
  • Original writings of Croatian Franciscans and other intellectuals in the diaspora, such as Božidar Ivanuš, Rudolf Petek, Ivan Zaknić. Manuscripts published in Danica and other publications
  • A plate of editions of the Croatian Franciscans
  • Breviary in Latin by Fr. Častimir Majić
  • Letters of Cardinal Šeper and Fr. Hrvoslav Ban
  • Badges from the opening of the Monastery of St. Ante in Chicago and a booklet about the celebration of St. Ante at Drexel
  • The original sermon of Fr. Častimir Majić from the funeral of Vladek Maček in Washington
  • A certificate from Italy and a gymnasium organized by the Croatian Franciscans for poor children and refugees
  • UDBA documents on about 40 pages about the Croatian Franciscan Custody of the Holy Family in America and Canada


  • The Croatian Franciscans printed the Croatian Catholic Calendar (yearbook), Croatian Catholic Herald (monthly) and Danica (weekly) The Croatian Vjesnik is still printed today We keep bound copies of all our publications
  • Recent publications: “For my grandmother’s homeland” in Croatian and English, by Michael Palaich, who also shot the first film about Bleiburg in the 80s. “The Tragedy of a Nation” is a book by Fr. Božidar Benković, the first person who in 1946 1946 printed a book in English about the suffering of the Croats. . The “American Diary” of Fr. David Zrno is also available, the original of which is kept in the Croatian Ethnic Institute
  • Franciscans have printed books for Croatian schools and parishes in America and Canada for years. Fr. Silvije Grubišić translated the Bible into Croatian, and it was published here
  • the original diaries of Fr. David Zrno, which were written in the 30s and 40s
  • plaque from the front door “4851 Drexel Blvd” where the editions of Danica, Kalendar, and Glasnik and everything that the friars published were located
  • the famous Croatian encyclopedia, of which only a few have been preserved because it was destroyed by the communists
  • documents of Croatian parishes in America and Canada, from Akron, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, St. Louis, Washington, Canada, West and East coasts…
  • parish weeklies
  • Vinko Nikolić’s Croatian magazine (Hrvatska revija), publications of the Croatian Catholic Community, Naša Nada, Zajednicar (Croatian Fraternal Union), Republika, Hrvatski list
  • books related to Croatian schools

Societies, events and valuable items

  • the flag of the Cardinal Stepinac Croatian School
  • statutes of Croatian organizations
  • tickets to various events in America and Canada
  • caps of numerous associations such as the Domobran, which was present in America
  • badges of different societies, such as the Croatian Catholic Union
  • various objects and memorial plaques that Croats collected around Bleiburg in the 50s and 60s of the 20th century. stoljeća skupljali po Bleiburgu. The soil from the Bleiburg, decorations, and crowns of Croatian soldiers from 1941 to 1945 on the Bleiburg , which were excavated in 1980.
  • Croatian flag from the fifties that Croats used
  • documents about Croats who were killed by the UDBA
  • memorandum of the Croatian National Council
  • The Society of Croatian Women of the City of Chicago was founded in 1929. The first book was published in 1935, and the last in 2019. This society also printed the monthly Hrvatica. Several editions are kept here, as well as images and casts used in the printing house.
  • legacy of Ante Miletić
  • bullets from Bleiburg from 1945 sent to the Croatian Ethnic Institute by Fr. Lucijan Kordić
  • historical badge from the cap of Ljudevit Gaja
  • the envelope of the president Dr. Franjo Tuđman, who sent his photos in the diaspora
  • original postcards from 1918
  • different banknotes from various countries: European, Croatian, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, NDH, Austro-Hungarian, collected by our Franciscan


  • several works by the author Tomislav Gabrić who painted the first Croatian missionaries, especially Ferdinand Konšćak, in the 18th century among the American natives
  • art paintings by Josip Crnobori: Our People in the field, the Croatian Church in New York, Fr. Hrvoslav Ban, Church of St. Katarina in Zagreb, The Call of Croats to Freedom, Fr. Ljubo Krasić
  • pictures of old Croatian societies and events: San Pedro and San Jose, the orphanage of the Croatian Fraternal Community in America in the 1930s in Chicago, the Croatian Falcon in the west of the city, Katarina Zrinska, etc.
  • Pictures of the Croatian Embassy in Australia. The state was not formed then, but people were proud to point it out
  • photos of the Croatian Parliament in Chicago in the 40s, the Croatian Sons Society, the Croatian Home Guard in New York in 1959, the dedication of the picture of Our Lady of Sinj in 1906, and the Split Chicago Charitable Society in 1916.
  • a picture of the Dominican Stjepan Budrović, who was active in Chicago
  • the large painting “Croatian Charitable Society Croatian Sons” which originates from 1917, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of its existence
  • an interesting picture of the Franciscans in New York from 1914 (it was the first commissariat)
  • a picture of the famous Vilim Cecelja, who was in Chicago in 1957.
  • a painting by the famous artist Jose Fuentes de Salamanca, created in the 90s, inspired by Medjugorje. It is important because it was produced and sold to Medjugorje groups to raise money for the Homeland War
  • films and paintings by Vladimir Novak

Successful stories

  • the content of Michael Bilandić, the mayor of Chicago in the 70s and a member of the Croatian parish of St. Jerome. His uncle was Friar Bonevantura Bilandić
  • interesting things of Miljenko Grgić, a famous winemaker from California
  • documents of the Aranza family from the beginning of the 20th century from Kaštela, who wrote very emotional letters to their son in Chicago
  • the story of the Vlašić family, which is best known for the production of cucumbers in America
  • tie of American football player Ivan John Jurković
  • the original jersey of Dražen Petrović when he played for the New Jersey Nets

Same surname, same fate: Bruno i Zvonko Bušić

  • Bruno and Zvonko Bušić personal belongings of Bruno Bušić, the most famous Croatian intellectual in the diaspora who was killed by the UDBA in Paris. Since 1978, Since 1978, we have kept his watch, alarm clock, pens, brushes, films… There is also his most famous book “Only Croatia”
  • letters of Zvonko Bušić, who spent 32 years in American prisons


  • two sculptures by the famous author Kufrin who lived in Chicago: Frances Predovan and John Paul II from 1935.
  • the work of Josip Turkalj, one of the more famous students of Ivan Meštrović, is a gift from the Mesić family. Their father, Tomica was a well-known public speaker in the diaspora
  • cast in bronze “Saint Francis and Christ”, by Josip Turkalj. It is a gift from Mr. Bogović from Canada. The original work in white marble is located in Windsor (Canada)
  • a great work by Ivan Meštrović from 1942, which represents the stigmata, that is, Saint Francis and Christ at the time when St. Francis received the wounds of Christ
  • Humačka ploča, the oldest written document in BiH from the 12th century
  • the original costume from Sinj that Božo Gluvo wore in Chicago for 50 years at the Velika Gospa. The second costume is a gift from a Croatian woman from one of her fashion shows. The Croatian coat of arms looks like a crown at the Statue of Liberty
  • the cross is the work of Ivan Meštrović and dates from the 1950s. It is special in that it is made from one piece of wood
  • the original plaster, the work of Ivan Meštrović, who represents Fr. Dominik Mandić, along with the bust are also Mandić’s paintings, a prayer book, correspondence, books – including “Croats and Serbs – two old, different peoples”
  • the bust of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, which is the work of Ivan Meštrović from the 1950s. He has been in the monastery for six decades. One cast of the mentioned sculpture is in the Vatican. The photo next to it shows Pope John Paul II with a bust
  • a miniature copy of Ivan Meštrović depicting Cardinal Stepinac, next to him is a work by Josip Turkalj…
  • bust of Fr. Silvio Grubišić, made by the artist Kufrin

sculptor Ivan Meštrović

  • letters from Ivan Meštrović addressed to Fr. David Zrno and Fr. Silvije Grubišić from the 1940s and 1950s
  • Ivan Meštrović and the Croatians of Chicago organized an event in 1959 in honor of Cardinal Stepinac. Posters from that time are preserved
  • personal and signed books of Meštrović. Notre Dame, where he taught, printed his books. The original publication is preserved when Meštrović arrived at Notre Dame, the University Gallery dedicated to Meštrović – his studio where he worked and died

Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac

  • numerous things related to Stepinac’s life, among others the name of the street that was opened in 1998 when the Pope came to Zagreb to declare Stepinac blessed
  • triptych: Our Lady and three angels that Cardinal Stepinac kept on his desk. The institute got it from the people who looked after it for about 30 years. This was a gift from Pope Pius XII to Archbishop Stepinac of Zagreb when he was proclaimed a cardinal
  • a picture of the lady with the signature of Archbishop Stepinac, a cut from the post office when the Croats sent Stepinac books to the cardinal. It is from the Kordić family from Florida. Cardinal Stepinac signed the package,
  • an original picture of Cardinal Stepinac with the first communicants
  • proclamations in honor of Stepinac: the proclamation of the streets of the city of Chicago by Mayor Daley, the proclamation of the US Senate…
  • several books about Stepinac, among others the most famous by Fr. Aleksa Benigar