home & art/culture events organizations publications
Lithuanians In Arizona:
First Lithuanians

Lithuanians started to come to Arizona before World War I. Then, as now, it was the warm and dry climate of Phoenix and Tucson, located in the desert regions of southern Arizona, that attracted them. The first Lithuanians came to Arizona to recover from lung illnesses, rheumatism or arthritis. Being ill and few in number, they did not leave a major cultural legacy.

The number of Lithuanians in Arizona started to increase only after 1935. Younger ones took up farming, the trades, businesses and worked in the industry, but most of them came to retire.

During World War II a number of military training bases were located in the Arizona desert and many young men became acquainted with Arizona's wonderful climate while in military service. Many of them returned to Arizona after the war, starting the fast growth of Arizona cities. Among the returning veterans were a number of Lithuanian-Americans as well.

A pleasant climate, beautiful desert, and urban growth also attracted high-tech industries, scientists, engineers and technicians.

The 1990 US census showed about 8,000 Arizonans acknowledging their Lithuanian roots. Majority of them were second, third and later generation Americans and children of mixed ethnic marriages. Although acknowledging their Lithuanian roots, only 200 or so actively participated in Lithuanian events and activities.