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Maxo Vanka and the Millvale Murals: More Resources

Research the works and life of Croatian-American artist Maximilian Vanka, and his masterpieces, the St. Nicholas Murals

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Additional Resources on Vanka and the Murals

Duquesne University affiliates may access any of the materials below, but will need to first enter their Multipass username and password when they click on some of the links..

vanka portrait

Self-Portrait by Maxo Vanka

Click to enlarge

maxo at work

Maxo Vanka at Work.

Click picture to enlarge


Two Pieces by Louis Adamic

Adamic was a friend of Vanka, who based his novel, Cradle of Life, on the early life of the artist. Adamic also wrote two shorter pieces about Vanka:

1. Adamic, Louis. "The Millvale Apparition." Harper's Monthly Magazine, 1 December 1937. pp.476-486

       You can find this article in: Periodicals Archive Online


2. Adamic, Louis. " My Friend, Maxo Vanka," in My America, 1928-1938. New York: Harpers, 1938. pp.156-186. 2nd Floor, Gumberg Library. Call number: E169.1 A14



3. Holy Pittsburgh--St. Nicholas Church and its murals are discussed in a short segment in the WQED video entitled Holy Pittsburgh, which is part of the TV station's Pittsburgh History Series. Release date:1989. The coverage of the Vanka murals starts at 43:08.

       Click here to view this video

Scholarly Journal Articles

4. Brett, Edward. "A Monument to Catholic Social Justice: The Maxo Vanka Murals of St. Nicholas Croatian Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania." American Catholic Studies, 122.1 (2001), pp.101-107.

       Click here to see the article




5. Dyen, Doris J. "Aids to Adaptation: Southeast European Mural Painters in Pittsburgh." Folklife Annual, (1990), pp.10-29.

       Click here to see the article




6. Zecker, Robert M. "It Was Our Parish, After All:" Immigrants and the Catholic Church. Pennsylvania Legacies, 15.2 (Fall 2015), pp. 26-31.

         Click here to see the article

Master's Theses

7. McKee, Andrew Robert. "Kolosalno! There is Something Here...Power, Energy, the Future!" Haunting, Steel, Progress, and the Urban Religious Landscape." University of Missouri-Columbia, 2013.

       Click here to read this thesis.


8. Cook, Heidi. Peasants and Politics: Croatian Ethnography and Nationalism in the Work of Maksimilijan Vanka. University of Pittsburgh, 2011.

       Click here to read this thesis.


Ph.D. Dissertations

9. Cook, Heidi. Picturing Peasants: Maksimilijan Vanka’s Folkloric Paintings and the "Croatian Question" from Habsburg Empire to Croatian Nation-State. University of Pittsburgh, 2016.

       Click here to read this dissertation.


10. All Other Articles on Maxo Vanka in Gumberg LIbrary databases

The EBSCOhost link below will search all EBSCO databases for any article mentioning Maxo Vanko. The Reader's Guide Retrospective link will do the same. When you click on the ProQuest Central link, a search will not be run, and you will need to enter the artist's name, then click "Search" to see the articles. . To learn how to know if full text is available in any our our resources, click here.

Click here to search EBSCOhost

Click here to search Reader's Guide Retrospective, 1890-1992

Click here to search ProQuest Central


11. Additional Resources

McCloskey, Barbara. "The Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka: Background & Analysis,"

         Click here to read this article

Samaniego, Sylvia Rohr. "A Gift to America: Maxo Vanka and the Millvale Murals." Pennsylvania Heritage, Winter 2022.

         Click here to read this article

Shakespeare, Margaret. “The Restoration of Maxo Vanka’s Working-Class, Immigrant Murals.” BELT Magazine. May 15, 2020.

          Click here to read this article

Maxo Vanka: Resources (From the Society to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka website--Most of these resources are on this research guide, but we might have missed a couple. Click the link below, then scroll down to see the resources list.)

          Click here

Picture source

Picture Sources

Source for Maxo at Work:

Source for Self-Portrait: