Frank J. Svoboda

From Ohio History Central

A native of Czechoslovakia, Frank J. Svoboda was a prominent resident of Cleveland, Ohio during the early twentieth century.

Svoboda was born on May 1, 1874 (some sources claim 1873), in Czechoslovakia. He immigrated with his parents to the United States of America in 1884. The family hoped to improve their financial situation in the United States. They eventually settled in Cleveland, which already had a sizable Czech population. Svoboda attended school but left, in 1888, to become a printer's assistant. He established his own print shop in 1894, and he then began publication of his own weekly Czech-language newspaper, American, in 1899. Svoboda continued to publish and edit American until 1939, when he sold the paper to a rival. The paper then became known as Svet American.

As Svoboda's publishing career was ending, he embarked upon a political one. Beginning in the 1930s, Svoboda served on the Cleveland City Planning Commission. He also became a strong supporter of Francis Townsend, who sought federal government assistance for the elderly in the United States. In 1936, Svoboda failed to secure the Democratic Party's nomination as a candidate for the United States House of Representatives. In 1942, Svoboda won election to the Ohio House, serving two terms (1943-1946). In 1946, he won election to the Ohio Senate, where he served six terms. Retiring from politics in 1960, Svoboda, at the time, was the oldest person ever to serve in the Ohio Senate.

Svoboda died on March 1, 1965. Like many other foreigners during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Svoboda viewed the United States and Ohio as a land of opportunity but still had a deep love for his native country.

See Also


  1. Van Tassel, David D., and John J. Grabowski, eds. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.