Informant No 14. When using quotes, rather than the name of the
informant the number of the interview is used to avoid disclosuring their
The small-holding areas were Peloponnese, Cyclades, Epirus,
Aegean islands, Western Macedonia and highlands in Eastern Thessaly. In the
1920s the large holdings in the areas where share-cropping prevailed were
distributed to the landless, thus creating a nation of small-holding farmers
(Agianoglou, 1982, 293-7).
Historical data exist for other islands/localities but these
have only been used rarely up to the present time.
On the methodology of the Generalized Inverse Projection, see
Oeppen, 1993; on its application specifically to Mykonos, see Hionidou, 1993,
Their names indicate that the in-migrant population was
exclusively Greek and their places of origin were those where Greek population
was known to have existed (Crete, the Aegean islands and towns in Asia Minor),
even if outside the contemporary Greek boundaries.
After excluding the 1922 Asia Minor refugees and Mykoniati
descendants born outside Mykonos, the percentages become 0.6, 1.8, 3.1 and 2.6
for the four decades starting in 1919-1928.
Sailing was one of —if not— the most important sources of cash
income for Mykoniati men in the mid-nineteenth century since 44 per cent of men
aged 18 to 60 were engaged in it. Gradually, its importance declined and so did
the income earned from it.
The preference of Mykoniati traders in employing Mykoniati even
among the well off is also evident in the correspondence of Georgios
Drakopoulos, an eminent Mykoniati ship Captain, with his wife. Drakopoulos
mentions that Ampanopoulos (another Mykoniati based in Verdianska) requested
from him to arrange the transfer of a cargo from Sevastople (a Russian port) to
Verdianska (Folklore Museum of Mykonos archives, Folder 111, Subfolder, letter
sent on 16/9/1876).
Still, for some of the affluent Greek migrants this
“permanency” lasted as long as there were strong financial interests in the
area (Herlihy, 1989, 242).
The surviving census returns for Hermoupolis cover only a part
of the population, for example, 60 per cent in 1861. From the known size of the
Hermoupolis population and the Mykoniati present in the surviving census
returns, the total number of Mykoniati in Hermoupolis was estimated to have
been 296, 421 and 527 in 1861, 1870 and 1879 respectively (Hionidou,
In two instances the informants, referring to their fathers,
mentioned that they were sent to Syros at a very young age as
servants/apprentice to factory owners. One of them went on sailing until he got
married in one of his visits to Mykonos and remained there, while the other
went on as an apprentice in a bakery and later returned to Mykonos where he got
married and retained a bakery (No 8 and No 18 respectively).
No 13 referred to her step-mother who spent approximately 10
years between 1900 and 1910 as servant and No 12 referred to her older sister
who joined an Athenian family as a servant at the age of six in the early 1910s
and stayed with them until she got married. No 22 referred to her elder brother
who was sent to Athens “at a very young age”, i.e. less than 10 years old, in a bakery. The
employment of servants by households in Athens and Piraeus during the second
half of the nineteenth century seems to have been widespread (Leontidou, 1989,
In cases where the decision was taken by the individual against
the parental wishes, repercussions were expected such as exclusion from
inheritance. Conversely, it was only the immediate family/household that
mattered in the decision making process. The wider kin present at the place of
origin did not play any role in the process. (On the household organization on
Mykonos, see Hionidou, 1995a).
Young girls residing in the Mykonos countryside would
invariably participate in agricultural works either working in the parental
fields or for cash.
It seems that in most cases the parental home did not have
access to the girl's earnings. These were set aside either by herself or by the
family that employed her specifically for her dowry. A house was considered to
be an essential part of a woman’s dowry on Mykonos. Depending on the
socio-economic background of the bride, the value of the overall value of the
dowry may have been considerably larger to that of the house. (See also
Hionidou, 1995a, 77-9; Stott, 1982).
When they left Mykonos at a younger age they would be placed in
a shop as apprentice to learn a craft or trade (No 6 in Syros in a butcher's
shop, No 10 referring to a brother of hers who went to a grocer's shop in
Leontidou also cites this pattern of sharing accommodation by
single migrant seasonal workers in Piraeus as far back as the late nineteenth
century. Thus, the Mykoniati migrants followed the example of other, earlier
established patterns of migrants in Piraeus (Leontidou 1989, p.92 citing
Mpafounes, 1989, 7-8).
Two informants, No 6 and No 28 who were brothers, did not work
in Athens in paid employment even though the first spent two years as an
apprentice in Syros and a third brother migrated to Joliette, USA. Also,
according to informant No 7, neither he nor his brothers ever worked in paid
employment outside Mykonos (although his sister's husband did). In both cases,
the parental families were amongst the most affluent farming households owing
large plots of land.
Leontidou also points at the temporary and seasonal pattern of
those single men migrating to Piraeus (Leontidou, 1989, 117). Nevertheless, she
considers migration to Piraeus as being part of a step migration process with
the young migrants of Piraeus aiming to emigrate overseas (Leontidou, 1989,
118, 121). No such evidence was traced in this analysis.
Where a daughter was given a plot of land in Athens as a dowry
it seems that the groom was already working in Athens prior to the wedding. It
could have been that this latter fact affected the father's decision to dower
his daughter with land in Athens. Again this could only happen when the father
himself was working in Athens. For farming households established on Mykonos,
the accumulation of the necessary cash for such a purchase in Athens was—most
In one case, the house was sold to the bride’s mother who used
it as dowry for the next daughter. Buying and selling of property was very
common, partly due to the early monetarization of the island economy.
There is an abundance of such examples that can be drawn from
the interviews. Informant No 8 indicated that her father got married on Mykonos
and became a farmer after spending 25 years as a sailor. Informant No 15
indicated that after marriage her husband spent some years in wage employment
and circulating between Mykonos and other islands while she was residing in the
town of Mykonos in the house that constituted her dowry. Later on, when they
were able to buy land and animals they became farmers and moved to a rural
The majority of working class men had received a few years of
After 1920, the arrival of the Asia Minor refugees meant the
immediate creation of a permanent urban proletariat that subsequently enabled
the industrial expansion of the country. That, in turn, attracted migrants from
rural to urban areas.
When the crisis was temporary—the Second World War is one such
example—then the migrants would leave the island again once the crisis had come
to an end (for example No 24 who returned to Mykonos while her husband was a
soldier and stayed on Mykonos until the end of the War). In cases of more
serious crisis situations—when for example the health of the breadwinner was
impaired—such a move would be permanent (see for example earlier No