Add to module:

German immigration

Irish immigration

Antwerp to Ellis Island: Journey of a Lifetime

Learning Objectives:

What were the similarities and differences between the immigrants of the period 1880-1920 and previous immigrants?

How did immigrants adjust to and reshape their adopted homeland?

What push (why they left their native country)/pull (why they came to America) factors might have influenced the migration of different immigrant groups: German, Italian, Polish, Jewish, etc.

What influence did the immigrant cultures have on America? What influence did America have on them?

Political Bossism

Urban growth strained city government.
Political machines and their bosses filled in the cracks for immigrants
Solving problems of everyday life:
Son arrested
Husband needed a job
Family needed coal for furnace
Traded such favors for votes

Political bosses made money on:
Public contracts (trash collection, for example)
Utility or streetcar franchises
Distribution of city jobs

See also:

The Sage of Tammany Hall (New York Times)

George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall (National Humanities Center)

Social workers: Settlement Houses

Key name: Jane Addams

Jane Addams obituary

Hull House in Chicago (1889).

Located in center–city, immigrant neighborhoods.
Staffers: young; middle–class; college–educated; white women.

Emphasis placed on:
English language classes
Courses in cooking, sewing, and household skills
Infant welfare clinics

See also:

University of Chicago: Hull House and its Neighborhoods
My Website Spotlight blog post


Immigration (Library of Congress)
My Website Spotlight blog post

Push factors:

Food shortages
Anti–Semitism (Poland and Russia).
German Jews versus Polish/Russian Jews

Pull factors:

America as a land of opportunity
Patterns of settlement and adaptation.
Role of chain migration.

Role of return migration.

The "new" immigration.

U.S. has always had immigration:

Asylum of liberty.

Source of immigration changed.
Prior immigrants: northern and western Europe and the British Isles.
New immigrants: eastern and southern Europe.

Characteristics of newer immigrants (1890-1900)

Generally poor
Often illiterate
Jewish or Catholic
Catholicism became largest American religion
Had very different customs.
Most settled in eastern cities.
Few settled in South.

Immigrant cultures

Role of ethnic enclaves: preserve culture

Ethnic associations
Schools (tied to religion: parochial and rabbinical)

How to strike a balance between assimilation and ethnic identity

Melting pot or salad bowl as appropriate metaphor?

Generational divide

First generation: not speak English
Second generation: not speak native tongue
Third generation: aware of heritage

Nativist response

Distrust of foreigners by "natives" a consistent theme in U.S. history.

New immigrants were particularly seen as utterly alien
Threaten "American" values based on their language, religion, and culture.


Ellis Island Interactive Tour

Great material from Mapping History website:
Immigration and Population
Population Maps
Foreign-Born Population
Graph of Immigration

Roman Catholics and Immigration in Nineteenth-Century America (National Humanities Center)


Chinese Immigration and the Chinese Exclusion Acts

Immigration Act of 1924 (Historian of the State Department)

1. Chinese Immigration to the United States (Library of Congress American Memory Timeline)

Each of the documents are contained on the above page

Mark Twain's Observations About Chinese Immigrants in California

A Memorial from Representative Chinamen in America to President U.S. Grant

Mary Cone Describes the Chinaman in California

David Phillips Discusses the "Chinese Question"

Hinton Rowan Helper on Chinese Immigration

"Enactments So Utterly Un-American"

Edward Holton's Observations About Denis Kearney, a Leading Advocate of Chinese Exclusion

William C. Pond's Ministry Among Chinese Immigrants in San Francisco

2. A Chinese Immigrant Makes his Home in Turn-of-the-Century America