Florida Virtual Schools – Teaching American History Project

Becoming American:
Immigration and Assimilation in Late 19th Century America

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 | 10:00–11:30 a.m. (EST)

Family at Ellis Island, 1905


Josef Barton

Professor emeritus of History
and of Spanish and Portuguese
Northwestern University

About the Seminar

The history of immigration thrusts several questions forward. First, where does migration begin? As its geographical settings changed, so did migration. In the case of this seminar, the places of origin will be eastern and southern Europe. Second, when does migration arise? Even though migrations copied from one another, immigrants developed movements that responded to the challenges of specific times. Our session’s focus is the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Third, what did immigration change? This last question will run through our seminar.

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Seminar Recording

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Download Recording (You will need to install the WebEx ARF player, available at download, to play back the recording.) Italian Family at Ellis Island, 1905

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Assigned Readings

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    Note Part 1: What cultural changes were traced to immigration?

  1. A manifesto to preserve Anglo-America: The Old World in the New: The Significance of Past and Present Immigration to the American People, by Edward A. Ross
  2. A plea for pluralism: “Democracy versus the Melting Pot,” by Horace A. Kallen, The Nation
  3. Note Part 2: How and why did immigration make possible the transformation of the United States from a rural republic to an industrial nation?

  4. Immigrants reshape mining: Anthracite Coal Communities, by Peter Roberts
  5. Immigrants make a new labor force: Our Slavic Fellow Citizens, by Emily Greene Balch
  6. Immigrant women in clothing manufacture: Women in Industry: A Study in American Economic History, Edith Abbott
  7. Immigrants make a steel industry: The Steel Strike of 1919, Interchurch World Movement
  8. Note Part 3: How did immigrants create stable lives in the midst of this economic transformation?

  9. Unemployment in the early twentieth century: Poverty, by Robert Hunter
  10. Immigrant households in a steel city: Homestead: The Households of a Mill Town, by Margaret F. Byington
  11. Immigrants in dangerous working conditions: Work-accidents and the Law, by Crystal Eastman
  12. Immigrant children at work and school: Truancy and Non-attendance in the Chicago Schools, by Edith Abbott and Sophonisba P. Breckinridge
  13. The drive to acquire property: New Homes for Old, by Sophonisba P. Breckinridge
  14. Note Part 4: How, in the midst of such uncertainty, did immigrants create a distinctive urban culture?

  15. Religious diversity in the immigrant city: “The Bohemian People in Chicago,” Hull House Maps and Papers, by Josefa Humpal Zeman
  16. What did immigrants read?: Anthracite Coal Communities, by Peter Roberts
  17. A massive immigrant press: The Immigrant Press and Its Control, by Robert Park
  18. Immigrant theater and city life: The Spirit of the Ghetto: Studies of the Jewish Quarter in New York, by Hutchins Hapgood
  19. Learning English, preserving native languages: The New Immigration, by Peter Roberts
  20. Note Part 5: How did immigrants transform American politics?

  21. Images from Chicago, Illinois, c.1910