In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK reviews113 by James A. Sandos (p. 222), which uses this broader context to transcend the older dichotomy between pro-mission and anti-mission interpretations. Michael Charles Neri Saint Patrick's Seminary Menlo Park, California The Minds of the West: Ethnocultural Evolution in the Rural Middle West, 1830-1917. By Jon Gjerde. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 1997. Pp. xiii,426. $39.95.) The Minds ofthe West is a challenging work by a writer conversant with the latest trends in immigration history. His greatest contribution in this work, however , is the emphasis he places on two neglected areas ofAmerican history. Historians of immigration or ethnic history have been little attracted to the foreign-born who peopled rural America. Professor Gjerde's world is the rural Middle West. In his introduction he observes that by 1880 over half of the farmers in the tier of states stretching from Wisconsin to the Dakotas were foreignborn . He has depicted to a greater degree than anyone, perhaps, the tensions and problems of adjustment of the ethnic farming communities scattered in checkerboard fashion over the Upper Middle West. Likewise historians of the West (with the notable exception of Ferenc Szasz) have shown little interest in religion. Professor Gjerde has also demonstrated the centrality ofreligion in the development of these communities in a "heavily churched landscape." A Catholic weekly of Dubuque, Die Iowa, is perhaps his most frequently cited source. In Part One, "The Region," the author explains the attraction of a frontier stretching from Illinois to the Dakotas, where immigrants had the freedom to recreate the peasant villages they had left behind. These efforts aroused the alarm of such venerable nativists as Lyman Beecher and Samuel F. B. Morse, and later Josiah Strong, as well as the apprehension of the "Yankee" pioneers who settled next to them. Part One also focuses on the immigrants' need to adjust to American freedoms and American pluralism. Part Two, "The Community," demonstrates how chain migrations created the network of kinship communities that constituted the demographic base of the region described. Part Three, "The Family," compares the inner dynamics of the immigrant patriarchal family with those of the neighboring "Yankee" family. It also reveals the mtrafamilial stress that resulted from a need to adjust to an emerging national and capitalist economy. Part Four, "The Society," describes the impact of secular values and liberal politics on the ethnic communities of the Middle West at the end of the nineteenth century. The author shows how such issues as the public school, prohibition, and woman suffrage served to intensify ethnic identities. In the struggle, he also reveals, Catholic immigrants brought German Catholic corporatist ideology to their defense. 114BOOK REVIEWS The author makes a strong case against the assimilationist assumptions of such historians as Oscar Handlin. He emphasizes the persistence of immigrant traditions and social patterns that even World War I did not entirely eradicate. For Professor Gjerde, however, Norwegian Lutherans and German Catholics are paradigmatic of the ethnocultural configuration of the Upper Middle West. He paints a landscape of almost unrelieved stolidity, industry, and seriousness of purpose. Neglected are the Irish, and even more the Czech, Polish, and FrenchCanadian populations of the prairies and plains, often consigned by historians exclusively to the eastern proletariat. He has, nevertheless, produced a work that is rich in original insights. Thomas W Spalding, CEX. Spalding University Louisville, Kentucky Father PeterJohn DeSmet:Jesuit in the West. By Robert C. Carriker. [The Oklahoma Western Biographies, Volume 9ยท] (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. 1995. Pp. xx, 266. $24.95.) Published as Volume 9 for inclusion within what seems a mistitled series known as "The Oklahoma Western Biographies," this book is described (p. xiii) by the series editor to be an "exceptionally thorough and detailed biography of Father Peter John De Smet" (the well-known pioneer and ubiquitous Jesuit priest of the nineteenth-century American frontier). Although I found the book to be neither thorough nor detailed, I do recommend it on other grounds. Namely, since historical documents are quoted without attribution, it will appeal to the many college students and casual readers who do not read footnotes or endnotes. Lacking this scholarly format, Carriker's work will cast...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 113-114
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.