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Americanization in the States

Immigrant Social Welfare Policy, Citizenship, and National Identity in the United States, 1908–1929

Christina A. Ziegler-McPherson

Publication Year: 2009

In the first decades of the twentieth century, a number of states had bureaus whose responsibility was to help immigrants assimilate into American society. Often described negatively as efforts to force foreigners into appropriate molds, Christina Ziegler-McPherson demonstrates that these programs--including adult education, environmental improvement, labor market regulations, and conflict resolutions--were typically implemented by groups sympathetic to immigrants and their cultures.

Americanization in the States offers a comparative history of social welfare policies developed in four distinct regions with diverse immigrant populations: New York, California, Massachusetts, and Illinois. By focusing on state actions versus national agencies and organizations, and by examining rural and western approaches in addition to urban and eastern ones, Ziegler-McPherson broadens the historical literature associated with Americanization.

She also reveals how these programs, and the theories of citizenship and national identity used to justify their underlying policies, were really attempts by middle-class progressives to get new citizens to adopt Anglo-American, middle-class values and lifestyles.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page, Copyright

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Figures

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pp. ix-

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Foreword

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pp. xi-xii

Current debates about immigration too often make reference to the successful history of previous immigrant groups. Here we have a detailed and important study of the early twentieth century immigration debate. By 1920 the federal and state governments were taking an aggressive and activist stance...

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xiv

Although my name alone is on the cover, I—like all writers—recognize that this book is not the work of one individual. I began this project in the spring of 2004 while my husband attended business school at the University of Virginia. It was at UVA ’s Miller Center for Public Affairs that I met former Miller...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-19

Along with territorial sovereignty and national security, citizenship is a fundamental concern of government, and the question of who belongs to a national community—and who does not—is closely intertwined with the issues of security and stability. Citizenship can be defined narrowly, in terms of...

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1. The Start of a Movement: The New York Bureau of Industries and Immigration, 1908–1914

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pp. 20-38

More than 19 million immigrants entered the United States in 1900–1930, one-third of them at the nation’s largest city and busiest port, New York. The challenges these new arrivals faced began at the federal immigration station on Ellis Island and followed them, literally and figuratively, as they moved through...

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2. The California Plan: The Commission of Immigration and Housing, 1913–1917

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pp. 39-53

The immigrant welfare activities of the New York Bureau of Industries and Immigration inspired progressives in other parts of the country to develop similar programs to address their states’ immigration issues. California, already under the leadership of progressive Governor Hiram W. Johnson...

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3. An Unhealthy Relationship: Eugenics and Americanization in New York, 1914–1917

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pp. 54-65

Americanization gained momentum as both a social movement and public policy in 1913–1915. In 1913 California created its Commission of Immigration and Housing, Massachusetts appointed a temporary Commission of Immigration, and Pennsylvania added a Division of Immigration and Unemployment...

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4. Americanizing the Home: Housing Reform and the California Home Teacher Act of 1915

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pp. 66-83

In California, Americanization initially centered on interventions in the labor market through the Commission of Immigration and Housing’s regulation of agricultural labor camps. However, the CCIH developed two other important programs, housing and education, that were like two sides of the same coin...

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5. Wartime Americanization in the States: New York, California, and Massachusetts, 1917–1918

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pp. 84-104

The United States fought in World War I for less than two years, but those nineteen months between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918, were an intense and transforming period for America. On political, economic, and military levels, the nation prepared for and waged war; on social and ideological...

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6. Cosmopolitanism Cut Short: The Illinois Immigrants Commission, 1919–1921

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pp. 105-121

As the state with the largest immigrant population in the West and some of the nation’s most famous progressive activists and institutions, Illinois was where one would expect to find an active public Americanization program. However, despite the presence of Jane Addams and Hull-House, Grace...

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7. Schooling the Immigrant: Americanization and Adult Education, 1919–1929

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pp. 122-143

During World War I and in the immediate postwar period, state Americanization policies shifted emphasis from reforming the social environment and altering the behavior and attitudes of the native-born to trying to assimilate the immigrant through education. English language classes gave the...

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8. Americanization versus Restriction: Immigrant Social Welfare Policy in New York, California, and Massachusetts, 1919–1929

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pp. 144-163

In the 1920s, as the national obsession about immigrant loyalty and the meaning of American citizenship peaked and then ebbed in favor of immigration restriction, pro-immigration progressives suffered attacks on their policies of Americanization. As the country became more politically conservative...

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Conclusion

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pp. 164-173

The Americanization movement of the 1910s and 1920s was a unique phenomenon in American history. High rates of immigration have often been accompanied by reactions of nativism, but only once have Americans attempted to define their national identity through positive social reform rather...

Notes

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pp. 175-209

Bibliography

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pp. 211-227

Index

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pp. 229-233


E-ISBN-13: 9780813045139
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813035505
Print-ISBN-10: 0813035503

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 4 black and white photographs
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Working in the Americas
Series Editor Byline: Richard Greenwald and Timothy Minchin