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Ethnic Historians and the Mainstream

Shaping America's Immigration Story

Alan M. Kraut and David A. Gerber

Publication Year: 2013

Do historians “write their biographies” with the subjects they choose to address in their research? In this collection, editors Alan M. Kraut and David A. Gerber compiled eleven original essays by historians whose own ethnic backgrounds shaped the choices they have made about their own research and writing as scholars. These authors, historians of American immigration and ethnicity, revisited family and personal experiences and reflect on how their lives helped shape their later scholarly pursuits, at times inspiring specific questions they asked of the nation’s immigrant past. They address issues of diversity, multiculturalism, and assimilation in academia, in the discipline of history, and in society at large. Most have been pioneers not only in their respective fields, but also in representing their ethnic group within American academia. Some of the women in the group were in the vanguard of gender diversity in the discipline of history as well as on the faculties of the institutions where they have taught.

The authors in this collection represent a wide array of backgrounds, spanning Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. What they have in common is their passionate engagement with the making of social and personal identities and with finding a voice to explain their personal stories in public terms.

Contributors: Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp, John Bodnar, María C. García, David A. Gerber, Violet M. Showers Johnson, Alan M. Kraut, Timothy J. Meagher, Deborah Dash Moore, Dominic A. Pacyga, Barbara M. Posadas, Eileen H. Tamura, Virginia Yans, Judy Yung

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 1-6

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

We would like to thank Jane Morris, a skillful and dedicated editor, who has We also wish to thank our editor at Rutgers University Press, Marlie Wasser-man, for her support of our project and all her kindness, patience, and coopera-Finally, we offer our warm thanks and deep appreciation to Marilyn Camp-bell, Director of the Prepress Department at Rutgers, and to our copyeditor, John ...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-16

The eleven essays in this book are offered to readers with two principal frame-works in mind. The essays provide examples of how some historians come by their creativity as scholars in a field that readily captures the personal stories of millions of ordinary people, intimately caught up in the processes of history. Through the stories these historians tell about how they found their subject ...

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2. Worlds Apart and Together: From Italian American Girlhood to Historian of Immigration

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pp. 17-31

I came of age during the 1950s in the small town of Mamaroneck, New York. Holding Mother?s or Father?s hand, when I turned left on our street up the hill and a long stretch away for my little legs, we would arrive at our Sunday des-tination: the sparkling, open waters of a peaceful harbor extending far away into the saltwater sound. Blue sky and skipping clouds sheltered the moored, ...

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3. Sidewalk Histories

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pp. 32-45

In third grade, our class took a memorable field trip to do stone rubbings. I attended Downtown Community School (DCS), a parent-teacher cooperative. A progressive and integrated elementary school, DCS typically linked art projects with social studies, in this case, the required local history curriculum on New York City. However, instead of taking our gear across the street into the cem-...

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4. Coal Town Chronicles and Scholarly Books

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pp. 46-65

Growing up in Forest City in the 1950s, I caught a glimpse of a world that was rapidly vanishing. The once-booming anthracite coal industry of northeastern Pennsylvania was nearly at an end after reaching its peak around the time of World War I. I understand they still existed when I was a small child, but I have no conscious memory of seeing the actual mines or the large breaker erected by ...

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5. Ethnic and Racial Identities: A Polish Filipina's Progress in Chicago and the Profession

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pp. 66-79

How did I become a historian of American immigration and ethnicity? Per-haps I should begin at the beginning with other questions. How did I get to college in the first place? How and why did I become a historian? As with so many others who came of academic age in the 1960s and 1970s, the answers to these questions were never self-evident. Born and raised in a White, multi-...

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6. From Back of the Yards to the College Classroom

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pp. 80-93

Historians think of themselves as objective observers of the past, but like all human beings our points of view are largely shaped by our experiences. We began our journey as students of the past at a very young age as we took in our circumstances and understood our environment. These influences cannot help but impact our worldview. This is especially true for those of us who grew up in ...

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7. Why Irish? Writing Irish American History

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pp. 94-110

He is a tiny figure in the photograph, so small that his features are hard to discern. In life, he had a long, thin face and nose, but in this photograph it is hard to see anything but a bowler hat, a snowy patch of white beard on his chin, a thin frame, and bowed legs. Yet the pose and the photo were important to him, because the place and the time were important to him. He is standing next ...

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8. In Our Own Words: Reclaiming Chinese American Women's History

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pp. 111-127

The fifth daughter of Chinese immigrants, I grew up in the 1950s knowing very little about my own family history, let alone the history of the Chinese in America. Like most people in San Francisco Chinatown, my family went by two different surnames. Among our relatives and friends we were known as the Tom family, but at school and on our birth certificates we were known as the Yung ...

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9. Ordinary People

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pp. 128-144

My research has highlighted issues of identity, marginality, and social jus-tice as they impact the lives of ordinary people. I have been drawn to themes of power and resistance, oppression and dominance, competing interests and worldviews, and the oft-stated ideal of creating a more open society.1At the same time, as a Japanese American in Hawai?i, I have occasionally ...

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10. Americana

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pp. 145-156

Americana, the Spanish translation of the word American, positions one both within and beyond the nation-state. To say ?yo soy Americana? can mean that I am a citizen of a specific country?the United States?or a citizen of a region or hemisphere?the Americas. I remember the first time I identified myself as Americana in a Latin American country, my host hesitated, smiled, and gen-...

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11. Meddling in the American Dilemma: Race, Migrations, and Identities from an Africana Transnational Perspective

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pp. 157-174

One day in my first year of full-time teaching in the United States, the class discussion got very heated over an assessment of the legendary early twentieth-century conflict between African American activist W.E.B. Du Bois and Jamaican immigrant Black nationalist Marcus Garvey. I attempted to steer the different factions away from arguments shaped solely by their personal, emotionally ...

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12. From Uncle Mustafa to Auntie Rana: Journeys to Mexico, the United States , and Lebanon

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pp. 175-188

My family history has led me to question national narratives and to uncover discrepancies between the content of historical records and that of oral tradi-tions. This has taken me to U.S. archives to understand how Mexico governed immigration, and conversely to work in Mexican archives to understand how the U.S. governed immigration as an adjacent nation- state.1 The invitation by ...

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Coda

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pp. 189-204

I suspect that very few historians stop to reflect on their personal pasts before calibrating the direction of their scholarship. And yet, as a former graduate stu-dent once observed, historians often seem to write their autobiographies with the subjects they address in their books and articles. Perhaps the process is inevitable. As the great jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker observed, ?If you don?t ...

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 205-208


E-ISBN-13: 9780813562261
E-ISBN-10: 0813562260
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813562254

Page Count: 220
Illustrations:
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Emigration and immigration -- Historiography.
  • Immigrants -- United States -- Historiography.
  • United States -- Race relations -- Historiography.
  • United States -- Ethnic relations -- Historiography.
  • Historiography -- United States.
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