Der Wanderer of St. Paul. The First Decade, 1867-1877: A Mirror of the German-Catholic Immigrant Experience in Minnesotaby John S. Kulas (review)
- The Catholic Historical Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 84, Number 1, January 1998
- pp. 152-153
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- Additional Information
152book reviews CathoUc subordination in antebeUum Protestant culture wiU make the story different .This is aU the more reason to supplement Franchot's exceUent study with Catholic counterparts. Anne C. Rose The Pennsylvania State University Der Wanderer of St. Paul. The First Decade, 1867-1877: A Mirror of the German-Catholic Immigrant Experience in Minnesota. By John S. Kulas. [German-American Studies,Vol. 9] (NewYork: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. 1996. Pp. Lx, 285.) Apart from a few general and rather dated works, the paucity of pubUshed studies of Catholic journaUsm in the United States represents a major lacuna in American Catholic historiography. Der Wanderer ofSt. Paul, as its subtitle intimates , sets out to elucidate how this German-language paper shaped and was shaped by its immigrant audience. In ten concise chapters Kulas provides a useful summary of insights from recent studies of the immigrant experience and then relates the extent to which the historical data from Der Wanderer correspond to these insights. Kulas is especially adept in describing the "dual mediational function" ofDer Wanderer as both a conservator of the cultural heritage of the German immigrant, and often unconsciously, as an agent of assimilation. As this work is the ninth volume in the new "German-American Studies" series published by Peter Lang, Kulas demonstrates an understandable partiality to the cultural as opposed to the more narrowly ecclesial importance of Der Wanderer. This partiality has yielded interesting chapters on the role of Der Wanderer as a purveyor of German Uterature, poetry, music, and theater on the American frontier. However, readers with an interest in the editorial stance of the paper on particularly "CathoUc" issues may be disappointed. Some of the data Kulas has gleaned from Der Wanderer need further explication. For example , he informs us that Der Wanderer kept its readers abreast of events in the German church,"which stiU claimed their allegiance"; that the paper carried extensive coverage of the First Vatican Council, and that its articles were "all triumphantly pro-papal" (pp. 69-70). It would have been of interest to know what specificaUy Der Wanderer had to say about the debate on papal infaUibility, and how the paper mediated the teaching to its readers particularly as it was initially opposed by both the German and American hierarchies. Further, Kulas makes no connection between the German-CathoUc experience of the Kulturkampf and the ambivalence, and at times the antipathy Der Wanderer displayed toward modern culture, non-Catholics, and the liberal state. Finally,while Kulas limited himselfto the first ten years ofDerWanderer's history, it would be of interest to learn how much simUarity exists between the ecclesial view of the first issues and the current, English-language version. StUl, Der Wanderer of book reviews153 St. Paul contains a great deal ofvaluable historical information on the first years of a noteworthy American CathoUc newspaper. Rory T. Conley Wheaton, Maryland The Scalabrinians in North America (1887-1934). By Mary Elizabeth Brown. (NewYork: Center for Migration Studies. 1996. Pp. 414. $19.95.) The plight of the ItaUan immigrants was dire during the latter decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of this present one. It mattered Uttle what their final destination was, since the vast majority of ItaUans fleeing their impoverished homeland were nearly destitute. Overtaxed, unemployed, bound to unproductive land, most were further overburdened by a government struggling to survive itsetf, foUowing the unification of the ItaUan peninsula into one geographic nation. For milUons, the only answer was emigration, and most dreamt of America.To the countries in North and South America, these needy throngs presented an often unwanted and unattractive sight. Poor and from the "lower classes," usually illiterate, unable to communicate except by means of local ItaUan dialects, they found themselves isolated from the mainstream of their adopted homeland and from each other because ofcultural and provincial rivahies.Tens of thousands entered a form of indentured servitude in payment for passage to the NewWorld,whUe thousands more joined the battalions of immigrants exploited as cheap laborers. There were few in Italy or in the Americas who were sufficiently concerned with the plight of these immigrants to actually initiate legislation to stem their flight, or extend assistance to...