Mexican immigrants first came to Gary, Indiana in large numbers during the 1919 steel strike. The United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel) continued to recruit Mexicans as workers in the years that followed and Mexicans soon became Gary's largest immigrant population. During the 1920s, the high number of immigrant steelworkers, the recent steel strike, and the Red Scare impelled Gary's native-born residents to fund Americanization programs. To this end, the Fort Wayne Diocese assigned Father Jean Baptiste De Ville to build a Catholic settlement house that would spearhead these post-war Americanization efforts. He partnered with U.S. Steel in founding the Gary-Alerding settlement house to fight communism among Catholic immigrant steelworkers through a Catholic Americanization strategy designed to instill obedience to centralized religious authority and support industrial capitalism. Mexican immigrant steelworkers did not respond well to De Ville's effort to enforce political and religious conformity, having developed a popular religiosity that did not rely on engaging the institutional Church via clergy or parish-based worship. Unable to recognize the limitations of his strategy toward the Mexican population, De Ville, by the end of the decade, viewed the Americanization efforts as a failure.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 19-41
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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.