Feb. 13: Immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe

Overview of Industrial Migrations (1870-1930)
Map of Emigrant Areas (PBS)
European Homelands
Economic Factors
-Mechanization of agriculture makes it harder for small landowners to be profitable
-Migration from rural to urban areas
-Unemployment and underemployment
Demographic Factors
-Dramatic population increases > landlessness
"Culture of Migration" (letters of immigrants, in Gjerde)

Conditions in the U.S.
-1890: "End of the frontier"
-Social and economic crises (depression, populist movement)
-Transportation revolutions (trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific steamship travel; transcontinental railroad)
-Rural to urban migration
-African American migration northward (7M left the south from 1916 and 1970)
-Nativism and immigration restriction


Poland: 1.5M immigrate to U.S. from 1899-1924
Italy: 4.5M immigrate to U.S. from 1870-1930
Greece: 421,000 immigrate to U.S. from 1881-1930
Turkey: 359,466 immigrate to U.S. from 1881-1930

-Migrants are increasingly single, male laborers intending to return home
-"Birds of passage"
-Exceptions are those fleeing persecution, like Jewish immigrants

Italian Immigrants
-Mostly from the south
-Intended to return home to buy land (Dino Cinel). c. 1.5M returned to Italy between 1900 and 1914
-Worked as unskilled laborers, in fishing, agriculture, largely in urban areas in NY, NJ, PA, MA, CA, CT, IL, OH, MI, MO, LA
-Italian American Collection, Immigration History Research Center
Diego Delfino letters, IHRC

Jewish Immigrants
-1881-1924: 2.3M from Eastern Europe: Russia, Poland: 68%; Austria-Hungary: 14%; Romania: 6%
-Freedom from persecution: segregated lives in shtetls in the Pale of Settlement, driven out by anti-Jewish pogroms beginning in the 1880s
-1881-1914 - 1/3 of East European Jews leave region; 60% go to New York City
-Family migration: 1/3 are children under the age of 16; 42% are women

Mary Antin, The Promised Land (1911) - digital ebook from the University of PA

Lower East Side Tenement Museum Virtual Tour


[Readings: See: "A Racialized Description of Immigrants from Europe," "Sociologist Portrays the Racial Dimension of Immigrants," "Immigration Restriction League"]

1921 Quota Act: limited European immigration by placing a limit on the number allowed into the country
-Quotas were designed to limit the immigration of southern and eastern European immigrants
-Quotas were based on 3 percent of the number of foreign-born people of each nationality residing in the United States in 1910, when southern and eastern European populations in the U.S. were small
-Quotas were designed to favor the immigration of northern and western European immigrants who had as a group already been a large presence in the United States in 1910

1924 National Origins Act
-Revises quotas to further privilege northern and western European immigration and further limit southern and eastern European immigrants
-All "aliens ineligible for citizenship" (i.e. Asian immigrants) are excluded
-No restrictions placed on Canadians and Mexicans (but Border Patrol established the same year in separate legislation)

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by erikalee published on February 10, 2013 10:50 PM.

Feb. 11: Irish Immigration and Anti-Catholic Nativism was the previous entry in this blog.

Feb. 18: Ellis Island is the next entry in this blog.

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