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The Melting Pot and the Altar

The Melting Pot and the Altar: Marital Assimilation in Early Twentieth-Century Wisconsin

Richard M. Bernard
Copyright Date: 1980
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    The Melting Pot and the Altar
    Book Description:

    Through extensive quantitative analysis of census reports and marriage records Bernard studies the pattern of intergroup marriage - the ultimate test of assimilation - during a period of massive migration to this country. Both historians and sociologists will find this work of interest as an example of quantitative methodology and for its new evidence of an important subject.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6153-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction: The Study of Marital Assimilation
    (pp. xiii-2)

    Charles A. Sandburg and Lillian A. Steichen married in Milwaukee on June 15, 1908. The public record listed the groom as a 30-yearold “party organizer,” born in Illinois, the son of Swedish parents. The bride, a school teacher residing in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, was the Michigan-born daughter of a Luxembourger couple, John P. and Mary Steichen. Mr. Carl Thompson performed the ceremony, and Mrs. Olive S. Gaylord and Mrs. Kate Thompson witnessed the event. What the official documents cannot show, however, is why Carl and “Paula” Sandburg fell in love and married.¹

    Less than a month before the young couple...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Wisconsin’s Immigrants
    (pp. 3-41)

    The central element in the social environment of Wisconsin during the first seven decades of its statehood was a substantial influx of European immigrants.¹ The easy accessibility of the state by ship across the Great Lakes and by rail via Chicago made it one of the major recipients of German and Scandinavian newcomers and a significant receiver of East European immigrants as well, especially those from the old Russian and Austrian empires. Throughout the censuses of the nineteenth century, over 30% of Wisconsin’s residents listed foreign birthplaces, and despite a slow but steady decline in the proportion of foreign-born from...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Intermarriage Rates
    (pp. 42-69)

    Assimilation, like beauty, is “in the eye of the beholder.” Its definition can be elusive. Note, for example., the case of the Germans of New Holstein in Calumet County, Wisconsin.¹

    In 1848, a group of farm laborers and their families from the area around Kiel, Holstein, decided to emigrate to the United States. Wages at home were low: Men annually earned only 25 to 30 dollars plus their room and board. Women received 15 to 18 dollars, a pair of shoes, and enough homespun linen for a single dress. Thus, when William Ostenfeldt, a Calumet city resident, returned to his...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Individual Factors
    (pp. 70-89)

    How can one explain the decision of Peter Christian Beck to marry someone from a nationality group different from his own? Was there something about the man that made him more inclined to out-marry than were other turn-of-the-century Wisconsinites?

    Beck, the five-foot, six-inch, blue-eyed son of Thomas and Man C. Beck, arrived in the United States from his native Denmark in November, 1889.¹ Only 18 years old when he landed, this ambitious young man became a grocer in Racine, Wisconsin, in partnership with another Dane, Jens S.Jensen. Theirs was a small concern and both men lived at the store site...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Group Factors
    (pp. 90-114)

    Just as “marriage is a two-way street,” there is rarely a one-lane avenue to mate selection. Individuals do not normally choose mates without regard to the marriageable persons around them. Assuming that this is equally true for in-group and out-group marriages, the marital assimilation process must have been at least two-dimensional. Not only must a person have been willing to outmarry—something that depended in part on his or her own social characteristics—but he or she also must have found a suitable prospective mate. The likelihood of marital assimilation, therefore, must have depended to some extent on the relative...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Melting Pot and the Altar: Conclusions
    (pp. 115-126)

    By most standards, Robert M. La Follette and Belle Case were extraordinary people, yet in selecting each other as marriage partners, they acted in a predictable manner. The future governor and United States senator and the soon-to-be first female graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School discovered one another on the Madison campus, in an era when higher education remained largely the province of native-stock Americans such as themselves. Given the geographic limits on his courtship activities, the nonimmigrant environment of the university, and his own social characteristics and their relationship to those of the women around him, Bob...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 129-144)
  11. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 145-160)
  12. Index
    (pp. 161-162)