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Immigration and American History

Immigration and American History: Essays in Honor of Theodore C. Blegen

EDITED BY HENRY STEELE COMMAGER
Copyright Date: 1961
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 182
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttt8pk
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  • Book Info
    Immigration and American History
    Book Description:

    Ten scholars noted for their studies in immigration history contribute essays to this volume. Dr. Commager, professor of history and American studies at Amherst College, surveys the course of immigration studies over the years. Oscar Handlin, director of the Center for the Study of the History of Liberty in America at Harvard University, reappraises the role of immigration in American life. Ingrid Semmingsen, Norwegian historian, writes on the image of American in Europe. Philip D. Jordan, professor of history at the University of Minnesota, focuses on the immigrant’s view of America. John T. Flanagan, professor of English at the University of Illinois, discusses the immigrant in fiction. Carlton C. Qualey, chairman of the department of history at Carleton College, contributes two essays. In the first he surveys world population movements and in the second he suggests new source materials for immigration studies. Henry A. Pochmann, professor of American literature at the University of Wisconsin, discusses the migration of ideas - what ideas have come into America, from where, and to what end? Franklin D. Scott, professor of history at Northwestern University, inquires into the value of immigration studies of nationality groups. The Reverend Colman J. Barry, associate professor of history at St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, explores possibilities for future immigration studies. Theodore C. Blegen, dean emeritus of the University of Minnesota graduate school, takes a backward glance and a forward look at immigration studies._x000B_The volume is based on the papers given at a conference held at the University of Minnesota in honor of Dr. Blegen on his retirement from the university.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6196-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-2)
  3. The Study of Immigration
    (pp. 3-7)
    HENRY STEELE COMMAGER

    Many will remember the happy occasion when, with calculated tactlessness, President Franklin D. Roosevelt reminded the Daughters of the American Revolution that they were all the descendants of immigrants. That is, in fact, the quality and the experience all of us have in common; the differences are of degree only in that for some of us the experience is immediate and personal, for others inherited, and for still others vicarious. Immigration is then the oldest theme in our history and the most nearly universal. Yet curiously enough it is one of the last to have enjoyed scholarly consideration. For it...

  4. Immigration in American Life: A Reappraisal
    (pp. 8-25)
    OSCAR HANDLIN

    In july 1921, theAmerican Journal of Sociologypublished a forceful article by Arthur Meier Schlesinger entitled “The Significance of Immigration in American History.” The paper was widely read and, no doubt, contributed to the revival of interest in what had theretofore been a relatively neglected field.¹

    The aim of the essay was to set the record straight. It devoted itself to two major themes. In the first place, it pointed to the mixed antecedents of the American population in rebuttal of the argument that the culture of the nation derived from a single overseas source. In the second place...

  5. Emigration and the Image of American in Europe
    (pp. 26-54)
    INGRID SEMMINGSEN

    One of the early Norwegian emigrants tells us, in his reminiscences, that when he and his brother were traveling from place to place in Rogaland — the district from which the very first Norwegian emigrants had come — in the winter of 1836, they heard people talk about a country called America and about an emigrant who had recently paid a visit to his home country, and they saw a letter which had come from America. “This was the first time we heard this name,” he says.¹ Three months later the brothers were on their way to America.

    This is how the...

  6. The Stranger Looks at the Yankee
    (pp. 55-78)
    PHILIP D. JORDAN

    This is the simple saga of three men.¹

    One was a carpenter, one a smith and ironmonger, one a liveryman, who got his start currying horses and renting teams. The first was baptized Thomas Patrick Dailey, the second bore the name of Philip Perlstrom, and the third was Frederick Wilhelm Unterkircher. They came to the United States separately and without knowing one another. They arrived in the decades before the Civil War. Each lived beyond fourscore years and each crossed the threshold of the twentieth century.

    The lad from County Cork settled down to cut with saw and build with...

  7. The Immigrant in Western Fiction
    (pp. 79-95)
    JOHN T. FLANAGAN

    When Crèvecoeur in 1782 attempted to define an American, he stressed the absence of titles, of church domination, of hereditary aristocracy in the New World. But hi his composite picture he considered more than political conditions. To him Americans even in the late eighteenth century had multiple origins. Not only were they different in race and culture, but many of them were impoverished wanderers who literally had no country. For them the New World provided a spiritual and economic rebirth. In Crèvecoeur’s famous words,“Heis an American, who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new...

  8. Immigration as a World Phenomenon
    (pp. 96-106)
    CARLTON C. QUALEY

    The field of immigration studies has until recently been primarily focused upon the United States. This has been a natural development because of the huge and dramatic transatlantic migrations and because the American people have been highly conscious of their immigrant ancestry. On the other hand, emigration studies have been peripheral to the nationalistic preoccupations of European historians who have treated the vast exodus, if at all, chiefly as an extension of national history. The fact that the emigration of millions of Europeans constitutes a major chapter of European history has largely escaped the attention of European historians. This astonishing...

  9. The Migration of Ideas
    (pp. 107-114)
    HENRY A. POCHMANN

    We assume that American culture (or civilization, if you prefer that term) results from the interplay or interaction between foreign influences and native conditioning—a foreign heritage and an American environment. That seems simple enough, but it doesn’t help very much. In my own case, after studying these two factors for twenty-five years, and producing some ten or twelve pounds of letterpress on the subject of German-American relations—a quarter of a century during which hardly a day passed when I did not agonize over some question of what wasGermanorAmericanin the first place—I had finally...

  10. The Immigration Theme in the Framework of National Groups
    (pp. 115-125)
    FRANKLIN D. SCOTT

    The process of migration to America is primarily an individual phenomenon. In his decision to emigrate, in the circumstances of his travel, in the problems of his resettlement, each person is different from every other person, just as his thumbprints are a peculiar and individual pattern. For the ideal and thorough study of immigration to the United States we should therefore have some 39 million biographies, buttressed with intelligence tests, letters of recommendation, lie detector tests, and psychiatric reports. Then we could make scientific classifications and analyses, and with a battery of IBM machines run by an army of researchers...

  11. Prospects for Materials in Immigration Studies
    (pp. 126-133)
    CARLTON C. QUALEY

    At first glance the materials for a history of American immigration seem voluminous, but closer inspection reveals that they are in fact inadequate. Happily there are large reservoirs of materials still to be tapped, and it is the purpose of this paper to indicate what these are and how they may be exploited for further study, and for ultimate synthesis.

    Oddly enough there is no adequate comprehensive bibliography of the history of immigration. The most recent — that published by the George Washington University in 1956—is incomplete, somewhat hastily compiled, and, as is the fate of all bibliographies, already out...

  12. New Prospects in Immigration Studies
    (pp. 134-138)
    COLMAN J. BARRY and O.S.B.

    Every historian in this field doubtless has his own ideas and plans for the future development of subjects and areas of immigration studies. One of the distinctive satisfactions of history is this revising of one's conclusions, allowing the changing shapes and colors of new research to permit discovery of something new. And I am certain that others have more valuable insights into the possibilities of immigration studies than I. I should like, however, to suggest some considerations which might stimulate a broader understanding of this topic while relating the parts to the whole.

    The approaching Lincoln-Civil War centennial, with its...

  13. The Saga of the Immigration
    (pp. 139-152)
    THEODORE C. BLEGEN

    The newer emphasis upon the history of immigration has been forwarded in recent years by increasing concern about cultural and social forces in the national life, coupled with the emergence of trained scholars who found immigration, without the coloring of filiopietistic bias, an inviting and challenging research domain. They felt that the frontier hypothesis of Turner by no means explained the diversity in American customs and attitudes or revealed the full complexion of American culture, and that a new approach was needed.

    The wide-ranging saga of the immigrant opened fresh avenues to the understanding of American history, though the newer...

  14. About the Authors
    (pp. 155-156)
  15. Theodore C. Blegen: A Bibliography
    (pp. 157-161)
  16. Index
    (pp. 162-166)