American Frontier and Western Issues: A Historiographical Review

By Roger L. Nichols | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Among the host of scholars currently practicing ethnic history, several others deserve at least a brief mention. One of the most perceptive treatments of urban ethnic matters is Kathleen N. Conzen "Immigrants, Immigrant Neighborhoods, and Ethnic Identity: Historical Issues," which grew out of her earlier study of the Milwaukee German community. Two scholars have written brief studies of the relationship between ethnic groups and agriculture. Theodore Saloutos considers this issue on the Pacific Coast, while Robert P. Swierenga "Ethnicity and American Agriculture" expands the discussion to encompass much of the nation. Little attention has been paid to immigrants on the various Southern frontiers, and Forest McDonald draws attention to this historical blind spot in "The Ethnic Factor in Alabama History."34 For a wide-ranging and sophisticated discussion of frontier mobility that includes valuable insights into ethnic issues, see Ralph Mann, "Frontier Opportunity and the New Social History."

The relationship of ethnic groups to the frontier experience would seem, on the evidence of scholarship to date, to vary greatly, depending on the size and density of the ethnic group's concentration and the era and the region in which settlement occurred. It also seems true that most ethnic groups adapted readily to American agricultural and industrial methodologies, modified in the first and perhaps the second generation by survival of group customs brought from Europe. Practically all immigrants conformed to the American constitutional system and in varying degree participated in local and national politics. Most seem to have liked the opportunity to take part in the great American game of real estate speculation with unearned increment the reward. The rate of success or failure seems not worse for immigrants as compared with old-stock native-born people. Life on the frontier was a leveling experience, but some inevitably proved tougher or luckier. A visit to any old cemetery will tell the tale of too many child deaths because of inadequate medical care and high accident rates. The role of women on many frontiers was a bleak one. Relief in the social activities of the churches undoubtedly was a balm to thousands. As seems obvious, generalizations concerning the experience of a specific people on most frontiers call for continuing research. Finally, despite the ever-present geographical factors that the pioneers encountered, their experience proved more a story of the influence of the people on each frontier than the opposite.


NOTES
1.
Frederick Luebke, "Ethnic Minority Groups in the American West," in Michael P. Malone , ed., Historians and the American West ( Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983).
2.
Carlton C. Qualey, "Marcus Lee Hansen", Midcontinent American Studies Journal 8 (Fall 1967): 18-25; Marcus Lee Hansen, The Atlantic Migration, 1607- 1860, ed. Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press 1940); Hansen, The Immigrant in American History, ed., Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1940).

-211-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
American Frontier and Western Issues: A Historiographical Review
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 303

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?