American Historians and European Immigrants, 1875-1925

American Historians and European Immigrants, 1875-1925

American Historians and European Immigrants, 1875-1925

American Historians and European Immigrants, 1875-1925

Excerpt

In the period with which we are here occupied--the years from 1875 to 1925--historians had hardly more than occasional insight into the role of immigration in our national development. When they treated the subject of European immigration at all, they treated it as a sort of historiographic hangnail--a side issue to which little attention need be paid. Consequently, a large part of the present study is concerned with the attitudes of the various American historians toward immigrants and immigration, more so than with their constructive approaches or interpretations.

However, in the half century ending with 1925 certain constructive trends in the treatment of the immigrant in American historical literature were already making themselves felt-- trends that were to influence later treatment of the subject both by general American historians and by monographists. Since continuity exists in historiography no less than in history, these trends have been considered in relationship to their bearing upon developments in the historiography of immigration in the years following 1925.

In writing of the reactions of American historians to European immigrants, particularly immigrants of non-English derivation and their descendants, it has been found necessary to spread our net wide, considering operation not only of regional, class, and ethnic factors but of ideological forces as well. The approach is a broad one, relating treatment of immigrant peoples to the historian's total orientation in so far as it can be determined.

At the outset, there is some account of background factors shaping historians' attitudes toward immigrants and of the influence of the Teutonic germ theory of institutional development upon late nineteenth century American historians. This theme is further developed in chapter two with reference to John Fiske, John W. Burgess, Henry Cabot Lodge and their . . .

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