Daily Life in Immigrant America, 1870-1920

Article excerpt

Daily Life in Immigrant America, 1870-1920 June Granatir Alexander. Westport: Greenwod Press, 2007.

In our day when, for one reason another cultures are restless, forced to move, or for economic or military conditions are being forced or allowed to move, this volume is an excellent reminder of the many cultures and their backgrounds which make up the past and present development of the "Dreamland" and reality of America. During the floodtide of immigrants from Europe and Asia during the half century covered in this history, individuals and families left their poverties in their "mother" countries and came to America seeking a better life. Though a few made up a return migration when they found life in the new country too strange or too severe, most stayed. Some were lost or neglected to remain in contact with the people they had left. But most of the newcomers passed through the cities and to the cold heartland of the plains. This book is essentially a social history and therefore omits the literary accounts of the immigrants developed by some of our finest writers, such as Willa Gather, Hamlin Garland and Emma Lazarus, who penned the sonnet "The New Colossus" inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor (1903) welcoming all the downtrodden of the world to these shores. …

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