Distant Magnets: Expectations and Realities in the Immigrant Experience, 1840-1930

By Dirk Hoerder; Horst Rössler | Go to book overview

7
Scandinavian Migrants' Images and the Americanization of the Work Process

Claudius H. Riegler

SCANDINAVIAN migration to America in the second half of the nineteenth and the first quarter of the twentieth centuries is one of the most thoroughly researched migration movements of this period. 1 According to Akerman, its chronological development can be divided into an introductory phase ( 1850-69) and a growth phase ( 1870-83); and into a saturation phase ( 1884-92) and a regression phase ( 1893- 1930). 2

A comprehensive scholarly debate has emphasized the effect of general and special "push" and "pull" factors. 3 Extensive specialized studies have been devoted to the transatlantic information and transport system. 4 But there has been less research into the many-faceted, subjective image of America as a significant influence on migration decisions. Runeby's differentiated investigation of Swedish migrants' images of America during the early phase of overseas migration provides a starting point. But a similar study of the period of mass migration, emphasizing both objective factors and subjective perception, is missing. 5 Above all, an investigation of the images conveyed in the press, taking into account the reading habits of all sections of the population, is necessary. 6 Unfortunately, no comprehensive collection of "America letters" exists, although some have been published and others are available in many archives. Barton's study, with its unrepresentative social and historical selection, remains inadequate. 7

The problem seems to be the same in other Scandinavian countries. In Denmark reliable data about the number of the Amer-

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