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The life of immigrants in the united states

Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history. In subsequent years, Handlin would make sure that this motto became part of the public consciousness of historians through his numerous writings.

But Handlin and other pioneers histories of U. In classic accounts, women are mentioned only occasionally, for example to highlight the crisis that traditional family relationships undergo [3]. Women Immigrants and the Chicago School of Sociology. The fact that Handlin, and others paid scant attention to women is remarkable because women immigrants had actually been the subject of a rather lively scholarship during the early 20th century.

Jane Addams and Lillian Wald, for example, were not only both founders of settlement houses in the United States, they were also prolific writers whose publications paid much attention to the women immigrants under their care [4].

In the shadow of the settlement movement, emerged a group of female social scientists who made the lives of migrant and immigrant women the subject of their studies as sociologists and social workers. None of these studies were conceived as histories, they were ethnographic and sociological portraits of a specific contemporary community. Because of their rich array of observations and relatively unprejudiced assessments, they hold up well as social history.

Though in their own time, these works were not paradigm setting. Rather than outlining sweeping theoretical insights, the early studies on women immigrants and migrants, advocated selective intervention of reformers and public agencies, and presented an ideal of involved citizenship as the desirable goal for immigrants and reformers alike.

Nevertheless, as a result of these studies, the presence of women immigrants as actors in their own right and as subjects for the life of immigrants in the united states became established rather early on. These new works put the focus on the migrant, the working class newcomer and the neighborhood. Class and ethnicity were the primary modes of analysis. Gender was not articulated. Gender differences continued to be subsumed under the rubric family life or appeared in the discussion of intergenerational or marital relations.

the life of immigrants in the united states In a way, this presented a step back from the earlier works of the Progressive tradition mentioned above. Ethnic group studies w. This renaissance led to the re-discovery and re-publication of a host of older literary and scholarly writings by women immigrants, and about women immigrants. Many of the Chicago School monographs were also re-printed and re-issued [c]. A few of the surveys tried to provide a synthetic overview [9]. But most of the works told the history of European women immigrants within just one immigrant or ethnic group, usually immigrants from Europe [10].

In many cases, such studies lacked a clear thematic focus, the topic was new and the source material still sparse. Without a clear thematic direction, these two topics can appear together without much analytical connection. The theme of gender roles and gender imagery was also taken up by other scholars, again, mostly in the literature on Jewish immigrants women, during the 1980s [12]. From the mid-1970s historiographic and critical assessments of the emerging field became numerous enough to spawn historiographic assessments of the field at regular intervals.

The Working Class and Women Immigrants The scholarship that most clearly dominated the historiography of women immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s was focused on the world of work, paid and unpaid.

To a significant degree such studies were connected to the large wave of labor history monographs which had begun to be published in the 1970s.

  • Immigrant Muslims are roughly twice as likely as Muslims who were born in the United States to own a home and have a college degree;
  • Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history;
  • The cap for the total quota for the eastern hemisphere was set at 170,000.

Some of these studies focused on immigrant families where women played an important role others on women though not necessarily only on women immigrants in female-dominated industries. Italian Immigrants in Buffalo: Unlike other studies on working families such as those of Tamara Hareven [16] Yans McLaughlin focuses on the interplay between the culture of origin in this case Italians and its influence on the labor market choices and behavior of men and women.

Immigration to the United States after 1945

It yields significant insights into the way Italian women reconciled the contradictory pressures from family to retain traditional roles and the workplace to assume a new more public role. Similar studies were published on German women, by Christiane Harzig unfortunately in German only and, to a more limited degree, Laura Anker [18].

Gabaccia devotes almost half of her study to the description and analysis of family and work life in the Sicilian village of origin of her New York group.

Such truly comparative studies of migrant families have remained rare, especially in the historical literature, though we have now a number of comparative ethnographies on transnational migrants from the Caribbean and Central America which have been written by anthropologists and sociologists [19]. The appearance of women workers not just within families and the household economy but also as part of the narrative of U.

Two books about the history of women workers in the United States were very influential in this regard, although they did not explicitly structure their narrative around the lives of immigrant women: Both works, as well as an article by Carol Groneman on Irish American wage workers, set the stage for a large body of literature on women wage earners within metropolitan and small town economies [21].

Even though families were often physically absent, they were present as norm setters and shapers of expectations for these early industrial workers.

The study also throws important light on the need to these women to define and negotiate their moral and sexual lives in a larger public sphere of the metropolis. Instead, they were working mothers who were caught in the vise of low-wage female occupations and high cost metropolitan living.

Instead, Dublin, Stansell and other authors of books on labor and the origins of the American working class tended to emphasize the inter-ethnic, gender and class-based solidarity of all workers, men and women. Most of these new studies were community studies with a specific geographical and occupational focus [22].

Among occupational groups the world of the women textile and garment worker has received the most attention. Other parts of the scholarly literature describe immigrant women in domestic service and women in agriculture and agriculture-related occupations. Generational sequence thus brought ethnic change, with work and industrial working class status being the constants.

As Lamphere outlines, the adjustment to a full-time industrial work schedule on top of the traditional obligations of family and child care was handled somewhat differently by women from different ethnic groups, dependent in part by their backgrounds and beliefs. Glenn not only builds on the work on Jewish women begun by Hyman and others, but also continues the scholarship on immigrant women within the new labor history. Social, sexual and cultural identities are part of her narrative as is the struggle for union recognition and other forms of political activism which these women engaged in.

Glenn is also interested in the question why Jewish women in particular were so visible in transforming the traditional spheres assigned to immigrant women [25]. Garment and textile work continues to be the preserve of women immigrants in the United States, though the succession of twentieth century immigrant groups, especially in the garment workshops of New York and Los Angeles, has, by and large, not received the same scholarly attention as the nineteenth and early twentieth century immigrants [26].

Literature on Puerto Rican, Dominican, Chinese and Mexican garment workers has shown little historical perspective which would connect the lives of these modern day sweatshop workers with their sisters of an earlier time [27]. As Stansell points out in City of Women, this type of service work had particular implications for social and cultural assimilation, class consciousness and social mobility of different immigrant women.

Two general histories of domestic labor in the United States, by Faye Dudden and David Katzman provide a good analytical and historic framework for understanding domestic service in the context of the female labor market and the shifting structure of middle class households in North America [28].

For women domestics, public and private sphere, work and free time was merged in ways that were specific to their occupation. For immigrant women, the cultural distance to their employers were a constant source of friction but also a necessity to maintain status for their employers. Assimilation therefore took place in the context of often unusually intense class and cultural conflict which the life of immigrants in the united states rarely be openly visible, however.

A recent voluminous literature on the history of women immigrants and domestic service has further added to this field of inquiry with numerous important monographs [29]. This newer literature also has gone a long way to explain why, for example, some immigrant groups sent their daughters rarely into domestic work Italians, Jews and Chinese come to mind while members of other immigrant and migrant groups others, such as Irish, German, Scandinavian, Dutch, Japanese, African-American and Latino Women were and are frequently employed as domestics [30].

The literature on women immigrant domestics today continues to flourish as a number of important books and articles on African American and Latino women and domestic service show [31].

It can serve as a link between studies on contemporary domestics usually women of color from the Americas and past generations who were likely to be African American or from the European immigrant working class. Clark Lewis' book takes up the themes first raised by Stansell and weaves them into the story of women from a racially defined and thus more rigidly disenfranchised group of women workers.

The importance of the contemporary literature lies in the way it analyzes the way cultural and class conflict plays out within the parameters of race and culture for Mexican Americans and other Latinas. Writings about racial identity as much as gendered transitions have become one of the main themes in both labor and immigrant history in the past two decades. The research on women domestics connects these themes and reinserts the studies into the mainstream of social history.

Agriculture and related occupations Whereas the literature on women domestics continues to grow and thus link the history of older groups with the sociology of newer generations of women immigrants and migrants, the studies of women in agriculture and agriculture-related occupations is much smaller and offers fewer broad connections [32]. Though Matsumoto does not focus on women but on community and family gender relations are part of her study.

Most of these recent works tend to focus on family and community, not primarily on women. Such books highlight the role of women immigrants as activists side by side with men, though with voices of their own.

Many of these studies focus on women in unions and in community settings, usually selecting 19th century immigrants from Europe. Given the large number of monographs and articles on specific persons or organizations, the paucity of survey or synthetic studies on immigrant women in the the life of immigrants in the united states sphere is remarkable, however. The large number of biographies of individual immigrant women activists also supply a crucial source of information on politically active immigrant women [40].

But critical synthetic studies on immigrant women in the American trade union movement and the American suffrage movement have yet to be written. Thus the image that immigrant women were a group largely uninvolved in public life beyond occasional neighborhood activism, remains predominant. Sexuality, Leisure, Consumption The emphasis on work and political activism characterizes the majority of books and articles about women immigrants which appeared in the 1970s and 1980s.

Unfortunately, neither book focuses specifically on immigrant women or on the responses of different ethnic groups to the rise of commercialized public leisure for women. But for the of ethnic culture, there are only a few studies which both emphasize and critically examine the relationship of women immigrants to popular culture and provide insights into the beliefs and behaviors specific ethnic groups. The first two books focus specifically on Jewish immigrants and have some chapters on women as consumers.

Especially Joselit, a historian of material culture, provides an excellent example of understanding history through objects with her numerous photographs and illustrations. The new immigration and new paradigms The fight for emancipation and the gender paradigm It is only gradually, since the late 1980s, that the paradigms of women immigrant history have shifted away from European groups and, thematically, away from the working class history model.

By and large, the new research has focused on the growing immigration of East and South Asians, Central and Latin Americans and immigrants from the Caribbean. At the same time, the work of anthropologists and sociologists has also been more likely to be truly comparative in a geographic sense than the research of historians. But there have also been important connectors between the new research on post-1965 migration and the older, largely historical literature.

For one, the topic of racial definitions, racial difference and discrimination, a theme important for scholars of immigration for a the life of immigrants in the united states time, has been re-validated in the context of the newer studies [e]. The historical oppression of Mexican Americans and Chinese immigrants based on their racial assignment and attributes had been the theme for historians of Mexican, Chinese and Caribbean America for many decades and in both cases the connection to an older historiography on these immigrants is strong [45].

This and other books on Chicanos, did not differentiate between the experiences of immigrant and second generation or native Latinas [47]. Caribbean, Latin American and African Experiences, meld the stories and histories of women of color in general [48]. Instead of providing in depth research, such books were written as contributions to the emancipatory quest of women of color in the United States. Among newer books, as among the classics, the narrative of emancipation and struggle against oppression lends the dominant story line to the history of East Asian and Latino immigrants to this day [49].

Questions of racial self-definition and racial categorizations by others form a complex interplay with questions of gender in the study of Afro-Caribbean immigrants.

Muslims in America: Immigrants and those born in U.S. see life differently in many ways

Watkins Owens is most interested in the interactions between West Indian immigrants and native African Americans in Harlem. Both books do not highlight gender, though the majority female composition of this group of immigrants gives a special cast to the community [51]. Gender plays an important role for Waters, since women are a majority among her interviewees and are strongly represented among the better educated migrants from the Caribbean of recent decades [52].

Unfortunately few other works on black immigrants even mention gender in their analysis, though it plays an important part in the overall description of Caribbean immigration streams. Race and ethnic culture merge in a different way in the recent scholarship on Mexican, Dominican and other Latina women. In the Mexican case, historical scholarship is particularly rich with most of the older books following the model of other working class immigrant histories, whose subjects were geographically defined by origin.

Similar community studies on Mexican-Americans have put the spotlight on family and community, mostly in the west, but also in the large cities of the Midwest. In these studies most scholars have made little distinction between immigrants and native or indigenous Chicanas [53].