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Immigration History

               Immigration History Film Clips

The Anti-Asian Immigration Laws of 1924 (The Nation, 1927)

"The Immigration Act of 1924 denied admission to the United States to wives of American citizens if these wives are of a race ineligible for citizenship. Hindus, Chinese and Japanese are ineligible. Hence the curious and cruel fact that while an Oriental merchant with his wife may enter America, the wedded wife of an American-born citizen is held at the coast for deportation."


Movies will Promote Americanism (Touchstone Magazine, 1920)

The attached article, "The Immigrant and the Movies: A New Kind of Education", is about Hollywood filmmakers with the dream of instilling among the newcomers a sense of pride in being American, the Americanism Committee of the Motion Picture Industry was formed in 1920 in order to create films that would impart this sensation.

In 1941, the WPA was given the task of instilling patriotism in the new immigrants - click here to read about it.


Immigrant Literacy Tests Passed (NY Times, 1915)

In 1915, some newspaper readers might have preferred to interpret the passage of the Smith-Burnett Immigration bill as a legal measure that would insure a higher standard for immigrants to meet in order to guarantee citizenship; while others tended to interpret the legislation as a restrictive law that was intended only to exclude from citizenship Italians and Eastern-European Jews. This article reported on a massive New York protest decrying the Smith-Burnett bill that was attended by Louis D. Brandeis (1856 1941; appointed to the Supreme Court a year later), Episcopal Bishop David Hummel Greer (1844 - 1919) and former president of Columbia University Seth Low (1850 - 1916).

Green Card holders are to this day still required to show fluency in the English language, although the swearing-in ceremony and their voting ballots are often in their native language. Go figure.

In this article Vladimir Lenin speaks of his fondness for The New York Times.


Getting the Immigrant Vote (Vogue Magazine, 1917)

Upon learning that the Woman Suffrage Amendment passed the New York legislature quite handily, the Suffrage Party lost no time in solidifying their base and quickly set to work locating additional voters for future state elections. They discovered that there were five hundred thousand new voters in New York City alone; two hundred thousand of them were foreign-born women.

This VOGUE article is a fun read for a number of reasons, the first one being that it seems that nothing ever really changes in America and the second reason is because this article was written by a pampered patrician of the first order and when you read between the lines you get the sense that she would rather not breathe the same air as Italian and Jewish Immigrants:

"As well-born American women, we can never out-vote the immigrant; we must make her an all-American citizen and voter."


1921 Saw Many Single European Women Moving to the U.S. (Literary Digest, 1921)

The death and disfigurement of over four million young men during the course of the First World War (1914 - 1918) created an enormous problem for the women of Europe:

"A French statesman recently estimated that in his country there are now 1,000,000 women for whom there are no mates, while similar conditions exist also in England, Italy, Germany and Austria."

This article makes clear that in a quest for husbands, half a million women had arrived in the U.S. following the end of hostilities and it was further believed that by the close of 1921 another half million will have landed.


Illiterate Immigrant Soldiers (Current Opinion, 1920)

So deep were the ranks of khaki-clad immigrants who filled the U.S. military's regiments and divisions throughout the course the First World War that our British allies would often refer to the U.S. Army as the "American Foreign Legion"; yet as grateful as the services were to have so many additional strong arms to deploy during a time of national emergency, it was not without a cost.

This article is all about how the army addressed the issue regarding the high number of illiterate immigrants who broadened their phalanx spanning the years 1917 through 1920.


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