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Immigration History

               Immigration History Film Clips

Illiterate Immigrant Soldiers (Current Opinion, 1920)

So deep were the ranks of khaki-clad immigrants who filled the U.S. military's divisions throughout the course the First World War that our British ally 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.


Junk Science and Immigration Policy (Literary Digest, 1917)

The "melting pot" in this sense is applied to the race-conscious study of forensic anthropology. This article concerns the work of Dr. Ales Hrdlika (1869-1943) of the National Museum of Washington, and the records that he maintained regarding the physical features of the earliest European settlers compared to the Americans of the early Twentieth Century (read: Jews and Italians), following so many generations of immigration and intermarriage.

What is amusing is the illustration of "The American Face":

...the diagram drawn to scale from Dr. Hrdlicka's data... shows "the mean man of the old American stock". It is pointed out that the most conspicuous peculiarities of the type are the oblong outline of the face and the well-developed forehead."


No Citizenship for Japanese Immigrants (Literary Digest, 1922)

An article that marks the date of November 13, 1922 as a poor one for the assembled masses who happened to have been of Japanese ancestry in the United States. On that date Justice George Sutherland (1862-1942), of the United States Supreme Court, handed down the ruling that "the Japanese can not be citizens of this country". The opinions of many American Newspapers are presented herein, among them an excerpt from the St. Louis "Star" which summed up the opinion just so:

"The law which prevents the naturalization of Japanese is plainly intended to exclude the Japanese because they are racially unassimlable and their presence creates economic difficulties."

You can read more about Justice Sutherland HERE...


Reduced French Immigration (Almanach Hachette, 1919)

The following is a whimsical drawing which served to illustrate the reduced levels of French migration to the United States as a result of the 1914 European conflict.


Citizenship Denied (Literary Digest, 1922)

This article reported that as of 1922, the United States Government saw fit to deny 19,000 immigrants U.S. citizenship. This number, when added to the other repatriated applicants of the previous ten years, totals up to 760,000 people; which was, at that time, more than the entire population of North Dakota. The Ellis Island based naturalization service classified all rejected immigrants in fifteen different categories, this reporter preferred to name just two: "Ignorance" and "Immoral Character". "Immoral Character" speaks for itself. And "Ignorance" covers those who didn't appear to know enough to exercise the rights of citizenship intelligently." Oddly, there seemed to have been no talk of "amnesty".


A Fiscal Report on the Immigrants of 1911 (America Magazine, 1912)

This is a short notice concerning which of the prominent immigrant groups were the poorest and the richest in the year 1911 - and from which nations did they originate.

"Of the arrivals during the fiscal year, 1.6 percent were debarred from entering this country. Special mention is made of the fact that immigrants from Canada carried the greatest amount per capita, and those crossing the Mexican border brought with them the least money."


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