He had no land to inherit and no prospects of much of a future in Denmark, so he came to American in along with a host of other young Danish lads looking for a new place to call home. He told me that when he came back to Iowa the last time he brought a Danish flag, but he carried an American passport.
The transition to America was now complete; the last visit had been made. He had a strong Danish accent and always read to me aloud the Danish Hall newspaper. Another man who worked for my grandfather, nick-named Swede, also joined in the boisterous talk among the three Scandinavians—in Swedish. Their play in language was my first experience with seeing and judging the rivalry among the Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes. The fact was that while all the students in school had different kinds of names, they all came from some part of Europe and, hence, what we thought of as differences were only as deep as the variation in the whiteness of skin color in faces from northern or southern Europe.
Probably the most salient difference for us at that time was religion. Some people were Catholic and most were Protestant, but this was only evident on Sunday and even there the biggest tension was between the different branches of Protestantism, whether one was Lutheran or Methodist, and so on. Multiculturalism, as we call it today, was a fact of life in the s, as normal to everyday existence as going to school.
Perhaps it was this circumstance that inspired me to study American civilization when I arrived at college. I wanted to understand what was unique about America and what made these emigrants comfortable with their assimilation into American society. I was part of the generation that profited by the emigrant success in achieving the American Dream.
Actually, it is not so different in Iowa today, but the points of origin are more likely to be India or Pakistan or Bosnia or Somalia. The question that looms today is whether the immigration patterns in the first decade of the Twenty-First Century are fundamentally different that those of fifty years ago and whether or not, what are perceived to be the current tensions are simply part of the grand continuum of emigration and assimilation in United States society.
Needless to say, this is a question that is also occurring throughout European society as well as American society. I am always struck by the degree to which the names of the students in each class roster embody American multi-ethnicity and multiculturalism. Keeping in mind that the context of these classes is not New York or some similarly urbanized East or West coast place, but rather in Ohio in the middle of the Midwest, the names of the varied students become even more instructive.
Each individual name—Persian, Jewish, Irish, English, German, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Hispanic—reveals a national or ethnic background and the group of names illustrate just how varied the current American social web has become. Contemporary American society is not defined only by white and black as so many people might believe—or even by white, black, brown, and yellow; but rather, the point is that the metaphor of American society today requires deeper and more subtle differentiation, one that allows for and accommodates ethnic complexity.
Deriving a new metaphor compels us to find a different definition of social transformation. At each stage of intellectual questioning, students of American history are encouraged to consider again the timeless question posed in the Eighteenth Century by the incomparable Frenchman, Hector St. John de Crevecoeur. If so, what kind of people does that make us? I cite one example. The electrician who comes to my house is named Asad. I first noticed his name embroidered on his work shirt just above the pocket.
His father is of Irish descent, so he has an Irish last name. This fact comes out when I talk to him about the fact that his son wants to go to the university where I work. I discover that his last name is very Irish. The circumstance is not at all unusual in American society today. Historically, the interests that unify a community are in rough proportion to the strength of the ruling class and majority. As communities change, the dominant host culture becomes more wary of the significance of change.
Peter A. Fresno, California, according to the Census, is one of the cities undergoing dramatic change. Hmong, peoples primarily from Laos, and other refugees constitute 9 percent of the population. Moreover, 14 percent of the adults in Fresno were not yet citizens and 12 percent of the children were non-citizens. Lowell, Massachusetts, one of the long-time sites of the National Folk Festival over the past twenty years, is another example of an American city undergoing tremendous ethnic change. Arlington, Virginia, a suburb of Washington D.
The alteration of the local urban landscape is a repeated feature throughout the United States. Minneapolis, Minnesota, has reported the largest number of both Hmong and Somali refugees, while Lansing, Michigan reportedly the second largest number of Hmong peoples. The pattern of relocation is witnessed throughout the Midwest. For example, Columbus, Ohio, has significant populations of both Somali and Arabic refugees from the respective wars in those geographic areas.
In Columbus, the large ethnic Somali population numbers in the thousands, second only to Minneapolis, and has a city-funded school and many businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, that cater to themselves as well as the rest of the community. With each emigrant and emigrant family, the mosaic of the cloth changed slightly, much like the electrician Asad who came to my house.
This intellectual position held sway throughout the period from the late s until the early s, a period of nearly forty years. During this same time period, there was a vast undercurrent of discontent growing in American society with the position of American exceptionalism. Intellectuals, academics, and other concerned citizens examined the reasons for the maintenance of the folklore of American uniqueness. In all of these approaches to American social history and immigration, the emphasis was on the society and impact of the immigrant on the social fabric of the United States.
In the s this scholarly emphasis began to focus more upon the individual emigrant themselves, examining the impact of social change. Agency shifted from the society to the individual in immigration studies; from what was good for American society to what was the impact on the individual. However, all of this change concerned immigrants who still resembled, in their whiteness, those immigrants who came between and The question requires a new metaphor in order to attempt to answer not only Crevecoeur but also answer Nathan Glazer when he asks how we can continue to be one American people when we come from such diverse sources.
Because American society so clearly resembles a complicated fabric or textile made up of different colors and ethnicities, I am suggesting that the society of the United States be more likened to a rug, a floor covering or a wall tapestry, that incorporates the wide range of color and texture evident in the social fabric of America, the delicate arras that defines the day-to-day world of living in America.
It was clear during the late s that the time-honored configuration of the melting pot did not make much sense because one could observe that people were simply not becoming one homogeneous whole—or anything close to that central idea. Carl N. Finally, neither metaphor aptly described what was happening to American society.
In the shift from the impact on society to the impact on the individual, it became clear that a new metaphor was required to describe what was happening in American society at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century. Perhaps the new American society can be compared to a knotted rug or a traditional rag rug. The metaphor of the traditional rag rug, like the floor coverings found in nearly every society in the world, is adequate to describe an ethnic mosaic of people who must, perforce, live in one country.
In every culture, people take old clothes and refashion them to produce new fabrics made of old components. The genius of the rag rug is that it represents a complete reuse and revitalization of an old cultural item no longer in active use. The immediate suitability of the metaphor of the rag rug is that it is universal; perhaps all cultures that use cloth make some item from the used and worn pieces of cloth, as well as integrating new pieces of fabric. In the case of both the knotted rug and the rag rug, the entire rug depends upon each small piece in order for the rug to retain its original form as a rug, a rug that has wholeness entirety and integrity in and of itself.
Finally, for our metaphor, the essence of the rug is both its usability and its potential for disruption as in tearing or wearing out and repair. He cautions us, as cultural critics and students of history, to pay attention to the subtext of the question of new American immigration.
A brief mention of some Twentieth Century American authors in addition to Malamud illustrates this point quite well. Gordon argued then that the overwhelming assimilation was in the area of civic assimilation, meaning simply that people living in the United States learned to obey certain fundamental laws.
By the time of his research, Gordon also demonstrated that the use of a common language, English, was by and large agreed upon, a fact that by the beginning of the Twenty-First Century was not as accepted. Most importantly, however, Gordon argued that the United States did not enjoy assimilation in many critical and important ways, indicating that the fabric of society was not united in a way that might be considered assimilated.
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Citing embryonic problems for American society, he noted that in the areas of social, religious, and economic assimilation there were wide disparities within the American population. The Norge Ski club was founded in by Norwegians, most of whom lived in Chicago and traveled to an area outside the city called Fox River Grove where they would ski jump. Norwegian emigrants also organized other athletic clubs and one group in particular sponsored soccer games futbol including an annual game against clubs from Norway.
Sometimes the Chicago club would travel to Norway for a futbol match. In this sense, Chicago was typical of new American communities across the United States where after the s multi-ethnicity became standard fare. Lovell, the preeminent Norwegian-American historian, wrote that by , there were 41, Norwegian residents in Chicago, mostly on the near-north side, and by there were 55, United as a people, in the same uniform as it were, Americans of the post-war period, in the popular imagination, eagerly attempted to redefine themselves in the light of newly found appreciation of their qualities as a people.
The academic argument for a unique American experience seemed incontrovertible. Not only was it grounded in the academic research of Perry Miller that brought us closer to our staunch founders, the Puritans, but also it followed the common sense of citizens who simply understood that life in the United States was somehow inherently different from life and culture particularly in Europe. Soldiers were happy to be home and in the folklore of their experience they talked little of the harrowing experiences during the war.
However, soldiers and their families and their communities were imbued with a confidence born of a popular film culture that continued to remind the American public that theirs was a virtuous and confidant endeavor. At the end of the war, the trope of freedom was unassailable.
World War II stories were replete with accounts of European-American soldiers who fought for freedom in the countries of their own ancestors. It was, at least in popular culture, a beautiful scene of harmony among people united by common effort. In many ways, the dominant popular theme of unity and the idea of Americanization ran contrary to the disturbing undercurrents in American society. President Harry S. Bill offered financial assistance to veterans who wanted to buy a home or attend college.
Universities and colleges provided temporary housing for the families of veterans, erecting prefabricated buildings and aluminum Quonset huts for classroom use by returning G.
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After the war, African American soldiers and their families believed that they were returning to a new United States only to find that the walls against integration were as great as ever. Many white people and institutions resisted the post war legal and social changes. Banks would not loan money for houses in certain neighborhoods, and the Ku Klux Klan once again raised its ugly head against Black inclusion in mainstream society.
Some directly addressed lingering prejudice carried by whites from the war, where black servicemen were treated as lesser soldiers and used primarily as laborers. Minnesota novelist Sinclair Lewis, who had examined American Midwestern society for over two decades, having published his ground-breaking novel Babbitt in , began to take a new and fresh look at the fabric of the Midwest culture.
Sinclair Lewis begins to explore rhetorically just how deeply racial prejudice runs in the American psyche. He has Theories. People like you [meaning the ethnicity of Cass Timberlane described above] and me are the Red Indians of the country. The novel is a poignant reminder that Americans of all kinds carry much mixed heritage or blood. At the beginning of the Twenty-First Century, only the names have changed.
In the beginning of the book, Dos Passos, who had already completed his important national assessment in the U.
We are now in the midst of the greatest of them [World War II]…The test finds us far from ready to meet it…Still, I believe we are going to meet it. As the society has become ever more complicated, with more colors and fabrics to incorporate into the rug, keeping the rug whole has required both new vision and renewed effort. California is a special case to the United States and current state-level statistics reveal some trends that will be reflected throughout the nation in future years. What is even more interesting for our question of Americanization is that California is close to becoming the first state in which everyone will be a minority.
Even more interesting is the fact that this demographic change is reflected markedly in the percentages of high school graduates where the classes of and already illustrate the dramatic shift to a larger number of Latino graduates than Anglo graduates. Finally, if we examine the map of California as a whole, we can see that the demographic transformation demonstrates a complete alteration in the mosaic of minorities throughout the state.
This fundamental transformation will have a strong impact on public policy, local governance, and ethnic representation. An examination of the critical numbers of immigrants from the end of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the Twenty-First Century, from U. Census Bureau data and current information from the New Immigrant Survey [NIS], demonstrate the depth of the circumstance that has seemingly caused the anxiety over immigration within the American population.
The cultural information we glean from national and regional events that celebrate our varied ethnic traditions, such as the Festival of American Folklife sponsored by the Smithsonian and the National Folk Festival sponsored by the National Council for the Traditional Arts, as well as multicultural events that emerge in regional celebrations throughout the nation indicate that, as a country, the United States may be adjusting to the demographic changes. In the current culture of the United States, people celebrate racial and cultural difference.
At the end of this discussion, it is apparent that the demographic scenario leaves a bifurcated circumstance. It is at once a problem in the American past and an opportunity for the future. Separate ethnically identified groups including the Hmong, Somali, Bosnians, Latin Americans, East Europeans and other immigrants and refugees have, if not assimilated, found a place in American society without losing their ethnicity and ethnic identity.
If we compare the turn of the Nineteenth Century and the turn of the Twentieth Century see Figure 2 , though the number of immigrants and the growth rate of the immigrant population are now much higher than in the past, the foreign-born percentage of the population was still higher between and the mids. After World War I and the subsequent immigration restriction laws in the s, the level of immigration to the United States fell considerably.
It is significant to note that the individuals and their families mentioned above, the spouses and the principals, owned their own homes, on average, approximately four months after attaining lawful permanent residence. However, significantly, among first time home buyers in Los Angeles, California, Garcia is the most common name followed by Hernandez and Martinez with Johnson in seventh place. They are translated and introduced by C. Bataljon The Immigration History Newsletter.
A publication of the Immigration History Society. The Newsletter usually carries one or two lead articles and an exhaustive bibliography of current literature on immigration. Pathfinder for Norwegian Emigrants. Translated and introduced by Frank G. Reiersen's Veiviser for norske emigranter was originally published in Norway in and played an important role in promoting Norwegian immigration, especially to Texas. The Italian Americans: Troubled Roots. Andersen and H.
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The Scandinavians in America series. This series published by the Arno Press consists of thirty-six books in thirty-seven volumes. Trans-Atlantica: Memoirs of a Norwegian Americanist. American Ethnic Groups. Washington, Our Norwegian lmmigrants. Utvandrerliv: Norwegians in America. Hamar, Norway, A booklet about immigrant life, published by the Emigration Museum in Hamar, Norway.
The history of a Norwegian-American family which traces its roots back to the late Middle Ages. Autumn in Grandma's Woods. Winona, Minnesota, Agder historielag, Arsskrift, Swedish Pioneer Historical Quarterly, Sons of Norway Viking October, The Danes in Winther's Trilogy. The Bridge, 1: Sophus Keith Winther's trilogy, Take all to Nebraska, Mortgage Your Heart, and This Passion Never Dies, deals with the experiences of a Danish farm family in southeastern Nebraska from the late s through approximately the first quarter of the twentieth century.
Scandinavian Studies, The Future Brightens Before Us. North Dakota History, Fall, Carl L. Boeckmann: Norwegian Artist in the New World. Norwegian-American Studies, Boeckmann gained considerable fame during his lifetime, especially as a portrait painter. De kaller henne "Telemarka.
Wisconsin Magazine of History, Her major writings are realistic representations of rural midwestern United States and Canada, where she spent most of her life. John Hanson's Swedish Background. John Hanson ? Some Recent Publications. A compilation of books and articles published largely during the years dealing with immigrant history. Fra Gaupne til Grantsburg.
Immigrants in the United States: Primary Sources
Nordmanns-Forbundet, Knut Norenberg, immigrant from Gaupne, Sogn, became a successful business man in Grantsburg, Wisconsin. California-skandinaviske Hate. An account of the colorful Scandinavian skippers who dared touch at the most dangerous points along the coast of California. The Bridge, 2: , and 3: The letters were sent from Nokomis, Saskatchewan, between January 14, , and February 3, The Swedes in Moberg's Tetralogy.
The Bridge, 5: Leading Vossings of Chicago organized a correspondence society to defend America against its detractors in Norway. A prominent and controversial Swedish immigrant who became an Episcopalian minister. A Norwegian journalist finds that Norwegian dialects and Norwegian customs are very much alive among Norwegian Americans.
A discussion of the origin and the influence of the Evangelical Free Church of America. Skandinaven and the John Anderson Publishing Company. Of the newspapers and other periodicals started by Norwegian immigrants in North America "Skandinaven, published by the John Anderson Publishing Company in Chicago, was by far the biggest, the most influential and, until its demise in , the longest-lived. Methodism from America to Norway. A discussion of the American origins of Methodism in Norway.
History of First Lutheran Church. Hallingen, March, A sketch of the history of the First Lutheran Church in St. Ansgar, Iowa, which was founded by Claus Lauritz Clausen in In it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. From the Archives. A survey of additions to the NAHA archives during the late s.
The Bridge, 2: A comparative study of two trilogies dealing with Danish-American life. Swedish Academies in Minnesota. Grand Old Man in San Francisco. The last sad years of an outstanding Norwegian-American author, editor, and idealist. Scandinavian Journal of History, Polonia: The Face of Poland in America. Minnesota History, Norwegian-American Pastors in Immigrant Fiction, Emigration and Migration: Scandinavian Studies in Demography. An analysis of the memoirs of a very prominent Swedish immigrant.
An Immigrant's Inner Conflict. Contemporary American Immigration. Dennis L.
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Cuddy, ed. I: En utvandringsagent pa Ringsaker. Heimen, xviii, A study of the work of an emigration agent in Ringsaker, Norway. The Danish-Language Press in America. The Bridge, 4: How the Swedes Came to Paxton. The formation of a Swedish settlement in an Illinois prairie community.
Life in Early New Sweden, Iowa. Norge in Virginia. The Norseman, No. The story of a Norwegian enclave in the state of Virginia. North Dakota Quarterly, Autumn, , The Acculturation of the Danish Immigrant. The Bridge, 3: Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. Stephan Thernstrom, ed. This is one of the contributions in this systematic review of the history, culture, and distinctive characteristics of the more than ethnic groups who live in the United States.
The Finland-Swedes in America. Bygdelagene i America. An analysis of the memoirs of a young Swedish woman who lived in Minneapolis between and Memories of Vilhelm Moberg at Chisago Lake. The Chisago Lake area in Minnesota is the locale of Moberg's famous immigrant tetralogy. This special issue of the journal, edited by Playford V. Lindberg, Odd S. Lovoll, Playford V.
Thorson, and Eric Luther Williamson. En liten Gausdal i Amerika. The Dokken brothers were members of the Fifteenth Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment, which consisted largely of Norwegian immigrants. Knight and Gerald S. Or utvandrarsoga i Suldal. A brief account of the emigration from the community of Suldal to Wisconsin.
Today there are said to be more people of Suldal roots in America than in Suldal, Norway. Reminiscences from a Long Life. Childhood and youth in Denmark, transplantation to America, "and the struggles and rewards of immigrant family life in the new land. Danish Farmers in the Middle West. Oslo on the Texas High Plains. Beret and the Prairie in Giants in tile Earth. A subtle interpretation of Beret's long, painful struggle with the prairie.
Swedish-American Historiography and the Question of Americanization. Emil Meurling and Svenska Amerikanska Posten. Svenska Amerikanska Posten, published in Minneapolis, was one of the most influential Swedish-American newspapers. Ellis Island, "the Isle of Dreams," as it is today and as it was during the height of immigration to the United States. Nordmanns-Forbundet, 98 Two of Henrik Ibsen's brothers emigrated to the United States.
Hotel Accommodations in the Bishop Hill Colony. The article, which is broader than the title would imply, contains much interesting information about the Swedish sectarian colony. Peter Cassel's America. Ethnic Distribution in Western North Dakota. North Dakota History, Winter, An article about the interest in Norwegian-American literature at the University of Oslo. Reminiscences of year-old "Chief Jack Rabbit," who taught the Canadians to use skis. Arbok for Telemark, Gro Jonsdotter was the mother of the legendary "Snowshoe Thompson.
The Remigrants. Utvandrerne Gammalt fra Stange og Romnedal, The list of emigrants from and on was begun in the annual for