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Immigration and Caricature

• Section I
• Section II
• Section III

About the Collectors

Copyright and Other Restrictions

Digitizing the Collection

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Exhibition Section I: Welcome to All

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of a "Nation of Immigrants" is the mixture of culturally different people living together, not always harmoniously. Between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of World War I, nearly 30 million immigrants came to the United States. They created the most ethnically heterogeneous nation in the world.

Not only was this a period of massive immigration, it was also a period of profound changes in the sources and nature of that immigration. Up to the last decades of the 19th century, American immigration had come primarily from northern Europe--Great Britain, then including Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavia. Thereafter, as the disruptive effects of the industrial revolution spread, Italy and the multi-ethnic empires of eastern Europe became the primary sources.

This was also a period of changing attitudes regarding the place of ethnic groups in America. Earlier, the attitude had been predominantly one of Anglo-conformity--rapid and complete assimilation to the English-speaking core who had achieved cultural and political hegemony. Toward the end of this period, more progressive thinkers responded with the model of the Melting Pot--that each group of immigrants contributed to the creation of a unique American culture.

In the end, the hostility to cultural difference won out and the period of mass migration was ended in the years immediately following World War I by a series of laws establishing annual quotas for each foreign nation, giving preference to northern European peoples and severely curtailing immigration from southern and eastern Europe.

The first wave of Chinese immigrants was in response to the discovery of gold in California in 1849 and others followed. But a series of restrictive legislative acts kept all Asian immigration low throughout this period. In 1917, an Asian "Barred Zone" was created which excluded nearly all Asian immigrants.

Welcome to All!

Castle Garden

The Immigration Question

Extremes Meet

American Gold

Our Self-Made Cooks

Every Dog

. Section I . Section II . Section III .

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