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The Immigrant Experience. EQ: Should the United States be a “melting pot” or a “salad bowl”?. Basics. Immigration Process by which millions of people left their home countries and moved to the United States. Process also includes the reaction to the immigrants by the U.S.

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the immigrant experience

The Immigrant Experience

EQ: Should the United States be a “melting pot” or a “salad bowl”?

  • Immigration
    • Process by which millions of people left their home countries and moved to the United States. Process also includes the reaction to the immigrants by the U.S.
  • Push/Pull: Reasons why immigrants come to the United States
    • “Push”: People forced to leave their home country
    • “Pull”: People drawn to the United States for certain reasons
pushes and pulls

Pushes and Pulls




Poverty, religious persecution, shortage of land, lack of jobs

Freedom, job opportunities, more opportunities in general

Disease, Drought, Famine

More space, abundance of natural resources

Unstable government, shunned criminal

Stable economy, justice, fresh start

continued . . .

where are they coming from
Where are they Coming From?
  • c. 1815-1860----5 million: mainly English, Irish, Germanic, Scandinavian, others from northwestern Europe
  • c. 1865-1890----10 million: mainly from northwestern Europe
  • c. 1890-1914----15 million: Austro-Hungarian, Turkish, Lithuanian, Russian, Jewish, Greek, Italian, Romanian
the journey
The Journey
  • Most immigrants traveled to America via steerage (ship’s lower level where steering mechanism is located)
  • Trip = long, uncomfortable, unsanitary!
ellis island
Ellis Island
  • Ellis Island welcomed new immigrants beginning in 1892
  • Immigrants experienced a battery of tests upon arrival
    • Mental illness, trachoma, physical disabilities, cholera, TB
where are people going
Where are People Going?
  • Individuals tended to follow their group and settled close to their extended families
what happened once they got here
What happened once they got here?
  • Culture Shock
    • Problem faced by all immigrants; trying to get used to the new culture
  • Assimilation
    • Abandoning the old culture and completely adopting the American culture* ( to conform)
  • Accommodation
    • Refusing to abandon the old culture, language, etc. and instead incorporate the old with the new
  • “Melting Pot”
    • U.S. ideal: everyone brings a little bit and it melts into one new U.S. culture
immigrant life
Immigrant Life
  • Immigrants settled in clusters of familiarity
  • Tenements = poorly built, overcrowded apartments
immigrant work
Immigrant Work
  • Long hours / low pay
    • 10 hrs a day, 6 days a week
  • Harsh conditions
  • Many = unskilled in manufacturing
    • Construction, garment, steel
  • “Wherever the heat is most…scorching, the smock and soot most choking” - Hungarian Immigrant
benevolent societies
Benevolent Societies
  • Aid organizations, aka, settlement houses - founded to provide help in cases of sickness, unemployment, and death
how did the united states react
How did the United States React?
  • Nativism
    • Favoritism towards native-born Americans; socially acceptable discrimination against non-natives
immigrant restrictions
Immigrant Restrictions
  • Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) - prohibited Chinese people from immigrating to the U.S. for 10 years
  • Immigration Restriction League (1884) - All immigrants prove they could read and write before allowing entry
    • Hoped to limit immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe and preserve immigration from Western and Northern Europe.
your in class assignment
Your In-Class Assignment!
  • Put yourselves in the shoes of an immigrant (if they had shoes) and, in your notebook, write four journal entries from his or her perspective.
      • 1st Journal Entry = Conditions in home-country
      • 2nd Journal Entry = Journey to America
      • 3rd Journal Entry = Ellis Island Experience
      • 4th Journal Entry = New life in America
  • Each entry should be AT LEAST a half-page of quality, relevant thoughts of what an immigrant might have been thinking and feeling during this time!
  • Don’t forget to label each entry
  • 15 pts per entry!