The Great Migration • Open Door Policy: anyone from anywhere was allowed to come to U.S. • immigrants who came after 1880 were mainly from Southern and Eastern Europe, Russians and Italians with names like Gambino, Silka, Pappas.
Push and Pull Factors • Reasons why immigrants came to U.S. • Economic: no work, people are hungry • Political and religious persecution: • Jewish persecution in Russia: laws against Jews such as restrictions on work • Lure of life in America: • Word of mouth from family members: • “magical land of unlimited opportunity and riches” • “There is gold on the sidewalk and all you have to do is pick it up.”
The Journey Across the Atlantic • Conditions on steamship: • Bare minimum of food, trip lasted 12 days. • “All you got on the boat was water, boiled water…Sometimes they gave you a watery soup, more like a mud puddle than soup.” • Stuck under the steerage of ship in cramped quarters often led to diseases. • “Everything was dirty, sticky and disagreeable to touch. “
Arrival in America • 75% of all immigrants entered through Ellis Island, New York. • 1st look at Lady Liberty was very exciting to immigrants. • “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning for liberty.”
Medical Inspections • Rich people didn’t have to undergo many inspections • Weed out immigrants who were sick. • Six second exam: watch you go up stairs to see if you limped. • Eye exam: peel eyelid with small metal hook for diseases. • Drew letter on shoulder indicating problems • H: heart problems, K:hernia, X:mental defect
Legal Inspections • Lasted two to three minutes where inspectors asked you questions like your name, where were you staying? • 2% of immigrants passing through legal inspections were deported. • For some people this was a horrifying experiences, “Why should I fear the fires of hell? I have been through Ellis Island.”
Ethnic Enclaves • Communities that provide a sense of security, familiar customs, food, language of their homeland. • “In spite of making a choice of living away from Greece, I personally cannot ignore those events or those customs, or whatever it may be… Having some Greeks around is a very important thing.”
Living Conditions • City streets covered with trash, waste, sewage. Tenements(apartments) were crowded and few facilities. • “I lived in a 3 bedroom apartment… with 14 people. At night the floor of the kitchen and dinning room were turned into beds.” • “To be in it… is to inhale the stenches of the neglected street”
Americans’ treatment of immigrants • Nativism: immigrants pose a threat to native-born Americans. They would take away jobs. • “The immigrants are invading the land of Americans, and whether [the Americans] know it or not are helping to take the bread out of their mouths.” • Helped pass quotas laws limiting # of immigrants coming to the U.S.