Central Question: How is Jewish immigration generalized by textbooks?


Dry plate negative, approx. 1920-1930, Jewish colonies and settlements, LOC

All textbooks cover the great wave of immigration that brought approximately 25 million people to America from 1880–1924. They provide a standard account of chain migration, ethnic urban neighborhoods, the Americanization movement, and the successful campaigns for restrictive immigration legislation. Eastern European Jews are often cited as examples of the new religious groups entering the U.S., as frequent participants in the labor activism that characterized industrial development, and as significant contributors to popular American culture, especially through music and movies. Several other significant elements of the Jewish immigrant experience receive little attention, but a closer look sheds light on the complicated turn-of-the-century immigration to America.

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