Discovery Set: Americanization

Until the start of the 20th century, Americans typically believed in the power of the “melting pot” to create a common culture out of the various groups coming to America. Between 1880 and 1924, however, over 25 million immigrants came to the United States. This influx of foreign-born residents, many of whom did not speak English, created concern among native-born Americans, and efforts were made across the nation to bring immigrant residents into American culture. Classes were organized by chambers of congress, labor unions, industry, the YWCA and YMCA, National Council of Jewish Women, and many other civic groups.  

Interest in non-naturalized immigrants in the United States was intensified by the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Although the United States did not join the war until April 1917, the fighting in Europe cast attention on the many recent immigrants in the United States. Of special concern was the issue of their political loyalty, whether to the United States or to their mother country. The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) urged their organization to assist with Americanization as a form of war service. The NAWSA recognized both the need for loyal citizens and the continued, uninterrupted labor of immigrants in American industry during wartime. 

For further reading:

Americanization, Social Welfare History Project

Americanization - Selected publications, Social Welfare History Project

Americanization, Social Welfare History Image Portal

For Native-born American Women: What you can do for Americanism, ” American Ideals

True Americanism – Address of Louis D. Brandeis (1915), Social Welfare History Project

Stanciu, Cristina (2023). The Makings and Unmakings of Americans. Indians and Immigrants in American Literature and Culture, 1879-1924. Yale University Press.

Discovery Set: Americanization