Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Source Work: Immigration Affidavit, 1911

One of the traps I find is easy to fall into, and I can see myself doing it here, is moving away from a source before really reflecting on it, especially in the search for additional context or the answer to questions triggered by the source. I want to revisit the original source, with the additional contextual knowledge I now possess, and a set of fresh eyes, listing some of the key points that stand out.

What does this source tell us about 20th century immigration?

-The language of this form is tied to federal legislation that was designed to regulate immigration.

-Controlling or managing the flow of people who seek to live in the United States is a topic that continues to capture the attention of policy makers, the media, and the public.

-The illegal immigration debates of today and the issue of border security can be viewed through a variety of filters, including reactions to Sept. 11, reactions to the most recent recession, long term demographic changes, debates about capitalism.

- Like today, this document, from 1911, must be attached to larger economic, cultural, and political issues. There was a huge movement of people from Europe to the United States during the period of 1901-10, close to 9 million people moved to the US during this time.

-The vast majority were from Europe (graph 1 and graph 2)

-What factors led to the spike in European immigration during this time? Economic and political dislocations often push people to move. Perceived opportunities, especially if family members were succeeding in the US might easily have attracted people to the US.

-This second (?) wave of immigrants, I suspect, can be tied to spike we see during the period 1881-1890.

- Class differences must be considered when examining how immigrants were treated.

- The affidavit refers to 30 people. We were able to find the manifest, listing the names of the passengers that were being referred to. These passengers were in steerage. A series of questions is on the manifest sheet (and here). These questions and the language of the affidavit reveal policy makers concerns about steerage passengers, seeking to enter the US.

More to come....

Join @classroomtools and I in this google group. You can post a source you would like to work with, and we will join you in your analysis.

(yesterday's post on this same source.)

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