Monday, July 21, 2014

The Google Group, our first source

@classroomtools uploaded this source to the historical source analysis google group. I then provided an analysis of this source, using the prompt and question Bill posed as a starting point:

"This is one of my favorite sources to help students begin to understand some of the issues involved with immigration from Europe in the early 20th century. What does this tell us about turn of the century immigration?"

Here is what I wrote.

The US is often said to be a nation of immigrants. And it is. But not all immigrants are welcome in the United States, a fact that is true today and was true over one hundred years ago. The issue of immigration provides an entry point to explore various aspects of American culture, including competing core values and perceptions about foreigners. This source encourages us to consider immigration laws and how they are enforced as well as the extent to which outsiders could enter and acclimate themselves to the so called land of opportunity.

Written in the precise language of lawyers, this affidavit, signed in the summer of 1911 by Master Officer Roggeveen, provides details about the process of immigration, including its perceived potential to undermine or promote the values of the United States. This document shows us Washington playing a greater role in immigration. As I mentioned above, the affidavit is tied to federal law. We see how those who wrote or supported this source valued self sufficiency and expected it of anyone entering the country. The Master attested that no one on the ship was a "pauper or is likely to become a government charge."

This affidavit is for a vessel that arrived in New York from Rotterdam, Netherlands. It contained 30 people, all of whom were said to have been inspected by the Master Officer and a physician, called a "surgeon". This text illustrates that there were concerns about allowing people into the country who possessed various contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis. This ships passengers, it was attested, were free from any mental, physical, and even moral deficiencies. That some of these defects could be discerned by a physical examination conveys a faith in observation and reflects societal attitudes about the importance of biology in explaining differences in health, well being, and acceptable behavior.

When reading, we are also reminded of various Christian values and their connection to America's social institutions, such as marriage, and social relations. Values such as social stability and authority underpin inquiries into whether any anarchists or prostitutes are on the ship. Practicing polygamists or those who believe in polygamy are also unwanted. In my mind, I associate this with Mormonism, but I am not certain that all polygamists at the time would have been connected with that religion. If so, tensions between these competing religious ideologies are evident in this text.

I want to take a closer look at this:


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