America Immigration: Russian Emmigrants

Figure 1.--Jacob Mithelstadt brought his family from Russia in 1905. They were photigraphed here at Ellis Island. The family was German, descended from the Folk Deutsch that emmigrated to Russia. They were headed to Kulm, Nort Dakota. Source: National Park Service.

There was little Russian immigration to America until the late 19th century. Most Russians living in Alaska returned to Russia after the American purchase (1867). An important factor during the 19th century was that serfdom prevented significant immigration on the part of the peasantry until the 1860s. Rissia was a large multi-ethnic empire. Thus those arriving from Russia included not only Russians, but Poles, Jews, Balts, Ukranians, and many other nationalites, even some Germans. The primary impetus for Russian immigration to America was the pogroms directed at Jew in the wake of the assaination of Tsar Alexander II (1881). A substantial proprtion of the Russian immigrants were Jews. This was the largest group of European Jews to come to America. Earlier Jewish immigrants had been primarily German, but they were realtively small in number compared to the numbers of Russian Jews that began to arrivec in the 1880s. Many Russians settled in New York and Pennsylvania. Most were poorly educated and unskilled and did not speak English. As a result, they had take poorly paid jobs in factories and mines. Some trade unions refused to accept Jews. As a result, many joined more radical unions such as the International Workers of the World (IWW). Russian Jews also became active in Socialist unions as well as the anarchist movement. Many Jewish immigrant girls and young women were killed in the Triangle Shirt Waist Factory Fire (1911). An estimated 3.3 million people had emmigrated to America from Russia by 1920 after which immigration was more tightly restricted. The Bolshevicks also after the Civil War made leaving Russia viryually impossible. While large numbers were Jews, the Russian migration also added to the religious diversity of America by adding Orthodox Christians. Russia provided as of 1978, about 7 percent of the total foreign immigration to America.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main U.S. immigration page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Essays]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Satellite sites] [Tools]
[ Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: October 22, 2003
Last updated: October 22, 2003