*** United States immigtations: chronology -- 1900s

United States Immigration: Chronolgical Trends--The 1900s

Ellis Island
Figure 1.--Ellis Island in New York City Harbor was opened (1892). Images of imigrants exist from the 19th century, but it is the 1900s that we have really have large numbers of images. Many were taken at Ellis Island. Here we see a group of immigrants, including many children at Ellis Island (1909). Notice te close relationship aongb siblings.

Extensive European immigration continued after the turn-of- the 20th century. In fact it increased. Immigration had declined in the 1890s as a result of the Depression of the 1890s--at the time called the Panic of 1893 . Immigration shot up from a low of 0.3 million people (1898)s to record levels (1900s decade). The peak of 1.3 million legal permanent residents was reached (1907). 【U.S. Department of Homeland Security】 The Knickerbocker Panic (1907) was probably the reason for the 1908 decline. National origins shifted. Immigrants from Northern and Western Europe continued coming as they had for three centuries, but in decreasing numbers. After the 1880s, immigrants increasingly came from Eastern and Southern European countries, as well as Canada and Latin America. An imposing new building was completed on Ellis Island to process immigrants (1900). And we have an extensive photographic record to document it. Not only was technology taking the camera out of the studio, but the Progrssive Era generated an interest in immigration as it did in other issues like slums and child labor. By the early 20th century about 1 million mostly European immigrants were entering American annually. Immigration peaked (1907). Over 1.3 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island in that year. Large numbers of immigrants continued to flow from Eastern Europe and Southernn Europe (especially Italy). Eastern European immigration was primarily from the multi-ethnic Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires substanially increasing America's ehnic diversity. Jewish emigration continued to be substantial from the Russian Empire which at the time included Poland. Immigrants came for the same reasons that brought earlier generation of immigrants. By the 1900s, earlier generations had reported home that still largely Protestant America with its northern European population offered far more opportunity than was available in Eastern and Southern Europe. This was especially the case for Jews suffering the restictions and pograms of the Tsaeist Empire. The immogrfation process increasingly organized. Rrecruiting agents helped organize and facilitate the process. Improved shipping made it more comfortable and affordable. Italian and Greek laborers called the agent 'padrones'. National groups varied in the job pursued and where they settled in America. This was influenced in part by where the original groups went in the late-19th century. Many Czechs, Hungarians, Italians, Poles, and Slovaks sought jobs in the coal mines and steel mills of the Industrial Midwest. Greeks seemed moreintersted in textile mills. Russian and Polish Jews worked the needle trades or pushcart markets in New York. These were occupations that the Tsarist authorities has permitted. The United States acquired a Japanese population when it annexed Hawaii (1898). The Japanese were not limited by the Chinese Exclusion Act, but officials in Califormia were demanding a similar law including the Japanese. The United States and Japan signed the Gentlemen’s Agreement (1907). Japan agreed to limit Japanese emigration to the United States. Japanese imigration was limited to business and professional men. President Theodore Roosevelt in exchange convinced San Francisco to end the segregation of Japanese school children. American railroads had been granted land by the Federal Government to promote and help finance construction. That land had little value without settlers. So the railroad advertised in Europe the availability of free or inexpesive farmland in America. The railroad companies passed out pamphlets distributed in a variety of languages. By 1900 this was, however, becoming less important. Most of the immigrants settled in the growing cities, most the northeast and industrial midwest. As a result, many American cities had a much more international makeup than the country as a whole. By the end of the decade, an estimated three-quarters of New York City’s population consisted new immigrants and the newly coined first-generation Americans. America was still a largely rural country, but the urban population was growing.


Handlin, Oscar. The Uprooted (1951).

Kraut, Alan. The Huddled Masses: The Immigrant in American Society, 1880-1921 (1982).

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, Yearbook of Immigration Statistics (various years). The precise numbers are somewhat confused by the tenency of the U.S. Goverment to use Fiscal Year data.)


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Created: 1:01 AM 2/10/2020
Last updated: 6:05 PM 4/10/2024