Chapter

Immigration and the Tattered Narrative of Progressive History

John Bodnar

in The Organization of American Historians and the Writing and Teaching of American History

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199790562
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896820 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199790562.003.0015
Immigration and the Tattered Narrative of Progressive History

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This chapter focuses on immigration, setting up the subject with two presidential addresses, one to the Mississippi Valley Historical Review in 1944, the other to the Organization of American Historians fifty-four years later. It then focuses on some of the broad transformations in the ways historians have approached immigration and related topics. The Progressive view of the course U.S. history was taking portrayed immigration as a “form of uplift and improvement” and “upheld a faith in assimilation and the progressive potential of the nation.” Beginning in the 1950s, this view was challenged and gave way first to one that emphasized intolerance and divisiveness and portrayed assimilation as relatively easy only for white people. Another interpretation suggested that integration of the foreign-born was most often the result of coercion by powerful forces of patriotism and racism that immigrants had to struggle against.

Keywords: immigration; presidential address; American history; Mississippi Valley Historical Review; Organization of American Historians

Chapter.  6762 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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