Authors of Their Lives: The Personal Correspondence of British Immigrants to North America in the Nineteenth Century

Authors of Their Lives: The Personal Correspondence of British Immigrants to North America in the Nineteenth Century

by David A. Gerber, Jeffrey J. Schott
     
 
Scholars have long used immigrant letters as a lens to examine the experiences of immigrant groups and the communities they build in their new homelands. Yet immigrants as individual letter writers have not received significant attention; rather, their letters are often used to add color to narratives informed by other types of sources.

In contrast, Authors of Their

Overview

Scholars have long used immigrant letters as a lens to examine the experiences of immigrant groups and the communities they build in their new homelands. Yet immigrants as individual letter writers have not received significant attention; rather, their letters are often used to add color to narratives informed by other types of sources.

In contrast, Authors of Their Lives analyzes the cycle of correspondence between immigrants and their homelands, paying particular attention to the role played by letters in reformulating relationships made vulnerable by separation. David A. Gerber reveals how ordinary artisans, farmers, factory workers, and housewives engaged in correspondence that lasted for years and addressed subjects of the most profound emotional and practical significance.

About the Author:
David A. Gerber is Professor of History at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Gerber provides an insightful examination of the role letters play in the shaping of identity. . . . Will certainly help historians to address personal immigrant letters more critically.”
-American Historical Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814731710
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
01/01/2006
Pages:
422
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.13(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

“[I]n this excellent study . . . Gerber uses sophisticated social theory — quite elegantly — for a readable and insightful analysis of the immigrants and what migration meant to them. . . . Gerber also breaks new ground by analyzing the 'rhythm' of letter writing — how immigrants' writing changed over time and what that reveals about their psychology, emotion, and adjustment. . . . Altogether, Gerber provides a fresh model and another high standard for scholars of American immigration.”
-Journal of American History

,

“Gerber provides an insightful examination of the role letters play in the shaping of identity. . . . Will certainly help historians to address personal immigrant letters more critically.”
-American Historical Review

,

Authors of Their Lives is the definitive study of American and Canadian immigrant letters. David Gerber employs psychology, epistolary scholarship, as well as his superlative capacities as an empathetic reader, to reveal how letters constitute not only a record of immigrant experience, but were an agent in fashioning that experience. Authors of Their Lives is an invaluable contribution to transnational history at the most personal and persuasive level.”
-John R. Gillis,author of Islands of the Mind: How the Human Imagination Created the Atlantic World

“David Gerber provides a new reading of the immigrant letter. Though informed by social theory, it is Gerber's astute analysis which provides the reader a rare entree to the psychology of particular immigrants. A unique achievement!”
-Rudolph J. Vecoli,Professor of History, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

“This is a fascinating book. David Gerber carefully analyzes the letter itself to focus on the development of individual identities in the face of migration.”
-Jon Gjerde,author of The Minds of the West: The Ethnocultural Evolution of the Rural Middle West, 1830-1917

Meet the Author

David A. Gerber is professor of history, University at Buffalo (SUNY). His books include The Making of an American Pluralism: Buffalo, New York, 1825-1861, Black Ohio and the Color Line, Anti-Semitism in American History, and Disabled Veterans in History.

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