Small Strangers: The Experiences of Immigrant Children in America, 1880-1925 / Edition 1

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Overview

Children are the largely neglected players in the great drama of American immigration. In one of history's most remarkable movements of people across national borders, almost twenty-five million immigrants came to the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—from Mexico, Japan, and Canada as well as the more common embarkation points of southern and eastern Europe. Many of them were children. Together with the American-born children of immigrants, they made up a significant part of turn-of-the-century U.S. society. Small Strangers recounts and interprets their varied experiences to illustrate how immigration, urbanization, and industrialization—all related processes—molded modern America. Growing up in crowded tenements, insular mill towns, rural ethnic enclaves, or middle-class homes, as they came of age they found themselves increasingly caught between Old World expectations and New World demands. The encounters of these children with ethnic heritage, American values, and mass culture helped shape the twentieth century in a United States still known symbolically around the world as a nation of immigrants.
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Editorial Reviews

Virginia Quarterly Review
Small Strangers captures the essence of what it meant to be one of the many children whose families immigrated to America around the turn of the last century. . . . Small Strangers manages to do an excellent job of telling their stories and shedding light on their lives and their contributions to building America.
— Garrett Berger
H-Childhood
Highlight[s] . . . experiences of individuals while still describing . . . structural similarities in the experiences of . . . a broad range of ethnicities.
— Ellen L. Berg
Jewish Exponent
Stimulating study . . . fine insights concerning the effects that immigration had on American and its varied citizenry.
— Robert Leiter
Journal Of American History
This slim, accessible volume presents a concise history of the immigrant generation that came of age in late nineteenth-and early twentieth century America.
— H. Mark Wild
Journal of American History
This slim, accessible volume presents a concise history of the immigrant generation that came of age in late nineteenth-and early twentieth century America.
— H. Mark Wild
Journal of American Ethnic History
A book that smoothly synthesizes several decades' worth of scholarship. . . . Klapper draws an interesting contrast between the 'public and collective' child-rearing practices of working-class families and the 'private and individual' ones of native-born white Americans. . . . Readers will appreciate Klapper's presentation of anecdotes from a refreshingly broad range of geographic locales and ethnic groups.
— William S. Bush, Texas A&M University-San Antonio
Journal Of American Ethnic History
A book that smoothly synthesizes several decades' worth of scholarship. . . . Klapper draws an interesting contrast between the 'public and collective' child-rearing practices of working-class families and the 'private and individual' ones of native-born white Americans. . . . Readers will appreciate Klapper's presentation of anecdotes from a refreshingly broad range of geographic locales and ethnic groups.
— Bush, William S.
Kriste Lindenmeyer
Skillfully shows how the experiences of immigrant children highlight the dramatic shift from farm to factory. . . . An engaging synthesis.
Roger Daniels
Her culturally sensitive survey fills a gap in histories of childhood and of immigration.
Jonathan Zimmerman
Klapper has written a brief gem of a book, examining immigrant children in all of their diversity, tragedy, and triumph.
Marilyn Irvin Holt
A careful blending of personal accounts with the larger social issues and reform movements of the period.
Alice Kessler-Harris
Small Strangers touches on an astonishing range of key issues. . . . Indispensable.
Peter Bardaglio
Klapper paints a compelling portrait. . . . An especially pertinent story in light of the current debates over immigration policy.
Social Issues Shelf California Bookwatch
Small Strangers fills a gap. . . . An excellent addition to any college level collection strong in immigrant studies.
Virginia Quarterly Review - Garrett Berger
Small Strangers captures the essence of what it meant to be one of the many children whose families immigrated to America around the turn of the last century. . . . Small Strangers manages to do an excellent job of telling their stories and shedding light on their lives and their contributions to building America.
H-Childhood - Ellen L. Berg
Highlight[s] . . . experiences of individuals while still describing . . . structural similarities in the experiences of . . . a broad range of ethnicities.
Jewish Exponent - Robert Leiter
Stimulating study . . . fine insights concerning the effects that immigration had on American and its varied citizenry.
Journal of American History - H. Mark Wild
This slim, accessible volume presents a concise history of the immigrant generation that came of age in late nineteenth-and early twentieth century America.
Journal of American Ethnic History - William S. Bush
A book that smoothly synthesizes several decades' worth of scholarship. . . . Klapper draws an interesting contrast between the 'public and collective' child-rearing practices of working-class families and the 'private and individual' ones of native-born white Americans. . . . Readers will appreciate Klapper's presentation of anecdotes from a refreshingly broad range of geographic locales and ethnic groups.
California Bookwatch
Small Strangers fills a gap. . . . An excellent addition to any college level collection strong in immigrant studies.
Virginia Quarterly Review
Small Strangers captures the essence of what it meant to be one of the many children whose families immigrated to America around the turn of the last century.
—Garrett Berger
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566637336
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Series: American Childhoods Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.33 (w) x 9.41 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Melissa R. Klapper teaches history at Rowan University in New Jersey and has also written Jewish Girls Coming of Age in America, 1860–1920. She lives in the Philadelphia area.
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Table of Contents


Preface     xi
Acknowledgments     xvii
Childhood and Immigrants: Changing Ideas at the Turn of the Century     3
The Landscape of Early Childhood     18
At School, at Work, at Home, at Play     54
Adolescent Years     108
After the Door Closed: The Effects of Restrictive Legislation and the Depression     161
Immigrant Children and Modern America     177
Notes     183
A Note on Sources     195
Index     211
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