The Minds of the West: Ethnocultural Evolution in the Rural Middle West, 1830-1917

Overview

In the century preceding World War I, the American Middle West drew thousands of migrants both from Europe and from the northeastern United States. In the American mind, the region represented a place where social differences could be muted and a distinctly American culture created. Many of the European groups, however, viewed the Midwest as an area of opportunity because it allowed them to retain cultural and religious traditions from their homelands.
Jon Gjerde examines the ...
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The Minds of the West: Ethnocultural Evolution in the Rural Middle West, 1830-1917

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Overview

In the century preceding World War I, the American Middle West drew thousands of migrants both from Europe and from the northeastern United States. In the American mind, the region represented a place where social differences could be muted and a distinctly American culture created. Many of the European groups, however, viewed the Midwest as an area of opportunity because it allowed them to retain cultural and religious traditions from their homelands.
Jon Gjerde examines the cultural patterns, or "minds," that those settling the Middle West carried with them. He argues that such cultural transplantation could occur because patterns of migration tended to reunite people of similar pasts and because the rural Midwest was a vast region where cultural groups could sequester themselves in tight-knit settlements built around familial and community institutions.
Gjerde compares patterns of development and acculturation across immigrant groups, exploring the frictions and fissures experienced within and between communities. Finally, he examines the means by which individual ethnic groups built themselves a representative voice, joining the political and social debate on both a regional and national level.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
It is, in many ways, ground-breaking.

Rural History

Its lens gives a more complicated, more interesting West and nation.

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Surely [this is] among the very best studies of ethnicity we have.

Reviews in American History

This is a valuable contribution to ethnic, social, and regional history and should receive a wide audience.

Western Historical Quarterly

This book will be essential for anyone studying the Middle West and American social, cultural, and intellectual history.

American Anthropologist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807848074
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/22/1999
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 442
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jon Gjerde, author of the award-winning From Peasants to Farmers, is professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Pt. 1 The Region
1 The Prospects of the West: A Promise and a Threat 25
2 The Burden of Their Song: Immigrant Encounters with the Republic 51
Pt. 2 The Community
3 We'll Meet on Canaan's Land: Patterns of Migration 79
4 You Can't Put All Your Horses in One Corral: Conflict and Community 103
Pt. 3 The Family
5 Farming Is a Hard Life: Household and the Agricultural Workplace 135
6 A Tale of Two Households: Patterns of Family 159
7 Mothers and Siblings among the Corn Rows: The Individual Life Course and Community Development 187
Pt. 4 The Society
8 They Soon Abandoned Their Wooden Shoes: Ethnic Group Formation 225
9 Teach the Children Domestic Economy: Conceptions of Family, Community, and State 251
10 So Great Is Now the Spirit of Foreign Nationality: Late-Nineteenth-Century Political Conflict 283
Epilogue 319
Notes 327
Index 411
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