Women of Courage: Jewish and Italian Immigrant Women in New York

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In the wake of World War I, a diverse group of women emigrated from Europe to the United States under austere conditions and adapted in different ways to life in the new country. Based on a major new study that includes in-depth interviews with 100 Italian and Jewish women who immigrated to the New York City area in the early 1900s, this volume explores family and work lives led by these women and the relative importance of cultural factors to the two groups' adjustment to American life. The interviews trace the process of adapting to life in the U.S., paying special attention to the specific experiences of women immigrants and the challenges they faced in surmounting gender and cultural barriers both within their families and in their new communities. This innovative, interdisciplinary study uses feminist approaches to explore immigrant women's lives from childhood to old age. The result is a nuanced view of the similarities and differences between the two groups, whose distinct family structures and cultural backgrounds led to different responses to the same pressures and difficulties.

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Editorial Reviews

Based on interviews with 100 Italian and Jewish women who immigrated to New York in the 1920s, this study examines the differences and similarities between the experiences of these two groups. Coser (sociology, State U. of NY), Anker (American Studies, State U. of NY), and Perrin (PhD candidate, sociology, UC Berkeley) stress issues surrounding family life and work, particularly these women's political activity with workers' rights and unions. Italian women and their families tended to become insular and tried to maintain a more thoroughly Italian culture, whereas the Jewish families assimilated more with American culture; however, in work life, both Italian and Jewish women were active participants in unions and workers' rights movements. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

ROSE LAUB COSER was Professor Emerita of Sociology at the State University of New York, Stony Brook and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Boston College.

LAURA S. ANKER is Professor of American Studies at the State University of New York at Old Westbury.

ANDREW J. PERRIN is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Table of Contents


Leaving for America

The Unknown Future

Family Structure: Some Theoretical Concepts

Fertility and Social Structure

Home Life

Coming to America?: Work as a Motive for Migration

Women and Work in the "Golden Medina"

Work, Unions, and Identity: "To Make for Herself a Person"

Appendix: List of Interviewees

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