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"New" Immigrants and the Polish Community in Salem: Resources and Links

Theme: Social Change and Social Reform
Topic: "New" Immigrants and the Polish Community in Salem
Date: 13 July 2006
Scholars: Stephen Pitti, Ph.D. Professor of History and American Studies, Yale University.

Annotated Bibliography: Secondary Sources | Websites and Web Resources | Oral History Resources | Other

Resources and Links compiled and annotated by Stephen Pitti, PH.D., Professor of History and American Studies, Yale University, and the SALEM in History staff

Annotated Bibliography

Compiled and annotated by Stephen Pitti, PH.D., Professor of History and American Studies, Yale University, and the SALEM in History staff

Secondary Sources

Bodnar, John. The Transplanted: A History of Immigrants in Urban America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.

Canonical work challenging notion that immigrants were victimized by (and their traditional ways of life destroyed by) both their transatlantic journey and the urban, capitalistic, society they found in the United States between 1830 and 1930. Bodnar gives agency to the immigrants he studies. He argues that immigrants brought both traditions and experiences with them which helped them adjust to and shape the American society they encountered in order to better meet their needs and maintain traditions that were important. He focuses heavily on the intersection of economic and social forces both in the immigrants' nations of origin and in the United States. Capitalism, and its related patterns of social interaction and organization were not, Bodnar makes clear, unknown to the protagonists of his work. Note: Bodnar restricts this study to European immigrants and to the male experience within that group.

Dinnerstein, Leonard, Roger L. Nichols and David M. Reimers. Natives and Strangers: Blacks, Indians and Immigrants in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Emphasis on contributions of these groups to the economic development of the nation.

González, Juan. Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America. New York: Penguin Press, 2000.

A very well written, and mostly accurate, overview of Latino history written for a popular audience. The author is a noted New York journalist and longtime activist in Puerto Rican circles, and he offers here a useful model for thinking about the importance of U.S. “empire” in shaping migration from elsewhere in the hemisphere to the U.S., as well as a good deal of useful information about Mexican Americans, Dominicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and others throughout the twentieth century.

Greene, Victor. For God and Country: The Rise of Polish and Lithuanian Ethnic Consciousness in America, 1860-1910. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1975.

Examines process of developing ethnic awareness and conflict between groups.

Gutiérrez, David G., editor. Between Two Worlds: Mexican Immigrants in the United States.Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1996.

A collection of ten important scholarly essays on the history of Mexican immigration to the United States that might be useful for anyone looking to place immigrants from Mexico in an account of the California Gold Rush, the early-20th century United States, or the immediate postwar period.

Handlin, Oscar. The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990.

Studies European immigration and argues that the large migration was a socially disorganizing experience.

Kantowicz, Edward R. Polish-American Politics in Chicago, 1888-1940. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.

Study of the Polish community in Chicago, the largest white immigrant group in the city at the time.

Kraut, Alan, The Huddled Masses: The Immigrant in American Society, 1880-1921. Arlington Heights, Ill.: Arlan Davidson, 1986.

A good introduction to the varied pre and post-immigrant experiences of those who came to (and often left again) the United States during the second major "wave" of immigration.Includes information and explorations of European immigrants as well as those from China and Japan. Argues that many factors influenced the decision to immigrate to the United States and the shape of life once in America; emphasis is on the individual variation and experience of immigration rather than on generalizations about groups.

Levitt, Peggy. The Transnational Villagers. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

An anthropological account of Dominicans in the Boston area which remains one of the few extended treatments of Latinos in Massachusetts. Levitt argues for the importance of transnational links back to the island, and she foregrounds an argument about social remittances as a way of making sense of immigrant priorities. Useful chapters also treat issues related to community development and religion.

Pérez, Louis A. On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture. New York: Ecco Press,1999.

A monumental history of Cubans in the United States from the mid-19th century in the 1950s. Readable, very thoroughly researched, and attentive to above all to the culture of immigrants themselves -- who more often than not lived in Florida or New York.

Sánchez Korrol, Virginia. From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.

A pioneering study of the development of the Puerto Rican community in New York prior to the 1950s which pays close attention to the urban environment, the role of women in families and institutions, the persistence of Puerto Rican culture among urban residents, and the relations between those Latino migrants and the more established African American community in Manhattan.

Thernstrom, Stephan, ed. Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1980.

Essays about the origins, migration and settlement patterns of ethnic groups in America. Includes bibliographies.

Thomas, William I. and Florian Znaniecki. The Polish Peasant in Europe and America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984.

Examines social and cultural lives of people in Poland and America.

Yans-McLaughlin, Virginia, ed. Immigration Reconsidered: History, Sociology and Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Collection of essays on immigration written by historians and sociologists.

Zunz, Olivier. “American History and the Changing Meaning of Assimilitation.” Journal of American Ethnic History (1985): 53-72.


Websites and Web Resources

“Ethnic America," Digital History

This website has a collection of primary and secondary sources about immigrant history, including sections on Mexican, Asian, European and African immigration.

Immigrant City Archives & Museum
Lawrence History Center

Documents and artifacts pertaining to the history of Lawrence, including business and planning records of the Essex Company that created Lawrence, non current municipal records, historic photographs and oral histories.

“Interviews with Today’s Immigrants," American Memory/Library of Congress

This is an online archive of transcribed interviews with recent immigrants to the United States, many of them conducted by students. Also on the website are instructions on conducting your own oral history project and submitting the results to be included in the online archive. There are also links to other immigrant and oral history resources. Also check out these pages of the American Memory website of the Library of Congress:

Lesson Plan: “Immigration into the Urban Industrialized Northeast," Yale-New Haven Teacher’s Institute

Yale University and New Haven (CT) public schools have sponsored a Teachers Institute since 1978. The website of the project ( has dozens of lesson plans for history and social studies teachers. Lesson plans also include a reading list for teachers and students. Among the relevant themes for this topic are “Remaking America: Contemporary US Immigration” (, “Immigration and American Life” ( and the lesson plan mentioned above.

Lowell National Historic Park:

The Boott Cotton Mills Museum, the Suffolk Mill Turbine Exhibit and guided tours tell the story of the transition from farm to factory, chronicle immigrant and labor history and trace industrial technology.

Passenger Arrival Records, American Family Immigration History Center: Ellis Island

Here it is possible to research passenger arrival records of the ships that brought immigrants who to Ellis Island and through the Port of New York between 1892 and 1924. Original ships' manifests with passenger names are included.

U.S. Historical Census Data Browser

A wonderful resource for finding state and county data. Useful for tracking the population and economic history of the United States. Data is provided for the years 1790 - 1960 and is searchable by a wide range of variables. Some data sets can be displayed in map form, and information can be compared across years. Also valuable as a window into the changes in census data categories. A link to information on the history of the census is included on this website. Note: this site does not provide information about individuals.

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Oral History Resources


Storycorps is a private organization dedicated to collecting and sharing oral histories of everyday Americans through its "Storybooths," located around the country to offer people a chance to share their stories, and "Mobilebooths," travelling sound studios dedicated to collecting oral histories on the road. The website lists locations of its booths and volunteer opportunities, as well as a chance to listen and learn about sample oral histories.

Great basic step-by-step guide with suggestions on organizing ideas, question technique, etc.

Get nosy with “Aunt Rosey." Tips for creating an oral history with a genealogical perspective

Great examples, and interview tips, etc. from Berkley.  Excellent resources.  (There is a section in the resource “links” that highlights military oral histories as well.)

The OAH (Organization of American Historians) Magazine of History has posted their entire edition of oral history in the classroom to the web. 

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Other Resources

The House of Seven Gables Settlement and Neighborhood Center

An extant settlement house in Salem, MA at 114 Derby St. on the historic waterfront. Unique among the annals of settlement houses, the initial funding for this settlement house and its work came from tourists at the 17th century Turner House in Salem, a structure made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne's depiction of it in The House of the Seven Gables. A firm believer in the power of settlement work, Salem philanthropist Caroline Emmerton renovated the Turner House, created an historic site and used its revenue to found and fund The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association in 1910. Her goal: to serve Salem's increasingly immigrant and ethnic population. The Settlement and Neighborhood Center currently provides educational, social and recreational programs for the families and children of Salem and the surrounding communities.


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