Immigration in the 1920s


Most Americans who have done a people search to find out more about their family roots would have discovered that their ancestors were immigrants. Since the 1600s, many people from different countries across the world have been coming to America. From 1880 to the middle of the 1920s, the surge of European immigrants to the United States was known as the “second wave".

The number of Italian immigrants that arrived in America reached a high of over 2 million between 1910 and 1920. About 1.5 million Polish folks also made their way across the Atlantic to escape religious discrimination and the army draft during the “second wave". There were also more than 2 million Jews who migrated to America from Eastern Europe during this period of time. It was also reported that more than 5.5 million Germans, 4.4 million Irish, and 3.25 million Russian immigrants came to the United States from 1820 to 1920. While many of these immigrants came to America to escape extreme poverty, famines, and oppression many of them were captivated by the promise of a New World or to be free from the confines of Old Europe.

Many Asians immigrated to the United States during this period as well. They were attracted to the possibility of riches that the start of the California gold rush offered. Many opened their own businesses and after the gold rush, many Chinese immigrants became laborers in other industries.

A large number of these immigrants settled in the New York area because they couldn’t afford to travel far. New York was also a good place to find jobs because it was a large city. Many immigrants set up their own communities within the cities they settled in like Chinatown or Little Italy. Many struggled to learn English which prevented them from getting higher paying jobs.

Religious differences also caused tension as many of the early settlers in the United States were Protestants and they did not feel comfortable around people of other religions. Racism was also an issue at the time. For instance, the Klu Klux Klan attacked Catholics, Jews, African Americans, and other immigrants. Chinese Americans experienced discrimination from the U.S. government in form of the Chinese Exclusion Act that was passed by congress in 1882. Despite these factors, many immigrants were able to rise above and become part of the middle class.

Below is a list of links to sites with detailed information about the “second wave” of immigrants:

· The Roaring Twenties : Discusses life in the 1920s for Americans and describes in detail the migration that took place during that time.

· Tension over Immigration : Briefly explains the tension that occurred in the United States because of the sudden influx of immigrants.

· American Immigration 1820-1920 : This interactive site has real pictures and great information about the immigrants who came to the United States during this period.

· Immigration History : Discusses the immigration history of the United States and discusses immigration in the 1920s.

· Ellis Island : The official page for Ellis Island, the “gateway into America” that many had to cross through in the 1920s to enter the country

· Migration Information : Has detailed information about the second wave migration that occurred in the 1920s.

· American Memory Collections : Provides links to actual stories from people who immigrated to the United States around the 1920s.

· Immigration Links : Has many links that touches on all aspects of migration in the 1920s including links to information on different ethnic immigrants.

· Second Wave Immigration : Offers detailed information about how people immigrated to the United States around the 1920s as well as information on how they were coming, where they settled and why they settled there.

· 20th Century Information : Provides information on immigration history as well as information on the second wave that occurred around 1920.

· Images From Ellis Island : Has real images of immigrants who came to Ellis Island during the second wave of migration.

· Attitude Towards Immigration : Briefly touches on the attitude people had toward immigrants in the 1920s.

· Immigration In The 1920s : Discusses the demographics of immigration in the 1920s.

· Racism In The 1920s : An in-depth look at racism in the 1920s.

· Immigration Laws In The 1920s, A Story : The true story of a family that immigrated to the United States and encountered racist laws.