Modern America (1914-1929)
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Restrictions on immigration, largely aimed at would-be migrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, gained considerable popular support during the 1920s. Anti-immigrant sentiment culminated in the Quota Act of 1921, which effectively reduced immigration from those areas to a quarter of pre-World War I levels, and in the even more restrictive…
Restrictions on immigration, largely aimed at would-be migrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, gained considerable popular support during the 1920s. Anti-immigrant sentiment culminated in the Quota Act of 1921, which effectively reduced immigration from those areas to a quarter of pre-World War I levels, and in the even more restrictive…

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1924

America's reputation as a land of welcome for immigrants has often been compromised by periodic calls to "shut the door" on immigration. At the turn of the twentieth century, the arrival of unprecedented numbers of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe led to growing public support for restrictive immigration laws. After a temporary slowing…

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1924

In 1925, seven years after the end of World War I, the Army War College undertook a study to evaluate the fitness of black soldiers for service in a future war. The study's recommendations emphasized the importance of white officers and strict segregation of black troops; it was generally dubious about the prospects of black soldiers serving…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: 1925

Edward Curtis was a professional photographer of the American West. In 1906, the wealthy banker and art collector J.P. Morgan hired Curtis to produce a multi-volume series on Native Americans that would include essays, sound recordings, and 1500 photographs. The goal of the series was not simply to photograph Indians, but to document "one of the…

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Item Type: Photograph
Date: Circa 1927

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Latino immigrants, most from Mexico, faced many problems, including low wages, poor working conditions, discrimination, and violence. They used a range of strategies to address those problems and improve their lives and status. One strategy was forming mutual aid societies, known as mutualistas,…

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Item Type: Pamphlet/Petition
Date: 1929

One of the first challenges for southern migrants who arrived in Northern cities like Chicago was finding a place to live. One report tells of a single day when 600 families applied to live in 53 housing units. Given the demand, unscrupulous landlords charged high rents for run-down apartments. Rapid population growth was not the only reason black…

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Item Type: Photograph
Date: Circa 1929

In this memoir first published in 1952, Charles Denby, an African-American migrant from Alabama, recalls his train ride North and first night in Detroit, Michigan. In 1930, out of work because of the Great Depression, Denby moved back to the South. He returned to Detroit in 1943, where he became an member of the United Auto Workers union and was…

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Item Type: Biography/Autobiography
Date: 1952

Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972), the grandaughter of former slaves, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she learned to sing in her family's baptist church. In 1927, at the age of sixteen, Jackson migrated to Chicago where she found a job as a domestic. She joined a gospel choir and earned money as a soloist at churches and funerals.…

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Item Type: Biography/Autobiography
Date: 1966

In 1917, ten-year-old Rubie Bond left Mississippi with her parents and migrated to Beloit, Wisconsin. Her father, who worked as a tenant farmer in the South, had been recruited to work at a factory in Beloit. In 1976, she was interviewed as part of an oral history project documenting the experiences of African-American migrants who moved to…

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Item Type: Oral History
Date: 1976