Boston's Immigrants, 1790-1880: A Study in Acculturation

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Harvard University Press, 1991 - History - 382 pages

As fresh in 1991 as when it first published a half-century ago, Boston's Immigrants illuminates the history of a particular city and an important phase of the American experience. Focusing on the life of people from the perspective of the social historian, the book explores a wide range of subjects: peasants society and the cause of European migration, population growth and industrial development, the ideology of progress and Catholic thought, and urban politics and the dynamic of prejudice. A generation of students and scholars has profited from its insights, and general readers have enjoyed its lively style. A new preface by the author reflects upon the book's intellectual origins.


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About the author (1991)

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Oscar Handlin received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he has taught since 1939 and was director of the Center for the Study of the History of Liberty until 1966. From 1979 to 1984, he was director of the university library at Harvard, and, after holding the Charles Warren chair in history for many years, in 1984 he became Charles M. Loeb University Professor. Handlin, who is a consensus historian and a strong advocate of civil rights, has written extensively on urban history and immigration. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1952 for The Uprooted (1951), his study of immigrants in the eastern cities of America written from the perspective of the immigrant. The son of immigrant parents himself, he made his special field of study the social history of immigrant groups who came to the United States in the nineteenth century from eastern and southern Europe. In The Americans (1963), as in others of his books, he dispensed with footnotes, bibliography, and identification of quotations in favor of "unobtrusive" learning. Handlin edited Children of the Uprooted (1966), which includes excerpts from various authors on the subject of the "marginality" of immigrants, and collaborated on a number of works with his first wife, Mary, and his second wife, Lillian. On the subject of education, he wrote The American University as an Instrument of Republican Culture (1970) and John Dewey's Challenge to Education: Historical Perspectives on the Cultural Context (1959).

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