From Ellis Island to JFK: New York's Two Great Waves of Immigration

Front Cover
Yale University Press, 2000 - History - 334 pages
0 Reviews
In the history, the very personality, of New York City, few events loom larger than the wave of immigration at the turn of the last century. Today a similar influx of new immigrants is transforming the city again. Better than one in three New Yorkers is now an immigrant. From Ellis Island to JFK is the first in-depth study that compares these two huge social changes.

A key contribution of this book is Nancy Foner's reassessment of the myths that have grown up around the earlier Jewish and Italian immigration--and that deeply color how today's Asian, Latin American, and Caribbean arrivals are seen. Topic by topic, she reveals the often surprising realities of both immigrations. For example:
  • Education: Most Jews, despite the myth, were not exceptional students at first, while many immigrant children today do remarkably well.
  • Jobs: Immigrants of both eras came with more skills than is popularly supposed. Some today come off the plane with advanced degrees and capital to start new businesses.
  • Neighborhoods: Ethnic enclaves are still with us but they're no longer always slums--today's new immigrants are reviving many neighborhoods and some are moving to middle-class suburbs.
  • Gender: For married women a century ago, immigration often, surprisingly, meant less opportunity to work outside the home. Today, it's just the opposite.
  • Race: We see Jews and Italians as whites today, but to turn-of-the-century scholars they were members of different, alien races. Immigrants today appear more racially diverse--but some (particularly Asians) may be changing the boundaries of current racial categories.

Drawing on a wealth of historical and contemporary research and written in a lively and entertaining style, the book opens a new chapter in the study of immigration--and the story of the nation's gateway city.

What people are saying - Write a review

FROM ELLIS ISLAND TO JFK: New York's Two Great Waves of Immigration

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A well-documented and scrupulously researched look at New York City's two greatest waves of immigration.Foner (Anthropology/Purchase Coll.) compares and contrasts the experiences of the largely Jewish ... Read full review

From Ellis Island to JFK: New York's two great waves of immigration

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Between 1880 and 1920, a great wave of immigrants added a million and a half newcomersDmostly eastern European Jews and southern ItaliansDto New York City's population. Now a new wave of immigrants ... Read full review


1 Who They Are and Why They Have Come
2 Where They Live
3 The Work They Do
4 Immigrant Women and Work
5 The Sting of Prejudice
6 Transnational Ties
7 Going to School
8 A Look Backwardand Forward

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2000)

Nancy Foner is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Bibliographic information