The Study of Man: The Immigrant in American History
Historical literature dealing with the immigrant and the “ethnic” group in American life is voluminous. But from the beginning it has been largely the monopoly of the amateur historian, the ethnic jingoist, the minority booster; and it has been designed mainly to please circumscribed ethnic audiences by puffing the merits of their ancestors. In recent years, however, a number of professional historians have begun to show an interest in the immigrant and his descendants, and they have already far outdone the achievement of all the previous decades of amateur effort.
The names of Marcus L. Hansen, Theodore C. Blegen, Oscar Handlin, Caroline Ware, and a few other serious scholars who have combined documentation with tempered judgment to overcome prevailing misconceptions, are comparatively little known. Much more popular is the work of Louis Adamic. It is through his writings that the average reader becomes acquainted with the immigrant’s role. While giving Adamic due credit for reiterating the point that ours is by no means an entirely Anglo-Saxon civilization, it should be recognized that his books constitute virtually a glossary of the errors committed by the amateur investigators of immigrant history.
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