A Visit to Keene State’s Archives

A visit to the Keene State College archives revealed a lot about different migrant and immigrant groups that came to New Hampshire that I had no idea even existed in New Hampshire. These groups that I was personally unaware of were the Finnish, Vietnamese and the Lebanese migrant and immigrant groups. The groups that I was aware of are the Scots-Irish, Irish, French Canadian, German, and the Hispanic communities. It was an eye opener on what groups have lived in New Hampshire that I never even heard of. On this initial visit to the archives none of the books focused on Keene, New Hampshire, but rather on Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city. However there was one noticeable exception to that, and that was the Finnish community of Newport, New Hampshire.

A book called The Finns in Newport, NH by Olli Turpeinen discusses the Finnish community that formed in Newport. The Finns did not settle in New Hampshire largest city of Manchester, despite it being the center of New Hampshire immigration. This was because of other ethnic groups such as the Irish and French Canadians already living in the city. They moved to Newport in the 1880’s because of the various job opportunities that were closed off to them. Finns went to Newport for employment in a town that was willing to hire them. The community continued to grow into the twentieth century, and immigration and migration continued throughout New Hampshire.

Manchester, New Hampshire was the top immigration destination for many arriving in the state. As stated earlier numerous migrant and immigrant groups made their home in Manchester. Another group that was fascinating was the Lebanese community. This group arrived in the early 20th century, and managed to open several small businesses according to Thaddeus M. Piotrowski’s The Lebanese Community of Manchester. At the moment I don’t know much more about this community but, I’m interested in doing a project either on the Lebanese in Manchester or the Finns in Newport. It was interesting to explore the archives as I truly discovered communities I did not know existed.  All information came from the books The Finns in Newport, NH Olli Turpeinen and Thaddeus M. Piotrowski’s The Lebanese Community of Manchester.


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Diving into Archives at KSC

Patrick Driscoll, my partner in this COPLAC course, and I visited the Keene State College Archives to begin our research on migration history in New Hampshire. It was not the first time we had been here together and our previous experience conducting archival work certainly contributed to the ease of use we had in the facility this time around. We were able to quickly find, not without the help of our lovely archivists, several records of migration populations in New Hampshire. What we discovered were books. Most of these books come from a collection written by Thaddeus M. Piotrowski who spent what seems to be many years compiling information about various immigrant populations existing in New Hampshire, and specifically in the Manchester area, throughout history. Piotrowski produced individual books about each migrant group, went into detail about their histories, cultures, successes and setbacks living in the region, and much more. The groups were: Hispanics in New Hampshire, mostly lured here by an industrialized Granite State’s mills and textiles; Scots and their descendants in Londonderry New Hampshire; German-American groups and their heritage in New Hampshire; Vietnamese refugees of New Hampshire; the Finnish in Newport, New Hampshire, and the Lebanese population in New Hampshire.

The archivist on duty even informed Patrick and I that in her experience growing up near Keene the French-Canadians were the largest group of immigrants who traveled here to work in the many mills in the state. When she would use her telephone as a girl she would even hear French language being spoken through the party lines.

Patrick and I took notes about all of these groups and will gladly revisit them to improve our research, but there is one group in particular that sparked our interest in terms of where to focus our project. This was the Lebanese immigrant population in New Hampshire. We are compelled to reveal more information about the Lebanese migration history in the area because of one bit of information that set them apart from most immigrant populations who traveled into the Northeast. The majority of immigrant populations traveled here to work in mills and factories, but the Lebanese, according to our research, came to America and established small businesses. Not only was this unique but it was also surprising because we assumed that even if a group did not initially travel here to work in the mills, it would likely be difficult to state a small business because of a strained social status. Thus Patrick and I are fascinated by this community who we had little knowledge even impacted New Hampshire and we would love to bring more awareness to this culture for the betterment of ourselves as well as our community.

American Exceptionalism, Assimilation, the “American Creed,” and Other Such Ideas

This week’s readings gave me a lot to consider as Liz and I prepare to undertake the task of telling the story of a group of migrants. Reconsidering the “immigrant paradigm” was an interesting exercise. I do, of course, know that certain immigrants have a position of privilege in American history, but I thought the Social Darwinist theory about the over-heated melting pot in Is Everywhere Nowhere? Nomads, Nations, and the Immigrant Paradigm of the United States History by Donna R. Gabaccia was particularly interesting. There was already so many different groups of people that some groups just couldn’t be absorbed…  Then I wondered, what are the effects of this refusal to fully embrace certain groups of people? I’m sure it causes a certain level of alienation, but—as Gabaccia points out—complete acceptance and assimilation into a new society leaves little to no room for homeland loyalties. If a group fully integrates into a society, does that cause a loss of cultural identity? Would it make a project like ours more difficult? If a group is not embraced by the new society, does this push them to form the enclaves that we are about to study?

I also thought it was kind of funny that one individual identified in Gary Gertle’s American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century called the ideas of democracy, equality, and inalienable rights the “American Creed.” Talk about American Exceptionalism. Gertle’s theory of civic nationalism vs. racial nationalism made me think deeper about the immigration policies of those who have lead the U.S., the presidents and congresspeople. Even when they were “liberal” they walked a fine line between the two “nationalisms.” All humans were equal, but since some were supposedly lesser humans or lesser groups, it was not problematic that these folks weren’t treated as equal. At least until they won their (what I will call) whiteness, as the Italians did in Gabaccia’s essay.

Again, plenty to think about as we begin this journey. Something that I will bear in mind—at least more than I already did—was the whole “us vs. them” issue, of being careful not to letting the immigration paradigm version of history become more important or prevalent than the history of the group whose story we tell. I thought this idea, from Adam Goodman’s Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migrants, served as a good warning for what to be careful of. As with writing any history, there are biases that one must be aware of so they can try to avoid them to maintain neutrality (at least, as much as one can). This is one of those biases that one may unwittingly fall into, especially because this is how the nation has wanted its history written in times past.

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First reading reaction

— Beginning of Week Two —

My initial reaction to this week’s readings was that of a general overtone throughout each piece within itself can be found, which connects it to one another; I think that it is additionally important to note how each and every one of us establishes our own thoughts and interpretations as well. This is essentially what makes conversations, and research such as this intriguing and fulfilling.
For me, reflecting upon my own encounters with life, and attempting to understand the state in which we currently find the United States through various perspectives has helped me think about the topic of migration in a more personal spectrum. It is quite apparent that the United States is a nation created solely by immigrants, who migrated here through various different channels, over different periods of time. One of the things that stood out to me while reading the journal written by Gabbacia was the way she depicted the importance of migration for every single person; migration clearly has a purpose, no matter how different it may be depending on the situation at hand in the face of history. I think this is something that I personally want to create a deeper understanding for the Wichita Falls community within itself; why do people migrate to a town this small – what resources are in this city that create an environment and sense of home that makes people from all over the United States call migrate to? A sense of community is later on established as one can hope for them, and this place that was once foreign becomes home for the migrants.
I personally think it’s rather amusing whenever the topic of “historical myth” or simply put, the myth’s behind our nation’s history is brought up in conversation, texts, articles, etc because up until a year ago I never thought about this possibility. I remember talking about the topic of “Exceptionalism” in Dr. Leland Turner’s Texas history course last Fall 2016, where he helped our class ask and answer the pressing question: what makes our state, or our country for example, exceptional? The idea of being exceptional within itself boosts our ego as Americans, and often times as I’ve seen it makes individuals feel powerful simply because of the country they call home.
I think it’s interesting to see how the United States tends to reject certain groups of people from migrating into the country, and accepting others freely. This of course leads into a sensitive topic for some when discussing racial inequality, and how we as Americans deal with specific groups of people seeking citizenship, refuge, or any kind of form of migration into the United States. I personally would like to see if that has been an issue for the City of Wichita Falls, and if all communities who have ventured into their county in the hopes of migration, have been accepted.
The readings have helped me begin forming further questions that I would like to dive deeper into and answer within our project; what does it exactly mean to be a “melting pot” nation if we don’t necessarily have a rather kind history when it comes to the treatment of certain groups who chose to migrate to the United States. One thing aside from the reading that I would like to point out, was the Political Cartoon that Dr. Dunn shared with us on Slack; I definitely think that this helped me get the wheels in my mind going when reflecting over the reading.

I look forward to discussion tomorrow in class, I tend to look down at my notes and write down most of what others say. I would much rather hear what my peers have to say in order to broaden my knowledge and see if it changes the way I look at things and make sure I have it written down than the latter. Hopefully once we (Brad and I) determine the group of people we would like to study, or the part of history here in the Wichita Falls community, we can determine if in fact migration for these people was a pleasant and not an unpleasant experience.
Until next time, Maria.


Adam Goodman, “Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration,” Journal of American Ethnic History, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Summer 2015): 7-16.

Donna Gabaccia, “‘Is Everywhere No Where?’ Nomads, Nations, and the Immigrant Paradigm of American History,” Journal of American History, Vol. 86, No. 3 (December 1999): 1115-34.

Gary Gerstle, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (2nd ed., Princeton University Press, 2017).

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Why should we care who wrote it?

Adam Goodman, “Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration,” Journal of American Ethnic History, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Summer 2015): 7-16.

Donna Gabaccia, “‘Is Everywhere No Where?’ Nomads, Nations, and the Immigrant Paradigm of American History,” Journal of American History, Vol. 86, No. 3 (December 1999): 1115-34.

Gary Gerstle, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (2nd ed., Princeton University Press, 2017).

Extra: Julian H. Steward, Theory of Culture Change: the methodology of multilinear evolution. (University of Illinois Press, 1972).

America’s myth of being a melting pot has long been a point of pride or consternation in our national identity (Gerstle 2017, 3). But while teaching English in Taiwan, I preferred to use the analogy of America as a ‘hot pot’ – a soup that tastes delicious together, but where all of the ingredients, (in this case cultural groups) remain separate entities. This was supported by Goodman’s article, which also dismantles America’s melting pot myth, positing that WASPs were privileged as non-European immigrants were viewed as secondary actors (8).

Though some anthropologists, such as universal evolutionists, attempt to analyze culture through area types, and might define the whole of America as a ‘culture’, I prefer to use Stewart’s lens of national groups as supra-individual institutions, and understanding that unlike in early hunter and gatherer groups, no individuals can encompass entire national patterns (Stewart 1975, 46).

This is relevant to my research in that while examining the assimilation of any ethnic minority into a national group, they are absorbing the characteristics of the first sub-group they encountered, and secondly the supra-individual institutional values, such as liberty, individual rights, and national arts; what Gerstle claimed to make us American (2017, 4).

Gabaccia studies Italian migration underlines the “tyranny of the national” (1117) and migration to understand how history produces nations. To me, the author demonstrates how important the authory of history is, because historical ‘facts’ are told from the point of view of someone, no matter how god-like and ‘objective’ they attempt to be. For example, Gabaccia points out that American historians view migration as immigration, whereas European scholars viewed is as emigration (1118). This pertains to our research project in order to be as transparent as possible regarding our own backgrounds.

Going forward, it will be important to remember the research subject’s backgrounds. Were they part of the privileged group of immigrants? How does our national story shape our, as researchers, perceptions of them? What do we view as the ‘dominant culture’ that they seemingly need to assimilate into, and how does this vary from other subcultures? These questions must be at the forefront of our minds as we embark on this research project.

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Individual Reflections on Goodman, Gabaccia, and Gerstle by Gray

I did not realize a surname beginning with the letter G was such an advantage!

While reading the three articles by the three separate authors, I noticed some common themes, foremost of which was the concept of American Exceptionalism. This could be, in part, my own bias being reflecting by their works. I am continually fascinated on the interplay between myth and history and how the resulting product is then put to work. Most of my formal exposure to the topic has focused on the regional variant known as Texceptionalism and how myth often overwhelms and obscures our local history. To find that it is pervasive in other areas of this field is both frustrating (in that the problem is not localized) and strangely gratifying (in how the problem is more communal than I previously believed it to be).

While all three articles handle the concept of American Exceptionalism, they all attack it in their own unique way. Goodman, for example, focuses on the paradigm shift within the field, as the mindset moves from the idea of America being a “nation of immigrants” to a “nation of migrants,” and how this represents the traditional field of immigrant history becoming less bound to previous constructs and more multidisciplinary. Garbaccia similarly addresses, she seems to perceive it as much more of an active impediment that must be overcome, going so far as to accuse the field of only concerning itself with migration when it comes to nation building and to describe the process as “the tyranny of the national” (1999, p. 1115). However, Gerstle takes a slightly different approach, choosing instead to focus on the two contradictory forces of civic nationalism (or what being a “Good American means in terms of political institutions such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence) and racial nationalism. All three serve as effective take downs of established paradigms of historical studies, bringing into question what we know and how we know it.

All three articles add value to our project. While specifics, such as Garbaccia’s Italians Everywhere project, may wind up not being directly applicable due to the nature of our potential topics (internal migration on a smaller scale, for the most part), they still provide valuable insight into the methodologies we will be seeking to employ, the mindsets we ought to use when approaching and evaluating our topics, and even lessons learned so that we can avoid reinventing the wheel or tripping over the same objects in the path others have already cleared.

In conclusion, these three articles have expanded my knowledge on the subject and will likely be a sound foundation on which future knowledge can be built. I hope that this short blog post both accurately captures the knowledge I have gained from these works and appropriately conveys my thoughts on the material. If there are any questions, I will gladly address them in any follow up entries. Thank you, and good day.

Adam Goodman, “Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration,” Journal of American Ethnic History, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Summer 2015): 7-16.

Donna Gabaccia, “‘Is Everywhere No Where?’ Nomads, Nations, and the Immigrant Paradigm of American History,” Journal of American History, Vol. 86, No. 3 (December 1999): 1115-34.

Gary Gerstle, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (2nd ed., Princeton University Press, 2017)

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Immigration Versus Migration


Adam Goodman, “Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration,” Journal of American Ethnic History, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Summer 2015): 7-16.

Goodman’s article describes how the concept of America as a nation of immigrants was created and continually reinforced, and why this concept is false. He points out that America has frequently chosen to exclude groups, such as Asians, African Americans, and Native Americans (to name a few), from the immigration story. He recognizes that there has been a new trend among scholars in recent years to use migration instead of immigration. Immigration has always been and continues to be a highly politicized topic, so migration may be “safer”. Migration can also include those groups that are commonly excluded from the rather whitewashed melting pot of America. He also believes that using the term “migration” will encourage people to think of the movements of humans without adhering to the idea of nation state borders, thereby normalizing and depoliticizing migration. He hopes that this will enable scholars to better analyze patterns of migration to and from different countries, and understand the history of the United States and the people that migrate through it.

Goodman’s article added to my knowledge of migration patterns through US History, specifically that so many of those that come to the US do not necessarily remain here permanently, but return to their country of origin.

I can’t believe I somehow made it through 14 years of education without this concept being introduced to me.

Donna Gabaccia, “‘Is Everywhere No Where?’ Nomads, Nations, and the Immigrant Paradigm of American History,” Journal of American History, Vol. 86, No. 3 (December 1999): 1115-34

Gabaccia discusses many of the same concepts as Goodman, but also relates them back to her personal field of study on Italian migration. Gabaccia pokes another hole in the “America as a nation of immigrants” story by pointing out that many other countries in the Americas also experience flows of migration from across the Atlantic. Many other countries can make the same claim. Gabaccia goes on to discuss the different attitudes towards migrants and migration history that several other countries have. She explains how the current ideas about migration in the US have been formed so differently than other countries due to the US’s history of institutionalized racism and slavery, and that the “immigration paradigm” divides the story of migration based on race, with racial minorities and non whites in general being excluded. Gabaccia encourages the reader to use migration instead of immigration, and to focus less on the countries and more on the people and cultures.

I had previously never considered that other countries have similar migration histories, but treat them in such different ways, to create a different effect or image.

Gary Gerstle, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (2nd ed., Princeton University Press, 2017)

Gerstle opens with explaining how the “American Melting Pot” or “crucible” idea took hold due to the desire to believe that America could be a country based on shared political ideas of freedom, equality, and democracy, but that the dream of a unified America is foiled by  a long history of racial nationalism that still divides the country today. These ideas are so ingrained that they date back to the Constitution. Gerstle goes on to discuss famous liberals who have ostensibly championed racial equality and civic nationalism while sometimes reinforcing racialist tendencies through their speech and policies. He describes how Theodore Roosevelt championed the American Melting Pot, believing that mixing different races and nationalities created more successful countries, but at the same time believed some races (such as Asians) should be excluded due to their “inferiority”. Gerstle also describes how civic nationalism gone awry led to political radicalism, and how many politically radical immigrants were subjected to mistreatment for failing to conform. Gerstle goes on to describe how nation states came to be, and how war is often used as a way to boost civic nationalism.

The passage Gerstle writes about Roosevelt was a real eyeopener for me in that I had no idea that Roosevelt was such a hypocritical racist.  Gerstle’s writing on the formation of nation states and how we should stop valuing these imaginary borders between people that are just a social construct really resonated with me. Nations are nothing more than lines drawn in the sand, to understand the history of human migration we must remember that that is all they are and be willing to see beyond them.

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Social Darwinism

The theory that persons, groups, and races are subject to the same laws of natural selection as Charles Darwin had perceived in plants and animals in nature. According to the theory, which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the weak were diminished and their cultures delimited, while the strong grew in power and in cultural influence over the weak. Social Darwinists held that the life of humans in society was a struggle for existence ruled by “survival of the fittest.” These ideas were embraced by the turn-of-the-century elites confronting the challenges of how to transform their “backward,” underdeveloped nations into modern, “civilized” republic.


In the article “Is Everywhere Nowhere? Nomads, Nations, and the Immigrant Paradigm of the United States History,” author Donna Gabaccia makes and important reference to the theory of Social Darwinism.  She writes:

Curiously, however, the immigrant paradigm of American history is not a product of immigration history; it originates in a critique of racial nationalism within the Chicago School of Sociology. Rejecting social Darwinist notions that an over-heated melting pot was unable to absorb immigrants from eastern and southern Europe, the Chicago School documented immigrants’ rapid “straight-line” assimilation in American cities.

In previous studies of race and ethnicity in Latin America, I have examined the theory and effects of Social Darwinism from a historical standpoint, but I never thought to considered its connection with US’s immigrant paradigm.   For myself, I often get caught up in the study of “history” as facts and events without taking the time to relate it to the present.   The idea of “survival of the fittest” is still alive and strong in our society and for many is quite ingrained in our subconscious thought.   The spread of Social Darwinism plays a huge role in how we compare the nations, lives, culture, and migration of non-Western European nations (primarily) in to our own.   In moving forward in our local study of migration I feel it will benefit us to consider the theory of Social Darwinism in our community.

  • What role did Social Darwinism play in the formation of Stevens County?
  • Why is the question of Social Darwinism important to our research?
  • Does this theory impact/exist in our community today ?
  • By whom and how are these ideas, consciously or unconsciously, perpetuated?
  • Does Social Darwinism play any part in the current connection between the migration of the past and the migration of the present?


Gabaccia, Donna R. “Is Everywhere Nowhere? Nomads, Nations, and the Immigrant Paradign of the United States History.” The Journal of American History, 1999.


Second readings response


Goodman, Adam. 2015. “Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration.” Journal Of American Ethnic History 34, no. 4: 7. Advanced Placement Source, EBSCOhost (accessed August 28, 2017).

Gabaccia, Donna R. “Is Everywhere Nowhere? Nomads, Nations, and the Immigrant Paradigm of United States History.” Journal Of American History 86, no. 3 (December 1999): 1115. Advanced Placement Source, EBSCOhost (accessed August 28, 2017).

Gerstle, Gary. “Introduction.” American crucible: race and nation in the twentieth century. 2nd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017. Accessed August 28, 2017. http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10915.html.


Goodman: He is supporting the claim that rather focusing on US immigration to rather focus on migration within the US as well as internationally. This coined migration paradigm is more encompassing than the immigration.paradigm

Gabaccia: Essentially the idea of the US immigration paradigm is false due to innaccurate portrayals of Italian immigration history through the nation-state lense and the innaccurate portray of historic US treatement of immigrants. In other words, immigrants do not necessarily have one nationality but rather hail from diasporas; in addition, many immigrants did not form national identies until met with xenophobia from the US. The US immigration paradigm is the idea that America formed a unique cultural identity from the melding of several immigrant identities. However this is not true because US Italian immigrants did not completely melt into the larger US society and maintain connections to their diaspora.

Gerstle: Civic nationalism and racial nationalism both have roots in racism and are more intertwined and complex than previously thought.

My Research Relations

  1. In Gabaccia’s work, I found a quote from Emilio Franzina talking about how migrants form the nationalist fronts often times because they are forced into a larger identity due to discrimination against their region of origin (page 11). This can also be said of Irish nationalism, which was supported by many Irish immigrants as displayed by the Fenian Brotherhood letter posted in the Altanta Intellegencer calling for aide in the Irish uprising (see previous blog for the 1866 article citation).
  2. Gerstle’s depiction of the too intimate relation between racial and civic nationalism I believe can be seen far better in the South. Like the Intellenger article referenced above, the civic nationalism can be seen the paper supports the influx of European immigrants while the racial nationalism (or civic?) can be seen in the article slamming any notion of African American voting rights.
  3. These two ideas of nationalism also play into the larger notion of the immigrant paradigm because both senses of nationalism are exclusively supportive the US/western concept of national identity (anyone against civic/racial nationalism might as well be a heretic). For example, communist thought, although excepting of all races/immigrants, was shunned by the civic nationalist as not American due to anti-capitalist thoughts). I wonder if migrants influxing into the Southern US (whether from around the globe or the next state over) experienced a form of racial/civic nationalism that is distinctly Southern, with different, regionally bound qualities or differences with other US regions. This may especially be true after the Civil War and the influx of the cult of the lost cause.

Other Thoughts

I will add more to this later. Today (when this was originally posted) my husband had to go to the doctor due to a disabling knee injury. Due to the care I now have to provide on top of my other assignments has left me less able to flesh this out more fully. I apologize and again I will add more to this later.

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Week 2 Reading Response

Taking migration away from the construction of nations and nationalities is something that I have always thought about but have never been able to put into words. The essay by Gabaccia really examined what the movement of people means to the people themselves instead of simply tying it up into the narrative of nations. This view is something that I hope to do as we begin our project as well. While we’re researching the impact of a group on our area we cannot forget that they are also individuals and were not necessarily concerned with carving out a corner in this area of the world. I think it is very important, as an aspiring historian, to be aware of the limitations of the field of history as well as its trends. The discussion at the beginning of this essay about the role of history as a nation building story or, conversely, as the search for truth despite the national narrative was one that I also found very interesting. It is always important to consider if your work is helping to contribute to a certain national myth. This is especially true when considering migration and putting people in boxes based on nationality. Goodmans argument to me was one of decolonizing language and thought. By calling into question the United States myth of immigration it is easier to examine migration and migrants instead of borders and the qualifications for citizenship that we discussed last class. I really enjoyed reading this article and it pulled into focus for me the importance of the work that we’re doing. If we can help shift the narrative away from the ‘nation of immigrants paradigm’ as he calls it and towards a more inclusive view of the movement of people, we will have done excellent work. The introduction by Gerstle brings the focus back to the United States specifically. The look at race and how racial injustice has shaped the idea of American identity is not a new perspective for me. The discussion of war as central to the idea of a nation is also not new for me but it is nonetheless true.


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