JAEH Archive / Vol. 38, No. 3, Spring 2019

Journal of American Ethnic History

Vol. 38, No. 3, Spring 2019

Table of Contents


“The Prison, By God, Where I Have Found Myself”: Graffiti at Ellis Island Immigration Station, New York, c. 1900–1923

By: Katherine Reed


This article analyses messages and pictures drawn on the walls by detainees at Ellis Island immigration station in New York c. 1900–1923. This fragmentary source material provides a valuable insight into the perceptions and emotions of people held in the limbo of immigration detention. Largely neglected in the historiography, the graffiti are significant as a counterpoint to official mark-making and bureaucracy. Ellis Island was an environment where the performance of writing was suffused with power, infamously in the marking out of passengers for further inspection with chalk symbols on their clothing. In the official documents, detainees ‘voices were translated, transcribed, and circumscribed. In contrast, the walls of dormitories and detention rooms formed a backstage space for personal musings, creativity, and low-level dissent.

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Secular Power, Sectarian Politics: The American-Born Irish Elite and Catholic Political Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York

By: Patrick McGrath


This paper takes as its subject the complex ethnic, religious, and political entanglements of the American-born Irish elite of nineteenth-century New York City. Because historians have traditionally viewed the Irish famine as a watershed event in the history of organized Catholicism in New York, the contributions of American-born Irish elites to Irish Catholic political culture have largely gone unnoticed. Having come of age in the early nineteenth century, when institutional Catholicism had scant presence in the Empire City, these lawyers, politicians, and statesmen embraced a secular and metropolitan identity that allowed them to mix easily with the city’s Anglo-Dutch Protestant ruling class. However, mass immigration at midcentury, coupled with growing nativist persecution of the Catholic Church, forced these elites to navigate a middle ground between the secular world of New York politics and the rising sectarianism of the Irish immigrant community. Ultimately, these men would leverage their influence within the Democratic establishment—which at the time remained tied to the pro-slavery Southern elite—to advance the institutional interests of the Church, while reaping personal benefits from the growing power of the Irish vote. Though never fully assimilated into the immigrant community, they nonetheless adapted Irish Catholicism to the hardscrabble world of machine politics, forging an alliance between the Catholic Archdiocese of New York and Tammany Hall that would endure for half a century.

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The Impressment of Foreign-Born Soldiers in the Union Army

By: Michael Douma, Anders Bo Rasmussen and Robert Faith


In 1862–1863 well over one thousand foreign-born men living in the United States argued that they had been illegally drafted into Union military service. Fearing a diplomatic row, the Lincoln administration sought to clarify the rules of draft eligibility and its relation to citizenship. William Seward, secretary of state, determined to include in the pool of potential draftees men who had filed their declaration of intent to become American citizens and men who had voted in any election in the United States. Seward’s policy, already in action in 1862, partially codified in the Enrollment Act of March 3, 1863, and further enunciated in circulars from the Departments of State and War, broadened and redefined the nature of American citizenship. By highlighting the parallels to earlier forms of impressment, and breaking new ground with a quantitative analysis of the Department of State’s Case Files on Drafted Aliens, we argue that this history of forced military service for foreign-born soldiers during the American Civil War should be considered an example of impressment. With additional source material from archives in England, the Netherlands, and Denmark, we demonstrate the extent of Union impressment and its transnational character. Concerns about forced service were widespread and had significant consequences for Union foreign relations with European countries and for immigrant communities domestically. Official complaints about impressment represented a new kind of draft resistance, in which legal and political knowledge, as well as local and regional immigrant networks, were essential for securing freedom from military service.

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The Revolution of ‘28: Al Smith, American Progressivism, and the Coming of the New Deal by Robert Chiles

By: Robert A. Slayton

Latino Mass Mobilization: Immigration, Racialization, and Activism by Chris Zepeda-Millán

By: Benjamin Francis-Fallon

Wobblies of the World: A Global History of the IWW by Peter Cole, David Struthers, Kenyon Zimmer

By: Aaron Goings

Migrant Marketplaces: Food and Italians in North and South America by Elizabeth Zanoni

By: Aliza Wong

Beyond Freedom: Disrupting the History of Emancipation by David W. Blight, Jim Downs

By: David C. Williard

Jews on the Frontier: Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth-Century America by Shari Rabin

By: Marjorie N. Feld

Memory Lands: King Philip's War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast by Christine M. DeLucia

By: Christopher J. Bilodeau

The Rise and Fall of the Associated Negro Press: Claude Barnett's Pan-African News and the Jim Crow Paradox by Gerald Horne

By: Jane Rhodes

Irish Nationalists in Boston: Catholicism and Conflict, 1900–1928 by Damien Murray

By: Meaghan Dwyer-Ryan

Brokering Servitude: Migration and the Politics of Domestic Labor During the Long Nineteenth Century by Andrew Urban

By: Vanessa May

Undocumented Lives: The Untold Story of Mexican Migration by Ana Raquel Minian

By: Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz

The Second Seminole War and the Limits of American Aggression by C.S. Monaco

By: Yoav Hamdani

Cities of Refuge: German Jews in London and New York, 1935–1945 by Lori Gemeiner Bihler

By: Laurel Leff

America, As Seen on TV: How Television Shapes Immigrant Expectations Around the Globe by Clara E. Rodríguez

By: Bianca Gonzalez-Sobrino

Jim Crow Terminals: The Desegregation of American Airports by Anke Ortlepp

By: Julia Rabig

Boats, Borders, and Bases: Race, the Cold War, and the Rise of Migration Detention in the United States by Jenna M. Loyd, Alison Mountz

By: Jennifer Cullison

Discriminating Sex: White Leisure and the Making of the American “Oriental” by Amy Sueyoshi

By: Wen Liu