An essential resource for studying immigration in Mahwah, New Jersey is the U.S. census, particularly the years 1860-1940. All these censuses provide information about the birth place of town residents and their race. Other data, like occupation, street address, language spoken, and immigration data, was recorded on some census but not on others. Census data will be displayed as graphs and maps and will then be compared with larger trends of immigration to the United States. This was one of the few things along with race that was represented on all the different censuses, while other things like occupation, and addresses tended to be on some census and not on others. With the information that I gathered from my sources I was able to make graphs and make different types, such as line graphs and filled graphs that were maps. Then with this information and the graphs I was able to study the trends of the immigration and compare it to the United States.
II. 1860-1900: Potato Famine and Poverty in Europe
My research for this project was searching for anything that stood out with the immigrants living in Mahwah, New Jersey and the people who immigrated to the United States as a whole. I was able to use a couple different sources for my research, some coming from what we used in class and others that did I had to go out and find. While I was doing my research I got a lot of my information about the immigration of the United States from the book, Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. Mahwah does seem to follow the same patterns as the United States. Although for the most part people who were born in the United States always seem to be the highest group out of them all and they do this by a long shot. Usually following up is an Eastern European country. From 1860-1880 the highest represented country continued to be Ireland until, as one can see on the graph, they begin to dip down and are no longer the highest represented country. One of the reasons the Irish were coming in higher numbers during for the 1860-1880 censuses was because of the potato famine and the horrible conditions that were happening in Ireland. Many of the Irish were looking to leave Ireland and find a better life in America and escape the famine that was taking place in Ireland. Also going on during this time was the religious prosecution of the people in Germany. Chancellor Otto Van Bismarck was prosecuting the Catholics in Germany. Again, this could be one of the reasons why the German are the second highest represented during that time.
III. 1900-1924: World War I and Immigration Restriction
In 1900, immigration itself begins to drop down and does not happen as much as the previous years, but the information shows that Germans and people from Austria become the most represented countries in Mahwah. The reason that immigration had dropped down is because of the anti-immigration legislation and restriction on immigration during that time. The year 1900 saw an increase in Italian immigrants in Mahwah too. One of the reasons for this was the extreme poverty happening in Italy and many of the peasants in Italy could not even own land so they were leaving for a better opportunity. In the 1910 census it shows that people from Hungary continue to come in and even come in higher numbers than in the previous census that I studied. One other thing I noticed about the 1910 census was that the Russian population made a huge jump from the 1900 census and became the second highest represented country in Mahwah. The reason people from these areas began to come to America more than the other countries is because they were trying to escape some different things. In Russia, the Russian pogroms drove many Jewish people to leave Russia and this can be seen in the census from that time. Also going on during that time is the conscription of the army in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Along with the army, the ethnic tensions were building up during this time, which could be another reason their immigration increased.
IV. 1924-1940: the Great Depression and World War II
In the 1920s and 1930s the graph shows that immigration was still at a low. This again was because of restrictions the United States had on immigration. The immigration also slowed down at this time because it was a bad time for the United States. The United States was going through an economic depression. The depression was also the reason that the United States decided to put up the restrictions on the immigration. The 1940s census shows that a new country was the top represented in Mahwah and this country is Poland. The reason for this was the powers that were coming to be in Germany and the areas that they had influence and control over. The Jewish people and people who were affected by the influence were leaving their countries during this time and usually coming to America. This is why most of the countries that are mostly represented are Eastern European countries. Immigration rises during this time because the United States decided to change their restrictions and even drop some of them. There were two main reasons the United States decided to drop many of the restrictions. The first reason is because the economy was doing better and they were able to handle the influx of immigrants. The other reason was because they wanted to open the boarders to allies during World War II and people who were trying to escape from the Nazis.
V. Mahwah and the Nation
For the most part I noticed that the trends of the United States tended to follow the trends of Mahwah, but there were very small difference. For the most part, my research showed that for most of the early years the Irish were the leading ethnicity living in Mahwah. They continued to led until 1890. In 1900, the Germans become the leading ethnicity of Mahwah. After 1900 though, that is the point where the Mahwah population does not match with the population of the Unite States. Mahwah continued to have more of a Eastern European population and people coming in, while the United States tended to have more of a Hispanic and Asian influx.
Through my research I was able to find many different trends in the immigrants that were in Mahwah, New Jersey. I was also able to find the similarities and the differences between the United States and Mahwah. For the most part Mahwah was very similar in their trends with the United States, so one could only assume people were coming to that area for the same reasons they were coming to America itself. The only difference that Mahwah had with the United States was the Asian populations and immigrants. This is because many of the Asians who immigrated here came through the stations that were set up on the west coast and stayed there. Also, during World War II when the United States was deporting Japanese and putting them in internment camps, there was not a very large Japanese population on the East Coast, so this was not seen in Mahwah. In conclusion, my research has shown that the little town of Mahwah in New Jersey is a microcosm of the United States when it comes to their immigration patterns.
Rubin, Ernest. “Immigration and Population Trends in the United States, 1900-1940.” American Journal of Economics and Sociology Am J Economics & Sociology 6, no. 3 (1947): 345-62. Accessed March 20, 2016. doi:10.1111/j.1536-7150.1947.tb01567.x.
Thernstrom, Stephan. Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1980
“When Did They Come?” Destination America. Accessed March 26, 2016. http://www.pbs.org/destinationamerica/usim_wn_flash.html.