Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"In South Barre, we're all Americans:" An immigrant mill village becomes Americanized, 1900-1950
by Finan, Barbara, Ph.D., University of New Hampshire, 2014, 336; 3581196
Abstract (Summary)

South Barre was a model mill village designed by Francis C. Willey, a multinational entrepreneur from "Worstedopolis," the woolen capital of the world in Bradford, England. The site for South Barre had the resources of clear water for scouring wool fleece, and railroad connections to Boston for raw materials and the product, worsted tops, to customers in nearby Lawrence, Massachusetts and Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Willey recruited skilled workers from Bradford, and unskilled laborers came from southern and eastern Europe. The company-controlled housing in the village was divided into sections by language groups: English, Italian, Lithuanian, and Polish. Living under segregated housing and labor market segmentation, workers responded to the company's paternalism collectively by union activity and individually by home and business ownership and by advancing the education of their children. Using a variety of sources – public documents, biographies, interviews and World War II letters – this research covers the first half of the twentieth century through the upheavals of two world wars, the depths of the Great Depression and the rise of union influence in the New Deal, and culminates in the infectious patriotism of World War II and the post-war prosperity. This investigation follows immigrant families front their initial entry into the Barre Wool through to the third generation. The term Americanization is employed in both senses: in fact, by birth or naturalization, and by desire, as the immigrants perceived what it meant to be "American." This study moves beyond the reductive dichotomies of assimilation and cultural pluralism, and found that individual immigrants, their children and their grandchildren, demonstrated multiple identities, expressed within the context of the prevailing times.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Harris, J. William
School: University of New Hampshire
School Location: United States -- New Hampshire
Source: DAI-A 75/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, Museum studies
Keywords: Immigration, Labor, New Deal, Technology, World War I, World War II
Publication Number: 3581196
ISBN: 978-1-321-10085-3
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