Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Index
Lisa Arsenault is an elementary-school teacher in Ajax, Ontario.
Each of these four additions to the We Came To North America series
follows the same format: an introduction, several short chapters, a
glossary, an index page, and an abundance of drawings, maps, and
illustrations. The concluding chapter, titled “Here to Stay” in each
book, profiles the achievements of famous immigrants and their
descendants in various fields.
The war-torn and fragmented nature of the German states and religious
persecution led to emigration, as described in The Germans. The
establishment of colonies like the Pennsylvania Dutch and the ability of
the Germans to quickly acclimatize and assume leading roles in local
government and the military are discussed. The author shows the impact
German food and music have had on North America, along with traditions
as pervasive as the Christmas tree.
The Irish provides an overview of Ireland’s history, with an emphasis
on the reasons for emigration: religious intolerance, British
repression, the Great Famine. The horrors of the voyage to North America
itself, particularly before 1900, and the equally horrific quarantine
conditions of Grosse Ile and Ellis Island, are described. Anti-Irish
prejudice, poor wages, and slum living are addressed. The eventual
impact of traditional Irish music, dance, and literature on North
American culture is detailed.
Japanese immigrants also came to North America seeking a better life.
The Japanese discusses the prejudice they encountered, particularly
during World War II when many were forced into internment camps. The
influence of Japanese culture on North America in such areas as
gardening, cuisine, martial arts, and medicine is also described.
Devastating wars caused emigration from Poland. The Poles describes how
Poland’s various conquerors prevented the indigenous people from
owning land or businesses and forced them to live in poverty. In the New
World, many Poles encountered prejudice but gradually found good jobs in
factories and heavy industry. Their contribution to improving labor
relations between management and workers is detailed.
These books give a fair and balanced account of the immigrant
experience from the viewpoint of both the new arrival and the
established citizens. Several “Eyewitness to History” pages in each
book provide a first-person perspective in the form of letters and
interviews with immigrants. The photographs and illustrations are
evocative and often poignant. Recommended.