Contested Citizens: Irish and German Immigrants in New York City, 1880-1924

Elizabeth Stack, Fordham University


This dissertation examines how German- and Irish-Americans, the two main ethnic groups in New York City, worked to establish political, religious and educational footholds there, despite resistance from the Anglo-American natives and competition from the newer Eastern and Southern European arrivals, amid the shifting political and economic structures of the city in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is concerned with how urbanization, city politics, Social Darwinism, religious differences, World War I, and the movement to restrict immigration affected the two largest ethnic groups in the city. Not only were they working to further their own position, but they were also responsible for conveying attitudes, ideas, and behaviors regarding life in New York City to the newer arrivals, all while negotiating and defining the divide between themselves and Anglo-Americans. Inevitably, controversy abounded concerning the postwar issues of national identity and "Americanization," heated by the growing support for eugenics and racial-purity theories. Against this hostile backdrop, the response of these immigrant groups to restriction reveals their confidence that they could help rejuvenate America, even if they were not “native-born.” Using the experiences of ethnic New Yorkers as the basis for comparison, the paper offers a new perspective on the traditional story of integration and Americanization in the build up to and immediate aftermath of World War I.

Subject Area

American history|Religious education|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Stack, Elizabeth, "Contested Citizens: Irish and German Immigrants in New York City, 1880-1924" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10279979.