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Between the Old and the New World

Studies in the History of Overseas Migrations

Series:

Agnieszka Malek and Dorota Praszalowicz

The volume contains papers presented at the fourth Workshop «American Ethnicity: Rethinking Old Issues, Asking New Questions» which took place in Krakow, Poland, on May 24 th -25 th , 2010. The event was organized by the Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora of the Jagiellonian University, and supported by the (American) Immigration and Ethnic History Society. The tradition of organizing bi-annual workshops goes back to 2004 and continues to be a forum for discussing ongoing research and sharing ideas. The texts included in this volume provide a comparative context to immigration studies, contribute to the gender perspective, bring up new issues and remind the most important aspects of migrants’ life, such as remittances and poverty. There is also a set of the articles on American Jewish experience, studied from a variety of angles, and the Polish-American section presenting texts on local immigrant communities.

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Stan Nadel: European Immigrant Poverty in America

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European Immigrant Poverty in America Stan Nadel (University of Portland, Salzburg Austria Center) In the Fall of 1855 Celia and Wanda S. gave up. Three years earlier the two young unmarried German sisters had migrated to America along with Wanda’s illegit- imate son Edward. The only skills they had involved sewing so they made their living as embroiderers in New York City. But despite putting in long hours at their craft they found that they could hardly get by on the miniscule wages paid to women for such work in America. Sometimes they had to borrow money from friends to survive and after two years of increasing desperation they told a friend that “if things grew much worse” they would send the boy to his father in Germany and take poison. In the fall of 1855 things did grow worse. Their em- ployer went out of business and the two sisters were unable to find work. Soon the rent was due and the larder was empty. They had already borrowed all that they could, their money was gone, and they were unwilling to turn to prostitu- tion. By September 4th they had reached the end of their rope. They got their landlady to give them another day to pay the rent and they used their last few pennies to buy some flowers. Setting out the flowers to cheer up the bare room, they got into their one bed with six year old Edward. Settled in bed with the flowers in...

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