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Bridges to an American City

A Guide to Chicago's Landsmanshaften, 1870 to 1990


Sidney Sorkin

The landsmanshaften, organizations named after their old world origins, were a significant part of the immigrant experience. The Chicago segment was part of a universal manifestation from 1880-1980, which included European and Asian immigrants. These voluntary associations, both independent and secular, served each ethnic group with a wide variety of critical services during a stressful time of alienation and adjustment. For some, these societies became a refuge of comfort and security. For many others, perhaps the majority, the societies became a bridge into the mainstream of America.