President Kennedy Press Conference on the Immigration and Nationality Act

President Kennedy Press Conference on the Immigration and Nationality Act

Authored by: Ariana Kaleta

President Kennedy Press Conference on the Immigration and Nationality Act June 11, 1963,                     Abby Rowe/White House
“Immigration policy should be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible. With such a policy we  can turn to the world, and to our own past, with clean hands and a clear conscience.”
John F Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants

Here we see a relaxed President Kennedy, laughing during a break at a press conference but what he was discussing were serious matters for the future face of America.  The President was compelled to write “A Nation of Immigrants” after repeatedly hearing the stories of immigrant’s rights groups, such as at this meeting with the American Committee on Italian Migration.

When Kennedy first came into office, Henry Cabot Lodge’s Immigration Act of 1924 had been diligently enforced under the firm hand of the Immigration Restriction League (a prominent lobbying group founded in 1884). [1]  For four decades, the Immigration Act of 1924 used quotas to prohibit all ‘non-nativist’ nationalities, in particular Jewish, Irish and Italians fleeing Europe. However, it also had punitive effects on the almost historically unrecognized Arabic and Asian immigrants.[2]  As the threat of communism and post war depression flooded across Europe and Asia, waves of immigrants risked their lives to journey to America, only to be turned away at Ellis Island, due to these racist and religious discriminatory laws. Continue reading

The Lost Children Website Review

Authored by Karen Beverly

Website Created by Mary Glynn

Project Contributors: Melissa Henderson, Tonya Ely, Zachary Housel, Margaret Mattes, Joseph Pascullo, and Kathryn Sullivan

lost children

A photograph of Santa Giuliana Giovanni and his family alongside an additional Italian immigrant. Maria Corona obtained from the Center for Migration Studies.

This particular website concentrates on the strenuous journey that Italian immigrant children of the 1900’s (most specifically, “The Lost Children of Ellis Island”) had faced when making their way to America.  While some immigrants made the trip in hopes of living the American Dream – life, liberty, and happiness – many immigrants contracted illness on their journey, passed away, and even got separated from their loved ones.  Children were therefore left alone in a new and foreign country with no guidance, unable to speak the common language of the area, and with no place to go.  Places such as The Saint Raphael Society were then established in order to look after these orphaned children and ultimately tried to raise money for those immigrants who had no choice other than to return back home to Italy.  Continue reading

NYC Businesses Support the Military during World War I Website Review

Authored by Karen Beverly

Website Created by Sarah Miller, Kelly Povero & Anne Zadora

Bordens Farm

A receipt from Borden’s Farm Products Co., Inc. obtained from the Center for Migration Studies.

This website focuses on the quest for the American Dream throughout World War I in a very unique way. By examining different documents, such as receipts and ledgers from old stores and businesses, this website takes a look at how various goods and services affected the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of so many different members of society. This particular website, which was constructed around documents that were obtained from the Pompeii Papers at the Center for Migration studies, was created in hopes of ultimately preserving historical buildings around New York City.

Continue reading

La Famiglia: Their Pursuit of the American Dream Website Review

Authored by Karen Beverly

Website created by Giovanna Fiorino-Iannace and Joann White

learning skills

Learning New Skills: Carpentry
(Reprinted with permission from the Center for Migration Studies, New York. Collection 087a)

This website examines the lives and journeys of Italian Immigrants during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and how these immigrants managed to adapt to their newfound home.  In addition to facing struggles such as poverty, overcrowding, and natural disasters that prompted them to leave their beloved home of Italy, Italian immigrants also looked at America with a glimmer of hope, for America held the promise of equality and a way of being able to support their families and loved ones.  Continue reading