Americanism" or "Nativism," the belief that native-born Americans, especially if of Anglo-Saxon extraction, have superior rights to the "foreign-born," intensified during the "Red Scare" of 1919-1920. Nativist emotions were compounded by the association of immigrants with anarchists, Socialists and Communists, and figured prominently in the notorious 1920s trial of the foreign-born Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Also during the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan reappeared for the first time since Reconstruction, targeting Catholics and Jews -- who were among the largest groups of ethnic immigrants -- as well as blacks.
Nationalist sentiment resulted in the passage of highly restrictive immigration laws that imposed quotas by national origin, stemming the flood of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe seeking to enter the United States in the wake of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The Emergency Quota Act, passed in 1921, was signed by President Harding. The National Origins Act, passed in 1924, also penalized Japanese would-be immigrants in addition to southern and eastern Europeans. One result of the restrictions was the emergence of a national labor force largely without foreign-born workers beyond those who already were here, a turn of events that ultimately favored African-American workers. (INTRO NOTE African Americans)
Immigrants who already were in the country were subjected to a barrage of "messages" from society and government "educating" them in how to become assimilated, aiming, in effect, to "Americanize" them.
One of the most important ways in which immigrants received training in Americanization was, thus, through the consumer society, particularly through efforts encouraging foreigners to own, furnish, maintain and inhabit homes in keeping with "American" ideas of cleanliness, decoration, nutrition, recreation, and so forth.
Articles and "Advance Record Bulletins" in the
Immigrant consumers were a more significant factor in the 1920s economy than our sparse offering of journals suggests. Much of the advertising directed at new arrivals from Europe and elsewhere appeared in newspapers, especially the foreign-language press, which also contained some articles on standard of living issues. For the most part, the resources available to the Coolidge-Consumerism project were not sufficient to permit the canvassing of this literature. In addition, technical impediments related to page dimensions and scanning from microfilm made it difficult to digitize foreign-language and immigrant newspapers at the time that the Coolidge-Consumerism collection was in production, in 1995.
There is also immigrant material in the Coolidge Papers case file