True Immigrant Tales: “It Was the Tombstone of Columbus”

[In 1913, Scottish travel writer Stephen Graham (1884-1975) left Liverpool, England, as a steerage passenger. This is an excerpt from his book, With Poor Immigrants to America (1914), in which he described events leading up to his inspection at Ellis Island.]                             … More True Immigrant Tales: “It Was the Tombstone of Columbus”

True Immigrant Tales: Reaching the Promised Land

[American journalist Broughton Brandenburg traveled on a German steamship with Italian immigrants in October 1903 and wrote about his observations in his book, Imported Americans.  This is part of his account.] “Sunday fell on the 11th, and it was a pleasant day till afternoon, when it began to get rough. The ship’s band was sent … More True Immigrant Tales: Reaching the Promised Land

True Immigrant Tales: “I Was Weak in the Knees”

      [Louis Adamic was a prominent Slovene-American writer who migrated to America in December 1913 at age 15.] “Now and then I glanced at the noisy, picturesque, garlicky crowd on the steerage deck; people of perhaps a dozen nationalities milling around the capstans and steam-hissing winches, pushing toward the rails straining and stretching, … More True Immigrant Tales: “I Was Weak in the Knees”

True Immigrant Tales: “We All Stood There Naked”

[A Czech immigrant woman tells of her journey from Prague to Rotterdam and then in steerage to America in 1920.] “Three days and three nights were spent riding in local trains from Prague to Rotterdam. At Oldenzaal, four stations distant from Rotterdam, all our baggage was taken from without an explanation why this was done. … More True Immigrant Tales: “We All Stood There Naked”

True Immigrant Tales: “There Was Prejudice Everywhere”

[This is another firsthand immigrant story from my oral history collection.] “My story about America begins even before I was born in Calabria in 1920.   When my uncle was eight years old and the oldest among seven brothers and sisters, his parents told him they could no longer take care of him and he would … More True Immigrant Tales: “There Was Prejudice Everywhere”

True Immigrant Tales: “I Knew It Was a Good Country”

[This is another firsthand immigrant account from my oral history collection.] “I was born in Queens County, Ireland, in 1911.  I was one of thirteen children, with six brothers and six sisters.  I attended school until 10th grade, which was the maximum education offered at that time.  On the farm where we lived, I helped … More True Immigrant Tales: “I Knew It Was a Good Country”

True Immigrant Tales: Trip from Tipperary in 1920

[This is another in a series of firsthand accounts from my immigrant oral histories collection] “Like many more immigrants like myself, I came to this country to seek a living, because living over there [in Tipperary, Ireland] was very, very poor.  Work was scarce and hard.  I worked on a farm.  I would get up … More True Immigrant Tales: Trip from Tipperary in 1920