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ERIC Number: ED513470
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 266
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1095-9546-8
Frances Kellor, Americanization, and the Quest for Participatory Democracy
Press, John
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, New York University
Frances Alice Kellor (1873 - 1952) is most famous for leading the Americanization movement that greeted immigrants from 1906 to 1921. The movement has been damned as coercive in the name of conformity in the historical literature. This dissertation argues that Kellor's Americanization movement promoted immigrants and immigration, Americanized long-term Americans and their institutions as much as immigrants, and joined all residents in America via participation in progressive democratic activism. Kellor's Americanization programs were as aimed at social justice as the rest of her progressive work. Kellor was not against immigrants. Her earliest work with immigrants involved many protective measures that had already been established by immigrant community organizations. She protected immigrants from swindlers from the time they arrived to the time they left. She then started industrial protection advocacy with Lillian Wald. One of her organizations stopped legislation that would have shut down the foreign language press in America. And she constantly, and fiercely, fought against restricting immigration. The literature fails to acknowledge how much of the Americanization movement aimed at reforming American. Her theory held that exploiting and harassing immigrants made them discontent. Thus Americanization required banks, libraries, courts, and government agencies to welcome immigrants and accommodate their needs. State laws that abused immigrants and attempts to silence them were Anti-American. Kellor nearly never complained about immigrants. As seen in her harshest work "Straight America," the vast majority of her wrath targeted the prejudice of long-term Americans and their ideas of Anglo-superiority. Kellor's Americanization efforts ultimately sought to Americanize via engaging immigrants and long-term Americans in progressive action. Her organizational style always coordinated and encouraged pre-existing activist groups rather than replacing them. Americanization Day got many sectors of society, immigrants and long-term Americans out in the streets together. Her curriculum advocated community activism as creating an investment and feeling of ownership in America. To better understand this tactic, her curriculum recommended reading John Dewey's work. Her idea for universal civilian training also sought to instill habits of civic participation. And, her curriculum and agenda stayed inclusive throughout World War I. Raised in poverty by a single mother, Kellor rose to the top of the progressive movement by recommending and engaging in progressive activism. Her seminal work on athletics advocated sports because they would make women active in the public sphere. Her book on domestic workers advocated a collective social network would mitigate their exploitation. Kellor's founding of the National Urban League also represented a blend of activist organizations. After leading Roosevelt's 1912 presidential campaign, Kellor--with the help of Jane Addams--established the activist wing of the Progressive Party in an attempt to run the nation on a cooperative participatory sociological basis. Her involvement in running the women's branch of Charles Evans Hughes' 1916 presidential campaign modeled these behaviors. And, Kellor ended her career by creating international cooperation via her American Arbitration Association. Because there were some who used the term "Americanization" to harass immigrants, Kellor distanced herself from that label after World War I. But while many harassed immigrants under that banner, this was not--as the literature suggests--the only sort of Americanization program. Most historians acknowledge Kellor as the top claimant to the title of leader of the Americanization movement. As such she coordinated a vast amount of its activities. This dissertation shows that only portraying the Americanization movement as coercive and bent on conformity misses its progressive character and Kellor's importance as a theorist and leader. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States