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Counting AmericansHow the US Census Classified the Nation$
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Paul Schor

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199917853

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199917853.001.0001

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Immigration, Nativism, and Statistics (1850–1900)

Immigration, Nativism, and Statistics (1850–1900)

(p.137) 13 Immigration, Nativism, and Statistics (1850–1900)
Counting Americans

Paul Schor

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the emergence of questions on national origins and foreign birth in the censuses of 1850 to 1900 in the context of rising nativism. The 1820 census first introduced the distinction between Americans and foreigners. It also distinguished “foreigners not naturalized” from the rest of the population. Immigration became a subject for official statistics in the 1850 census, which included very detailed questionnaires on numerous social and economic questions, such as occupation, education, or property. In 1870, a major development was the introduction of the question of the foreign birth of each parent. By the 1890 census, statistics on the naturalization of immigrants made it possible to measure the electoral strength of immigrants, whether of the first or second generation.

Keywords:   national origin, foreign birth, immigrants, naturalization, US census, nativism

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