Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Where are the immigrants?

Recently I have been working to document immigration and immigrant activity in Atlanta, Ga. Specifically, I have been trying to identify the influence of “new immigrants,” the wave of European immigrants coming to the United States between 1880 and 1930. My research includes ethnic groups such as the Italians, Greeks, Poles, Slavs and other Eastern and Southern immigrants. As I search, something interesting is happening; these new immigrants are nearly invisible in Atlanta.

I know the Greek community was well established in Atlanta. After all, in 1928 the Greek Orthodox Church consecrated a small chapel at Greenwood Cemetery. There are also a large number of graves in the Greek section of the cemetery. So, there is some evidence that the Greek community existed in Atlanta, yet I find nothing written about them. The same is true of the Italian community and other European communities in Atlanta. Where did all of these immigrants go? Did they assimilate so quickly and effectively that any evidence of their migration is gone? What happened to the “new immigrants?”

Was the city founded only by United States citizens with a smattering of Irish and German immigrants, with the occasional French family thrown into the mix? It is unfortunate that so little is being developed or written about the “new Immigrants” that settled in Atlanta. It is a topic that needs to be encouraged and promoted. We need more research on ethnic groups in Atlanta, and for that matter the state of Georgia as a whole.

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