Immigration and Urbanization

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Where did immigrants find assistance adjusting to American life?

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There was also an activist core of Americans, led by Jane Addams, who founded "settlement houses" in major northern cities where immigrant families could find reasonably priced housing, child care, classes in English and other core subjects, and additional help in assimilating to their new life in America.

While over thirty of these settlement houses were established in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the most famous of them was undoubtedly Hull House in Chicago, which today is a museum.  Jane Addams devoted her life to this cause, among others, and remained active in American social life culminating in her opposition to World War I.  To this day, however, most historians credit her with doing more for immigrants on an individual level than anyone else of her time.

While the political machines did help out, their ulterior motive was re-election and maintaining a loyal workforce for their factory owner friends.

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Immigrants to the United States (I am talking about the time in the late 1800s and early 1900s) found assistance in a number of ways.

First of all, the immigrants got help from the political machines in cities.  These machines used the immigrants as a big voting bloc and paid them back with the sorts of things that we would now call welfare and with jobs.

Second, the immigrants found help from other immigrants.  Older immigrants from one country would help the later immigrants from that same country.  They would all live together in one area of a city and form self-help groups and other community groups that helped them adapt to their new lives.

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