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David J. Coss
Looking back upon our nation's immigration history we find repetitious patterns of resistance, struggle and triumph. From the Puritan settlers who had to quell Native American opposition, to the "No Irish Need Apply" signs that greeted potato famine refugees, this nation has offered opportunity to all, but an equal if not greater quantity of hostility was waiting also. Often these incoming groups arrive with little or no resources forcing them to rely upon government assistance. They are perceived as taking, rather than giving to the American sysytem as they compete for limited resources such as jobs and housing. Through determination, cooperation and luck, many immigrants have excelled and literally transformed the economic and cultural landscape of this nation. Their struggle for acceptance continues today as they seek, and if necessary, fight for the possibilities that first attracted our ancestors to this land.
Very often modern American history classes fall short in presenting up to date information and analysis of immigration issues. Immigration is a major force as it was a century ago. It still affects social and political policies within certain states, such as California and Florida. Each immigrant group brings with it its own skills, customs, and religious beliefs. The process by which each group assimilates or chooses not to is often accompanied by fear, prejudice and resentment on the part of the standing order. It is crucial that students realize the dynamic effects immigration still has upon our political, religious, and educational institutions. Hopefully, this understanding will foster tolerance and help prevent the ugly incidents that have victimized previous waves of immigrants. In order to facilitate this knowledge I have developed a unit which will awaken them to the immigration saga which unfolded within the city they call home.
This unit entitled "Those Who Built New Haven" will allow students to obtain detailed knowledge of their city's history through the story of those who immigrated and worked here. Using primary and secondary sources, students will explore the struggles and triumphs of some of the diverse groups who have contributed to New Haven over the past three hundred and fifty years.
The purpose and design of this unit will meet the following goals and objectives:
- ____ •Student's study of World and U.S. History will gain new relevance as they realize how these subjects relate to their home city.
- ____ •Students will understand the varied economic, religious, and political conditions that fueled immigration to New Haven over the past three hundred years.
- ____ •Students will develop competence in utilizing primary sources to facilitate their study.
________ "Those Who Built New Haven" will focus upon the unique nature of the immigration experience for individuals and ethnic groups within New Haven. From John Davenport, to Frank Pepe, each immigrant's story will be compelling to the diverse student body of this city as they encounter those that paved the way in New Haven.
- ____ •Students will demonstrate an appreciation for the power of diversity through examining the contributions of immigrants to New Haven.
The story of immigration in New Haven requires us to explore over three hundred and fifty years of the struggle and triumph that shaped the nature and quality of our city's heritage. Such a vast quantity of time must be divided into periods from which students can investigate the unique conditions that defined immigration to New Haven at that moment. Therefore, I have chosen to focus upon three centuries of immigration into New Haven and the economic, political, and religious motives for venturing here. By painting the immigrant's experience in New Haven with "broad strokes" I by no means intend to exclude or omit certain individuals or groups but rather encourage a more detailed analysis of a chosen topic by the student or teacher using the suggested resources. The background information is intended to illustrate the circumstances which prompted these individuals to immigrate to New Haven, and what conditions were like when they arrived. From these brief overviews, I hope to stimulate additional in depth research on the part of both teachers and students.
Originally destined for Massachusetts Bay Colony, Davenport and his followers arrived there in 1637 as the Anne Hutchinson controversy was concluding. This lead them to question whether their hopes for creating a theocracy could be realized in such turmoil. Soldiers returning from the Pequot War informed them of a suitable natural harbor to the South in an area know as "Quinnipiac". They were also relieved to hear the natives were few in number and quite friendly.
Arriving in the spring of 1638, Davenport cautioned his followers to "beware the temptations of the wilderness" as they carved the original nine squares and set about building a colony which would be governed by the Bible. Over the next fifteen years the colony would focus upon building a religious utopia for "The Puritans did not believe in change, much less progress, for man's material betterment was to them a matter of little consequence as compared with his spiritual welfare."1
Despite their noble goals, Eaton and Davenport realized the economic necessity of establishing a prosperous colony. Unfortunately, the original journal of John Davenport was lost on the "Great Shippe" which was destined to sail to England and establish trading contracts. It sailed in January 1647 loaded with lumber, furs, and the journal which would have helped us further our understanding of this fascinating man. The founders had literally "put all their eggs in one basket" for, "The loss of the "Great Shippe" weakened the financial structure of the colony and thus played a significant part in its subsequent decline."2 Fortunately, some of Davenport's letters and sermons have survived and from these remarkable primary documents students will explore the unique beliefs, customs and laws of New Haven's first immigrants.
One of the most enlightening passages regarding life and conditions in early New Haven comes from Michael Wigglesworth, then seven years old, "Winter approaching we dwelt on a cellar partly underground covered with earth the first winter. But I remember that one great rain brake in upon us and drencht me so in my bed being asleep that I fell sick upon it; but the Lord in his mercy spar'd my life and restored by health"3 Historians believe the early settlers dug caves into the sides of the West Creek bed, which lies beneath the Richard C. Lee connector.
Following is a lesson designed to help students appreciate the harsh conditions under which New Haven's first immigrants existed.
2.Have students complete the following worksheet.
Worksheet for Diary Excerpt
Answer the following questions:
|1.||Why do you think Michael and his family were living in a cave?|
|Why weren't there any houses available to them?|
|Can you tell whether or not they were wealthy?|
|2.||Based on Michael's writing do you think he was a very religious person?||How do you know?|
|3.||Do you think Michael's family could have used the help of the||Quinnipiac Indians? How could the Quinnipiacs have helped them?|
|4.||Write an additional paragraph describing the cave in which Michael's||family dwells. What does it look like? smell like? How many people||live in the cave?|
Although the focus of the unit is permanent immigration, there is one unique tale of a disgruntled immigrant whose dislike for New Haven resulted in the creation of one of New Haven's most treasured institutions, Yale University. Ann Eaton, the widow of David Yale, married Theophilus and dutifully followed her husband into what must have been a dramatically different lifestyle from the one his considerable wealth afforded her in England. Following the death of her second husband, Anne Eaton along with several family members, returned to the comfort of England. Years later her grandson, Elihu, was persuaded to donate money and books to the "Collegiate School" back in Connecticut. From these humble beginnings grew the institution which bears his name, Yale University. Although Anne Eaton was not the first or last immigrant to be disenchanted with New Haven, I believe students will find her story fascinating.
One of the most valuable contributions made by the Puritans of New Haven is their design plan for the city. During the early summer of 1638, under the direction of John Brockett, surveyor, the settlers staked out the town-plot in the form of nine squares. Reserving the central section for a market place, they allotted land in the other eight to the principal planters for home building. Since the entire half-mile square was insufficient to take care of the entire company, Brockett added two suburbs.4 It is interesting to note at this early stage New Haven's neighborhoods were already developing based not only on wealth and privilege but we also see the familiar pattern of immigrants seeking to live among those whom with they share some common traits, "Evidence points to the fact that, in the early years, people from the same part of old England tended to cluster in the same section of the town-plot, the sections becoming thus identified with the names of Yorkshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, and London."5 This original plan by Brockett still defines the downtown area of New Haven and thus makes it easy for students and teachers to walk literally in the footsteps of the founders.
Shortly after the founding of the colony, a revolution in England brought the Puritans to power thus making immigration to the New World unnecessary. Following the death of Oliver Cromwell and the restoration of Charles II, Puritans once again found themselves persecuted and unwanted. One of the most dramatic events in New Haven's immigration history occurred at this time when three men arrived seeking the protection of our citizens. Dixwell, Whalley and Goffe are all names that New Haven students are familiar with; they are also the names of three generals who signed the death warrant of Charles I and helped Cromwell rise to power. Now that Charles II was restored to power, he desperately wanted to seek out those responsible for his father's death. Thus these three men fled to a colony where they would be protected. For a time, they hid in a cave on West Rock now known as Judge's Cave. Whalley and Goffe continued to run from the King's agents, eventually settling in Hadley, Massachusetts. Dixwell was perhaps the most clever of these unique immigrants. He changed his name to James Davids and lived out the balance of his life in the colony. He was never betrayed and is buried behind center church on the New Haven Green.6
The second lesson deals with one of the most fascinating, yet little known episodes in New Haven's history. The story of the Regicides has been mostly forgotten in current studies of New Haven. I find this story amazing as do the students I share it with. I strongly suggest a bus trip up to Judge's Cave on West Rock. Then after viewing the hiding place of these fugitives, the students will be inspired to write about the feelings, motivations, and experiences of those involved.
Why is the center square left mostly empty? What building was placed there?
The settlers had plenty of land yet they chose to live close to one another. Why?
Based on this map where do you believe the wealthiest people lived?
Now compare this map to a modern map of New Haven. Can you still find the original nine squares? How have they changed over the past three hundred years? How haven't they changed in over three hundred years?
The Regicides in New Haven
One of the best ways to teach students about the regicides in by bringing them up to Judge's Cave on West Rock. Students are fascinated by the idea that criminals actually hid in this cave. The residents of New Haven embraced these fugitives and conspired to help conceal them from the King's men.
After having the students visit the site, have them write a diary of several days length in which they take on the role of Dixwell, Whalley, Goffe or Governor Leete. The students should describe the characters thoughts and feelings, what is like living in this cave, and what are their plans? Governor Leete is a unique character for he is not one of the regicides yet he uses his power as Governor of the Colony to distract the King's men and help hide these fugitives. Ask the students to decide whether or not it is appropriate for us to honor the memories of these men by naming three of our busiest streets after them.
"Resistance to Tyrants is obedience to God" are the words engraved over the cave. How does this statement explain the feelings of the people of New Haven toward their king Charles II?
From Seaport Colony to Industrial City
The eighteenth century witnessed a period in which New Haven dramatically evolved from a failed independent colony into an economic success. During the 18th century New Haveners learned to master the shortcomings of their shallow harbor by extending the land out into the deeper water. This "long wharf" enabled men such as Roger Sherman, Benedict Arnold, and Thomas Painter to make their fortunes outfitting ships and cargo for the lucrative West Indies trade. New Haven harbor established the city as a successful and prosperous seaport. Immigrants who settled at this time brought their skills as sailmakers, ropemakers and oyster fisherman.
By 1808 President Jefferson's Embargo Act had taken a toll on New Haven's maritime industries. Although immigration would continue to dwindle, the Embargo and subsequent War of 1812 turned a new page in New Haven's history. The harbor would take a backseat to the industries which would dominate 19th century New Haven and attract thousands of new immigrants. While most residents of New Haven were cursing Jefferson for destroying their maritime profits, a few began to seek new markets and new industries that would be immune to the never ending disputes which threatened shipping in the Atlantic. The shift of emphasis from agriculture to manufacturing had far-reaching results: the bank replaced the country merchant as money lender. Insurance companies sprang up; Yankee inventive genius emerged to meet new challenges; methods of transportation and distribution improved. Demands for better schools arose, and a laboring class began to appear in the towns.7 Beginning in 1812, men such as Brewster, Newhall, and Pardee began manufacturing carriages using workers displaced from maritime industries. Throughout the 19th century New Haven earned the reputation for making the most luxurious and highest quality carriages in the nation. Whole sections of our city took on the namesake of carriage manufacturers such as Newhallville. The collateral industries that accompanied such a prosperous venture demanded skilled labor. Hardware manufacturers such as Sargent, C. Cowles & Co., and Bassett advertised overseas to attract Irish, Polish, German, and Italian workers to New Haven. By 1840 New Haven had blossomed into a thriving city. A journey through Patten's New Haven Directory of 1840 illustrates the diversity of New Haven's job market. Many students have not had the opportunity to use a city directory to conduct research. The New Haven Historical Society has a remarkable collection of city directories from which you can photo copy pages. These insightful resources function much like a modern phone book, with names, addresses, and job information about the inhabitants of New Haven from the year you choose. Below is a sample exercise from the 1840 city directory.
Occupations in New Haven, 1840 From Patten's New Haven Directory How many occupations found in New Haven in 1840 can you find
in this word puzzle?
@Text:The Irish in New Haven Another by-product of Jefferson's Embargo Act was the need to develop a transportation system that could operate despite a British blockade. Such was the impetus behind the New Haven and Northampton Canal. This man-made waterway was dug entirely by hand and mostly by Irish Immigrants who had just completed the Erie Canal. There were few Irish in New Haven before the late 1840's, those had arrived as skilled and unskilled labor took part in the city's economic boom after 1825. It seems those early arrivals caused little concern among the locals, for they provided cheap labor for fulfilling the economic aspirations of the entrepreneurs.8 The famine of 1848 in Ireland drove many poor Irish from their homes and across the ocean to port cities like Boston and New Haven. Despite this substantial migration, the Irish in 1860 accounted for just 27% of New Haven's population, and although their numbers would increase over the next several decades, they at no time made up more than one-third of the city's total. Protestant New Haven could "accommodate this useful, if unsettling minority, without tarnishing its Puritan self-image."9
Not all greeted the incoming Irish with open arms. When in 1887 a visiting priest from the Diocese of New York requested permission to use a Protestant chapel to say mass, he was refused with the bitter words, "we have no Popery in New Haven and we don't want any"10 As the competition for jobs and housing increased in New Haven, so did the attacks on immigrants. This hostile climate demanded solidarity on the part of the immigrants and they often banded together in neighborhoods where they could practice their faith and live in relative peace. Physical violence was a possibility for any Irishman who would venture beyond the corner of Quinnipiac and Grand Avenues into Yankee territory. The outbreak of the Civil War provided another avenue for Irish unity as New Haven's "Irish Ninth" brought together Irishmen from around the Elm City.
Politically, the Irish flocked to the Democratic party for "the Irish had learned from hard experience that political power was critical to survival in a Protestant world".11 By 1899 Cornelius Driscoll became the first Irish Catholic mayor of New Haven defeating a Republican industrialist. The Democratic party was now in the hands of the Irish, and every Democratic mayoral candidate for the next seventy years would be Irish Catholic.
In medicine too, the Irish sought to break down the barriers of discrimination. Because non-Protestant doctors were not permitted to practice medicine at the Yale controlled New Haven Hospital, Catholics often received inadequate medical care. To remedy this a group of Catholic physicians joined with church officials in incorporating the Hospital of St. Raphael in 1906.12 Although their struggle would continue, the Irish had established a political and economic toehold, defined neighborhoods, and developed unique benevolent institutions in a relatively short period of time.
Northern and Eastern Europeans
Following the Civil War other European groups faced religious and economic circumstances which prompted their immigration to New Haven. Although there had been a handful of Venetian Jews in New Haven prior to the Revolutionary War, a recognizable Jewish community did not appear until 1840, when a group of Jews arrived from Bavaria to take up permanent residence and establish Congregation Mishkan Israel.13 Beginning in the 1840s the Bavarians were joined by thousands of Russian Jews who fled the Czarist pogroms and later the Bolshevik uprisings. Most settled in the Oak Street neighborhood, although a sizeable minority made their homes in the Irish sections in Fair Haven. This new wave of immigration from southern and eastern Europe began to arrive in the early eighties but did not reach substantial numbers until around 1896. By 1900 New Haven's Jewish population had increased to approximately 8,000. German Jews were more westernized and found themselves embraced by New Haven's population. The Russian Jews, dressed in traditional garb and spoke with a heavy accent. Few major employers would hire them with the exception of the Jewish dominated cigar and corset industries. Hundreds of Jews made a living by street peddling. Those who were more fortunate opened small shops, transforming Oak Street into a major trading center for food, clothes and hardware.
This economic isolation also led to political isolation. The opportunity for Russian Jews to participate in mainstream politics came in 1899, when control of the Republican Party was won by two brothers, Louis and Issac Ullman, sons of Bavarian Jewish Immigrants. Both men were co-owners of the Strouse-Adler corset factory.14 The Ullmans represented the ideal conduit for Jews to gain political power. They were accepted as successful businessmen by the Yankee establishment, and as the sons of immigrants, they had influence within the Russian Jewish community. The result was a dramatic increase in Jewish Membership within the Republican Party.
Italians in New Haven
There were only ten Italians in New Haven in 1870.15 That year J. B. Sargent, of hardware fame, watched Italians laboring in the streets and fields outside his villa in Southern Italy. He believed that they would be and excellent source of labor for his hardware and lock factory. Soon Sargents vision became reality as thousands poured into Eastern cities seeking work, and many would find work at Sargent Hardware. Italians identified themselves with their home city or province and thus establish neighborhoods in New Haven which reflected their origins. The largest, located in Wooster Square, was made up of Southern Italians from Amalfi. They found work at the Candee Rubber Boot Company, Sargents, and at Strouse Adler. The necessity of living near one's work help transform Wooster Square into an almost exclusively Italian neighborhood by 1900.16 The second largest was just below the Hill around Oak Street which by the 1880s was already one of the most rundown districts. A survey of the Oak Street neighborhood conducted by Lowell House in 1901 revealed that most Italians were living in crowded conditions, in dilapidated tenements and were often lacking in nutritious food, warm clothing and fresh air.17 The same survey describes the rents as being, "7$ to 13$ a month for 2 to 4 rooms, one toilet for six families, the house behind is only 8 feet away, and the center hall is 140 ft. long, narrow and poorly lighted."18
One of the best ways to illustrate the dynamic, diverse nature of New Haven at this time, is to have the students examine census documents. I like to use the year 1920 for it was near the peak of New Haven's population growth, and by this time immigrants had become settled in various neighborhoods. Copies of the census documents can be obtained at the New Haven Historical Society.
I suggest you choose four or five popular streets that the students are familiar with to focus upon. This way they will have a good idea of the current ethnic make-up of these areas. Then acquire photocopies of the 1920 census of that street and have the students work in groups to complete the worksheet below. I have performed this lesson many times and find that it leads to wonderful discussions about the census, immigration, and the diversity of New Haven.
WORKSHEET FOR 1920 NEW HAVEN CENSUS PROJECT
Look at the 1920 Census for New Haven AND the 1919 Map of New Haven.
|1.||What street is listed on your census?_____________________________________________|
|2.||What ward number is given?________|
|3.||Name the area of town where your census sheet comes from.|
|4.||What is the racial make-up of this street?__________________________________________|
|5.||What countries or different states did the people on this street come from?||___________________________________________________________________________|
|6.||Do many of them speak English?_______|
|7.||What other languages are spoken? _____________________________________________|
|8.||What kind of jobs do they have? List a few. ______________________________________|
Pick out one family listed on your census. Fill out the information:
Family's name (mother, father, children, relatives): _______________________________________
Ages of family members: _____________________________________________________________
Race: ______________________ What country/state did they come from? ___________________
What year did they come to the U.S.? _______________
What job does the father or other family members have? __________________________________
Are there other people on the same street who come from the same country/state and work in the same type of job? __________________________________________________________________
@Text:John Davenport invisioned the adoption and creation of institutions that would help New Haven become a pious and prosperous colony. His wish of expanding the influence of the New Haven Colony may have fallen short, but a humble Italian immigrant named Frank Pepe introduced a simple food that certainly achieved that effect. When Frank Pepe arrived in 1890 he carried with him a recipe that would bring fame and fortune to himself and his new city. The "tomato pie" was a portable, inexpensive fingerfood which Pepe transported via wagon to the factories and fed the throngs at lunch and dinner breaks. Thanks to his industriousness and tenacity, the pizza has evolved into a New Haven institution. ____ Other New Haven immigrants have contributed ideas and inventions that have helped our city and our country to grow. Some of them are:
Bernard Shoniger - Pianos
Lewis Osterweis - Cigars
|Issac Strouse -||Corset|
Immigration Worksheet - Innovations
Match the industry with its New Haven Pioneer
Which of these items are still made in New Haven today?
Can you imagine a time when pizza didn't exist? Imagine you are a newspaper reporter in 1895 and Frank Pepe is about to sell his first pizza. Describe for your readers how it is made, what it looks like, tastes like, and whether or not you think it will be popular.
@Text: Following World War II New Haven endured terrific gains and losses. Due to the hard work and political savvy of Richard Lee, New Haven received tremendous amounts of federal aid to build schools, eliminate slums, and bring the highway to New Haven. This dramatic transformation saved neighborhoods, such as Wooster Square, and eliminated others like Oak Street. Lee saw to the construction of modern low-imcome housing projects while ignoring the crucial flight of the middle class out of New Haven. Many would argue that the same highway Lee fought for provided an escape route out of the city for many of the sons and daughters of immigrants. Their exodus left opportunities for new immigrants such as Hispanics, Asians and Portuguese. ____ Today New Haven's industrial base is dead. Service oriented industries such as healthcare and utilities provide the jobs for our modern immigrants. While many things have changed over the past three hundred and fifty years, much remains the same. The harbor is still a major part of New Haven, and the original nine squares are still intact. On any given afternoon students can walk in the steps of Davenport, Pepe or any other immigrant whose hopes and vision shaped the Elm city. Students who make their homes here should know the story of those who came before them. Through my unit, "Those Who Built New Haven", students will become familiar with the diverse peoples who defined New Haven over the centuries. Hopefully they will develop a perspective that will allow them to make the decisions that will lead this city to its next renaissance.
An excellent guide to New Haven's architecture and neighborhood history. Simple to use and contains excellent photographs and maps. Recently reprinted.
____Kagan, Myrna. Vision in the Sky: New Haven's Early Years, 1638-1783. Shoe String Press, Incorporated, 1989.
A wonderful, easy to read book, suitable for students in grades 4 - 8. A rare narrative that explores New Haven's early history. Very interesting and well written.
____Kutz, Christopher. Democracy in New Haven: A History of the Board of Aldermen 1638-1988. 1988.
____Excellent exploration of the political history of New Haven from colony to city. Provides insight into the struggles of various ethnic groups to establish and maintain political power.
____Mininberg, Mark. Saving New Haven. Fine Arts Publications, 1988.
A well-organized, easy to read source for outstanding information on the ethnic history of New Haven to 1930. Includes chapters on each of the major ethnic groups to immigrate to New Haven. Contains abundant information on Irish political history in New Haven.
____Osterweis, Rollin G. Three Centuries of New Haven, 1638-1938. Yale University Press, 1953.
Written for New Haven's tercentenerary, it is one of the most comprehensive guides to New Haven history up through 1920. Contains few illustrations.
____Shumway, Floyd. New Haven: An Illustrated History. American Historical Press, 1995.
Superbly crafted guide to New Haven. Not as comprehensive as Osterweis, but filled with an abundance of photos, maps, charts, and other visual aids. Many different writers contributed to this book. The overall effect is a contemporary exploration of the past three centuries with multiple perspectives. Every New Haven school teacher should purchase a copy of this book.
____Warner, Robert A. New Haven Negroes: A Social History. Ayer Company Publishing, Incorporated, 1970.
A rare, but rather paternalistic exploration of New Haven's African American history. Despite its drawbacks, it is one of only a handful of sources that deal soley with three centuries of African Americans in New Haven.
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