Children Immigrants

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Immigrant children did not live an easy life in the nineteenth century. Most children were never educated. Italian children immigrants were rarely put through schooling. However, Eastern European Jewish immigrants looked at public schooling as their best way to help their children enhance their potential in life. Chicago, Detroit, and New York City had large populations of Jewish and Italian immigrants. The conditions of the children in all three cities were similar yet different with cities in which they lived in. Jewish and Italian immigrant children had to overcome many obstacles during their adjustment to American life in the nineteenth century. Italian immigrant's children were cast into adult life at a very early age. Many of these children worked in their homes. "They ‘take out' work from sweatshops to their homes, where at times they work twelve, fourteen and sixteen hours a day finishing pants, or overalls, or children's jackets and knee pants for fifty or sixty cents a day"(The Italian girl in Chicago). An average day of work was usually like this with grueling twelve to sixteen hours. Italian children in the city of Chicago were likely to marry at a young age. Italian children also seemed to question their father's authority and their religion. "Children of Italian parentage seem to repudiate the language, religion, and customs of their fathers more often than do the children of other foreign groups" (The second generation). It is prevalent that the Italian culture is carried in their children. These Italian children formed a generation gap. "Though as rule they do not mix with their American schoolmates outside the classroom, they quickly acquire an Americanism which is in violent contrast to the customs of their parents" (The second generation). Italian children often found themselves caught between their culture and authority of the schools and their families. School had a way of causing Italian children to feel inferior to those who spoke English as their first language. Italians who could master English had enable them to break free from their Italian neighborhoods and venture into Chicago. There were different expectations that pertained to boys and girls of Italian decent. Southern Italian girls in Chicago were guarded more strictly than the same Italian immigrant girls from the north side. Italian immigrants from southern Italy restricted their daughter's freedom and guarded them from having a social life. Immigrants from the north were encouraging frequent contact and social recreation with boys. Jewish immigrants prioritized education because they saw it as the best way to help their children enhance their potential in life. In the city of Chicago Jewish children started off in school. They had eight public schools in Chicago all for young Jewish people. "Socialization of the immigrant children was the job of a handful of schools in the ghetto, where Jewish attendance reached 92-93%" (Educating the Jewish Young People). In most public schools the total population was 68 percent Jewish. Many Jewish children attended the Jewish Training School, a vocational school that emphasized arts and mechanical trades. However, one must remember that this did not mean that every one of these Jewish children attended all eight grades that were provided for them from public schools. "What tends to aggravate these conditions, and further to interfere with the educational career of the Jewish child is, on the one hand, the apparently natural truancy of some boys, and on the other, the necessity—always pressing on the workingmen's children—of leaving school and going to work" (Educating the Jewish Young People). Most of the Jewish children that did attend school did not complete eight grades and many of them did not complete six grades. These children leaving school were as young as age twelve to fourteen to go and work. Jewish children living conditions were much cleaner and less crowed than those of Italians. The...
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