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IMMIGRANT KIDS by Russell Freedman


by Russell Freedman

Pub Date: June 1st, 1980
ISBN: 0140375945
Publisher: Dutton

A nicely integrated, refreshingly un-woeful introduction to the experience of being a young urban immigrant around the turn of the century. As the text describes the arduous crossing, the terrifying health inspections, the cramped apartments, strange schools, etc., photos by Riis and Hine (and others) make the scenes real and recollections of immigrant childhoods give them a personal dimension. If there was hardship, Freedman makes clear, there was also compensation--for women, in the water magically available from a hall or apartment tap; for kids, in the freedom and vigor of street-life. And though we see kids working at adult-sized tasks, we also see the "newsies" (one of them a girl!)--"independent business people" whom not all kids will pity. Freedman also cites, matter-of-factly, the split between quickly-Americanized children and their Old-Worldly parents; indeed, he falters only on the last page when he states, blandly and ahistorically, that today's immigrants face similar experiences. Otherwise it's concise, graphic, and designed in every respect to catch and hold the reader's interest.