NEWS FROM THE LAND OF FREEDOM: German Immigrants Write Home by Walter D.; Wolfgang Helbich & Ulrike Sommer--Eds. Kamphoefner

NEWS FROM THE LAND OF FREEDOM: German Immigrants Write Home

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A monumental feat of popular archivism as the editors (Kamphoefner: History/Texas A&M; Helbich & Sommer: History/Ruhr UniversitÄt Bochum) select from over 5000 letters in the Bochum collection about 350 that are most representative of the German immigrant experience in America, ca. 1830-1930. Organized into three categories--""Farmers,"" ""Workers,"" ""Domestic Servants""--the letters selected were written by 20 different individuals or families, each contributing several letters over a course of years. The correspondents offer an intimate look at immigrant triumphs and troubles (most often about money, especially falling into debt, or about bad health: as Christian Lenz writes in 1849 from Tennessee to his brother in Germany, ""here there's no fear of war, what the sword is for you is here the Korlra [cholera]...Here the sickness is so common that in the big cities half the people have been buried"")--as well as fresh eyewitness descriptions of America (""Dear Marie,"" writes Wilhelmine Wiebusch in 1884 from Brooklyn to her overseas mother, ""you really ought to see New York...the most beautiful and main street, Broadway, is more than 6 hours long...Crossing the street is positively dangerous, one wagon after the next, so loud you can't hear yourself talk, business and money everywhere""). Expertly translated by Vogel, with intensively researched introductions and annotations by the editors, this is a vital and captivating contribution to immigrant lore.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1991
Page count: 568pp
Publisher: Cornell Univ. Press