American immigration, history, immigration history


Marcus Lee Hansen (1892-1938) has been called "the first serious student of the history of American immigration," and he was a very good one, but that was long ago.2 His major scholarship appeared after his death at the age of forty-five in 1938. Few authors have written about American immigration with Marcus Lee Hansen's literary grace and historical brilliance, but huge amounts of ethnic and immigration history have been written since his day. Old history often goes stale and out of print. What about Marcus Lee Hansen? Is there anything in his view of immigration that still speaks to us in the twenty-first century, across all these immense piles of more recent and up-to-date scholarship? My answer is a resounding "yes," and the aim of this essay is to show why.