Julie K. Allen


immigration, assimilation, Danish-American identity


One of the most emotionally charged issues related to American immigration, past and present is the question of how quickly and completely immigrants should be expected to assimilate into mainstream American culture. Throughout the nineteenth century, the prevailing attitude in America was that assimilation of immigrants would happen naturally and gradually, but the first decades of the twentieth century saw the rise of nativism and a much more aggressive approach to the Americanization of immigrants.1 While these trends peaked during World War I, their reverberations continued to impact immigrant groups throughout America throughout the decades preceding World War II. One group that found itself unexpectedly, considering its members' high levels of English mastery and American citizenship, singled out for criticism during this period was Danish-Americans, who responded to the impugning of their loyalty to their adopted homeland by accelerating the pace and fervor of their Americanization throughout the 1920s and 30s.