Old and New New Englanders

Immigration and Regional Identity in the Gilded Age
Bluford Adams


In Old and New New Englanders, Bluford Adams provides a reenvisioning of New England’s history and regional identity by exploring the ways the arrival of waves of immigrants from Europe and Canada transformed what it meant to be a New Englander during the Gilded Age. Adams’s intervention challenges a number of long-standing conceptions of New England, offering a detailed and complex portrayal of the relations between New England’s Yankees and immigrants that goes beyond nativism and assimilation. In focusing on immigration in this period, Adams provides a fresh view on New England’s regional identity, moving forward from Pilgrims, Puritans, and their descendants and emphasizing the role immigrants played in shaping the region’s various meanings. Furthermore, many researchers have overlooked the newcomers’ relationship to the regional identities they found here. Adams argues immigrants took their ties to New England seriously. Although they often disagreed about the nature of those ties, many immigrant leaders believed identification with New England would benefit their peoples in their struggles both in the United States and back in their ancestral lands.

Drawing on and contributing to work in immigration history, as well as American, gender, ethnic, and New England studies, this book is broadly concerned with the history of identity construction in the United States while its primary focus is the relationship between regional categories of identity and those based on race and ethnicity. With its interdisciplinary methodology, original research, and diverse chapter topics, the book targets both specialist and nonspecialist readers.

Bluford Adams is Associate Professor of English at the University of Iowa, with a joint appointment in the American Studies Department. An expert on 19th-century U.S. literature, culture, and social history, he is the author of E Pluribus Barnum: The Great Showman and the Making of U.S. Popular Culture.

Praise / Awards

  • "Adams organizes each chapter by a defining subject, not by ethnicity or chronology, in order to convey a multiplicity of attitudes toward controversial issues. Whether a chapter centers on the worried hope for continued Anglo-Saxon supremacy, the extent of an immigrant group’s cohesive identity, the 'delicacy' of the genteel New England woman’s body, the future of declining upland farms, or the spread of New England culture along the 'Yankee Runway,' Adams uncovers an unexpectedly complex set of responses to each subject."
  • "[Old and New New Englanders] is a perceptive work of social and intellectual history recommended for advanced students of immigration, ethnic, or New England studies.
    --Evelyn Sterne, Journal of American History
  • "Old and New Englanders: Immigration and Regional Identity in the Gilded Age explores different forms (and degrees) of racism that were not based on colour but rather on language and/or ethnicity, unlike the more obvious forms of racism against African Americans and Aboriginals."
    --Journal of American Culture

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Product Details

  • 272 pages.
  • 7 B&W halftones.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2014
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02999-0

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

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