Friday, October 3, 2014

"Further Plans for Study of Americanization": Note for a lecture, "What Keeps the United States United'

Further Plans for Study of Americanization

The Survey

THE study of methods of Americanization undertaken by the Carnegie Corporation (see the SURVEY for April 27) has begun under auspicious circumstances. Almost from the day of opening, the office of Allen T. Burns, director of studies, has been besieged with inquiries for information on various groups of foreign born or on suitable methods of tackling this or that specific task of Americanization, and also with offers of help.

The first difficulty was that of agreeing on a definition of Americanization—so as to combat from the outset that narrowing interpretation of the process which calls for a suppression of everything that is not of purely American derivation, whether it be language, customs or views of life. A first printed announcement of the committee of studies says:

Americanization is the uniting of new with native-born Americans in fuller common understanding and appreciation to secure by means of self-government the highest welfare of all. Such Americanization should produce no unchangeable political, domestic and economic regime delivered once for all to the fathers, but a growing and broadening national life, inclusive of the best, wherever found. With all our rich heritages, Americanism will develop best through a mutual giving and taking of contributions from both newer and older Americans in the interest of the common weal.

The catholic character of the investigating body is illustrated by the membership of the advisory council, which consists of Theodore Roosevelt, John M. Glenn, John Graham Brooks and John A. Voll, president of the National Glass Bottle Blowers' Association.  ...

While the plans for all these departments are still in preparation, some of them have already begun to collect information on the work of agencies throughout the country in their particular departments and will be glad to have readers of the SURVEY direct their attention to methods which have proved successful and may have useful suggestions for other communities. The division on health standards and care, for instance, particularly desires the cooperation of individual physicians, of hospitals, dispensaries, health departments, nursing and medical associations, industries and other organizations. Among other special inquiries, it plans an investigation of alleged serious evils due to quack practice among immigrants.

In these days of vast war expenditures and enforced thrift, public attention is attracted by the appalling economic waste in every sphere of life which Americans have tolerated in the past. (See, for instance, the leaflet, The Wasted Years, recently circulated by the Massachusetts Civic League.) The faulty adjustment of immigrants to American conditions is one of the conspicuous failures in this respect. How to preserve wholesome homes, filial relations, conjugal fidelity, good neighborly relationships in the midst of the often dangerous experiences of the different members of the family, the subject of Miss Breckenridge's division of inquiry, deals with one of the most prolific causes of waste in human values.


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