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Immigrants and Immigration in World War I


Announcer: Welcome to the How WWI Changed America podcast series, sponsored by the Andrew W Mellon foundation with host Dr. Libby O'Connell.


Libby O'Connell: Hello and welcome to this morning's podcast from the WWI Centennial Commission. I'm Libby O'Connell. I am delighted to welcome Prof. Chris Capozzola from MIT. This morning we're going to be talking about immigrants and immigration in WWI. So welcome Chris. Thanks for joining us today.


Chris Capazzola: Thank you for having me with you.


Libby O'Connell: So Chris America has always been a nation of immigrants. What makes the early part of the 20th century unusual?


Chris Capazzola: Well, you're right, the United States has always been a country of immigrants, but never more so than at the turn of the 20th century. This is a time when the United States is undergoing rapid industrialization and agricultural transformation. And so it's drawing people to the United States as workers and new settlers from all over the world. They're also drawing immigrants to the United States from parts of the world that hadn't really sent immigrants before. So the number of immigrants was higher and where they're coming from is different. This is going to pose challenges for Americans sense of themselves as a nation. And when the war comes, it makes them stop and think and look around a little bit and figure out who are we and what is the nation that we're fighting for.