Americanization Efforts

These books and pamphlets highlight efforts in the US to prepare immigrants for learning English, industrial training, and namely assimilating into American culture. Several are issues by federal, state and municipal authorities and aimed at women and mothers.

A primer of civics: designed for the guidance of the immigrant. Published 1912, by Jaroslav Joseph Zmrhal. Written in English and Czech on opposite pages and provides “Salient Points in American History.”

“Abraham Lincoln was born in a little log house in Kentucky. It is a wonderful thing that a boy who grew up in the woods, with a slight opportunity for education, should rise to the highest office in the country. This fact is of great importance to you, for it shows you that the United States is a country of great opportunity, that everyone can make the best use of his talents and go as high as he is able. In our country no one will ask you what your birth is, what your relations are, but everything hangs on what you are yourself. Use the opportunity, and go as high as you are able.” (p.29)


First book for non-English speaking people. Published 1907, was the first in a three part-series used in the Boston and Cambridge communities. The authors, W.L. Harrington and Catharine Cunningham, taught in the Boston Public Schools system and used the methods described in this book for BPS students.

“In learning our mother tongue the stages of development are: first, the baby’s struggle over simple words; then, the child talking of play and school; next, his interest in the occupations of people and the family relations; and finally, an interest in nations. That is the way we should learn the new tongue, by following the universal human experience. ‘Culture,’ says a recent writer, ‘is that process by which the individual reproduces himself the experience of the race.’” (p.10)