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AHC/WI: Large-scale ethnic Russian immigration to the U.S.
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WolfBear
2017-10-03 23:39:44 UTC
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How exactly do you get large numbers of ethnic Russians to immigrate to the U.S. in the 19th century? After all, a lot of Germans, English, Irish, and--slightly later on--Italians and Jews immigrated to the U.S. in the 19th century. However, ethnic Russians never immigrated to the U.S. en masse during this time (with the main immigrants to the U.S. from Russia likely being minorities--specifically Jews, Volga Germans, et cetera).

Also, what would the effects of having a large ethnic Russian population starting from the 19th century be in the U.S.? Indeed, where exactly would ethnic Russians have settled in the U.S. and how exactly would they have affected the culture of the areas where they settled in?

In addition to this, would these Russians have fully assimilated and Americanized over the years (like most of the Germans in the U.S. did) or would they have kept some traces of their ancestral origin, heritage, and culture (like many of the Irish and Italians did)?
David Tenner
2017-10-04 01:06:17 UTC
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Post by WolfBear
How exactly do you get large numbers of ethnic Russians to immigrate to
the U.S. in the 19th century? After all, a lot of Germans, English,
Irish, and--slightly later on--Italians and Jews immigrated to the U.S.
in the 19th century. However, ethnic Russians never immigrated to the
U.S. en masse during this time (with the main immigrants to the U.S.
from Russia likely being minorities--specifically Jews, Volga Germans,
et cetera).
The problem is that vast areas of the Russian Empire were available for
Russian peasants' emigration. As Doug Muir once noted in this group: "Well,
they emigrated to Siberia, to Central Asia, to the northern Caucasus, and to
the big cities. Central Asia gets neglected. But Kazakhstan alone absorbed
nearly a million Russian immigrants between 1890 and 1914. That's a pretty
big safety valve." And as he notes, a lot of Russian peasants were just too
poor to afford a ticket...
https://groups.google.com/d/msg/soc.history.what-if/kVoLDb8KAPM/HGNpRZrhZVYJ

(According to Stephen Thernstrom (in *Immigrants in Two Democracies: French
and American Experience,* edited by Donald L. Horowitz, pp. 91-92, "At the
turn of the century, the data on American ethnic groups provided
by the Bureau of the Census and other federal agencies grew in volume and
became considerably more refined. Beginning in 1899, immigration
officials went beyond the crude compilations of figures by country of
origin and began to distunguish newcomers by 'race or people,' allowing
the student of immigration to separate Armenians from Turks, and to
distinguish the many peoples from the Russian and Austro-Hungarian
Empires. Thus it can be determined that a mere 2 percent of the more than
six hundred thousand immigrants from Russia who arrived in the years 1899-
1904 were actually ethnic Russians; 42 percent of them were Jews, 27
percent Finns, and 10 percent Lithuanians..."
--
David Tenner
***@ameritech.net
Alex Milman
2017-10-04 01:33:57 UTC
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Post by David Tenner
Post by WolfBear
How exactly do you get large numbers of ethnic Russians to immigrate to
the U.S. in the 19th century? After all, a lot of Germans, English,
Irish, and--slightly later on--Italians and Jews immigrated to the U.S.
in the 19th century. However, ethnic Russians never immigrated to the
U.S. en masse during this time (with the main immigrants to the U.S.
from Russia likely being minorities--specifically Jews, Volga Germans,
et cetera).
The problem is that vast areas of the Russian Empire were available for
Russian peasants' emigration. As Doug Muir once noted in this group: "Well,
they emigrated to Siberia,
Where, IIRC, government prepared at least some infrastructure for the settlers.
Post by David Tenner
to Central Asia, to the northern Caucasus, and to
the big cities.
And to the Southern Russia (area of Vsevelikoe Voysko Donskoe, see, for example memoirs of Nicholas Wrangel)
Post by David Tenner
Central Asia gets neglected. But Kazakhstan alone absorbed
nearly a million Russian immigrants between 1890 and 1914. That's a pretty
big safety valve." And as he notes, a lot of Russian peasants were just too
poor to afford a ticket...
https://groups.google.com/d/msg/soc.history.what-if/kVoLDb8KAPM/HGNpRZrhZVYJ
Well, it is not like the Jewish emigrants suffered from the excessive wealth so this may or may not be a serious factor. However, unlike the Russian peasants, they tended to have at least some education and, usually, profession that did not require purchase of the land. :-)

However, besides the "safety valve" there was also a cultural factor: on average, the Russian peasants had no idea about other countries and cultures so why would they suddenly choose to go to the US (unless being seriously pushed, like the Old Believers)? Of course, it goes without saying that for 90%+ of them the notion of "democracy" was an empty sound.
The Horny Goat
2017-10-04 12:16:01 UTC
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Also, what would the effects of having a large ethnic Russian population st=
arting from the 19th century be in the U.S.? Indeed, where exactly would et=
hnic Russians have settled in the U.S. and how exactly would they have affe=
cted the culture of the areas where they settled in?
I would suggest something like the experience of the Poles - e.g.
primarily in the industrial heartland (IL/MI through PA) with a
minority in agriculture particularly if they got to America in time to
homestead.
In addition to this, would these Russians have fully assimilated and Americ=
anized over the years (like most of the Germans in the U.S. did) or would t=
hey have kept some traces of their ancestral origin, heritage, and culture =
(like many of the Irish and Italians did)?
Again - look at the Polish example - lots of ethnic food, political
organizing. (This happens to be something I'm personally familiar with
given my in-laws, one of whom was a MP and parliamentary secretary
during the Chretien era) For sure they would be somewhat distinct but
I have to question how un-assimilated the American Irish (of both
religious stripes) really are.

One interesting factor might be religion as American Orthodoxy is
primarily Greek with a small minority of other nationalities.

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