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Katherine A. Benton-Cohen
Georgetown University (Washington, DC 20057-0001)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2009 – 6/30/2009

The Last Immigration Crisis: A History of the Dillingham Commission of 1907-1911

This project is a history of the U.S. Immigration Commission, also known as the Dillingham Commission. From 1907 to 1911, the joint congressional commission created 41 volumes of reports on what many Americans saw as a national crisis: the unprecedented number of immigrants flowing into the United States, mostly from southern and eastern Europe. Its recommendations laid the groundwork for the national origins quotas of the 1920s ending mass migration. At once stringently "scientific" and deeply biased, the Commissioners captured the essence of their age---one in which Americans believed in limitless possibilities even as they feared change and the strangers who brought it from foreign shores. This story tells nothing less than the story of Progressive-Era America. And by focusing on the Commission's understandings of race, science, gender, region, and nation-building, this book explores how Americans understood immigration---an investigation deeply relevant today.