Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (MA)



First Advisor

DR. George E. Pozetta

Second Advisor

Dr. Thomas M. Leonard

Third Advisor

Richard R. Weiner


From 1890 to 1920, a small foreign immigrant community, diverse in its cultures and religions, put down roots in Jacksonville, Florida, and thrived. This paper concentrates on southern Italians, Russian and Romanian Jews, Syrian Christians, Greeks, and Chinese who left their countrymen in northern urban centers and settled in this city. It investigates the immigrants' old-world origins, their occupational skills, their settlement patterns, and their motivations for immigrating.

The total number of foreign-born white immigrants in Jacksonville was less than 4,000 for the period covered. The manuscript census schedules completed by the Census of Population for 1900 and 1910 provided the names of individuals, occupations, countries of birth, immigration dates, and places of residence. Names obtained from the manuscript schedules were traced through the city directories between 1890 and 1920 to track the first appearance in the city, job changes, marital status, and residence. Oral interviews with the immigrants' children or other relatives supplemented and expanded the data from the census and city directories.

The immigrant groups in this study constituted 36 percent of the foreign-born white population in Jacksonville by 1920. These immigrants avoided the laboring occupations of their northern compatriots, and opened small businesses, dominating trade in some instances. They arrived in Jacksonville with a basic knowledge of the rules of the American economy. They had worked in factories, learned trades, and saved their money in northern cities. They possessed the basic qualifications to participate in American capitalism.

Jacksonville's immigrants played an active role in the economic development of the city. They sold groceries, shoes, and clothing; they operated barber shops, tailor shops, laundries, and restaurants. They built an environment which supported their families, attracted kinsmen and fellow countrymen, and kept their ethnicity alive. PALMM

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