The Americanization Movement
At the turn of the 20th century, millions of immigrants poured into the United States. Faced with the challenge of integrating the newcomers into the national fabric, the Americanization Movement sought “to change the unskilled inefficient immigrant into the skilled worker and efficient citizen” and to show them “the spirit of America, the knowledge of America, and the love of America.” Many government leaders felt that the best way to turn immigrants into Americans was through education. In response, local community centers and organizations like the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) offered free classes on everything from citizenship requirements and American history to sewing and hygiene. Many immigrants couldn’t speak English, which left them ill equipped for available jobs, so some businesses even taught their own language classes when the workday was over. In addition to education, the movement wanted to celebrate the American way of life. Americanization Days were used to promote patriotism in new immigrants, and parades were held to honor those who became citizens.