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History of immigration-Period of residence in the United States of foreign-born employees and members of their households-Racial classification of employees at the present time-[Text Tables 9 to 17 and General Tables 4 and 5].


No statistics are available to show the racial movements to the silk industry during past years, owing to the fact that, previous to the year 1900, persons engaged in silk-goods manufacturing were included with all other textile workers in the return of the federal census of occupations. In the federal census of 1900 a distinction was made between the several classes of textile operatives, and it was made possible to ascertain the parentage of silk-mill operatives. In order to obtain an insight into the racial make-up of the operating forces at that time, the following series of tables have been prepared from the census returns. In the first table submitted, which follows below, the general nativity and parentage of the employees of the silk industry in the three States of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, and in the country as a whole, is shown for 1900.

TABLE 9.-Silk-mill operatives in 1900, in States specified, classified as native-born and foreign-born and by country of birth of parents.

[Compiled from United States Census Report 1900, Occupations.]

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The figures of the foregoing table are from the United States census reports. It will be noted that there is no classification of foreign-born employees by country of birth, but that all employees are classified

by country of birth of parents. The figures are for both males and females. There were in 1900 a total number of 54,460 silk-mill operatives in the United States. Of these, 16,798 were native whites born of native parents, 19,687 were native whites born of foreign parents, and 17,818 were foreign-born whites. In New Jersey, the proportion of foreign-born employees was considerably larger than in either New York or Pennsylvania. Among the employees of foreign parentage those of German, Irish, and British parentage, in the order mentioned, were present in the largest numbers. The parents of 4,237 operatives were born in countries not specified. It will be noted that the proportion of operatives of northern and western European parentage considerably exceeded the proportion of employees of southern and eastern European parentage. This was true, in general, not only of the United States as a whole, but of the several States for which the data are presented, as well. There was, however, a considerable proportion of employees of Italian parentage in New Jersey. The proportion of workers of southern and eastern European parentage was larger in New Jersey than in either New York or Pennsylvania.

The composition of the working force of this industry is further indicated by the returns for the principal silk-manufacturing cities studied. The following table shows the general nativity and parentage of the employees of the silk-manufacturing industry at Brooklyn, N. Y., Paterson, N. J., and Scranton and Wilkesbarre, Pa.:

TABLE 10.-Silk-mill operatives in 1900, in cities specified, classified as native-born and foreign-born and by country of birth of parents.

[Compiled from United States Census Report 1900, Occupations.]

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In the above table the classification adopted is the same as in the preceding table, showing the employees by States. There were, in 1900, in the four cities for which data are presented, 15,468 silk-mill operatives. Of these, 1,979 were native whites born of native parents, 6,439 were native-born whites of foreign parents, and 7,050 were foreign-born whites. In other words, more than one-half of all the workers were foreign-born. The proportion of foreign-born em

ployees was very much larger at Paterson, N. J., than at any of the other cities specified. It will be noted that among the employees having one or both parents born abroad those of British, Irish, and German parentage, in the order mentioned, had the largest representation. The proportion of workers of northern and western European parentage was much larger than the proportion of workers of southern and eastern European parentage. This was true not only of all the cities for which data are presented combined but of the several cities as well. At Paterson, N. J., however, there was a considerable proportion of employees of Italian parentage and of employees of unspecified foreign parentage.

In Part II of this report an outline of the racial movements to the silk mills of the anthracite coal regions of Pennsylvania is presented. The history of immigration to Paterson, N. J., may also be presented for comparative purposes and for the additional reason that Paterson is the principal silk goods manufacturing and dyeing locality in the United States and the racial movements there may be considered representative of the history of immigration to the industry as a whole.


The silk industry was established in Paterson in the year 1854 with the erection of a small factory for making silk thread. The plant was equipped with hand looms, and was directed by an Englishman who had been trained in the silk mills of England. A second mill was erected in 1856, and, after the close of the civil war, the industry developed rapidly. These early mills were operated almost exclusively by English and Scotch immigrants who had been apprenticed in the factories of Great Britain. The combined number of English and Scotch silk workers employed in the community in 1865 was about 100. The estimated number of immigrants of all races employed in the Paterson silk mills at the present time is 15,000.

English immigration.-English immigrants established the silk industry in Paterson and supplied the early labor with which the plants were operated. The real English immigration did not begin, however, until about 1870, although during the years immediately preceding the civil war a light immigration of the race occurred. About 1870 the industry began to develop rapidly and a demand was created for skilled workers. Skilled silk workers could not be found among the native Americans and the employers turned to England to recruit their forces. It is estimated that about 15,000 English immigrants were induced to come to Paterson from the old English silk town of Macclesfield. A few Scotch and Irish immigrants were included in this early movement. The town of Macclesfield was practically depopulated and rendered of little industrial importance by the emigration which found its way into the mills of Paterson.

There was no difficulty in getting English workmen to emigrate to Paterson. About 1870 the hand looms were dispensed with in America and power looms were installed in their places. On these looms it was possible for workers to earn far more than on the old hand looms still employed in England. The volume of English immigration soon became large, and continued more or less steadily up to 1890, when the Italians began to enter the industry. Beginning in 1890 it declined, and in 1893 and 1894 it fell off heavily under

the effect of the crisis, and at the present time has practically ceased. The reasons for the heavy English immigration may be assigned, first, to the high tariff which was maintained after the close of the civil war, which made it possible to manufacture in this country broad silks at a large profit; second, to the influence of the English employees who had been employed in the Paterson mills from their establishment in getting their relatives, friends, and fellow-countrymen to come to the United States; and, third, to the installation of power looms in the American mills.

French immigration.-The rapid expansion of the silk industry during the late seventies and early eighties induced ambitious Frenchmen to come to Paterson and start several silk mills. They encouraged immigration from the French silk centers and succeeded in inducing from two to three thousand French workers to come to Paterson. The French immigrants were expert silk workers, and were soon employed in every branch of the industry. They were employed in the dyeing departments, in broad silk work, and especially in ribbon weaving. At the present time, however, very few French are employed in Paterson. Those who still remain are employed in positions requiring the greatest skill and expertness. They are now found chiefly in the ribbon-manufacturing establishments. Why the French have left the Paterson silk mills can not be clearly explained beyond the statement that they earned little or no more in Paterson than in the French mills. A few left the community and returned to France in 1888 and 1890, and when the industrial depression of the early nineties closed a large number of the Paterson mills practically all of them returned to France. Those who remained were highly skilled workmen, who were retained and given work by the Paterson firms in order to keep them.

Italian immigration.-Italian immigration to Paterson began when a few families of fruit venders settled in the city shortly after the civil war. The first Italian workmen were brought to Paterson between twenty and twenty-five years ago and given employment on various public works and on the construction work of the street railways. Most of these early immigrants left Paterson after the railway construction was completed, but a few of them secured employment of one kind and another and remained in the community. Of the latter, a few found work in the dyehouses. This was the beginning of the employment of Italians in the silk industry. Between 1888 and 1890 a number of strikes occurred in Paterson among the dye workers. At that time the dyers were almost entirely English or Americans, with a few Germans, Scotch, Irish, and one or two skilled Frenchmen. For the most part the work was hard and dirty, while the dyehouses were wet and full of steam. The men accordingly struck for higher wages. One of the largest dyers secured Italians and used them as strikebreakers. From this time until 1903-4 a large number of the race were annually imported by all plants operating in the city, and to-day Italians are extensively employed in the silk industry. Prior to the "dyers' strike," as it was called, a few Italians, among those who had been employed on the railroad construction work, had entered the silk mills. As these men had worked in the same industry in Italy, they encouraged their friends to come over to this country, and it is freely asserted in Paterson that the manufacturers assisted in the

encouragement. The large increase in the percentage of Italian workmen, however, dates from 1896-97. During the years following this date the industry expanded very rapidly, and Italians were secured to meet the extra labor demands. The English-speaking workmen were displaced in many instances, and, as other lines of work paid them better wages, numbers of them left the silk industry. At the present time it is estimated that over 20,000 Italians are living in Paterson. The great majority of them are dependent on the silk industry, in which between 7,000 and 8,000 are employed. The majority of the Italian silk workers employed are from the northern States of Italy, and among the South Italians there are only a few Sicilians. The immigration of Italians was checked by the financial depression of 1907, but was much less affected than immigration to other localities and other industries. Immigration of Italians to Paterson is, however, since the entrance of the Russian Hebrews, decreasing annually. Hebrew immigration. The immigration of Russian Hebrews to Paterson commenced about 1902 and is steadily increasing. The beginning of this immigration is not positively known, but it is claimed that it was begun by the Hebrew firms which in the last few years have gone into business in the community, and which immediately proceeded to influence others to come to the city. The Russian Hebrews were willing to work for lower wages and in worse surroundings than the English-speaking people, or even the Italians, and it was not long before they were employed as unskilled laborers in the silk mills. They are inferior to all of the other races now employed in the mills. The estimated number of Russian Hebrews employed at present is between 3,000 and 5,000.

Polish immigration.-At present there are about 350 Polish families residing in Paterson, 90 per cent of which are from Russia. As a race they commenced to enter the community in large numbers about 1898, when several iron manufactories were established. They have been employed in the various branches of the silk industry, but only in the less skilled positions. The iron plants closed down in 1907, and as there was nothing else for the Polish workmen to do they entered the silk mills and dyehouses. It is estimated that 50 per cent of the Polish population returned to Europe in 1907. A large number will return to Paterson, however, when there is opportunity for them to secure work in the iron manufactories and machine shops. Armenian immigration. In 1901 about 300 Armenians were brought to Paterson as strike-breakers. They were employed for a short time, and then gradually drifted out of the community, until at present the number of the race in the silk industries is insignificant, probably not over 50 being found there. They left Paterson because they preferred to work in places where the Armenian population was larger. This was mentioned as the cause of the movement by officials of the silk mills, who cited neighboring manufacturing towns where the labor supply in certain industries is almost entirely Armenian.

Miscellaneous immigration. In addition to the races mentioned above, which have been employed at various times in the silk industry, a few others have been employed in small numbers. Among these are Germans, Swiss, Irish, and a few Scotch. Of these races there has never been any general or large immigration, but their immigra

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