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munities and rural groups, having a permanent status, should be considered; and in the second, the seasonal or temporary agricultural laborers, who, as a rule, have a permanent home or headquarters in the cities and towns, but who emigrate to the country in groups or gangs to supply the seasonal demands for farm laborers.
Some very valuable and original information relative to recent immigrants as farmers and farm laborers in the United States has recently been published as the result of an exhaustive investigation by the national government.* The study includes only those races which come from southern and eastern Europe, and Japan. Specifically, North and South Italians, Hebrews, Poles, Slovaks, Bohemians and other Slavs, Portuguese, Japanese, and a few colonies of GermanSwiss and Belgians were investigated. With a few exceptions, every important rural settlement in the States east of the Mississippi River was taken into consideration.
The statistical part of the report of the Federal Commission is based upon original information secured from 875 households representing 5,017 persons. Of the total number of persons about one-fifth had been in this country less than five years and two-fifths less than ten years. Practically all of the Japanese farmers had been in the United States under ten years. About one-half of the Hebrews, North Italians, Lithuanians and Polish farmers had been in this country less than a decade.
Slightly more than four-fifths of all the persons studied who were twenty years of age or over were
*This report consists of two volumes of about 1,000 pages each. It was prepared under the direction of Dr. A. E. Cance, of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, and is entitled "Immigrants in Agriculture."
married, the only race showing a smaller proportion of married persons being the Japanese, of whom 60 per cent. were single.
Of the immigrant farmers who were qualified by age and residence to become citizens, only 51 per cent. were fully naturalized, and 17 per cent. had signified their intention of becoming citizens by taking out first papers of naturalization.
About 85 per cent. of the immigrant men and women studied had been farmers or farm laborers in their native countries, and consequently had some training and experience for the occupation in which they were engaged in the United States.
Of the total number of farmers of foreign birth, 78 per cent. could not speak English. Increased ability to speak English, however, as length of residence in the United States increased, was clearly indicated. Sixty-four per cent. of the farmers who had been here under five years, 77 per cent. of those with a residence of from five to nine years, and 82 per cent. of those who had been in the United States ten years or over, were able to speak English.
About one-fourth of the immigrant farmers and their households were illiterate or not able to read in any language. A considerably greater proportion, or 77 per cent., of the males, as contrasted with 64 per cent. of the females in immigrant farm households, could both read and write. Of the children six and under sixteen years of age in the families visited, 20 per cent. stayed at home, 78 per cent. attended school, and 2 per cent. worked outside the home. The Hebrew families had the highest percentage of children at school and the North Italian the lowest.
Immigrant Agricultural Colonies
THE NORTH AND SOUTH ITALIANS
As regards the several races engaged in farming, the Italian is probably the most important, colonies of this race being located in both the Northern and Southern States. In the latter section, Italian immigration to rural districts has taken place during the past twenty years. In Texas, at Bryan, in Brazos County, is located the largest Italian agricultural colony in the South, numbering at least 1,700 persons. Its origin dates back to 1868. Another well-known Italian colony is at Sunnyside, Arkansas, in the "Black Belt," from which several smaller farm colonies in the Mississippi Delta and elsewhere can trace their origin.
Italian farming in the South covers a wide range of products, diversified soils and climatic conditions, several forms of land tenure, and various systems of culture. The North Italians among the mountains of western North Carolina practise a self-sufficing, diversified agriculture. In southeastern Louisiana and in the southern part of Alabama the South Italian truckers and small fruit growers are doing exceptionally well on the light sandy soils and they succeed in marketing their products in a satisfactory manner. In the Mississippi Delta, both North and South Italian cotton tenants are showing the cotton growers of how much value careful cultivation, kitchen gardens and small store accounts may be to the cotton "share hand" and tenant. In the Ozarks, Italians from the Sunnyside group have taken up new land, planted orchards and become successful apple and peach growers. At Sunnyside, Arkansas, all rent land and remain tenants
indefinitely. At Knobview and Tonittown, in the same State, it is the intention of every man to become a landowner and an independent farmer. The Italian farmer has been very much influenced by his environment. His farming has been directed and his agricultural methods and form of land tenure have been taught him by his neighbors.
About one-half of the Italian farmers in the South came directly from Italy to Southern rural districts and were first employed as farm laborers or lumbermen, or were tenant farmers. Comparatively few were engaged in industrial pursuits or as laborers before becoming farmers.
The large percentage of Sicilians or South Italians in the South is notable. Probably more than 80 per cent. of the rural Italians in Louisiana are Sicilians. The nearly two thousand Italians at Bryan, Texas, are Sicilians, and several other settlements are peopled by immigrants from Southern Italy. This fact may account in part for the greater percentage of Italian agricultural laborers in the South, and for the slower rate of Americanization in certain districts.
Italian immigration to the South has been in part stimulated by the cotton and sugar-cane planters, who, dissatisfied with negro labor, alarmed at the increasing scarcity of every sort of farm labor, and desirous of settling acceptable farmers on the immense tracts of unimproved land, have for years been striving to turn the tide of immigration southward. A number of colonies, notably in Texas and Louisiana, seem to have originated in the purchase of a few acres of land by some Italian farm laborer, who, arriving practically without money at a Southern port of entry, sought employment on a neighboring plantation.
It should be borne in mind that nearly all the Italians are small farmers. Altho they have engaged in diverse forms of agriculture, few have undertaken any agricultural enterprise that requires a large outlay of capital, either for permanent improvements or for tools, machinery, or live stock. There are no extensive rice growers, for example, and no sugar-cane planters. Truck crops, cotton and small fruits require little capital equipment and much hand labor. The necessary investment in land is small. An immigrant may become a cotton "cropper" with practically no capital. Where the climate is healthful the Italians have prospered. In many cases they have been able to surpass their neighbors because they exercise extreme thrift and indefatigable industry. They have been imitators, rather than originators, of agricultural methods. Very few innovations, either in crops, method of culture, or improved machinery, can be credited to the race. They have developed a highly specialized agriculture at Independence, Louisiana, for example, where they are engaged in strawberry culture, but almost entirely along lines originated by the earlier American growers. This specialization by communities is a noticeable economic feature. Every family in the community raises the same commercial crop, and instead of competition this situation results in cooperation.
The Italian so far has had little effect in displacing the negro farmer or tenant. On account of their efficiency, the Italians are assured of as much land as they may wish to cultivate, but their demands have not assumed sufficient proportions to force out the negro. The Italian farm laborer seems to be held in higher esteem in the sugar-producing area of Louisiana than in any other section. As regards the future of