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History of immigration-Racial composition of working force in 1900-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 10 to 17 and General Tables 4 and 5].


As illustrative of the racial movements to the industry, the history of immigration to two representative furniture manufacturing localities in the Middle West-Grand Rapids, Mich., and Rockford, Ill.— may be briefly given.


Grand Rapids, Mich., has a national reputation as a furnituremanufacturing center. The names of its shops are known in every part of the United States, but to a very small number of the thousands of persons who regard the city as a center of the furniture industry is it known that more than 85 per cent of the employees in its shops are aliens. The specimens of the wood-carver's art which are offered for sale in the stores of the larger cities of the United States and the plain kitchen chairs found in the homes of the laboring classes are both the production of the furniture plants of Grand Rapids. Dutch, German, Swedish, Polish, and Lithuanian immigrants have developed these shops and have given the city its present industrial recognition.

From an industrial standpoint Grand Rapids is essentially a furniture-manufacturing community, but its activities are not limited to this one industry. There are several large machine and foundry shops, wagon and carriage shops, brickyards, flour mills, and a number of smaller miscellaneous establishments that offer employment to the immigrant residents of the city. The United States census of 1900 states that there were in the census year 824 industrial establishments in the city that gave employment to 14,361 wageearners. Thirty-four of these establishments were furniture plants, employing 6,236 wage-earners, just a little less than half of the total number of persons employed in the industrial shops of the city. In 1908 there were 49 furniture factories operating in the city, employing over 7,000 workmen, of which 85 per cent were immigrants.

All races found in the community have helped to build up the industries, and in the development of the furniture factories the Dutch (Hollanders), Germans, Poles, Swedes, and Lithuanians have been conspicuous. During the last few years the Poles have filled all vacancies occurring in the labor forces of the furniture manufacturing establishments.

Prior to 1840 the people settling in the territory now known as the State of Michigan were French, from the Canadian provinces; natives from the eastern part of the United States; Irish and Germans in small numbers; and a sprinkling of the other European races. These last were so few in number, however, as to almost escape notice. But about 1840 the people of Michigan suddenly realized that the surrounding States were receiving large numbers of immigrants, while they were securing hardly any. An attempt was made to discover the reasons for this condition, and one historian, in writing on the subject, said: "This was due partly to the influence of the boatmen on the lakes and partly, no doubt, to the very discouraging reports which had been made in previous years by government officials and others of the character of the soil and climate of Michigan." This agitation resulted in the establishment of several societies in different communities throughout the State for the promotion of immigration, and in 1842 the movement was organized in Grand Rapids at a public meeting. A number of persons wrote pamphlets setting forth the advantages which the State had to offer to immigrants, and distributed copies of them over the United States, sending some to Europe. In 1843 the newspapers of the State took up the effort and attacked the state government on the grounds that no attempt was being made to induce immigrants to come to Michigan, while the States of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa were being rapidly settled. In answer to the public clamor for some action, the governor of Michigan appointed an "immigration agent" in 1845, and the State appropriated $700 to encourage immigration. These efforts soon bore fruit, and in the year 1846 began what soon developed into a general immigration, which has continued during the past sixty years.

The city of Grand Rapids was first settled in the year 1825, when a mission station was established by a French priest acting under the Roman Catholic Church. In 1832 a number of pioneers from the Eastern States entered the community and built permanent homes. These early pioneers were followed in 1835 by a small group of Irish, who added a permanent colony to the new settlement. These Irish settlers were attracted to the locality chiefly by the opportunity to secure employment on a canal which was then being surveyed. Later, in 1841-2, when the canal was extended, the Irish colony was again enlarged. In 1840 several families of Germans from Westphalia entered the locality and established permanent homes. Eight years later these first German settlers were joined by several hundred more of their countrymen, and an important German colony was established.

As a result of the efforts on the part of the State to induce immigrants to settle in Michigan, a large number of Dutch (Hollanders) from the Netherlands arrived in 1846 and formed a large colony in Ottawa County. A few of these Dutch removed to Grand Rapids in the same year. During the years 1848-9 a large number of the same race who were leaving the Netherlands to escape military service and for religious reasons settled in Grand Rapids. Until the

a Baxter's History of Grand Rapids, Mich., p. 191.
b Everett, "Memorials of the Grand River Valley."

close of the year 1881 their immigration to the city showed an annual increase, but since that date the Dutch influx has gradually fallen off, until at the present time only a very few of the race are settling in the community. The year 1850 brought English, Scotch, Russions, Hebrews, and Canadians to the city. The Scotch came in large numbers, and to-day they are among the most representative citizens of Grand Rapids. The English who arrived at that date are now leaders both socially and industrially. Only a very few Russian Hebrews entered the community in 1850, and nearly all of them became identified with its mercantile life. The first of the Poles arrived in 1854, and after the civil war, until 1880, quite a number of them settled in the city. The early Polish settlers were farmers, although numbers of them secured employment in the factories and shops. In the year 1854, also, Bohemians came, but there have never been many members of that race in the city. From the close of the civil war to 1890 Belgians, Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, and Finns were added to the list of races in the community, and important additions were made to the foreign colonies which had been established in previous years. During this period the Dutch (Hollanders), Poles, and Irish immigrants were numerous. The Dutch now constitute about 31.8 per cent of the total population of the city. The Scandinavian immigrants, principally the Swedes, who have settled in Grand Rapids, have brought a skilled industrial training with them. They entered the different factories and shops, and to-day are regarded as among the best mechanics employed. The Dutch were in nearly every instance skilled workmen and men of education who were able to adapt themselves to American methods and institutions. What may be termed the recent immigration to Grand Rapids began in the year 1890, when the Lithuanians made their appearance. The Lithuanians were followed in 1900 by the Syrians, Russians, and a few South Italians. Of the older races in point of residence in the city the Poles have greatly increased in numbers since 1890. The Dutch can also be mentioned in this regard. The Lithuanians and Russians have entered the factories and are found to be very good workmen. The Syrians have entered the street trades chiefly, while the South Italians are found in the laboring occupations, such as general construction and repair work. The South Italians are regarded as the least desirable group of immigrants in the city.

The total population of Grand Rapids in 1909 was estimated at 110,000. Of this total only 39.1 per cent were Americans. The immigrants numbered 67,000, of which the Dutch (Hollanders) composed 52.2 per cent, and about 31.8 per cent of the total population of the city. The estimated population of the city in 1909, is set forth in the following statement by races, and nationalities. Opposite each race or nationality is set forth the date of the arrival of first representatives in the city.

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The population, like the industries of Grand Rapids, has increased rapidly during the past fifty years. In the year 1850, the federal census gave 2,686 as the total population of the city; and in the year 1860, 8,085, an increase of about 201 per cent, which was composed largely of Dutch (Hollanders), German, Irish, and Scotch immigrants. By the year 1870, the population had increased to 16,507, and in 1880, the United States census placed the population at 32,016, which showed that it had again doubled itself during the preceding decade. During the next ten years, 1880 to 1890, it was doubled, reaching 64,147 in the latter year. During the past twenty years the increase has been large; reaching 87,565 in the year 1900, and increasing during the last few years so rapidly as to give substantial grounds for a population estimate of 110,000 individuals in 1909. The rapid growth of the population, the industrial development, and the progress made by the city in all directions have been due to the capabilities of immigrants that have settled in the community. The fact that 60.9 per cent of the present population is composed of foreigners shows that immigration has played an important part in the development of the city. The foreign portion of the population, including all races except the Italians, is firmly established, as the majority of the immigrants entering the city come to build permanent homes. The Italians form the only exception in this regard. The colony of Italians in the city, which contains about 500 individuals, is composed of people from the Southern States of Italy. They have been brought into the community from time to time by construction corps of various kinds, and are found almost entirely in the laboring occupations.


Rockford, Ill., another representative furniture manufacturing center, has undergone during the past twenty years a very rapid industrial development. It has grown from an insignificant farming village to an important industrial center which commands a national

recognition through its furniture manufacturing interests. During this period from 1890 to 1910, the furniture industry has been placed on a secure basis and likewise the knitting, agricultural implement, foundry and machine, and other less important industries have been established, and actively developed, while the population has increased more than 100 per cent. The credit for advancing the city to its present importance is largely due to the Swedish immigrants who have settled in the community, and who now compose about 40 per cent of the total population. They have practically given the city its furniture industry, for they have supplied the labor, skill, and in most instances, the money for conducting the several plants.

In 1890 the population of Rockford was 23,584. In that year 246 industrial establishments were reported, employing together 5,223 wage-earners. Nine of these establishments were furniture plants, and three hosiery and knit-goods mills. Ten years later the federal census of 1900 stated that there were 450 industrial establishments in the city, giving employment to 6,620 wage-earners. Of this total number of wage-earners, furniture making gave employment to 1,377 persons. The furniture industry has developed since the civil war. Before that period there were only a few individuals in the community who were engaged in the making of furniture as cabinet makers and carpenters. The first of these early cabinetmakers came to the city as early as 1837, and opened a small shop in the same year. The first factory, or what developed into a factory after the civil war, was established as early as 1853 as a shop in which a few pieces of machinery were set up and driven by water power. From this date until 1865 there was but little progress made; but with the close of the war, and the arrival of a large number of Swedes, the industry began a development which during the past twenty years has placed Rockford among the leading furniture manufacturing centers in the United States. The years 1865-1869, 1872-1874, 1880 and 1890, stand out prominently in the history of the furniture industry of the city, as being seasons during which important changes and additions were made. In those years new plants were erected, changes were made in the labor forces, and important alterations were instituted in both the mechanical and business departments of the existing plants. Improved machinery was installed and in some establishments the cooperative system of management was effected. The cooperative system has been successful in a few of the plants which attempted it, but in others it has failed. About 85 per cent of the employees in the furniture factories in 1909 were Swedes. Not more than 5 per cent were native Americans. The remaining 10 per cent was composed of the different races found in the community such as the Dutch, Danes, Norwegians, Poles, Lithuanians, Canadians, and Italians.

Conditions connected with the Black Hawk Indian war of 1832 attracted a large number of pioneers to that part of Illinois in which Rockford is situated. After the worst of the fighting was over, groups of these early pioneers began to look for places to build permanent homes, and a small group erected cabins at a ford on the Rock River in the year 1834, establishing a settlement which has since developed into the city of Rockford. The families composing this first group of settlers in this locality were from the New England and Middle

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