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TABLE 32.--Enrollment and attendance, public schools, Hammonton, N. J., 1908-9.
Data were not available to show the number of Italian children enrolled in the schools in the year 1908-9, but Mrs. Mead, in the article previously quoted,a shows this for the year 1906–7 as follows:
There are six schools that show an attendance of Italians aggregating 75 per cent or more of the total enrollment. These are the country schools, two of which were attended only by Italian pupils. Few Italians are in the high school, but the number is increasing very slowly. A very few pupils go to business or professional schools outside of Hammonton, but not many get beyond the elementary grades.
The lower percentages of attendance in the country schools are significant. It is hard to enforce a truant law where the father relies on his children to help him in his berry fields or the little girls must keep the house and care for the babies while the mother is at work.
Some of the Italian children walk a long distance to attend the central village school. They prefer to go there and
They prefer to go there and complain that the Italian school children in the outlying schools are rough and rowdyish and that there is less opportunity for advancement in their studies. In the schools as a whole, more than one-half (52 per cent) of the children are of Italian parentage.
a Bulletin No. 70, United States Bureau of Labor.
Just how many Hammonton Italians have received their second papers could not be learned with accuracy. At a recent election in which the issue brought out almost the entire Italian vote, 246 Italian ballots were cast. The total voting list of the town is somewhat under 1,000. In the 1908 election the total vote was 920 and of these it is stated that nearly 27 per cent were cast by Americanborn and naturalized Italians. Just what proportion were cast by each of these groups can not be stated. Fewer of the Italians at Hammonton have taken out naturalization papers than of the North Italians at Vineland.
The Italians take interest in local matters—expenses for village improvements, saloon licenses, and the like-and occasionally raise their voices at the town meeting-which is conducted on the old New England plan. The town officers are men of a high order of intelligence and integrity and so far as could be learned have not attempted to hold their offices by venality or corrupt favoritism. Little vote buying or selling was reported. The Italian votes according to his personal regard for the candidate. Several Italians have helå office. At present there are no Italian councilmen, but the assessor, a justice of the peace, two constables, and a clerk of election are Italians. Recently by a narrow margin they failed to elect an Italian freeholder. They make very good officers, interpret the law strictly, and in general vote on local issues. They take little interest in state or national elections. Perhaps the political status of the Italians is less favorable and less significant in proportion to their numbers than either their social or their economic status, but it will be but a matter of time until the Italian Americans recognize their political power and privileges and become an active factor in civic affairs.
In almost every respect the outlook for the second generation is good. There are practically no illiterates over 10 years of age, and
, many young people of both sexes are exceptionally bright and intelligent. The movement to the cities is not marked, and it is significant that several young men are successfully operating farms of their own. Many other have engaged in small business and commercial ventures in the village. No unprejudiced observer can mingle with them for many days without being convinced that in this instance at least the South Italians are proving themselves desirable American citizens; and after comparing them in intelligence, progressiveness, and standard of living with the South Italian berry pickers from the cities whom they employ can not but conclude that there is some virtue in rural life and ownership of land that makes for the prosperity and ultimate well being of this race—at least of those who have made homes in the vicinity of Hammonton.
STATISTICAL DATA FOR SELECTED FAMILIES.
The table following presents detailed information relative to 12 typical South Italian families selected from among those studied by the Commission at Hammonton.
Wages per week.....
monthly balance in balance in ance OD install 16 years,
5 years, 6 credit.
ments, $10 6 per cent. per cent. each, 6 per
cent. Untillable... Untillable... 8 acres un- Untillable... Tillable.....
thlable. On father's Farm laborer Farm laborer Farm laborer Farm laborer
made from the land.