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The ability to speak English of foreign-born employees of nonEnglish-speaking races is shown in the following table:
Table 716.—Per cent of foreign-born male employees who speak English, by race.
(STUDY OF EMPLOYEES.)
[This table includes only non-English-speaking races with 40 or more males reporting. The total, however, is for all non-English-speaking races.]
Of the 955 foreign-born male employees in this locality included in the above table, 34.8 per cent speak English. Among the foreignborn races the representatives of which speak English, the Swedes alone report 100 per cent. As regards the others, North Italians report a slightly larger proportion than the South Italians, Greeks, or Bulgarians, the last named reporting only 16.1 per cent.
The relative tendency of the younger as compared with the older immigrants to acquire the uso of the English language is considered in the following table, which shows, by age at time of coming to the United States and race of individual, the per cent of foreign-born persons 6 years of age or over who speak English.
TABLE 717.-Per cent of foreign-born persons 6 years of age or over who speak English, by age at time of coming to the United States and race of individual.
(STUDY OF HOUSEHOLDS.)
[This table includes only non-English-speaking races with 40 or more persons reporting. The total, however, is for all non-English-speaking races.]
It appears from the data presented in the preceding table that of the foreign-born persons for whom information was secured, 67.3 per cent who came to the United States when under 14 years of age can now speak English, as compared with only 17.1 per cent of those who came here when 14 or over. Of the foreign-born who came to this country when under 14, the Slovaks, North Italians, and French, in the order mentioned, have the largest proportions of individuals who can speak English. The proportion of individuals able to speak English, who came here when 14 or over, is largest for the French, North Italians, and Slovaks, in the order mentioned, and smallest for the Greeks and Bulgarians. It will be noted that a very much larger proportion of persons who came to the United States when under 14 than of those who came here when 14 or over can speak English at present, this relation being true of the several races, so far as the percentages have been computed.
Advancement in the use of the English language by non-Englishspeaking races after designated periods of residence in this country is indicated by the following table, which shows, by years in the United States and race of individual, the per cent of foreign-born persons 6 years of age or over who speak English.
TABLE 718.-Per cent of foreign-born persons 6 years of age or over who speak English, by years in the United States and race of individual.
(STUDY OF HOUSEHOLDS.)
[By years in the United States is meant years since first arrival in the United States. This table includes only non-English-speaking races with 40 or more persons reporting. The total, however, is for all nonEnglish-speaking races.]
From the totals of the preceding table it is seen that a larger proportion of those who have been in the United States ten years or over than of those with a period of residence of from five to nine years, and a larger proportion of those with a period of residence of from five to nine than of under five years, speak English. This is true also of each race except the North Italian and Polish, these races showing larger proportions with ability to speak English among those who have been in the United States from five to nine years than among those with a period of residence of ten years or over.
The following table shows, by age at time of coming to the United States and by race of individual, the percentage of foreign-born employees who are able to speak English.
TABLE 719.-Per cent of foreign-born male employees who speak English, by age at time of coming to the United States and race.
(STUDY OF EMPLOYEES.)
[This table includes only non-English-speaking races with 100 or more males reporting. The total, however, is for all non-English-speaking races.]
The above table shows that of 955 foreign-born male employees for whom information was obtained, 34.8 per cent speak English. Of those under 14 at time of arrival, 83.3 per cent now speak English, as compared with 33.2 per cent of those 14 years of age or over at time of arrival. Of the South Italians, 50 per cent of those who were under 14 at time of coming now speak English, as compared with 24.5 per cent of those who were 14 years of age or over; while the Greeks, none of whom were under 14 years of age at time of coming, report a slightly smaller proportion of those who were 14 years of age or over at time of arrival and who now speak English than do the South Italians.
The table next submitted shows, by years in the United States and by race, the percentage of foreign-born male employees who are able to speak English.
TABLE 720.—Per cent of foreign-born male employees who speak English, by years in the United States and race.
(STUDY OF EMPLOYEES.)
[By years in the United States is meant years since first arrival in the United States. This table includes only non-English-speaking races with 100 or more males reporting. The total, however, is for all nonEnglish-speaking races.]
The proportion of the foreign-born males who speak English increases rapidly with years in the United States. Of those in this country under five years, 22.7 per cent speak English, while the per cents reported by those here five to nine years and ten years or more are 64 and 82.1, respectively. The proportion of Greeks and South Italians who speak English is relatively small at every period of residence for which data are given. It should be noted also that a smaller proportion of South Italians who have been here ten years or over speak English than of those who have been in this country from five to nine years.
Immigrant children in all parts of the Birmingham district attend the native white schools, with the exception of the Brookside Slovak settlement, where that race maintains a parochial school. This school is Greek Catholic in denomination, is operated nine months in the year and five days in the week, and is maintained by members of that denomination among the Slovaks. Its course of study conforms practically in every detail to that of the public school curriculum, with the addition of a certain period of time devoted to religious instruction. As stated in other sections of this report, the native public schools are maintained partly by the state and local governments and partly by employees through the companies. This, of course, does not apply to the larger towns and to the city, but only to the isolated communities surrounding mining plants. School facilities are thus afforded partly at the expense of the employee, whether he patronizes the schools or not. The result is that immigrant children are sent to school with a considerable degree of regularity, in that no additional cost, or less cost, is involved.
With the exception of the Jewish synagogues among the Russian and other Hebrews in Birmingham proper, there are only two immigrant churches in the district. One of these is an Italian Roman Catholic church at Ensley, and the other is a Greek Catholic church among the Slovaks at Brookside. No work is done among the immigrants by the religious organizations of the natives, nor do the immigrants attend native churches to any extent, with the exception of the Scotch, English, Irish, and Welsh, who usually join their own denomination after settling in any locality.
In every community, however, regardless of its isolation, churches are either afforded by the companies, except, of course, in the city of Birmingham, and Bessemer, Ensley, and Pratt City, where the churches are supported by their own members. The affording of church services to the employees is discussed in greater detail in another section of this report.
IMMIGRANTS IN BUSINESS AND STREET TRADES.
The fact that there are very few immigrant settlements in the Birmingham district which have existed for any considerable length of time is the chief reason for the smallness of the extent to which immigrants have engaged in business.
An exception to this statement must be made in the case of Greeks, Russian Hebrews, and Italians. In the city of Birmingham and the surrounding towns, notably Ensley and Bessemer, the Greeks have almost an absolute monopoly of the restaurants, fruit stands, and peanut, candy, and popcorn carts, and similar trades. In Birmingham alone, as stated elsewhere in these notes, there are about 800 Greeks. Very few of these engage in occupations in the coal, iron, or steel industries, and these few only when forced by circumstances. On the other hand, almost every prominent corner of the city streets is marked by a small fruit stand, and between fifteen and twenty small restaurants are operated, in addition to the numerous candy carts. The Russian Hebrews are engaged almost altogether in operating clothing stores, some of the largest establishments being owned by individuals of the first generation of this race. Italians, chiefly from the north of Italy, operate small groceries, shoe-repair shops, and the like.
In the foreign settlements near the steel plants and in the collieries immigrants do not exhibit much business tendency, for the reason that they depend largely for customers upon negroes, who patronize chiefly the company commissaries. In the largest foreign settlement at Ensley there are the following establishments, by races:
Greeks: Three restaurants, 8 fruit stands, 1 grocery. Italians: One wholesale grocery (formerly an Italian saloon), 1 barber shop, 1 meat shop, 8 groceries, 1 restaurant, 1 newspaper (weekly), 1 shoe-repair shop. Bulgarians: One restaurant.
At Brookside, where there is the largest Slovak settlement in the district, or in fact in Alabama, there are 3 Slovak groceries and 1 Slovak soft-drink establishment. At Bessemer there is a very small settlement of Italians, and 2 groceries are operated, but are patronized largely by negroes. The same is true, as has been stated, of all of the other towns in the district, i. e., the tendency on the part of Italians to operate small grocery stores for negro patronage, and on the part of Greeks to operate fruit stands, restaurants, etc.
No immigrants are engaged in the professions, if we except an occasional Scotch, Welsh, or English minister, doctor, or civil engineer. With the exception of these, and of the Russian Hebrews and a few of the well-established Greeks, the immigrants have not entered into the business life of the localities in the district to an appreciable extent. They are not identified with natives in any way in aims, methods, or in association.
It is interesting to note, as throwing light on the nature of association of immigrants with natives, that while Italian stores and shops are patronized largely by negroes, the Greek restaurants, and to a less extent their stands, are patronized altogether by native whites. This is noticeable not only in the industrial towns, but also in Birmingham proper.