Americanization: Hartford, CT

One of my current research projects is the early 20th century Americanization movement.  One of my period sources claims (in 1919) that the movement started in 1914, but I recently discovered this article from the February 23, 1903 Hartford Courant:


Everybody who is interested in the future of Hartford will be interested in the paper printed elsewhere on the subject of the Americanization of the young immigrants on the East Side of the city.  It is by Miss Alida B. Clark, one of the tactful and patient workers in the Brown School who are quietly doing so much for the progress of the community.  We will not attempt to condense the paper, or outline its contents.  It is something that must be read in the whole.  It is certainly appalling to realize how entirely native America has disappeared over that way, but it is immensely encouraging to read from one who knows how eager the newcomers are to become Americans and what hunger for education they have.  Incidentally the mere narrative cannot fail, all unintended by its writer, to suggest the magnitude of the work that is being done by earnest and courageous women, of whom ordinarily so little is heard but upon whose efforts so much depends.

Alida B. Clark (I can only be delighted that she has such an unusual first name) appears in certain Hartford City Directories from 1896 to 1903, according to Google Books.  Nothing else useful turns up in Google, not surprisingly – it’s always more surprising when something useful does turn up in Google.

Next searches:  the Hartford Collection at the Hartford Public Library; the Connecticut State Library; the Connecticut Historical Society.   Absolutely nothing.  The next step, then, will be to contact the librarians and archivists at these locations and probably make a personal visit.  My money is actually on the Hartford Collection, as I believe they have quite a few items that aren’t in their online catalog.   Probably next summer, when I’ll have more time to spare for this side project.

And this, my friends, is why it will never be the case that “everything is on the Internet.”  A lot of things are (starting, in this case, with the indexed online database of the Hartford Courant), but if I ever find this report/pamphlet authored by Alida B. Clark, it will exist only in hard copy and probably stay that way (unless I find it and start re-publishing it here!) .

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