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Immigrants in the Valley

Immigrants in the Valley

Irish, Germans, and Americans in the Upper Mississippi Country, 1830-1860

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Mark Wyman


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
38 illustrations


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About the Book

Thousands of newcomers flocked into the Upper Mississippi country in the decades leading up to the Civil War. Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota received immigrants from most areas of Europe, as well as Americans from the Upper South, New England, and the Middle Atlantic states. They all carried with them religious beliefs, experiences, and expectations that differed widely, attitudes and opinions which often threw them into conflict with each other. Drawing extensively on family letters sent home to Europe, missionary reports, employment records, and other diverse materials from 1830 to 1860, Wyman shows the interplay between the major groups traveling the roads and waterways of the Upper Mississippi Valley during those crucial decades. The result is a lively, richly illustrated account that will help Americans everywhere better understand their diverse heritage and the environment in which their family trees took root. A new preface to this paperback edition helps to bring the scholarship up to date.


Mark Wyman is a professor emeritus of history at Illinois State University. He is the author of six books on labor, frontier, and immigration history.


Immigrants in the Valley is a first-rate work of synthesis. . . . One of the strengths of the book throughout is its sensitivity to the interaction of groups, a comparative dimension too often lacking in case studies. Besides distilling a large secondary literature, Wyman has done a good deal of primary research, particularly in newspapers. . . . The author’s journalistic background shows through in his lively, sometimes lyrical prose, spiced by frequent observations from contemporaries. The nearly forty photographs and other illustrations increase the attractiveness for the general reader to whom it is addressed."Journal of American History
Immigrants in the Valley is an easily readable account with numerous short quotes from early letters and other sources which provide interesting perceptions and insights into different situations. . . . The book provides an excellent story of how immigrants interacted in a fairly large region, rather than just in one city as in many other studies. This regional study should be on the shelves of both general public and research libraries.”Journal of American Culture
“Mark Wyman has painted a vivid picture of settlement in the Upper Mississippi Valley. He traces the origins, settlement patterns, and economic and cultural activities of migrants from Ireland, the German states, New England, and the South.”Illinois Historical Journal
“This is a traditional account, told with clarity, the eye for human detail, and the fast pace of a newsman.”Irish Historical Studies