During my history seminar I researched the anti-Italian sentiments presented in Willimantic textbooks. I also presented my topic at the Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition (ASRCE) held in April 2012.
Topic: “A constant menace to our free institutions”: Representation of Italians in the Willimantic textbooks from 1918 to 1920
Thesis: Textbooks used in Willimantic public schools during the years 1918 to 1920, presented anti-Italian sentiments, as well as American culture which conflicted with the Italian immigrant ideals. The Italians were presented as clannish, unlawful, wage lowering anarchists, who came from a backward nation. The combination of anti-immigration attitudes and pro-American sentiments influenced textbook writers and the textbook choices made by the school districts. The textbooks content became a natural reflection of attitudes held by Americans and the textbooks goal was to transmit these ideas to immigrant students in an attempt to separate the children from their ethnic heritage and assimilate them into American culture.