Urban Politics with Ethnic Characteristics: Ethnicity, Organizations, and Political Institutions in West Coast Cities, 1880-1910

Simon Y Shachter, University of Chicago

How did ethnic and immigrant organizations play a role in building the political power of their communities during the early formation of West Coast cities in the U.S.? The U.S. political institutions of the West Coast were built, from the beginning, by a diverse group of residents that included people who were foreign-born, non-English speaking, Jewish, Catholic, and even some people of color. In this paper I map out the organizational means by which these ethnic and transnational community built power and inserted themselves into the political mainstream. Using city directories, census data, and archival data, I compare across ethnic groups, cities (Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles), and over time (20 years in each city), to understand how and with what effect ethnic organizations built the urban political institutions of the West Coast.

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 Presented in Session 200. The Politics of Race, Sex, and Ethnicity