Mary Antin: as American Immigration Right Activist

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      Mary Antin (1881-1949) Antin's The Promised Land (1912) is the most widely read account by a woman of the American immigrant experience. Born in the shtetl of Plotzk in Russian Poland, Antin accompanied her parents when they emigrated to Boston in 1884. She attended Girls' Latin School, and Columbia University, marrying a professor there. Her first book, From Plotzk to Boston (1899), a description of family life in the Jewish Pale and of immigration, was written in Yiddish when Antin was 11. She was welcomed in Brahmin Boston as a child prodigy, a queer, thin little thing.... overdressed for the occasion and with dreadfully frizzed hair'. Antin's is one of the very few accounts of immigration actually written by a child. Her principal work, The Promised Land, first serialized in the Atlantic Monthly retold her family's story, in greater detail, and celebrated America as offering salvation to her people. It was followed in 1914 by They Who Knock at Our Gates: A Complete Gospel of Immigration. After several years as a popular lecturer and advocate of patriotism and assimilation during World War I, she suffered a nervous breakdown, withdrew from the lecture circuit, and did not write again.

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