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Interpreting the Evidence

Americanization Day

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Community
    World War I

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Pamphlet for Americanization Day, 1917 in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Pamphlet for Americanization Day, 1917 in Main Image Viewer
  3. Load Pamphlet for Americanization Day, 1917 in Main Image Viewer
  4. Load Pamphlet for Americanization Day, 1917 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A pamphlet from the National Americanization Committee of New York City suggesting a program for Americanization Day, 1917.

Historical Context
Americanization Day was started in 1915 in a public effort to promote unity and American patriotism. The growing number of immigrants generated concerns for lack of unity and loyalty among these “new” Americans. Americanization Day took place on the Fourth of July and, therefore, coincided with patriotic celebrations in local communities.
During World War I, the national fear of foreigners increased across the United States resulting in xenophobia. Americanization Day became a national effort to make everyone in the United States “American.” If an individual did not attend the celebration, neighbors became suspicious of that person’s loyalty to the United States. 
Local committees were created in towns and cities across the country for the purpose of organizing Americanization Day activities, parades, and lectures. In addition to the actual celebration, educational programs for new citizens were also developed by these committees. The members of these committees worked to ensure the full participation of all naturalized citizens in American culture and festivities.

Essential Question
How is patriotism created and used during times of war?

Check for Understanding
Students write an essay in which they evaluate the purpose and impact of an Americanization day on both citizens and visiting immigrants to this country.

Historical Challenges
Research how immigrants and American Indians reacted to the Americanization Day celebrations. Did these groups willingly join the celebration or did they protest the idea?

Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Art: Write a letter to your local congressman explaining why you think the renewal of Americanization Day would be a good idea or a bad idea? Be sure to explain your opinion.