Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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October 11, 1869

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According to the 1870 federal census, the foreign-born population of Chicago was distributed as follows:

Germany 59,299   Italy 552
Ireland 39,988   Belgium 392
England 10,027   Switzerland 226
Wales 565   Poland 1,205
Scotland 4,197   Russia 118
Norway 6,374   British America 9,648
Sweden 6,154   Miscellaneous 511
Denmark 1,243      
Holland 1,640      
France 1,418   TOTAL 144,557

Foreign-born immigrants represented 48.35 percent of the overall population. Italians represented 0.18 percent of the overall population and 0.38 percent of the foreign-born population. A weekly Italian language newspaper, L'Unione Italiano was begun on August 6, 1867, and it was succeeded by Il Messaggiere Italiano dell'Ouest on November 21, 1868. Most Italian-born immigrants worked in trades or manufacturing industries with a few working as professionals or domestics.

The full council accepted the invitation.

Points to Consider

What kind of ethnic celebration was being held and which kinds of food likely would have been available? Would they have been consciously "ethnic" then, or trying to pass as "Americans?"

Why were these Italians seeking recognition?

Why would councilmen choose to attend or not attend?

What was the percentage of Italian-born immigrants in Chicago at this time?

See Related Document:

8, 17, 23, 26, and 49

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