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MIGRATION

Emigration from Belgium

RED STAR LINE

Millions of passengers travelled with Red Star Line from Antwer to New York, they told hundreds of stories to their (grand)children about their journey. With their whole life packed in a few suitcases, millions of people sailed from Europe to America after 1800. For many people, the trip to the New World began in a warehouse in Antwerp. Red Star Line ocean steamers paved the way to a new life for about two million men, women and children between 1873 and 1934.

SETTLEMENT PATTERNS

Nineteenth-century settlement patterns followed work opportunities. For example, the glass industry in the East attracted many to West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Detroit, Michigan, attracted building tradespeople. Door, Brown, and Kewaunee Counties in Wisconsin attracted those seeking farmland. Considerable numbers came to Indiana. Substantial pockets of Belgian Americans can also be found in Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, Washington, and Oregon. Many towns and cities across the United States bear the names of their counterparts in Belgium: Liege, Charleroi, Ghent, Antwerp, Namur, Rosiere, Brussels.

Michigan and Wisconsin have the largest population of Belgian Americans, with the above-named Wisconsin counties having the largest rural settlement in the United States. The Belgian American settlement in Detroit took place mainly between 1880 and 1910. Most of these new arrivals were skilled Flemish crafts people. Detroit’s early industrial and manufacturing growth was fueled in great part by their skills in the building trades and transportation.  Most of the Wisconsin Belgians were Walloons from the areas of Brabant and Liege, Belgium. They began arriving in substantial numbers by 1853, following the lure of farmland that could be purchased from 50 cents to $1.25 an acre. Here they cleared fields, felled trees, and built rude log shelters to house their families. Writing back home of their satisfaction with their new lives, they soon were joined by thousands of their fellow countrymen. Read more

America, land of immigration

From 1880, advances in technology facilitated immigration. Steam-powered ocean liners made travel cheaper and easier, thus increasing immigrant mobility. As the Industrial Revolution spread to Eastern Europe, farming improvements created surplus labor.

A flood of immigrants arrived. Southern Europeans such as Italians and Greeks, as well as Eastern Europeans speaking Slavic languages like Hungarians, Poles and Russians formed the bulk of the 25 million immigrants between 1880 and 1930.

The cities were the favored destinations of the immigrants. Immigrants flocked to factories where work was waiting for them in light (textile) and heavy industries (steel, coal, automobile). This influx of workers coincided with the emergence of the US as one of the world’s economic powerhouses. Read more

OCEAN LINERS

From 1880, advances in technology facilitated immigration. Steam-powered ocean liners made travel cheaper and easier, thus increasing immigrant mobility. As the Industrial Revolution spread to Eastern Europe, farming improvements created surplus labor.

In an era where long-distance air travel had not yet come of age, the transfer of continental emigrants on ocean liners was a lucrative business.

Competition was fierce between the Germans and British for this traffic.

ELLIS ISLAND

In 1892, to mark the Federal government’s control of immigration affairs (some States had previously taken matters into their own hands), Ellis Island in Upper New York Bay became the main entry point to the US for emigrants who had left their home countries. Over the the next 62 years, until its closure in 1954, Ellis Island processed some 12 million immigrants (according to the US Bureau of Immigration).Ellis Island has been turned into a wonderful museum of immigration.

The procedure for arriving immigrants was fairly straightforward. People were asked 29 questions including name, occupation, and the amount of money they carried. The simple explanation being that the government wanted to know if the immigrant was capable of supporting her/himself.

To Build A Home

Kelli O’Hara

‘In a way we are all kind of cousins’

-Brad Argent (AncestryDNA spokesperson)

 

Let’s Open Our World is an invitation to cross boundaries, embrace our differences and open our world. At momondo we believe that everybody should be able to travel the world, to meet other people, and experience other cultures and religions. Travel opens our minds: when we experience something different, we begin to see things differently.

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