How Immigrants Viewed American Citizenship circa 1939

Recently while cleaning out the basement of our house, I came across a letter of commendation written on January 12, 1939 from the Principal of Seward Park High School at 350 Grand Street, New York, New York.  On the 6" x 8" stationery, Principal Robert B. Brodie had written the following: Dear Mrs. Cohen, This letter of commendation is sent to you because of the excellent rating in citizenship received by your daughter this term. We congratulate you and trust that Ida's record in the future will continue to merit commendation. A commendation about citizenship!  What a novel idea.  The recipient of this award was none other than my mom, who was born in America to an immigrant who fled from the pogroms of Russia.  Staring at this yellowed paper, I realized that I had just gone 180 degrees back in time to a different set of societal expectations.  As an immigrant who could barely speak English, my grandmother implicitly knew that citizenship training was...(Read Full Article)

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