Located by the Mississippi River on the threshold of the western frontier, Missouri has had a somewhat different immigrant experience from those of neighboring midwestern states. Nevertheless, like many other states, it attracted significant numbers of European immigrants during the nineteenth century, and it has had similar experiences with illegal immigration since the late twentieth century.
Most early settlers in Missouri were Americans of English origin who entered the territory from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. These groups spread into the river valleys into the central part of Missouri during the 1820’s and into western Missouri during the 1830’s. Meanwhile, the Mississippi River port of
Substantial overseas immigration began during the 1830’s with the arrival of
The basis of Missouri’s economy gradually shifted from agriculture to industry through the early twentieth century. Between 1900 and 1970, the state’s rural population dropped from 70 to less than 30 percent of the state total. However, Missouri differed from other midwestern states whose metropolitan centers grew significantly through that period. In fact, its major cities shrank.
By the turn of the twenty-first century, Missouri’s immigrant heritage was reflected in large numbers of people of German, Irish, English, and French descent. During the 1990’s, they were joined by approximately 40,000 to 60,000 immigrants from war-torn
Missouri was also
Aron, Stephen. American Confluence: The Missouri Frontier from Borderland to Border State. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006. Blouet, Brian W., and Frederick C. Luebke. The Great Plains: Environment and Culture. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979. Foley, William E. A History of Missouri. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000. Gjerde, Jon. The Minds of the West: The Ethnocultural Evolution of the Rural Middle West, 1830-1917. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979. Kamphoefner, Walter D. The Westfalians: From Germany to Missouri. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987. Thelen, David. Paths of Resistance: Tradition and Dignity in Industrializing Missouri. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1991.