To an extent greater than in most other states, Pennsylvania’s tradition of immigration in colonial times continued to influence its development for a long period thereafter. During the nineteenth century, the state’s iron and steel and coal industries attracted large numbers of immigrants from Europe. The twentieth century saw a slowing of immigration, and at the turn of the twenty-first century, the percentage of the state’s residents who were foreign born was much less than one-half the national average.
Fanciful late nineteenth century depiction of William Penn negotiating a land purchase with local Native American leaders.
In contrast to the Amish, most of Pennsylvania’s many other German immigrants entered the mainstream of society, as did the state’s
Immigration to Pennsylvania centered on the industrial area in the western part of the state, the anthracite region in the northeast, and the great city of Philadelphia in the southeast. As
Between the two great world wars of the twentieth century, immigration into Pennsylvania declined sharply. After World War II, and especially during the last decades of the century and the first decade of the next, the pattern of immigration into the state differed considerably from that of the rest of the United States. The 2000 U.S. Census found that only 5.1 percent of Pennsylvania residents were foreign born–much less than one-half the national average of 12.5 percent. Likewise, the percentage of state residents of Asian ancestry was only a little more than one-half the national average, and the portion of Hispanic residents was only 4.5 percent–less than one-third the national average of 15.7 percent. Immigrants from the former Soviet Union, India, and Vietnam were the most numerous among the state’s foreign born.
Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. Growing Up in Coal Country. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996. Social history of Pennsylvania’s coal industry from the late nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Discusses the role of immigrants in the social structure of coal camps and in early labor movements. Bell, Thomas. Out of This Furnace: A Novel of Immigrant Labor. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976. Originally published in 1941, this historical novel is set in the steel mills and communities of Braddock, Pennsylvania, drawing on three generations of the author’s own Slovak family history. Miller, Randall M., and William Pencak. Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002. Authoritative general history of the state. Nolt, Steven M., and Thomas J. Meyers. Plain Diversity: Amish Cultures and Identities. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007. Scholarly study of the unique culture and traditions of the Amish, who settled primarily in Pennsylvania. Parsons, William T. The Pennsylvania Dutch: A Persistent Minority. Boston: Twayne, 1976. Survey of the history of German immigrants in Pennsylvania. Salinger, Sharon V. “To Serve Well and Faithfully”: Labor and Indentured Servants in Pennsylvania, 1682-1800. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Study of labor through Pennsylvania’s colonial era, with special attention to the indentured servant system through which many immigrants came to America.
Iron and steel industry
Philadelphia anti-Irish riots
Religions of immigrants