As opposition to immigration grew in the early twentieth century, Congress established a joint House-Senate commission to study the issue in 1907. Led by Vermont Senator William P. Dillingham, the so-called Dillingham Commission produced a voluminous 41-volume study which concluded that southern and eastern European immigrants constituted a threat to the nation’s well being. It thus became an important foundation for the immigration restriction acts passed during and after World War I. Despite its nativist bent, many parts of the report provide invaluable data and observations on immigrant life. The selection below surveys the major immigrant neighborhoods of Boston, providing a fine-grained look at the demographic, economic, and social characteristics of these communities at the height of the second wave migration.
From: US Immigration Commission, Reports of the Immigration Commission, Vol. 26: Immigrants in Cities, Part 5: Boston, 1911.