Migration: Past


Migration: Past


Human settlement of Vermont began with Native American tribes who were displaced by first the French colonists and then by other mostly western European immigrants who came to escape oppression of different sorts (poverty, starvation, religious persecution) and also simply in search of economic opportunity. Through the late 1800s, federal policy allowed for a fairly diverse mix of European immigrants, although certain ethnicities were definitely favored. In the early 1920s, both policy and economic factors stemmed the flow of immigration.

The first humans believed to arrive in what we now know as Vermont were the Abenaki, “people of the dawn.” In the 16th century, the French became the first European immigrants to what the Abenaki called Ndakinna, “our land,” bringing a fort, trading outposts and missionary chapels.

The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ended large-scale French immigration and the English began to arrive, dubbed Yankee, English descendents born on American soil. They were flanked by Scots, Irish, Dutch, Germans and still some French. The largest early non-English group arriving in Vermont during this period was Scottish, settling largely in Caledonia county. There were also significant numbers of Dutch who came from the former Dutch colony of New York, many of whom settled in the Champlain Valley to farm. There were also a relatively high number of free blacks/African-Americans, particularly in Vergennes and Sheldon. The Abenaki population had been decimated by war and disease; those remaining settled mostly in Franklin country.

From 1776-1881, the US had an open door immigration policy, but preferred Western and Northern Europeans who they actively recruited. However, since life was relatively stable in Europe and it was expensive to relocate, there was not much movement. The 1840s brought a major change with the Irish potato famine and the Russian pogroms both resulting in major influxes of Irish and Russian Jews arriving in the US and in Vermont. By 1850, the Irish were the largest foreign-born group in Vermont. Industrialization in the 1880s and ‘90s with growth in slate, granite and woolen mills drew immigrants from Wales, Italy and Switzerland, among other countries. French-Canadians also came south due to Quebec’s weak economy.

Vermont actually recruited “desirable” northern Europeans (English, Finns, Swedes), but by the 1890s more immigrants were arriving from southern and eastern Europe – and were not always welcomed. Christian Greeks and Lebanese fled persecution and Russians and Poles of Jewish heritage did the same. The national Quota Acts of 1921 and 1924 along with the Great Depression effectively ended the kind of significant immigration that contributed to the historical make-up of Vermont’s population.

Collection Items

Section four: Many Languages, Many Cultures includes details on foodways of French-Canadians (p. 77), Italian (p. 88 & 91), Polish (p. 94 & 96-98), Armenian (102), Syrian (107-108), Lebanese (113).

From WPA project interviews/life stories of Barre residents describes widow making ravioli for catering, and meal she will serve to "Americans" from Montpelier.

Personal history of farming family with Finnish roots - good details on food pages 4-5, 7-8: how fed large family in Proctor VT with garden, foraging, milking/butter, home-brewed Kallia (molasses, hops, water) on page 7

Excerpts from interviews with Vermonters of various ethnic backgrounds with details on foodways and recipes: Abenaki/Indian, African-American, Cambodian/Vietnamese, Finnish/Swedish, French-Canadian, German/Austrian, Greek (incl info on Greek-owned…

Barre Ethnic Heritage Assoc. 1999 - with chronology of arrival of different groups from 1788 Yankees to 1845 Irish to 1903 Lebanese to 1916 Finns to 1950 Italians. Recipes from red borsch to tiramisu to Danish meat patties to grape-nut pudding.…

Syrian food with descendents of Winooski mill workers

Meat-cutting traditions and small butchers with French-Canadian and Italian heritage; includes Tourtiere recipe

Farmers in Addison country share Dutch cookies and their Dutch heritage.

Heritage of Jewish Sabbath in the Old North End: a little in main piece, sidebar on old north end Jewish bakeries. Sidebar, "Cholent and Kugel: A Little History"

Includes food, recipes from Greece and memories of Easter in the old north end in the mid 1900s
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