Re-categorizing Americans: Difference, Distinction, and Belonging in the Dillingham Commission (1907-1911)
This dissertation analyzes how the American understanding of race was transformed through immigration in the early twentieth century by engaging archival materials concerning the Dillingham Commission Report (DCR). Amassing unprecedented amount of statistical data on immigrants from Europe and Asia, DCR effectively functioned as a laboratory of ideas about race and national identity by developing a two-tiered classification scheme of immigrants: whereas non-whites were categorically different and excluded from the nation, the differences among Europeans were gradual, and thus could be overcome through assimilation. This conceptual triad of race, ethnicity, and assimilation was then implemented into practice through the national quota act of 1924. Bringing insights from the sociology of knowledge to immigration studies, this dissertation traces the origin of the two-tiered system of race and ethnicity we see today.