My Proposal ;-)
To assess the role of libraries during the Americanization Movement, we must address the following questions: How did libraries across the U. S. enact assimilation programs? How and what did libraries communicate with one another, the American Library Association, and the U. S. government? And perhaps most importantly, when libraries asserted this role as educators of immigrants, where did communities meet? Where were “contact zones” located, and how did these communities (immigrants, libraries, government) “grapple with each other” (Pratt 1991).
Using Brandt’s approach of identifying and analyzing “sponsors of literacy” (1998), this paper analyzes the ways in which essays in professional library journals such as Library Journal created community among librarians engaged in Americanization projects. In particular, I focus on essays written by practicing librarians which describe Americanization programs, explain the ways in which these programs might be replicated elsewhere, and encourage their fellow librarians to ‘take up’ with this national project. In addition, I analyze statements addressed to librarians from the U. S. Committee on Public Information (established by executive order in April of 1917 with the intention of selling the war to the American public) and documents published and distributed by the American Library Association’s Library War Council. Through these materials, I examine the ways in which libraries operated as hegemonic tools to assimilate new immigrants using literacy programs, and the resistance to and acceptance of such programs as described in these publications.