This project is older than my kids. A central line of inquiry in my work is national belonging, especially how states define and teach it. I'm a Europeanist, but I knew the US case from personal experience. And since European elites were learning from the US, so should I... 2/7
This paper examines how one civic org--the Daughters of the American Revolution--defined citizenship for new immigrants, distributed thru ctzp manuals over a 70 year period. There are 30+ unique versions in this corpus, enabling an inductive search for continuity and change. 3/7
Here is the part where I thank the indispensable help of @devinfinn . I had a newborn in Cali, unable to travel to DAR archives in DC, but Devin scanned documents, took photos, and sent updates. I am so grateful (and sorry the acknowledgements do not appear in the pdf)... 4/7
What did I find? Using topic modeling (thank you to @justingrimmer), we see lots of variation in manual themes over time. This confirms a large body of work that identifies periodization in American identity. 5/ 7
IOW Being a good citizen in the 20s and 30s meant being an educated, compliant addition to the labor market. In the 1950s? It meant you weren't a communist. In the 1990s, you were civically responsible. Check out the paper for more! 6/7
Given all this evidence that what it means to be a "Good American" changes over time, we should look critically at the naturalization process today & what it says about who "we" are, whether we ask more of immigrants than citizens, and what that gap looks like. 7/7
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