Drawing on her recent book, The New Bostonians, Johnson will discuss how immigrants have helped transform the Boston metropolitan area since the 1960s as it evolved from an declining manufacturing city to a center of the new knowledge economy. She'll also offer a peak at a related digital history project, Global Boston, a website that explores the region's immigration history, past and present.
Marilynn Johnson, Boston College professor of history, spoke at the Boisi Center on September 21 on the historic shifts in immigration to Boston. Johnson’s book, The New Bostonians: How Immigrants Have Transformed the Metro Area since the 1960s (University of Massachusetts Press, 2015), was released on the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Immigration Act. The legislation caused changes in immigration by eliminating quotas and expanding preferences for skilled workers and family members of immigrants in the U.S.
Boston has always been an important portal for immigrants, and established ethnic communities draw new immigrants. Boston has witnessed many different waves of immigration over its history; during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, families and largely unskilled workers from Ireland, Italy, China, Russia, and Canada dominated immigration into Boston. After the 1965 Immigration Act, the origins of Boston’s immigrants shifted to Central and South America and Asia. Locally, the centers of immigration shifted from Boston itself to its suburbs.
Johnson has continued her research beyond The New Bostonians online. Her new project, Global Boston (globalboston.bc.edu), was developed to maintain and expand historical accounts of immigrants in Boston and open scholarship on Boston’s immigration to a wider community of citizen-scholars. Johnson intends the website to be an ongoing collaborative project that includes students’ efforts to understand and analyze historical trends in immigration.
ohnson, Marilynn S. The New Bostonians: How Immigrants Have Transformed the Metro Area Since the 1960s. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015.
Halter, Marilyn; Johnson, Marilynn S; Wright, Conrad Edick; Viens, Katheryn P; eds. “The Metropolitan Diaspora: New Immigrants in Greater Boston,” What’s New about the New Immigration? Traditions and Transformations in the US Since 1965. Palgrave McMillan, 2014.
What’s New about the New Immigration: Traditions and Transformations in the United States Since 1965, edited by Marilynn Johnson, Marilyn Halter, Conrad Edick Wright, and Katheryn P. Viens (Palgrave McMillan, 2014).
Johnson, Marilynn S. “’The Quiet Revival’: New Immigrants and the Transformation of Christianity in Greater Boston,” Religion and American Culture 24:2 (Summer 2014): 231-58.
Johnson, Marilynn S. “New Boston Sprang from the 1965 Immigration Act,” Boston Globe (Ideas section), September 27, 2015.
Johnson, Marilynn S. “Thirty Years Later, Remembering Boston’s Wave of Anti-Immigrant Violence,” Boston Globe (op-ed), May 22, 2015.