The United States has been called the great melting pot as it has attracted millions of immigrants of many nationalities to its shores.  So great was the attraction that the U.S. experienced great waves of immigrations during the colonial era, the early 19th century and from the 1880s to the early decades of the 20th century.  Most imigrants arrived seeking greater economic oportunities or were seeking refuge from some type of persecution.  To this day immigration still plays a role in the American scene and more people are migrating to the U.S. than ever before.


Photo provided by ICE all rights reseved.

The few decades that surrounded the turn of the 20th century saw one of the greatest influx of immigrants in U.S. history. At this point in time America became a country rich in diversity and this can be seen in the popular music of the day.  Looking at several of the popular love songs shows America’s fascination with this diversity and how it became integrated into everyday life.

From Europe the Irish and Italians represent two major groups that immigrated to the U.S. East coast and the music portrays a yearning for the countries and the girls they left behind.  Click on the photos below to learn more about the influence the Irish and Italians had on popular music.

Go Find A Sweetheart from The Emerald Isle The Irish      Sunny Italy   The Italians

To learn more about European Immigration and Ellis Island click here.


To the West Coast arrived hundreds of thousands of people from Asia, specifically China and Japan.  Songs about these nationalities portray America’s fascination of their unusual cultures’ and provide a romantic vision of mystical lands.  Click on the photos to learn more.

lo-kiThe Chinese     Princess  The Japanese

To learn more about Asian Immigration and Angel island click here.



If you would like to learn more about other themes that can be found in the Frances G. Spencer Collection of America Popular Music be sure to check out these other blogs. 

Let’s Dance!: Dance in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century Popular Sheet Music.

Humor in Music of the Early 20th Century.

Masculinity and Music in the Turn of the 20th Century.