Sources: American Immigration: An Encyclopedia of Political, Social, and Cultural Change

Sources: American Immigration: An Encyclopedia of Political, Social, and Cultural Change

American Immigration: An Encyclopedia of Political, Social, and Cultural Change. 2nd ed. Ed. by James Climent and John Radzilowski. Armonk, NY: Sharpe Reference, 2014. 4 vols. $399 (ISBN: 978-0-7656-8212-3).

The first edition of the work, published as the Encyclopedia of American Immigration (Sharpe, 2001), garnered widespread praise. It was described by reviewers as "well-researched, well-written…" and "impressive" (Choice, Oct. 2011); "essential in academic libraries and extremely useful in large and medium-sized public libraries." (Booklist, Nov.1, 2001); and "An asset to any library supporting research in American history or immigration." (School Library Journal, Feb. 2002). The advisory board consisted of "well-recognized experts in the field" (Library Journal, Sept. 15, 2001). Given this critical reception, it is little wonder that Sharpe choose to revisit such a well-regarded reference work.

As the authors note in the Introduction, "most of the contentious issues surrounding American immigration today would be very familiar to past generations." (xix). The hot button issues of a century ago remain topics of concern today, from cultural assimilation and the economic benefits of immigration to the desirable rate of immigration. Given these continuities it is understandable that most essays remain substantively intact from the first edition. Volumes 1-3 contain topical essays organized under themes, time periods, or regions. Almost all of the original contributors have returned for the new edition. They seem satisfied with their previous work, with good reason. The essays hold up well after a decade. While the authors bring events up to date and add newly released data, in most cases the core content remains the same. Commendably, all the bibliographies I reviewed were updated to include references to recent scholarship, and in some cases websites.

Volume 4 contains excerpts from primary source documents ranging from George Washington's Revolutionary War letters to recent immigration reform efforts. Almost all of the historical documents from the first edition appear in the second. The main additions are ten documents created after the publication of the 1st edition.

While historical continuities abound, technology, terrorism concerns, and changes in immigration patterns have raised new issues. These are not addressed in completely new essays in the 2nd edition, but updated information has been incorporated into relevant entries. For example, discussion of the Dream Act was added to the essay on Children and Adolescents, while a paragraph on the newly created Office of Homeland Security concludes the history of Immigration Agencies. There is also a new 21 page section in Volume 1 covering the post 9/11 years with overviews of recent immigration legislation and the impact of 9/11 on policies and attitudes toward immigration. A detailed subject index facilitates the discovery of specific topics across essays.

Libraries not owning the first edition will find this a welcome addition to their reference collection. It upholds the standards of its predecessor, delivering solid well-written overviews of key topics. Those owning the first edition will want to replace it with this set which reflects recent events and points to the latest scholarship for those conducting further research.—Eric Novotny, Humanities Librarian, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA


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