Contemporary Immigration in America: A State-by-State Encyclopedia. Edited by Kathleen R. Arnold. Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood, 2015. 2 vols. Acid free $189 (ISBN: 978-0-313-39917-6). E-book available (978-0-313-39918-3), call for pricing.

Contemporary Immigration in America distinguishes itself through its organization by state and its focus on the post-war period. The introduction explains the significance of both of these choices. The case for organizing by state is most compelling, particularly as states have taken on more authority in the arena of immigration policy beginning in the 1990’s. Further, it is not difficult to imagine diverse scenarios that would benefit from immigration information for a particular state or states. Limiting the historical period allowed the editor to compile a concise two volume set with short chapters averaging roughly twenty pages. Some authors were more successful than others in keeping within the historical parameters.

Each chapter is separated into four sections: chronology, historical overview, topical essays, and bibliography. The chronologies and historical overviews are particularly useful and cover the entire state history. Topical essays vary in treatment from author to author, making it difficult to create connections from state to state. Bibliographies were also uneven, ranging from concise and helpful to unwieldy and less than authoritative. The index is particularly useful for researchers interested in where different immigrant groups have settled.

The index in James Ciment and John Radzilowski’s American Immigration: An Encyclopedia of Political, Social and Cultural Change (Sharpe Reference, 2013) also makes researching immigration by state possible by using the index. It takes a bit more effort but the results pay off. While this isn’t a replacement for Contemporary Immigration in America, if an institution has a limited budget American Immigration has a more comprehensive approach to the topic and the entries are of consistently high quality. It’s interesting that Michael C. LeMay’s Transforming America: Perspectives on U.S. Immigration (ABC-CLIO, 2013), which examines immigration through a historical lens does provide limited geographical treatment of immigration in America. However, geography falls off in volume 3, which covers the period of 1945–present. These two ABC-CLIO publications complement each other, perhaps by design.

Contemporary Immigration in America makes easy work of quickly coming up to speed on immigration at the state level. It is appropriate for public, high school and undergraduate libraries as a complement to a more comprehensive reference work regarding US immigration.—Anne C. Deutsch, Reference and instruction Librarian, State University of New York at New Paltz


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ALA Privacy Policy

© 2019 RUSA