Immigration and Americanization at General Electric

Cover Image:
Black and white photograph
Americanization Class, GE Turbine Department, 1922 - Image Source

Collection Facts

Dates of Original:

Historical Context

The rapid growth of General Electric in the early 20th century was only possible due to the use of immigrant workers. In Schenectady, 30 percent of GE’s 23,000-person workforce consisted of foreign-born workers. In order to entice, maintain and train this pool of workers, GE launched an Americanization program in 1919 to aid workers in learning English and obtaining citizenship. Volunteer teachers taught classes in English and Civics, and GE staff helped students prepare naturalization papers. The program continued until 1931, a casualty of the Great Depression.

Scope of Collection

The collection includes photographs of GE’s Americanization activities, selected student writing samples, GE newsletter articles about the Americanization program, and a small number of reports and promotional materials for the program.

The collection will also feature materials about the contributions of immigrant engineers and inventors.