Mary Antin

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Mary Antin
Mary Antin 1915.jpg
Antin in 1915
Born June 13, 1881
Polotsk, Belarus, Russian Empire
Died May 15, 1949(1949-05-15) (aged 67)
Suffern, New York
Alma mater
  • Teachers College, Columbia University (1901–1902)
  • Barnard College 1902–1904)
[1]
Genres Memoir
Notable work(s) The Promised Land
Spouse(s) Amadeus William Grabau (m. Oct. 5, 1901)
Children Josephine Esther[2]

Mary Antin (June 13, 1881 – May 15, 1949) was an American author and immigration rights activist.

Born to Israel and Esther Weltman Antin, a Jewish family in Polotsk, Belarus, at that time part of Russia, she immigrated to the Boston area with her mother and siblings in 1894, moving from Chelsea to Ward 8 in Boston's South End, a notorious slum, as the venue of her father's store changed. She attended Girls' Latin School, now Boston Latin Academy, after finishing primary school. She married Amadeus William Grabau, a geologist, in 1901, and moved to New York City where she attended Teachers College of Columbia University and Barnard College. Antin is best known for her 1912 autobiography The Promised Land, which describes her public school education and assimilation into American culture, as well as life for Jews in Czarist Russia. After its publication, Antin lectured on her immigrant experience to many audiences across the country, and became a major supporter for Theodore Roosevelt and his Progressive Party.

During World War I, while she campaigned for the Allied cause, her husband's pro-German activities precipitated their separation and her physical breakdown. Amadeus was forced to leave his post at Columbia University to work in China, where he became "the father of Chinese geology." She was never physically strong enough to visit him there. During World War II, Amadeus was interned by the Japanese and died shortly after his release in 1946. Mary died of cancer, May 15, 1949.[1][2]


Quotations[edit]

All three children carried themselves rather better than the common run of “green” pupils that were brought to Miss Nixon. But the figure that challenged attention to the group was the tall, straight father, with his earnest face and fine forehead, nervous hands eloquent in gesture, and a voice full of feeling. This foreigner, who brought his children to school as if it were an act of consecration, who regarded the teacher of the primer class with reverence, who spoke of visions, like a man inspired, in a common schoolroom, was not like other aliens, who brought their children in dull obedience to the law; was not like the native fathers, who brought their unmanageable boys, glad to be relieved of their care. I think Miss Nixon guessed what my father’s best English could not convey. I think she divined that by the simple act of delivering our school certificates to her he took possession of America. . . .[3]

Images[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Nadell, Pamela S. "Mary Antin". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  2. ^ a b "Amadeus William Grabau" (fee via Fairfax County Public Library). Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1974. Gale Document Number: GALE|BT2310012533. Retrieved 201401-17.  Biography in Context. (subscription required)
  3. ^ Making an American. Written by Mary Antin.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

From Plotzk to Boston (Large Print): An Immigrant's Story