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Title:Greek immigration to, and settlement in, central Illinois, 1880-1930
Author(s):Beck, Ann
Director of Research:Anderson, James D.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Anderson, James D.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Span, Christopher M.; Pak, Yoon K.; Barnhart, Terry A.
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educational Policy Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Greek immigrants
Central Illinois
Greek confectioners
Ku Klux Klan
Tuscola, Illinois
Flesor's Candy Kitchen
Greek families
Abstract:This dissertation is a micro-history of Greeks immigrants to central Illinois between 1880 and 1930. The study focuses specifically on those Greek immigrants who were involved in the confectionery trade, opening candy stores (often accompanied by soda fountains and restaurants) in the small towns and cities of rural Illinois. The study draws upon, as its primary case study, the life and experiences of my own grandfather, Constantin “Gus” Flesor, a Greek immigrant who settled in Tuscola, Illinois in 1901 and owned a candy store/soda fountain business there for 75 years. In all, this dissertation tells the stories of more than 160 such Greek immigrant confectioners in more than forty towns and cities in central Illinois. Examples from the lives of my grandfather and these other first-generation Greek immigrants are interwoven throughout the dissertation to illustrate particular experiences. The dissertation begins with a discussion of migration theory, which seeks to locate the first-generation Greek immigrant experience in rural areas within the larger theoretical debate that has primarily focused on the urban immigrant experience. Chapter Two provides a geographical and historical background by briefly reviewing relevant features of Greek geography, particularly that of the Peloponnese region from where most of the immigrants in this study originated. This chapter also contains a short history of Greece that helps to frame the important question of Greek heritage and identity. Chapter Three presents an overview of first-generation Greek immigration to America, focusing particularly on immigration to Chicago and St. Louis, the primary cities that served as transit points for Greeks coming to central Illinois. Chapter Four explores education and the Greek immigrant, and specifically how Greek immigrants learned the confectionery business. Chapter Five addresses the question of Greek identity, anti- immigrant hostility during this period, especially the activities of the Ku Klux Klan, and how Greek immigrants in these small towns responded to this prejudice and bigotry. Finally, Chapter Six looks at the lives and businesses of the individual Greek immigrants to central Illinois. In my conclusion I address the questions raised by this study and possible avenues for further research.
Issue Date:2014-09-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Ann Flesor Beck
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08

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