Calling names: migrants, settlers and foreigners after the 1800s in words and data


In his book Exodus Paul Collier notes the following: “between 1810 and 1830 a subtle change occurred in the language used to describe migrants. Around 1810 the term most frequently used in newspapers was “emigrants.” But by 1830, “emigrants” had given way to a new term, “settlers.” I think that this change was not innocuous; the two terms imply radically different narratives”

Google Ngram confirms this, although either Collier or Ngram is a couple of years off, which may be attributed to the fact that Ngram uses books instead of newspapers which may delay the change in use of the terms a bit. But when we look in more detail we also see some other interesting facts. We see a big influx of European immigrants from the 1860’s to the 1920’s, this, however, is only picked up in literature after the 1900’s when we start to see books with titles like “Mentality of the Arriving Immigrant”, “On the Trail of the Immigrant”, and “The Immigrant and the Community”. I believe this is the start of the contemporary immigration narrative as Collier calls is.