Category Archives: W. Europe

The Immigration story of Robert Johnston Carson (Ireland)

“Honk!” The foghorns call fades as it slips through the ears, and feet clamber unsteadily up the swaying dock towards the ship waiting beyond. The weak wood, barely held together through the metal spikes impaling them, cries out as it’s stressed. The salty breeze stings the eyes and rips through the sails, whipping the air. The breath hitches in the ... Read More »

A Swiss Goes West

Who would have thought that my father, who had never truly been away from his parents, would move from Switzerland to the West Coast just to develop his independence? My father, Laurent Giovangrandi, was born and raised in Montagny-près-Yverdon, a small town somewhat close to Lausanne. He had one older brother, with whom he was close. He was close with ... Read More »

Journey to America (Netherlands)

Geert Dijkstra, born on November 16, 1911, spent his early years living in the Dutch countryside just outside Leeuwarden, a city in the province of Friesland. As a boy, Geert enjoyed a fairytale-like Dutch childhood, playing rugby, fishing in the dykes near his home, and frog-hunting in local meadows and bogs. At the age of 18, with his education completed, ... Read More »

Story of Mary Kathrin McDermott (Ireland)

Where in Ireland was Mary from? Having been there what did you think of the town? How does it compare to America? Mary was born in 1914 and was from a small town in Ireland called Leitrim. She was the oldest of 10 children in an extremely poor family who made their income by rolling and selling peat bog. Her ... Read More »

Skiing to the Dream (Norway)

Gunnar Rebne immigrated to the United States from Stor-Elvdal, Norway, a small town of nearly 1,000 where most parents started to teach their children to ski at the age of five. Rebne was a young man who wanted to see what the American Dream was all about, so at the age of 20 he decided to take a boat to ... Read More »

Story of Cecil Flora (Italy)

By 1920, almost two million Italians immigrated to the United States in search of the American Dream. My great-grandfather, Cecil and his family were five of the thousands coming from Southern Italy. To learn more about my family’s introduction to America, I went to my grandma, Tomasina Flora. She is Cecil’s oldest daughter and has always enjoyed telling all of ... Read More »

Guitarist (Germany)

Otto grew up in Germany and at a young age was enrolled with the Nazi youth. After leaving he joined the German Navy and fought in World War Two. He was captured by the British and put in a British camp until the end of the war. He got to go home after the war and got a job playing ... Read More »

Looking to the Future (Germany)

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “America is another name for opportunity”. My grandmother, Marianne Kramer, believed this as well. She is a strong woman who came to America for the purpose of opportunity. She was the first person in my entire family to come to America and make a living here. Life for Marianne in Bremen, Germany was pleasant, she ... Read More »

Journey to Safety and Freedom

                  Evelyn Loeb Beilenson immigrated to the United States in 1941 during World War II. She came on a ship from Lisbon, Portugal as a three-year-old to New York City, but her family was originally from Mutterstadt, a small agricultural town in the Rhineland-Palatinate region in Southwest Germany.         ... Read More »

Karel’s Story (Germany)

It was a cold winter day, and I woke to the warming rays of the sun shining down through a small skylight, and the clinking of plates as my mother prepared breakfast. Wrapping the blankets tightly around myself, I struggled to leave the warm embrace of my bed. As I finally pulled myself away from my bed, I looked over ... Read More »

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