Ethnic Differences

Schooling and Social Structure among the Irish, Italians, Jews, and Blacks in an American City, 1880–1935

Ethnic Differences

Ethnic Differences, first published in 1989, explores how and why the Irish, Italians, Jews, and blacks of Providence, Rhode Island differed in their schooling and economic success. Drawing on evidence from thousands of students records of public, Catholic, and private schools, as well as on census manuscripts, city directories, and other sources, the book offers an integrated study of American ethnicity, education, and social structure. Joel Perlmann examines the extent to which differing career patterns, and reconsiders the relation between ethnicity and social class.


"...a most remarkable book. Perlmann's analysis of ethnic differences in education is amazingly rich. He brings much new evidence to bear on debates about the importance of culture and class in America, and he treats the issues with great intelligence. This book will be essential for anyone concerned with the interplay of race, class, and culture in American society, and in the schools." David Cohen, Michigan State University

"His excellent analysis represents a major contribution--not only to ethnic and educational history, but also to our current policy debates on this issue." Stanley L. Engerman, University of Rochester

"While the book is based upon sophisticated statistical analyes, the results are clearly represented in a fashion tha makes them accessible to nonspecialists." Maris Vinovskis, University of Michigan

"With meticulous and unprecedented detail, Joel Perlmann has reconstructed school attendance among adolescents in an American city during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Using sophisticated analytical techniques, he explicates the complex relations among ethnicity, class, and schooling during a period of profound transformation within America's cities and their schools. His is one of a handful of new works that, at long last, has begun to provide American secondary education with a historiography worthy of its importance." Michael B. Katz, University of Pennsylvania

"With this ground-breaking study Joel Perlmann plunges into the debate over the relative importance of 'culture' versus 'class' in explaining historical differences in the pattern and rate of mobility among racial and ethnic minorities. Thanks to a prodigious research effort, he brings new and compelling evidence to this issue." Stephen Steinberg, Queens College and Graduate Center, CUNY, in the American Journal of Sociology

"Joel Perlmann, demonstrating the measured analytic skills of a statistician and the judicious sensibility of an historian, has produced an exceptional comparative study of schooling and work experiences among Providence, Rhode Island's Irish, Italians, Jews and blacks in the period 1880-1935." Julia Niebuhr Eulenberg, University of Washington, in the Journal of American Ethnic History

" exceptionally fine analysis of ethnic, racial, and religious group differences in schooling and occupational attainment." Calvin Goldscheider, SHOFAR

"This is a superb book that will have a major impact on the historical profession. Perlmann examines ethnicity in a way that no other historian has attempted to do. Using unusually rich and detailed data on schooling in Providence, Rhode Island, he explores the relationship between ethnicity and other factors, such as social class, in accounting for differences in education and occupational attainment. While the book is based upon sophisticated statistical analyses, the results are clearly presented in a fashion that makes them accessible to nonspecialists." Maris Vinovskis, University of Michigan

"This masterful work of quantitative analysis is important reading for anyone interested in the persistent debates about the roles of structure and culture in the analysis of causality and about the benefits and limitations of quantification itself. Perlmann's book is certain to be read and debated in these two, methodological and conceptual, contexts. It certainly sets high standards for systematic inquiry in historical social analysis." David A. Gerber, SUNY-Buffalo, in Journal of Social History

"Perlmann has produced an extremely rich analysis of the similarities and differences of ethnic groups in turn-of-the-century Providence." John Borsos, Indiana University, in The Maryland Historian

No references available.