What does it mean to be a ‘good American’? Immigrants to the United States have obtained civic knowledge in a variety of ways, including federal textbooks and independent learning, and in different contexts over time, from employer-organised classes to handbooks written by civil society groups. This paper analyses citizenship manuals from one such group – the Daughters of the American Revolution (‘D.A.R.’) – to trace continuities and changes in definitions of American citizenship over the twentieth century. This paper is the first to make use of these manual archives, which contain over 30 different citizenship manuals, printed between 1921 and 1996. To compare and analyse the corpus of manuals, the paper employs both computer-assisted content analysis through topic modelling and textual interpretation. This approach provides rich descriptive evidence of how American citizenship norms change over a century, the influence of scarcity and war on that identity, as well as the changing role for organisations like the D.A.R. in the civic education of immigrants.
Sara Wallace Goodman, ‘Good American citizens’: a text-as-data analysis of citizenship manuals for immigrants, 1921–1996, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2020.