tv Book Discussion CSPAN September 21, 2014 4:15pm-5:03pm EDT
yes is my answer to the last question. the education system house or should have a role in fostering a sense of coherent national identity. they don't do that so much anymore for birdie reasons. civics classes are endangered species and more probably apart from the teaching of civics and the mechanics of how a bill becomes a law, we have gone through this interesting transition about how do you define americans. we are in this incredible second wave of immigration to the united states. the last few decades very. of incredible and the creation to rival that of a century and a half ago. a century and a century and a half ago while he had in this country is the idea that to become american you must americanize. institutions across the board. school, churches, settlement
houses and archives. some of that is good and they exposed them to the color brined creed. some of that was bad in what they meant during that age was to americanize this to wasp inside. to americanize this to become white. stop being so aggressively jewish pension off those long-standing had always behaved. so it is because of that the very word americanization in decades and centuries later asking for negative buzz around it. people talk in a multicultural city like this don't talk about americanization. it sounds like forced
assimilation. i think it is version that we today embracing our multiculturalism take it upon ourselves to redefine and and sent americanization. it doesn't have to be about whiteness. it doesn't have to be about assimilating, but again retaining the creed in its full colorblind power and pushing ourselves in fact to see all around us with eyes wide open the way for whichever part of our community is still failing to live up to it. that is a fight with getting behind. that is identity with embracing and it is the effort to push the country closer alignment with its ideal but i think it finds americans. you know, about 100 years ago were more now there is a fellow named carl sure, a german immigrant who ended up becoming a general in the union army during the civil war 160 years
ago. later the united states senator from illinois. he became a senator 100 years before barack obama became a united states senator from illinois. he came to public life at a time when there was nativism inferior and where americanism and america first and then stop these immigrants. stop these not only nonwhite immigrants. they were for sure excluded, but for these non-wasp immigrants, these darker skin than annealing which immigrants. there was a debate about what teacher to cement. peachtree 2000 means my country right or wrong. if you don't like it, get out of here. what he said at that time as they think super bowl event the two creatures of is not my country right or wrong. rupee treated them as my country windbreak is to be kept right. one wrong to be separate.
that is what it means to define americans. if you can buy into the creed, you are american. after a few documents. carolina families in here. if you live up to the creed should make in this country live up to the ideal, i call you americans and that is beneath us. we are based in seattle, but our work is national in scope and some of our work is in the nature of teaching a workshop of civic skills, teaching what i call power literacy, literally understanding how power flows in civic life, which is a topic we don't like to talk about. each citizen has a keen. be literate in how power views against you is some of what we do.
it is another kind of thing that we do. we have all these projects and work about trying to foster the stronger culture of citizenship in the united states. again, not in the inward looking parochial way, but in a sense harkens back to my paternal grandfather's name in assets, how will be delivered this nation? how we fulfill the destiny in this nation? for me, i don't use the label that many second-generation kids like me get, which is abc. my parents generation call me an american born chinese. american-born chinese is a phrase that kind of implies that were every kid is born, they are essentially and forever unchangeable he chinese. just not true. just not true. from the minute i was born. from the minute my parents are right here, there were no undiluted, unchanged chinese. they had begun to become something else.
by the time i was born a something else. i am an american-born chinese american. if you must give it an acronym. but i think that idea of whether you were born here or not, the question is will you live like a citizen? will you claim this country and will you live up to its ideals and foster the openness. if we do that, like i said i like our chances and how they become. >> so apologies all of you we are out of time. the conversation will continue we will be there and would love to continue chatting about this. i would like for now to think eric lou for thought-provoking and really interesting evening. >> thank you so much. [applause]
made a serious effort to trace the history of their families back to the time when they came to the united states? a lot of people. how many of you have thought about doing nice and maybe started, they didn't follow through on it, it was too complicated? i think we have a noddy incident genealogists. [applause] i've been a reporter for quite a few decades. as a reporter for the post and for "the des moines register," i was known as an investigative reporter, which had to do with getting the bad guys in investigating corruption in
government. in a broader sense, investigative reporting really is a room reporting. it is getting to the bottom of names. i have spent a career writing about the big events, the wars, elections, presidencies, boom and bust, depression, flood. the stories that appear on page one. and all the time that i was doing this, the thought never occurred to me to look to see what my family's own history would tell me not only about the family, but about america. it was an incredible experience. i want to tell you a little bit about it, but i also want to talk to you about how with the
incredible communications revolution in the use of the internet it is these can be done today on any subject, but in the field of investigating family histories, the last two, three, four years have made it possible for amateurs without any experience to get into the internet and to find remarkable things including about their own families. i got into this in a nonexpert way. my grandfather was a pioneer rancher in south texas near san antonio. a few years back, it would have pleased him a lot.
the most beautiful part of his ranch in the texas hill country became part of the texas park system. it is a wonderful area of rolling hills and all kinds of wildlife. it is a gorgeous, romantic place. as a kid, i went there but i never thought about its history. why didn't i? i was a history buff i thought. i got an a+ in texas history. i was the wise speech-year-old who at family gatherings reported what went on in world war ii last week. i lived with my grand parents. my mother and i lived with my grand parents the first 14 years of my life.
and yet, when i got that telephone call asking me to do some history about every inch, i knew far more about the alamo, cm houston and the texas revolution. far more than i knew about my own grandparents and the revolution they have escaped from in russia. the telephone call was from the chairman of texas parks and wildlife. she told me, she said i understand you are a writer. we need someone to write the history of of these 10, 12 branches that comprises magnificent government canyon natural area. would you do that for us? and i said no, i can't do that. i was in the middle of researching a book called
judgment days. lyndon baines johnson, martin luther king and the laws that changed america. and i really couldn't do it. but i said i know we've got some old branding irons in there a few records and i'd be glad to contribute time to the museum at the park. but i got the edge and i did a little investigation of the history of the callison ranch. i grandfather's ranch. then i got a little bit more involved. seven, eight years ago, i came both to the library of congress into the national archives to look for records. if you wanted to look at census records and i am sure some of
you have done that. he went up to the third floor of the national archives in some very kind people would we allow on long rollers since his books. they must've been six feet long and you open up the census books sending tiny little script. there's a lot of good information. if you wanted to look at newspaper records, you went to the library of congress. the library of congress has copies of thousands of records. but they got modern and they put them on microfilm and i went there to go through the san antonio newspapers in the chicago newspapers to see what i
could find. i am sure some of you have some of this compounded machines and they end up earning expletives out of one's mouth where you shouldn't because they got jammed up. again, you are looking for needles in his stack. part of the incredible communications revolution, which brings information that we could never find the floor. two examples. today, as most of you know, you can go into ancestry.com for into the national archives website and with a flick of a finger to find the person you
are looking for, find the census records from many, many periods. i started getting excited for this discovery. the first time i saw the 1900 census. in chicago illinois, he was living on what was known as the near west side at a in which 16 nationalities of immigrants were packed into inanna denzer then died dad. and there he was. he had a one room harness making shop. he had one employee and he lived in the back of his shop with his wife and his two infant children. that was very exciting. and then i discovered and
incidentally i've got a whole bunch of single sheets listing the major websites which even experienced biographers, some of them do not know about and they are here for your taking as a guide to the websites that could be the most good. newspaper archive.com. i was with a bunch of authors last night at the dinner preceding today and very few of them had heard of newspaper archives.com. bring it up on your computer. it's not comprehensive of the entire united states. but i've found the san antonio
newspapers going way back into the 19th century. the chicago newspapers going way back into the 19th century. excuse me. and again, what the wonders of the ability to find information, you put in a name and every single story that has been written about that person popped up on the screen. you get some information free. with a very small fee, you have access to everything that is the newspaper archive.com. my family about which i am going to tell you a little, they ran a business. they had a ranch.
they were public spirited citizens. they were famous by no means. but i found dozens, hundreds of stories. not only stories about how the business did for cattle were sold, the stories about my mother at age 11 doing a piano concert. newspapers in those days and small newspapers still today don't just report the big world events. they report what is going on in people's lives. and the newspaper archive.com and five or six other websites i was able to reconstruct a pretty interesting history of what i think was a family that tells
the story of america in the 20th century. so anybody who is interested, i would love to help them in the starting point can be the list of these different resources. i am on their. nick kotz.com. anybody who wants any help, i will encourage and try to help them. now the callison story. we did not know the story. there were articles and cousins who were convinced that the kallison came from sudan, not from russia. but the story as they learn more about it is this. beneath 10 kallison was one of
three brothers who lived in a small village called latte drinker in the ukraine not too far from cheah. i learned the history of 900 years of in russia and desires who ranged from semi-friendly to cool and brutal. i never would have learned that history if i hadn't gone looking for records that may send kallison and russia. at the age of 17, in 1890, may send kallison's mother pushed him out the door push them out the door and he began a long arduous journey by foot, by wagon, finally by train to third
class bonk on a ship heading for the united states. he brought his brothers out. he brought his mother out. they were in chicago, illinois where again he started his business, this one room harness shop in 1896. in 1896, we were in the midst of the greatest depression in this country's history until 1933. how did this man start a harness shop in the circumstances? i began to develop some off. not just about him, but about the people who came to this country between 1880 and 1920.
i hadn't thought much about this than i should have. 22 million anagrams, mostly from eastern europe and southern europe came to the united states between 1880 and the late 1818. it's about what was going on in america. we're in the midst of the industrial revolution. think about what this country -- how this country would have fared if we did not bring greece 22 million people into the country because they became the farmers, the laborers, the factory workers, the craftsman. and yes the scientists and the artists. it was one of the most amazing
periods of immigration in this country's history. and i think it tells us -- it gives us a point of reference at which to look at the current question of immigration at this country. we would not be the same country if those people have not calmed. in 1899, nathan saw some strange vehicles pipetting down michigan avenue. they were automobiles. he was a man of vision and he saw that the day of harness making it tough on making in chicago and illinois wasn't going to be so good pretty soon. so he headed for texas where the horse was joking. he went with his wife, two small
children. he rented a small space in downtown san antonio, which he divided into his harness make in shock and where his wife and two children and he lived. a couple of years later in 1901, he bought the first house he ever owned. now i found those directories because the clerk of bear county, texas and many other farsighted clerks all over the united states are now digitizing property records. i could've spent 10 years and not found what i found with a couple of clicks on the computer. i put in the name may send kallison and out came several hundred transactions.
in 1901, he bought this little house on missions treat and there was the deed. he paid for it hath been called and half the lawn from a bank, the oppenheimer bank, which was the only bank in san antonio that would lend money to jewish. on the deed, there was his signature, nathan kallison written in hebrew. and there was my grandmother, and the kallison's name marked with the next. that gave me a lot to think about. here were these folks -- here were these folks now 10 years out of russia. and she was not writing english.
she later did. and he was signing his signature in hebrew. they came. they went a long, long way away from their period in 1910, he bought a ranch. and this was a critical period in the history of farming and ranching in the southwest. the cattle drives were now over. the united states department of agriculture and the amm colleges and the new extensions service were trying to persuade these ranchers to do some modern ranching and farming and texas rangers were very stubborn. they liked the old ways. nathan waddell on with it. his ranch became a model, showing how farmers and ranchers
could succeed in the 20th century. ranchers shunned growing crops. that was something farmers did. but to succeed, ranchers had to start growing food crops. he led the way. people came to his ranch. the customers who went to his store, his store had grown beyond saddles and harnesses in selling everything a farmer rancher could need. people came to day trips by ragan to stop and shop with them. and on that ranch they came in they saw what a farmer and a rancher could do with some modern techniques. the story took me through 75 years of american history.
wherever i went with nathan callow sin, i learned something about america. there was world war i and the great flu epidemic, which killed more americans than our soldiers got killed. there was the great depression. and i learned so much about the great depression that despite being a history and international relations major, i didn't know. the great depression starting in 29 and going all the way through the rudy's, not everybody was broken out of a job. some people were doing quite well and the callous and store, my grandfather joined by his sons maurice and perry were doing quite well.
how? they cut their prices to the dog and they extended credit to their loyal customers without any idea of whether they would ever be repaid. they have faith in the country. they had faith in their customers. and they cut through the depression. one of the things that they did now i'm back to newspaper archive.com. there has been a lot of debate and you will hear from a wonderful historian after me, who is really a wonderful historian of franklin delano roosevelt presidency. the kallison signed up for the new deal programs. political scientists have been
arguing in recent years. well, those programs didn't do any good. it wasn't for world war ii, we wouldn't have gotten out of the depression. i think not. here i was looking at the evidence. a full-page ad in the san antonio paper talked about a new program, the fha program, the farmers -- not the farmers part, the federal home loan administration. that was one of the new tl's first programs and it worked. they send kallison ad said we have the money to guarantee these loans from the government. and we have carpenters, plumbers, electricians who are out of work and we will send them to work on your house.
it's a $2400 so it he built with fha funds. the story goes on and on. what i am trying to tell you that what i learned after many years as a reporter and writing books about government labor unions, social history. what i learned is a great new appreciation of american history. as you see it from the ground up, not starting out i looking at who won the election or what the war was all about. by starting out mucking up with individual american families have done with their lives.
i thought back again to those 22 million immigrants and their children, their grandchildren and now they're great, great grandchildren. looking at my own family and the members about what they made of their lives in the united states. i've changed my mind. it was always straight to say we are a nation of immigrants with the usual rhetoric. but now i have more than rhetoric. i have a story of how this country works with the sweat, tears, brains, labor of individual families who have come to this family over 200 years and made it what it is
today. i would be happy to answer any questions and after this is over, i will have copies of the sheet showing you down in front for anyone who wants them. can you not. [applause] >> many things for your excellent and interesting presentation. have a question regarding the same. how much of his jewish identity did he maintain over the years and whether he encountered any special circumstances or expedient to use with his jewishness. >> that is a good question. how did may send kallison is jewishness play out in the united states? when you first got here, he was
an orthodox jew in this amazing area in chicago were there at dozens of synagogues. some of them didn't have more than 20 or 30 members. and he was an orthodox jew. when he got to san antonio, blithe and the southwest was different and nathan and his wife wanted to be part of the larger society and they became reformed jew. they dropped the old culture or customs, the men and women sitting apart. they wanted to be part of an emerging modern america, but it made chained to judaism and my wife, mary land is in the front row is a great author and she
and i have edited every word of each other's books. my wife observed this morning how many bar mitzvahs we have gone to other great, great grandchildren of nathan kallison. they have remained subfloor. >> a few questions. didn't a family of russia undid it coincided? >> there was a good czar who got assassinated in et maybe one. some were naming their children after them. he was assassinated and his son came in and he was one of the very bad bazaars.
nathan's mother, head of the father died when his children were very gallant. they have the children especially good until they were teenagers. then she apprenticed them to learn how to make harnesses. that is considered very dirty work in russia and was one of the few crafts they were allowed to do. they had to kill one third of the jews, convert one third to the orthodox church and just persecute the rest of them. a lot of parents were afraid for their children to go into the unknown. she was not.
this small little determined lady wanted her children to get out and to bring her afterwards that they could. they send and his brothers escaped ahead of those saddles and they had a wonderful technique. everything had strong words. they shot the people. so yes, nathan was in the way between 1880 and 1920 escaped from russia and eastern europe and came to the united state. again, that was one of the largest migrations in history of preventing group of people.
anyone now it's? >> would have been to nathan's mother? do we know? >> yes, kind of surprising. the boys thought the mother to the united states and again thanks to the records, she remarried. and finally the whole family was reunited in an amazing cemetery. it is the waldheim cemetery in chicago. i don't know whether it is serendipity or what, about
1:00 a.m. one night, and i put in the word bodies into and out popped one entry there were. in the cemetery i called a graduate student in chicago who went out to that cemetery where people from various towns were buried. not only did you find half a dozen graves. the great mystery was solved because on those gravestones were embossed, pictures of the
people who were married. for years, we have been trying to figure out who were the two other men who hung on the wall in my uncle's house for decades. they were his brothers, jacob and samuel. not until you saw those pictures did we know who those two fellows were. yes, sir. >> you say nathan signed name in hebrew. but was that yiddish is secular language? >> i have a copy here. these take a look at it. the experts say it's hebrew.
>> how did they really get to the level -- i know sometimes some of the other americans weren't always that welcoming. so how did he really survive some of the prejudices and the difficulties that comes with the jewish coming into the country. i second question is did you also do research on the part of your family, the kotz family? >> my cousin tells me that's what i'm going to do next. tree seemed anti-semitism in difficulties and so forth with an obvious thing to do.
in chicago, the accounts of how the jews, the italians, the greeks, how they treated each other are pretty trenchant. each nationality had ugly names for each other. they fight with each other in the street. they fared badly in the ghetto. but it was a far far cry. in san antonio, the southwest and i think the south in general offered them more opportunity
it was a wonderful area where the german elite lived, which was called prince william. they changed the name of the avenue to general pershing avenue. general pershing was the head of the american army. and even in war of work to there was some prejudice. a german lady from the country's old -- brought fresh eggs and sold them to my grandparents into my aunts and uncles who live close by.
a lot of people stopped buying eggs from this woman who had to have been a second or third generation american. so prejudice there will always be. nathan had an amazing ability to get to know and to get along with all kinds of people. he quickly learned spanish or at least tex-mex, and he was a guy who loved people. and he communicated with people. he was a good businessman, but at the heart of his business was hot serving his customers. yes, ma'am.
>> you mentioned people with funny sounding names. it does not sound like a russian name. i am just wondering about that. >> callous and in its various derivations, keels and come back to listen, and so forth a fairly unusual. and that helped me a lot. a great thing started with haley and his book, routes to and 1977. i think we owe that man a great debt. roots kicked off the resurgence of people seeing the importance of family and knowing family history. and because there is so much interest today, there are a lot of freelancers in the