1900: Other immigrant groups without women

Thursday, 23 June 2011 13:29 Amy Gwilliam
Popular histories often state that the Exclusion Laws of 1882 and later were the reason who so few Chinese women came to the U.S.  And yet the Chinese immigrant community was not the only one without women.  According to the website of Chicago's Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center,

Greek immigration to the U.S. has been overwhelmingly male. During 1890-1900, one of the decades
of the most intense immigration, only four women arrived for every 100 men. Those who emigrated at
this time often did so to earn money to repay family debts, provide dowries for their sisters, and return
to Greece with sufficient funds to live comfortably.

Apparently the Greeks too were single-gender sojourners, and their motives for coming to America seem not to have been much different from those of Chinese immigrants.  Although there was some anti-Greek discrimination in the Midwest and elsewhere in America, it was much less virulent than prejudice against Chinese.  Further, there were no legal obstacles to bringing Greek women into this country.  And yet Greek men chose to come without families, leaving their womenfolk back in Greece, supporting them with remittances, and planning to retire to their Greek home towns as soon as they had earned enough money in U.S. jobs.

It follows that the popular histories may be wrong.  The Exclusion Laws may not be the sole (or even main) explanation for the scarcity of females among early Chinese-Americans.