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The Immigrant Lass

The Emigrants, William Allsworth (1844)

Family History Day

Apr 17

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"Scotland is the country above all others from which we derive our origins as Americans..."

~ James Bryce (1838-1922)

Do you have immigrant ancestors or relatives who traveled from Scotland to settle elsewhere? Do you have ancestors who went through Ellis Island? Ellis Island, in Upper New York Bay, was the gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the U.S. as the United States' busiest immigrant inspection station for over 60 years from 1892 until 1954. Ellis Island was sometimes known as "The Island of Tears" or "Heartbreak Island" because of those 2% who were not admitted after the long transatlantic voyage. A myth persists that government officials on Ellis Island compelled immigrants to take new names against their wishes - in reality, for the most part the immigration inspectors used the passenger lists they received from the manifests of steamship companies to process each foreigner, though many last names were altered slightly because of the disparity between English and other languages in the pronunciation of certain letters of the alphabet. Ellis Island's online digitized records with opportunity to provide annotations and name corrections should you recognize an ancestor, provide fascinating information for those doing ancestry research of Scottish ancestors, whether they remained in the home country or sought their fortunes elsewhere. Celebrate with this lively jig with turns, chains, and traveling steps to remind us of those who bravely traveled far and away whether forced by circumstance or inspired by wanderlust. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

The Immigrant Lass

The Scottish diaspora is widespread, with Scots emigrating to various corners of the world over the centuries due to economic, social, and political pressures at home. The major countries to which Scots have historically emigrated include:

1. United States

The United States has been a prime destination for Scottish immigrants since the colonial period. Scots played a fundamental role in the early European settlement of America, particularly in the Carolinas and Virginia. In the 18th and 19th centuries, large numbers of Scots moved to the U.S., where they contributed to the development of the country through their roles in agriculture, politics, and industry.

2. Canada

Canada is another key country that has seen significant Scottish immigration, particularly to Nova Scotia (New Scotland), Ontario, and British Columbia. Scottish settlers were instrumental in exploring and developing Canada, especially during the fur trade era. The influence of Scottish culture is still evident in Canada, with features such as Scottish place names and the continuation of Scottish traditions.

3. Australia

From the late 18th century onwards, Scots emigrated to Australia, encouraged by opportunities in agriculture, mining, and later on, industrial sectors. Cities like Melbourne and Sydney have significant numbers of Scottish descendants. Scottish Australians have been influential in politics, culture, and business, contributing notably to the nation’s multicultural fabric.

4. New Zealand

Scottish emigrants to New Zealand have been a significant cultural force since the early 19th century, particularly in the Otago and Southland regions initially settled during the gold rush and later for farming. Dunedin, often called the "Edinburgh of the South," reflects its Scottish heritage in its architecture and annual celebrations of Scottish customs and festivities.

5. Argentina

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many Scots emigrated to Argentina, integrating into the local society and becoming involved primarily in sheep farming and agriculture. The Scottish influence in Argentina is less visible than in English-speaking countries but remains a testament to their integration and contribution to Argentine agriculture.

6. South Africa

Scots have been moving to South Africa since the 19th century, attracted by the diamond and gold mines and later by farming opportunities. Their impact is seen in the industrial and cultural life of cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg. Scottish regiments also played roles in colonial conflicts in South Africa.

Lesser-Known Destinations:

Russia: Scots worked as engineers, architects, and educators in the Russian Empire from the 18th century.

Chile and Brazil: Some Scots settled in these countries, engaging in farming and becoming involved in the nitrate and rubber trades.

India and Pakistan: During the British Empire, Scots contributed significantly as administrators, engineers, and soldiers.

The global Scottish presence facilitated not only the dispersion of Scottish people but also the proliferation of their culture, traditions, and innovations, which have left lasting impacts on societies around the world. This vast emigration has led to extensive networks of Scottish societies and cultural events that continue to promote and celebrate Scottish heritage globally.

Scottish emigration to the United States has been a significant and continuous trend since the colonial era. The Scots sought opportunities in America's burgeoning cities and expansive agricultural frontiers, driven by economic hardship and political upheaval at home, particularly during the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries. These Clearances forcibly evicted many Scottish families, catalyzing their migration in search of peace and stability. Scottish immigrants played a crucial role in American history, influencing the cultural, political, and economic tapestry of the nation. They settled heavily in states like North Carolina, New York, and New Jersey, where they often became leaders in industry, politics, and farming.

By the 19th and 20th centuries, the Scottish presence in the United States had grown robust, with Scots entering the country through major immigrant ports such as New York City, bringing with them skilled trades in textiles, coal mining, and steelworking. Their influence is evident in the many Scottish societies and cultural events that celebrate Scottish heritage across the United States today,

Additional Dance Note Corrections:

The following corrections were included on a loose sheet “Notes on Dances by Bob Grant June 1996”, when Book 39 was first sold in the Summer School bookshop:

5–8 Right hands across need to be ‘driven’ round

9–16 1/2 rights and lefts have polite turns at end

31–32 1st couple don’t ‘cast’ up into 4th place although it feels more natural and I’m sure it will be done !

If your intrepid ancestors came before the American Revolution, trace their paths of Ulster Scots-Irish and Highland emigres through the early years below and click for more information at the John Gracy Centre.

The Immigrant Lass

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

The Immigrant Lass

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