Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Ilya Zaslavksy

Second Advisor

Dr. Charles Heller

Third Advisor

Dr. John T. Houdek

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The subject of immigrant success has previously been analyzed in the context of ethnic characteristics, individual heroism, worker solidarity, and advancement of industrialization. Most immigrants start at the bottom of the social-economic ladder. The mechanisms of advancement vary depending on both ethnic values and the constraints of the socioeconomic system. The key variable is normally thought to be advancing occupational status.

The problem addressed is how did recent immigrants to a 19th century steel-town obtain home ownership and advancement in spite of declining industrial wages. Using a GIS system to link and analyze geographic and historical records I was able to show that timing of settlement and property ownership were the key variables in determining immigrant success. This study showed that occupational status had less impact on upward mobility of early ethnic groups than the trajectories chosen by each group for spatial and economic control of property. It also revealed that the internal structure of ethnic communities was much more diverse than originally thought.