Between 1880 and 1920, a period known as the Great Migration, the city of San Francisco became one of the most diverse areas in the United States due to the steady arrival of immigrants. These groups of immigrants primarily consisted of individuals from China, Japan, Ireland, Italy, Eastern Europe, and Mexico. However, each of these groups faced various forms of xenophobia from American-born citizens when they tried to either earn a living or assimilate into American society. These immigrant groups were frequently impeded by who was, and who was not, considered to be “white” in the eyes of the dominant culture. In bioarchaeology, there is a known relationship between social conditions and health, which physically manifests in skeletal remains and can therefore be measured using osteological methods to study inequalities and health in the past. In this study, a random sample of 144 individuals of both male and female sex was analyzed from the University of Iowa Stanford Collection, which contains the remains of over 1,100 immigrants from the turn of the twentieth century San Francisco. The individuals were analyzed for the presence of the following skeletal indicators and pathological conditions: tuberculosis, cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis, periostitis, osteomyelitis, antemortem tooth loss, and linear enamel hypoplasia. Each of these pathologies was used to compare immigrant health to that of individuals born in the United States and determine to what extent their health was impacted by social inequality. This study found that socioeconomic status, more so than sex or immigration status, played a pivotal role in the health of these individuals.
Date of Degree
Master of Science (MS)
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Walker, T. (2020). The biological manifestation of health, culture, and disease in turn of the twentieth century San Francisco [Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/1023/
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