European Immigration to New Jersey

Jesse Fried • Jun 14, 2017

The Dutch, not the British, hold the dubious distinction of being the first white conquerors of New Jersey. However it is when the British in turn conquered the Dutch's Nieuw Amsterdam that the political entity of New Jersey was first given form.

People of German and Irish natinality had a big impact on 19th century New Jersey, arriving throughout the 19th century. First Sephardic and subsequently German Ashkenazi Jews formed small communities as well.

Towards the end of the 19th century, immigration restrictions were lifted to allow people from Southern and Eastern Europe to enter in large numbers. Italians, mostly from poor areas in southern Italy, and Jews from Poland, Russia, and the politically ambiguous area in between poured into NJ, plus smaller but substantial numbers of Poles, Slovaks, Greeks and other nationalities from those regions. Substantial Irish immigration continued as well. Anti-immigration legislation in the 1920's majorly reduced the flow, however these trends continued well into mid-century.

More recently, even as other continents have dramatically outstripped Europe as centers of emigration, Portugal, Russia and Ukraine have continued to send fair numbers of Europeans to NJ.

If there is one ethnic group - from the entire world - that has set the cultural tone of NJ, I'd have to say it's been the Italians.