When we think of immigrants in Knoxville history, maybe you can’t fault us for thinking immediately of the English-speaking ones, especially the Scots-Irish, who have been the subject of multiple books and presentations. And it’s indeed interesting that people with Irish accents were among those who framed Tennessee’s first constitution, and packed Knoxville’s first City Council. However, they were not the only immigrants who made a major contribution to making Knoxville what it is.
By the mid-19th century, French, German, and Italian-speaking immigrants were at home here, in the hundreds, soon to be followed by Greek and Yiddish-speaking newcomers. They introduced many joys we might not have gotten so soon without them, including beer, chocolate, classical music, Halloween, cigars, ice cream, pasta, sculpture, and football. As well as lots of odd non-Anglo names on streets and buildings and tombstones.
Join us for a conversation about how Knoxville incorporated several waves of immigrants from very foreign countries—before we started bragging about how purely American we were.
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