NH's Immigration Story

Our 9 month series, New Hampshire's Immigration Story explored just that... the vast history of who came to New Hampshire, when they came, why they came, the challenges they faced once they landed on Granite State soil and the contributions that they brought to our state. The Exchange, Word of Mouth, and our News Department looked at the issue of immigration from its first arrivals to the newest refugees calling New Hampshire home.

We saw how immigration affects our economy, health care, education system, culture and our current system of law. We also looked at what's going on in New Hampshire today, as we uncovered the groups, societies and little known people who are making an impact all over the state.

Funding for NH's Immigration Story is brought to you in part by: New Hampshire Humanities Council, Norwin S. and Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation, The Gertrude Couch Trust

As part of our year-long series on New Hampshire's Immigration Story, we've looked at what it's like for a refugee to arrive in New Hampshire, speaking a different language, and having to learn new customs.

For young refugees who enroll in New Hampshire schools, the challenges can be even greater - and the same goes for teachers working with them.

J. Stephen Conn via Flickr Creative Commons

We conclude our series on New Hampshire’s Immigration Story.  Over the past year, we’ve examined our immigrant past -- from that first encounter between Native Americans and Europeans to how newcomers shape our communities today… their contributions, their struggles, and the conflicts that come up.  We’ll look at what we’ve learned…and how our immigration story is still being written.



Our series on New Hampshire’s Immigration Story continues with a special Socrates Exchange, examining the question: Who is American?  Is it simply a matter of birthright, and legal status?  Or is it a state of mind, a certain spirit or attitude?  And is being American defined by the way I view myself or how others look at me?  

We invite your thoughts: please call during our live broadcast at 1-800-892-6477. The conversation will continue after the program at our Socrates Exchange page.


 World War One was great for New Hampshire’s immigrant workforce, the mills were booming and jobs were plentiful.  But as thousands of American returned home from war, there was a growing distrust of the immigrant in general and of Russians in particular.

unemployment is high In 1919, there was something like 3600 strikes in America. So we’re looking for a scapegoat. 

New Hampshire Historian, Stu Wallace

jozecuervo via Flickr Creative Commons

Every group that has arrived here has experienced some conflict – whether between newcomers and long-time residents…or, within new immigrant groups themselves.  As part of our series on New Hampshire’s Immigration Story, we’ll look at what difficulties tend to come up, again and again – also, how different people draw the lines between assimilation and maintaining their culture. 



New Hampshire's Immigration Story - Come to Amoskeag!

May 23, 2012
Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Weave_Room,_Amoskeag_Manufacturing_Company.jpg">Weave room</a> / Wikimedia Commons

By the early 1900's, the Amoskeag mill was earning its reputation as the textile capital of the world. There may have been other cities that produced more cloth, but none had a mill that compared to Manchester’s.

No other single textile factory in the world had 17,000 workers, and it had around 30 buildings at one time and it was turning out cloth 50 miles per hour.

Robert Perrault is a Manchester based historian and author of the book "Vivre la Difference: Franco-American Life and Culture in Manchester, New Hampshire”

Refugees Start Fresh on the Farm

May 22, 2012
Todd Bookman/NHPR

As a farmer in Bhutan, Laxmi Narayan Mishre provided food and stability for his family.

But when ethnic tensions flared in the small Himalayan country, his land was seized.

With his wife and ten children, Mishre would spend the next two decades living in a cramped refugee camp in neighboring Nepal. Rumors swirled about a possible resettlement to America, and what life would be like here.

(Robert Perreault talking to his granddaughter)

As first generation French Canadian mill workers turned to second and third generation, Franco Americans outnumbered all immigrant groups in New Hampshire. And their presence is felt today.  Even though it was Robert Perreault’s grandfather that emigrated from French Canada, he still carry’s on many of his culture’s traditions. He speaks fluent French and so does his son. Now, they’re passing that tradition to his granddaughter.

(Sound of playing)

Library of Congress

Images of some of New Hampshire's historic churches.

Irish men and women started trickling over to New Hampshire in the 1820 and 30s, and by the 1840s, they become the Granite State’s first major population of immigrantsBy 1850 there was over thirteen hundred Irish in Manchester alone and by 1860 that number triples. More than one quarter of the city’s residents are now foreign born and of that, the Irish made up seventy three percent of them.  But as New Hampshire’s first major immigrant group settled, the first major anti-immigrant feelings started brewing in our state as well.

North Country representatives split along party lines in voting Tuesday on a bill that would allow towns and cities to have a one-year moratorium on having refugees settle in their jurisdictions.

Seven were in favor. Seven against. Two were excused from voting.

As NHPR has reported the bill previously passed the House but had trouble when it reached the Senate.

The Associated Press is reporting the bill was revived:

Who is American?

May 15, 2012

May 24, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.   Please join Laura Knoy and guest Max Latona for a special live audience event as a part of the series "NH's Immigration Story".  They will be discussing the next question in the Socrates Exchange series:

Who is American?

Dreaming again

May 4, 2012

As part of our yearlong series, New Hampshire’s Immigration Story, NHPR’s Keith Shields attended a performance of “Dreaming Again’ and brings you this report.

The Occupy Movement held May-Day rallies all over the across the country yesterday. In New Hampshire the protest was focused on immigration reform.

Around ninety protesters in Dover were entertained by music from the “Leftist Marching Band”, as they rallied to support immigrants in the Granite state

Immigration activist Eva Castillo MC’ed the Event.

"We have to press our congress-people and our senators to pass immigration reform," Castillo called from Dover's city hall steps,"Every day that goes on without immigration reform families get split apart."

Photo Credit: Mary-Catherine Jones

This past Saturday, about 200 people came together for the Immigrant Integration in New Hampshire Conference. The intent of the gathering was to highlight the positive benefits immigrants have on New Hampshire’s business and communities. It was also to share ideas on what works well for integrating new comers to the state. As part of NHPR’s ongoing series New Hampshire’s Immigration Story, I spoke with Kelly Laflamme, the Program Director of the Endowment for Health, and an organizer of the event. She said the conference brought together a diverse set of people and agencies.

Photos: Mary-Catherine Jones, you can view her work here.

About 200 people attended New Hampshire's first Immigrant Integration Conference held at Saint Anselm College in Manchester on Saturday April 14. The conference's goal was to highlight the positive benefits immigrants have on New Hampshire’s business and communities. It was also to share ideas on what works well for integrating new comers to the state.  Below are a selection of photos from the conference. The full set will appear on NHPR's flickr channel. 

Photos: Mary-Catherine Jones, you can view her work here.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Amid the immigrants who have come to New Hampshire are two French citizens – a doctor and a nurse - who saw America as a place for a radically new life focused not on patients but on making baguettes and Madeleines in the North Country.

Sam Evans-Brown


A senate committee has voted to send a bill that would allow communities to ask for a one year moratorium on refugee resettlement for further study.

The committee voted 3-1 to refer the bill to interim study, with Senator David Boutin from Hooksett dissenting. That vote is a polite way of asking the full senate to let the measure die quietly.

Committee Chair Senator Jack Barnes says he doesn’t think the state legislature has the authority to pass this bill.

How Refugees Fuel One New Hampshire Business

Apr 13, 2012

D. S. Cole Growers in Loudon, New Hampshire bills itself as a ‘wholesale greenhouse facility’. That means, they grow a lot of the potted plants that are then shipped to garden centers and landscapers across New England.  Looking across the facility you see greenhouses filled up with row upon rows of annuals, while flower baskets hang in long lines above your head