From “Immigrant” to Citizen

Immigration is a core part of the story of Scranton and the American experience.

The immigrant story is reflected in the many Europeans who came to the region during the anthracite coal mining era -- including English, Welsh, German, Irish, Italian, Polish and other communities who established fraternal, musical and other cultural and religious associations and institutions.

Their stories are well celebrated and preserved, with such large annual festivals as La Festa Italiana and the city's St. Patrick’s Parade Day. As Scranton has increasingly experienced new waves of immigration other events have emerged, including World Refugee Day, Welcoming Scranton, and Global Tastes of Scranton.

This theme pays tribute to Scranton’s immigrant stories, old and new: the experiences of migration to find a better life, whether fleeing poverty, war, religious or political oppression, violence, or otherwise seeking a new start for oneself and one’s family.

The theme draws on the notion of “emergence” as articulated by Colum McCann, Irish-American author and founder of the international story exchange organization Narrative 4, on how many living things can exhibit properties beyond the capability of one individual by engaging diverse Scranton immigrant communities in conversations to realize our shared experiences. Storytelling exhibits the possibility of “emergence” and the power of the American promise of a more perfect union when citizens listen and share as part of civic, democratic discourse.

Alexis de Tocqueville underscores this in Democracy in America when he writes, “In democratic countries the science of association is the mother science; the progress of all the others depends on the progress of one.”  

Events & Activities  

Events for this fifth project theme will take place from October 2022 – December 2022.

Events will include an author’s panel of three to five writers sharing migrant stories reflecting Scranton’s own diverse communities, a story exchange around themes of identity and belonging, both curated and coordinated in collaboration with Narrative 4.

Humanities Resources