Americanization Division on the “Melting Pot” Phrase, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education, 1918

From this article, it is clear that the Americanization Division of the Bureau of Education heard and tried to respond to the critique of the “Melting Pot” idea and even suggests dropping the term.


“Foreign-born misunderstand this and other terms, report discloses—Urge their elimination from current affairs.”

Washington, D. C.: Following the campaign of the Americanization Division of the United States Bureau of Education, Department of the Interior, to eliminate from current use such insulting names for foreign-born persons and their children as “Dago,” “Wop,” “Sheeny,” etc., a drive has been begun by the division after a conference with its Committee of Racial Advisors to eliminate also terms like “Little Italy,” “Ghetto,” “Jewry,” and “Melting Pot.”

Since Israel Zangwill produced his famous play “The Melting Pot,” that term has been generally used to convey the idea that America is the land in which all the races of the world are slowly being melted into a new race and a new nationalism. To the native-born American the term has no unpleasant meaning, abut to the foreign-born, the Americanization Division has found, it suggests the kind of melting down which means to them the sacrifice of their native culture and character. For this reason, concludes the division, it would be better to drop the term and substitute one which convey the idea not of the destruction of what is rich and desirable in European culture, not a process of burning down, but rather the building up of a new civilization which, being a blend of all the cultures of the earth, will be the higher Americanism of the future.

In the same way it would be well, suggests the Americanization Division, if other terms of a similar nature were struck out of current use and substituted by ones of a slightly different color.

“In talking with men of different races now resident in this country,” says a report of the division, “we have noticed that the word colony is not always kindly received. They would much rather that we spoke of the ‘Armenian community’ or of ‘our fellow citizens of Polish birth,’ if we have to refer to them separately at all. The present habit of publicly locating them ‘across the railroad track,’ or ‘in the immigrant quarter,’ or in the ‘Ghetto,’ ‘Jewry,’ or ‘Little Italy’ is properly resented by them and greatly retards the friendly relations and cooperation for mutual good citizenship which true Americans desire. Sometimes they say: ‘We are more American than those who could not help being born here, because we deliberately chose this country as our country above all the countries of the world, even about the land of our birth.’”

“Let the word be passed along,” concludes the report, “that all men are Americans who try to live American.”

As part of its work along this line the Americanization Division recently published a “code of honorable names,” which was circulated largely among the schools and boys’ clubs throughout the country.

[From Americanization Division of the Bureau of Education, “Americanization Division on the ‘Melting Pot’ Phrase,” Americanization Bulletin 1, no. 6 (Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education,  1918), 7]