Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Lovecraft in Context: 1902 Providence Faces Immigration

From the 1902 School Report.

Precisely young Lovecraft's concern was that of all of Providence's elite. Note the mention of "Italian, Hebrew, and Portuguese", all notable in Lovecraft's writings and prejudices. North Providence was apparently the Jewish enclave, while Federal Hill was the Italian area. Other ethnic groups are mentioned as the school board faces a triple dilemna (portions not included). The annexation of Johnston by Providence created an influx of new students into the system. The public school system was growing by leaps and bounds, but not necessarily patronized by Providence's elite (like the Phillips family). The Board announced proudly (for 1901's conclusion) in 1902 that they were making progress as some of those students were beginning to attend. Lovecraft would attend 1902-1903.* Apparently their propaganda was beginning to be heard. Finally, truancy was rampant as youths dropped out to work in offices and factories as early as 14. The school board was furious, and elsewhere were pigeon-holing Rhode Island legislators to do something about it.

This was Howard's context as he was just months from entering Slater Avenue School.

* I've formulated an unproven thesis that Loevcraft's only two early school attendences coincide precisely with the "graduation" year dates of Primary and Grammar school, and perhaps that was by design (to placate School Board requirements) to certify Lovecraft for advanced school later, i.e High School and College.

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