Rebecca Bogdanovic

The Lady Who Came with Me: An Exploration into the Gendered Rhetoric of Immigration

Mentor: Deborah Harris

The Lady Who Came With Me will be an investigative and narrative-based research project examining the life and immigration story of my great-grandmother Jozica. In 1939, Jozica arrived at Ellis Island from a small island in Yugoslavia named Komiza, not speaking a word of English and with two children under the age of five. She traveled across the country by train, eventually arriving to meet her husband in San Pedro, California, which was home at the time to a thriving and vibrant ethnic enclave of Yugoslavian fishermen. Over the years, Sonja retained contact with a friend who had arrived to the country with her, whom she referred to as “the lady who came with me.”

This project will be analytical through its examination of the legislation and policies that influenced rhetoric towards migrants within the realm of public discourse during this time, while narrative-based in that it will follow the pivotal moments in Sonja’s life as an immigrant and woman, through vignettes written in the first person. The conclusion of the paper will analyze the flaws in our modern immigration system, especially in the preference categories that often disadvantage individuals from certain countries or demographics. Through this journey, I hope to not only learn more about the woman who brought my family to this country but highlight the differences in rhetoric used to depict male and female migrants during this time in American history. As quintessentially encapsulated by Pulitzer-Prize winner Oscar Handlin in 1952, “Once I thought to write a history of immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.”

Read Rebecca’s Essay “The Lady Who Came With Me: An Exploration into the Gendered Rhetoric of Immigration”