Spaniards in Caroline Ware’s Greenwich Village, 1920 – 1930

Map found among the Caroline Ware field notes on Spaniards in Greenwich Village. The handwritten legend indicates the location of Spanish tenement houses, apartment houses, grocery stores, pool rooms, lodging houses, restaurants, barber shops, tailor shops, and speakeasies

In 1931, Caroline Ware, a Professor of American History at Vassar College, was commissioned by Columbia University’s Council for Research in the Social Sciences to conduct a study of the community of Greenwich Village.

Ware devised a questionnaire and supervised a team of researchers, who canvassed the neighborhood, trying to get a sense of the lived experience of the different ethnic groups that coexisted in the Village.  Just four years later, making ample use of this data, she published Greenwich Village, 1920 – 1930:  A Comment on American Civilization in the Post-War Years, which would go on to be considered a model of collaborative research and a classic of urban sociology.

Spaniards make their appearance on the very first page of this study, when Ware affirms that her proper object of study is not so much the already mythologized American bohemia of Greenwich Village, but rather the neighborhood’s “Italian immigrants and their children, Irish longshoremen, truck-drivers, and politicians, Jewish shopkeepers, Spanish seamen, and a remnant of staid old American and German citizens” (p. 3).

While small when compared to the other ethnic groups mentioned, the Spanish colony in Greenwich Village merits 18 entries in the book’s index and a four-page section in the chapter (VII) titled “Other Ethnic Groups.”  Virtually all of the 60-odd Spaniards surveyed are from the province of Coruña in Galicia, and most live in the 10 square blocks bordered by West Street and Greenwich Street (west-east), and Christopher and Bank (south-north).

The original survey data is housed at the F D Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York.  We were able to obtain copies of the surveys pertaining to Spaniards, together with the field notes written by one of Ware’s research assistants, Próspero Meléndez.

To download an in-depth presentation of the fascinating field notes of Próspero Meléndez, click here.

To link to a map showing the addresses of the Spaniards surveyed for Ware’s study, click here.

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