Bachelor of Arts
J. Milton Yinger
Puerto Rican, Class, Lorain (OH), Family Community
The Puerto Rican community in Lorain, Ohio dates from 1946, when the first 100 workers were imported by the steel company. Since that time the Latin community has grown to 10,000, comprising a proportionately large segment of the city's total population of approximately 75,000. Most studies of the adaptation of Puerto Rican migrants to life in the United States are based on New York City; to my knowledge the Lorain population has never been the subject of a systematic sociological investigation. Although "El Barrio" in New York is still the largest continental settlement of Puerto Ricans and remains a reference point for many migrants in other cities, the great dispersal of the migration into all areas of the country makes studies of smaller, more typical cities important for understanding the experience of the Puerto Ricans.
The question that originally interested me was whether or not the Puerto Ricans were becoming integrated into the structure of American society, as opposed to forming an exploited underclass in the urban slum culture. In Lorain, the younger generation of children born in this country or brought over very young is beginning to come to maturity. However, the second generation is still too young to compare with the first generation because they have not yet achieved the occupational and educational level they will have at the peak of their careers. There are some families who have made considerable progress already in achieving upward mobility. The question behind my study became to discover the characteristics of these high potential families in comparison with families who have remained at the same low level since migration.
In order to answer this question I obtained a purposive sample of "middle class" and "lower class" families from a Puerto Rican social worker at a settlement house within the Latin community. My sample is not necessarily representative of the Latin community as a whole because it is nonrandom and does not reflect the actual distribution of middle and lower class families. Probably the average Puerto Rican family in Lorain is closer to the lower class type than to the middle class type. The definition of lower and middle class was left elastic to fit relative standards within the community. The social worker who furnished the names seemed to regard the terms as roughly equivalent to "old-fashioned" and "modern".
Skold, Karen Beck, "Report on Honors Research: An Exploratory Study of Puerto Ricans in Lorain, Ohio" (1970). Honors Papers. 760.