Squeezebox Stories Map
IMMIGRATION HISTORIES IN CALIFORNIA
All of our four squeezebox stories, although they encompass various countries and continents, were reported in California: 1. Cotati, 2. San Francisco, 3. Richmond, 4. Castro Valley, and 5. Central Valley (labeled in red circles on the map.)
California has always been a primary destination for immigrants entering the United States, and has a higher percentage of immigrants from all around the world than any other state in the nation. A quick glance at the census statistics tells us how California, a quintessential “American” place in popular imagination, is in fact made up of ever-changing flows of immigrants from all over the world. Of its 37 million people, California has 7.7 million foreign-born residents, or 40 percent of the nation’s immigrants. More than a quarter of Californians is foreign born, and about 40% of Californians speak languages other than English at home. California is also well known as the repository for waves of internal migration from all corners of the U.S., from the Dust Bowl migration in the 1920′s to the recent post-Katrina migration from Louisiana.
What is less known, however, is that such longstanding histories of immigration and internal domestic migration have made California a fertile ground for extremely diverse and vibrant accordion musical cultures. Here, we sketch a very brief overview of the immigration history of groups of people relevant to our stories —Italians, Creoles, Lebanese/Middle Eastern, and Mixtec/Mexican — to give a little bit more of a background. For each story, you will find a brief history of immigration of people, and also how the accordion traveled with them, or to the region, and how.