But what of the many thousands who come to New York city? The real danger begins when the girl lands at the Battery. The hangers-on there grab her baggage and try to get her to go with them. The missionaries sometimes have great difficulty in getting the girl to their homes, as these hangers-on speak her language and try to warn her against her new-found friends. If this fails, they may follow her, get her address, and visit her later. The government has tried to break up the robbery and graft which goes on at the Battery, but it has no authority in the city, and thus far has not succeeded.
There has been no body of information showing what happens to the immigrant woman after she leaves Ellis Island for her destination in the city. Four things the Inter-Municipal Research Committee deemed it essential to learn: how and where she lives; whether she needs work, and how she obtains it; whether she is illiterate, and what are her chances for learning English; and, lastly, her amusements.
Through the coöperation of the Commissioners of Immigration, the following programme was followed in four cities: Lists of the arriving girls were obtained, giving the nationality, age, date of arrival, and name and address of the person to whom they are released. No girls released to immigrant homes or charitable institutions were visited, but only girls normally released to friends, relatives, or strangers, and who had to take up the struggle for existence in the city.
Each girl was then visited at her home by a woman who spoke her language and was of her religion, and the following information was obtained: living conditions, including kind of house, number of rooms, number in family, number of lodgers, cleanliness and sanitation, sleeping accommodations, rate of lodging, kind of lodging; object in coming; whether ticket was purchased here and by whom; employment abroad and wages; present employment, including the kind, place, wages, hours; whether steady work, how obtained, and whether night work is done; and a general statement of conditions not included in the above. When the first visit to her home was made, if the girl was found to need help of any kind one of two things was done. Preferably, wherever possible, the organization, institution, or person already doing such work was asked to help the girl and to report results. Where there was no such existing group or person, aid was given directly, or new individuals were interested in being friendly to the girl. At first it was intended merely to study conditions, but so many girls were found needing work, lodging, help, and protection, that the friendly work was undertaken in connection with it.
Up to the present time, this study has been carried on in the various cities through the representative organizations of the Inter-Municipal Research Committee and other cooperating organizations: as the Research Department of the Woman’s Educational and Industrial Union in Boston, Research and Protective Association in Philadelphia, Woman’s Trade-Union League in Chicago, and the Council of Jewish Women, who have also made similar studies in other cities not included here. Six thousand five hundred and fifty girls have been visited, in some cases many times, and the conditions were learned as carefully as possible. The details of the study cannot be given here, but it proves beyond all doubt that a system of protection and assistance is needed for immigrant women, and that it should extend over the first three years of the residence.