Single Greek Immigrants in 1920 Alexandria, Virginia

In the early twentieth century, a large number of Greek immigrants entered into America.[1] They saw the United States as an opportunity to make more money than they could in Greece. Looking through U.S. census data for Alexandria, Virginia in 1920, it is clear that the majority of Greek immigrants in the city were single males.[2] Many of these men were able to find jobs and send back money to their families in Greece with hopes that they would eventually return too. Because many Greek immigrant men did not plan to settle permanently, they had no reason to set down roots. They stayed in boarding houses, usually with other single Greek men.This phenomenon also appears in the U.S. 1920 Census for Alexandria.[3] One example, shown below, shows a group of four men living together. The men lived with David and Fanny Dudley in their boarding house at 207 North Royal Street. Using a Sanborn Map of Alexandria from August 1921, I was also able to find the location of the boarding house shown below.


Figure One: Greek Immigrant Boarders at 207 North Royal Street in Alexandria, Virginia from the 1920 U.S. Census


Figure Two: Sanborn Map of the 200 block of North Royal Street in Alexandria from 1921

Many Greek immigrant men Americanized themselves as little as possible in the early 1900s because they were uninterested in staying. They also lived with other Greeks, married other Greeks, and worked with other Greeks. In the U.S. South, Greek immigrant men often worked in lunch rooms, which required minimal English language skills. This phenomenon also appears in the 1920 U.S. Census for Alexandria. Louis Rams, Thomas Demos, James Thomas, and Chris Thomas all worked in a lunch room, and probably were living and working together.[4]


Figure 3: Information on Occupation from the 1920 U.S. Census for Greek Immigrants in Alexandria


[1] Lazar Odzak, Demetrios is Now Jimmy (Durham, NC: Monograph Publishers, 2011).

[2] 1920 U.S. Census, Alexandria, Virginia.

[3] Ibid.

[4[ Ibid.


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