The vast majority of those who have commented on or analyzed the process of immigrant assimilation in Argentina have explicitly or implicitly accepted the validity of the melting pot theory. The perceptive Englishman, James Bryce, visited the country in 1910 and observed that:

The Spaniards, of course, blend naturally and quickly with the natives, who speak the same tongue. The Italians have not yet blent, for there is so much similarity, not indeed in character but in language and ways of life, that they will evidently become absorbed into the general population. Children born in the country grow up to be Argentines in sentiment, and are, perhaps, even more vehemently patriotic than the youth of native stock.1

Writing during the 1940s and 1950s, the distinguished Argentine historian, José Luis Romero, declared that social amalgamation, especially in the urban areas, began with the onset of the “Alluvial Era”—the period of mass migration beginning in the 1880s—and proceeded at a rapid pace with the children of the immigrants. The result was the creation of a “hybrid society.” “The social complex,” Romero wrote,

was thus altered by the juxtaposition of two very diverse elements. . . . But as time passed it was altered even more as the generations of the children of the immigrants, more or less acriollados [Argentinized] according to the situation, were incorporated, constituting a hybrid type. . ..2

More recently, the internationally known Argentine sociologist, Gino Germani, argued that cultural pluralism predominated in Argentina before 1930, but that after that date—when overseas migration came to a halt—pluralism gave way to fusion and amalgamation. Specifically, Germani argued that: inter-marriage between Argentines and foreigners was a major avenue of assimilation which was stimulated by the high percentage of males among the immigrant population; the children of the immigrants were the ones to initiate the process effectively; assimilation took place more rapidly in the cities, such as Buenos Aires, than in the rural areas; and the Italians and Spaniards assimilated more easily than other nationalities.3

Yet we must ask whether the melting pot theory is valid for Argentina or whether the process of assimilation more nearly has led toward some form of cultural pluralism. How can we determine the degree of validity of either theory? One approach used by a number of immigration scholars is to analyze marriage patterns.4 No one variable can totally reflect the complex process of assimilation, but marriage has the advantages of being a specific act that can be measured and of clearly involving the partners in an intimate relationship. The ethnic background of the marriage partners significantly influences the nature of the new family. The family, in turn, influences the personal values and behavior of each of its members. As a result, if inter-marriage increases and becomes the dominant pattern and ethnicity ceases to be a factor in the selection of a spouse and the creation of a family, then the melting pot theorists can claim some validation for their position. If, on the other hand, intra-group marriage among ethnics remains high and ethnicity continues as an important factor in the selection of a spouse, this undermines the melting pot theory and lends support to some form of cultural pluralism.5

Unfortunately, scholars have for the most part neglected marriage patterns in Argentina. One important exception is Mark Szuchman’s recent study which demonstrates that between 1869 and 1909 the melting pot did not apply to the interior city of Córdoba.6 This excellent work does not, however, help us with the post-1909 period nor with Argentina’s largest and most important city, Buenos Aires. The leading analysis of marriage patterns in Buenos Aires was done by the Italian demographer, Franco Savorgnan, some thirty years ago.7 While this study is suggestive and useful to some extent, it is brief, of limited scope, and in part misleading. It remains, nevertheless, the main source of our knowledge and understanding of immigrant marriage patterns in Buenos Aires.

The purpose of this article is to evaluate the study of Savorgnan, to set forth a more complete and accurate pattern of immigrant marriages in Buenos Aires, and to suggest how such a pattern can help us evaluate the process of assimilation in Argentina.8 The principal data used in my analysis come from the twenty-five volumes of the Anuario estadístico of the city of Buenos Aires which cover the forty-two-year period from 1882 to 1923.9 Savorgnan based his work on this rich source of demographic data, but confined himself to the fifteen years from 1893 to 1908 (see Table III) and did not fully exploit the data even for those years. These data are supplemented in this article with those contained in the various municipal and national censuses and with appropriate secondary literature.10

Immigrants and the Growth of Buenos Aires

The most notable characteristic of the population of Buenos Aires during the decades surrounding the turn of the past century was its rapid growth. In 1869, Buenos Aires was a small city of 187,346 people. During the next eighteen years, the population grew 131 percent, reaching 433,375 by 1887. It more than doubled again by 1904 and continued this pace of growth up to the First World War when the city counted more than a million and a half inhabitants. Put in different terms, the average yearly growth in population of Buenos Aires from 1869 to 1914 was a remarkable 6.5 percent! Growth subsided during the war, but revived during the 1920s until it was again slowed by the onset of the world depression (see Table I).

This rapid growth in population before 1930 was primarily the result of overseas immigration. In 1869, Argentina had a base population of 1.7 million inhabitants, twelve percent of whom were foreign-born. During the next three-quarters of a century, net immigration totaled nearly three and a half million people (see Table II). More than thirty percent of this total settled in the city of Buenos Aires and produced its dramatic growth. Throughout the entire period up to World War I, about fifty percent of the inhabitants of the city were foreign-born (see Table I).

Italians and Spaniards accounted for eighty percent of the foreign influx up to World War I, and two-thirds of this population flow from World War I to 1930. Net immigration of Italians was nearly 1.5 million, while that of Spaniards was 1.1 million (see Table II). However, the flow by decade of these two numerically dominant groups differed considerably. The Italians began to arrive in massive numbers in the 1880s (365,000), declined in number in the 1890s, and resurged to a new peak of 452,000 during the first decade of the twentieth century. The major flow of Spanish immigrants came later than that of the Italians and did not reach truly massive proportions until the first decade of the twentieth century. During the war the migration of both groups dropped sharply but less so among the Spanish. The 1920s was another decade of massive net immigration for both groups. Thus, the population of Buenos Aires in 1914 consisted of three major groups: Argentines, Italians, and Spaniards.11

Marriage Patterns in Buenos Aires, 1882-1923

To what extent did the members of the three dominant groups marry within their respective communities and how did this pattern change over time? Savorgnan presented the marriage patterns in Buenos Aires for the years 1893 to 1908 in the form of a homogamy or intra-group marriage index. As he explained:

Should the number of the couples observed in whom both spouses possess the same character (e.g. both born in the same country) exceed that which would be expected to occur by chance, then we shall say there is homogamy. But if, on the contrary, the number of couples in which both spouses possess the same character is less than that which might be expected to occur by chance, then we shall say there is heterogamy.12

In his study he noted “the deficiency of the female sex among the immigrants, offset by the superabundance of Argentine women, which undoubtedly contributed to reduce homogamy. . .,” and then made the following observations:13

  1. The index for the Argentines remained nearly constant even though the gradual equalization of the sex ratio among Argentines made homogamous marriages increasingly possible.

  2. The index for the Italians was high in the beginning but declined steadily. This, according to Savorgnan, was significant because there was a shortage of Italian women in the beginning of the period and a growth in the number of such women toward the end. Thus, he concluded, “It would therefore seem that Italian emigration to Argentina, which goes back a long way, is adjusting itself increasingly to the environment.”

  3. The index for the Spaniards was high to begin with and climbed even higher with the growing number of Spanish women. “In view of the community of language and culture existing between Spaniards and Argentinians,” Savorgnan explained, this is surprising. However, he insisted, the affinity between the two was not deeply felt.

Savorgnan’s general conclusion about marriage patterns in Buenos Aires was that:

persons of the same nationality tend to make homogamous marriages; that the degree of homogamy of each single nation varies with environmental conditions. The trend of all nationalities toward homogamy depends on a steady cause which is the attraction arising from community of nationality, including, in the majority of cases, identity of religion and affinity of social class, standards of living, culture, moral standards and tastes.14

Savorgnan’s observations and conclusions are partially true; some, however, are inaccurate and deceptive. The problem is to determine which are correct. Thus, what follows is a series of tables which incorporates Savorgnan’s data into a more comprehensive data set and also presents additional kinds of information. In this way, we can develop a more accurate and therefore more useful set of marriage patterns for Buenos Aires.

Table III presents the homogamy index for Argentines, Italians, and Spaniards in Buenos Aires for the forty-two-year period from 1882 to 1923 as well as for the fifteen-year period used by Savorgnan. A number of observations can be made on the basis of these data. Some of them coincide with those of Savorgnan, while others, as we will point out, do not. To begin with, the homogamy index of the Argentines was substantially lower than that of the Italians and Spaniards and was fairly consistent over the forty-two-year period. A considerable number of Argentines, especially women, were marrying foreigners.

In addition, although the Italians and Spaniards more often than Argentines consistently chose spouses from within their respective groups, their rates of intra-marriage changed a great deal over time. The Italian index reached a peak of .706 in 1886-1887 and, with minor fluctuations, declined steadily over the next three and a half decades to .441 in 1922-1923.

The Spanish homogamy index was the highest of the three, but it also fluctuated more than the others. This index reached an early peak of .719 in 1890-1891, declined to .625 by 1896-1898, then rose continuously over the next decade and a half to a new high of .723 in 1910–1911. During the final decade of our period, which Savorgnan did not examine, the index declined steadily to .604. Thus he concluded incorrectly that “the index does not tend to fall, but grows with the growing number of Spanish women. . ..”15 In fact, the Spanish index rose but then declined in a pattern similar to that of the Italians although with a time lag of some twenty to thirty years.

Table IV provides the actual percentage of male and female Argentines, Italians, and Spaniards who chose a spouse from within their respective groups. Thus, for example, we see that 86.3 percent of Argentine males who married between 1882 and 1886 selected an Argentine female, 72.6 percent of Italian males chose an Italian woman, while only 51.9 percent of Spanish males married within their group. The overall pattern shown in this table parallels the homogamy indexes of Table III in part; it shows that a steadily decreasing percent of Italians married Italians over the forty-two-year period, and that the percent of Spaniards who married Spaniards fluctuated in a pattern similar to that of the homogamy index. But most important to our analysis, it also reveals aspects of the marriage patterns obscured by the homogamy index.

Two things in particular are clarified by Table IV. The first is the Argentine pattern. The homogamy index for Argentines fluctuated between .41 and .51 during the first two decades of the twentieth century indicating no clear pattern. Table IV, however, shows that a consistently increasing percent of both male and female Argentines chose Argentine spouses. The percentage of such males increased from 74.1 to 80.3, while that of females increased from 52.1 to 65.6.

Table IV also indicates the disparate marriage patterns among males and females of the same nationality. Although before World War I approximately eight out of ten Argentine grooms consistently chose Argentine wives, only five out of ten Argentine brides married Argentines. A reverse pattern existed among the Italians. The percent of Italian brides who married Italians was an average of twenty points higher than the percent of Italian grooms who married Italians. The pattern for the Spanish was more similar to that of the Italians than that of the Argentines with the women more likely to marry within the group. But there was a gradual trend among the Spanish toward equalization of the patterns between the sexes.

Tables V and VI demonstrate another important aspect of the marriage patterns in Buenos Aires not mentioned by Savorgnan. They show that, in absolute, Argentines, especially after 1912, were a growing percent of the total number of those who married. Spaniards likewise were a growing percent of the total for most of the period, while Italians were a declining percent throughout. Furthermore, they disclose that by 1918 Argentines were, for the first time, the predominant group marrying! Table V illustrates that Argentines marrying Argentines accounted for only 17 percent of the 4,541 marriages contracted each year between 1887 and 1892, but more than double that percent (35.7) of the 14,950 marriages contracted each year between 1918 and 1923. Spaniards marrying Spaniards represented 12.9 percent of the total during the 1887-1892 period, but this figure increased to 27 percent (1913-1917) before declining. Italians marrying Italians decreased from 31.8 percent to 6.8 percent.

Table VI confirms the trends set forth in Table V but presents the data in summary form. It indicates that the percentage of total marriages involving Argentines as one or both partners fluctuated somewhat, but increased dramatically at the end of our period. Between 1918 and 1923, 63 percent of all marriages involved an Argentine as one or both partners; 35.7 percent involved Argentines as both partners, 27.3 percent involved Argentines as one partner. The percent of marriages involving Italians, although slightly understated in the table, nevertheless declined consistently from 1882 to 1923. The percent of marriages involving Spaniards varied but generally increased to 1917 and then began to decline.

In summarizing the data presented in Tables III-VI, the following observations about marriage patterns in Buenos Aires from 1882 to 1923 can be made.

  1. Argentine males fairly consistently made homogamous marriages. On the other hand, Argentine females married foreigners almost as frequently as Argentines and married outside their own community more frequently than any other group considered. In the decades following 1903, however, homogamous marriages increased consistently among both Argentine males and females.

  2. Italian females more frequently than any other group studied made homogamous marriages and thus obviously were more likely than Italian males to marry within their community. But both the male and the female homogamy rates, although generally higher than those of the Argentines, steadily declined over the four decades under analysis.

  3. The pattern for the Spanish fluctuated considerably, but it is clear that the females were more likely than the males to make homogamous marriages. There was a tendency toward equalization of the male and female patterns at the end of our period and the beginning of a drop in the percentage of in-group marriages. This drop seems to indicate the genesis of a pattern similar to that of the Italians, but with a time lag of about two to three decades; that is, Italian rates of intra-marriage reached a peak in the 1880s and declined thereafter, while Spanish rates of intra-marriage attained a high point in the early 1900s and then fell off.

  4. In terms of the percent of total marriages, Argentines became increasingly significant and by the end of the period were numerically the most important of the three groups under consideration. The Italians steadily declined in importance and while the percent of Spaniards involved in total marriages increased until 1917, it then diminished.

The Marriage Patterns and Assimilation

The data we have presented are significant because they enable us to see some of the weaknesses in the standard melting pot theory of assimilation in Argentina, and also provide some evidence for an alternate interpretation which is closer to the cultural pluralism end of the spectrum. To begin with, it is important to note that the standard theory is based on limited empirical evidence. Germani, who more than other scholars has carefully documented his work, nevertheless relied heavily on Savorgnan’s limited and sometimes misleading marriage data to show the direction of the assimilation process.16 Furthermore, the proponents of the standard theory have not explained some of the important issues we have raised in the preceding section. For example, they have not accounted for the notable increase in marriages among Argentines during the early decades of the twentieth century, the increasing percentage of total marriages which involved Argentines, or the rise in the homogamy rate among the Spaniards shown in Savorgnan’s data. Perhaps most important, the supporters of the standard theory have not related the changing marriage patterns of the Argentines, Italians, and Spaniards to each other.

To explain these issues we need to turn to the information which, combined with that set forth in the preceding section, can be used to support some form of cultural pluralism. First, there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate a pattern of overwhelming preference among Italians and Spaniards living in Buenos Aires during the 1880 to 1920 period for homogamous marriages when spouses of their respective nationalities were available. Table VII shows the sex ratio imbalances which limited the choice of spouses for members of both groups. There simply were not enough Italian women available for all Italian men to marry. The same was true for Spanish men although, unlike their Italian counterparts, the ratio of Spanish men to Spanish women had nearly equalized by the mid-1930s. On the other hand, there was a consistent surplus of Argentine women over Argentine men. Thus, approximately ten percent of all marriages were between Italian men and Argentine women, and about five percent united Spanish men and Argentine women (see Table V). What is indicative of preference is that, even with the imbalances of sex ratios, approximately two out of every three Italian and Spanish males who married before 1900 found Italian and Spanish spouses.17

Another way to estimate preferences among Italians and Spaniards is to look at the marriage figures for the women. Since there were more Italian and Spanish men than women in Buenos Aires, the women’s choice of spouses was at least not proscribed by the availability of men of their own nationality. We cannot be sure that Italian and Spanish men and women would have selected marriage partners in an identical pattern, but it seems reasonable to conclude that, other things being equal, the response would be of the same magnitude. Thus, the figures on female Italian and Spanish intra-marriage rates probably are significant indicators of preference for all Italians and Spaniards. These figures show that more than eighty percent, or four out of five Italian and Spanish women, chose Italian and Spanish spouses (see Table IV).

What these two sets of figures suggest is that given availability, a considerable proportion of Italians and Spaniards in Buenos Aires— seventy to eighty percent—chose spouses of the same nationality. It is also likely that this preference for ethnically homogamous marriages carried over to the second and perhaps the third and subsequent generations. The direct evidence for the latter supposition is lacking as yet, but the following data provide the basis for a strong circumstantial case.

The composition of the population of Buenos Aires in 1914 was such that most foreigners and those of foreign descent had to marry each other. Fifty percent of the population was foreign-born: twenty percent Italian, twenty percent Spanish, and ten percent a variety of other nationalities (see Table I). Of the remaining fifty percent—the population born in Argentina—we can estimate that two-thirds were children of foreign-born parents, predominantly of Italians and to a lesser extent of Spaniards.

Table VIII, which indicates births according to nationality of parents, presents the supporting evidence. It shows that in the two decades before 1900, approximately sixteen percent of all births were to Argentine parents. On the other hand, about forty percent of the births derived from Italian parents and fifteen percent from Spanish parents. In addition, approximately twenty percent of the births were to parents one of whom was Argentine and the other foreign.18 Finally, the municipal census shows that as late as 1904 married Italian women in Buenos Aires were having an average of one more child than their Argentine counterparts.19 Assuming a uniform death rate among Argentines, Italians, and Spaniards, we can with certainty deduce that more than eighty percent of the population of Buenos Aires in 1914 was of foreign birth or descent.

The actual figures on intra-marriage of the Italians and Spaniards in 1895 and 1936 constitute another piece of evidence. My own data, based on the manuscript schedules of seven districts of the 1895 census, show that between eighty-five and ninety percent of all Italians living with a spouse in Buenos Aires were married to Italians.20 The figure for all married Italians was probably even higher since many of those not living with a spouse were married to someone back in Italy. The Buenos Aires census of 1936 shows that seventy percent of all married Italians living in Buenos Aires were married to Italians. Similarly, seventy-five percent of all Spaniards living in Buenos Aires were married to Spaniards.21

The weight of the combined evidence encourages us to posit a plausible case. We know the preference of Italians and Spaniards to marry within their respective groups, and we know that the population of Buenos Aires in the second decade of the twentieth century was overwhelmingly of foreign birth and descent with Italians and Spaniards predominating. Furthermore, we have testimony in the previous section to the significant upturn in marriages among Argentines in the decades following 1903 and the corresponding decline in the rate of homogamy among Italians and later among Spaniards. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we know that there was an increase in the percentage of total marriages involving Argentines and a decrease in those involving Italians and Spaniards.

On the basis of this evidence, we suggest that the rise in the rate of homogamy among Argentines during the early decades of the twentieth century and the corresponding decline in the rates of homogamy among Italians, and then later among Spaniards (which Savorgnan did not see because he did not continue his analysis beyond 1908), reflected the growth of a second generation of immigrants— officially called Argentines—who married to a considerable extent among themselves. Thus, the growing homogamy rate among “Argentines” and the increasing percentage of total marriages involving “Argentines” primarily reflected intra-group marriages among second generation immigrants and particularly among those of Italian descent. Ethnicity continued to be important in the selection of a spouse and homogamy remained high, but because of the shift in labels of second and subsequent generation immigrants from “Italian” or “Spanish” to “Argentine,” this pattern of ethnic intra-marriage was disguised.

If this was in fact the case, the implications for the pattern of assimilation are enormous. Assimilation may have taken place more rapidly and completely in Buenos Aires and other urban areas than it had in the rural areas, but the point is that assimilation—as measured by inter-marriage—did not take place very rapidly or completely at all. In addition, Italians and Spaniards were not so easily assimilated as other groups. Although there was some fusion, hybridization, or amalgamation in Buenos Aires, the melting pot theory does not satisfactorily explain the overall situation there. In terms of the nature of the family, at least, some form of cultural pluralism is a more valid conceptualization of the assimilation process.

Often in the development of scholarly analysis, it is necessary to refute established concepts before setting forth new ones. In this case, our study of marriage patterns in Buenos Aires has demonstrated the inadequacy of the melting pot theory and has suggested that in some spheres of life cultural pluralism is a more appropriate concept. Hopefully our analysis will stimulate research and enable scholars to gain new and more meaningful insights into a critical problem of Argentine history and, by extension, the history of all societies in which immigration is a factor.


James Bryce, South America: Observations and Impressions (New York, 1913), p. 339. Robert F. Foerster in The Italian Emigration of Our Times (New York, 1919) quotes Bryce’s statement approvingly. For the works of other observers of the Argentine scene during this period, see James R. Scobie, Buenos Aires: Plaza to Suburb, 1870-1910 (New York, 1974), pp. 304ff.


José Luis Romero, Argentina: Imágenes y perspectivas (Buenos Aires, 1956), p. 32; A History of Argentine Political Thought (Stanford, 1963), pp. 174ff, 205ff.


Gino Germani, Política y sociedad en una época de transición (Buenos Aires, 1962), pp. 197-210; Assimilation of Immigrants in Urban Areas: Methodological Notes (Buenos Aires, 1966).


Much of the literature on assimilation and on immigration is summarized in G. E. Simpson, “Assimilation” in International Encyclopedia of Social Science, 15 vols. (New York, 1968), I, 438-444; Rudolph J. Vecoli, "European Americans: From Immigrants to Ethnics,” International Migration Review, 6 (Winter 1972), 403-434; and T. L. Smith, “Religion and Ethnicity in America,” American Historical Review, 83 (Dec. 1978), 1155-1185. S. M. Cohen, “Socioeconomic Determinants of Intraethnic Marriage and Friendship,” Social Forces, 55 (June 1977), 997-1010 lists many of the marriage pattern studies. See also C. Lee, R. H. Potvin, and M. J. Verdieck, “Interethnic Marriage as an Index of Assimilation: The Case of Singapore,” Social Forces, 53 (Sept. 1974), 112-120.


Most scholars agree that cultural change takes place most rapidly in the public activities of the immigrant. In the privacy of the family, there is more resistance to cultural change and such change takes place more slowly if at all. Marriage patterns are an important way of evaluating the culture of the family and thus the nature of assimilation. We must keep in mind that we are only able to measure the marriage patterns of nationalities. Within each nationality group, there clearly were subgroups—by villages or regions—which in time may prove more important. See, for example, Joseph J. Barton, Peasants and Strangers (Cambridge, Mass., 1975) and John W. Briggs, An Italian Passage (New Haven, 1978).


Mark D. Szuchman, “The Limits of the Melting Pot in Urban Argentina: Marriage and Integration in Córdoba, 1869-1909,” HAHR, 57 (Feb. 1977), 24-50. Szuchman’s book-length study of Córdoba is being published by the University of Texas Press and will appear shortly.


Franco Savorgnan, “Matrimonial Selection and the Amalgamation of Heterogeneous Groups” in International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, Cultural Assimilation of Immigrants (London, 1950), pp. 59-67.


Let me emphasize here that my goal in this article is a limited one, to study marriage patterns. A comprehensive analysis of Argentine immigration would have to consider variables relating to the pre-emigration background and the circumstances of transfer as well as such new society variables as residence, occupation, language, class, political participation, friendship, host society attitudes, stage of economic development, immigrant institutions, and immigrant government attitudes. This article is part of a larger study of Italians in Buenos Aires, São Paulo, and New York City during the period of mass migration from 1880 to 1930 in which I deal extensively with the theoretical issues of assimilation and with the interrelationship of a wide variety of variables. For some of the preliminary findings of my study, see Samuel L. Baily, “The Italians and Organized Labor in the United States and Argentina: 1880-1910,” International Migration Review, 1 (Summer 1967), 55-66; “The Italians and the Development of Organized Labor in Argentina, Brazil, and the United States, 1880-1914,” Journal of Social History, 3 (Winter 1969), 123-124; “The Role of the Press and the Assimilation of Italians in Buenos Aires and São Paulo,” International Migration Review, 12 (Fall 1978), 321-340; “Patterns of Assimilation of Italians in Buenos Aires, 1880-1940” (Paper presented before the American Historical Association, Dallas, Dec. 1977); and “Italians in Buenos Aires, 1880-1940: An Approach to the Study of Cultural Pluralism” (Paper presented before the Organization of American Historians, New Orleans, April 1979).


Buenos Aires, Dirección General de Estadística, Anuario estadístico de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 1882-1923, 25 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1892-1925).


Argentine Republic, Segundo censo de la República Argentina, 3 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1895); Argentine Republic, Tercer censo de la República Argentina, 10 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1914); Buenos Aires, Censo general de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 2 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1887); Buenos Aires, Censo general de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires, 1904); Buenos Aires, Censo general de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 3 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1909); Buenos Aires, Censo general de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 4 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1936). Among the more important secondary works are: Guy Bourdé, Urbanisation et immigration en Amérique Latine, Buenos Aires XIXe et XXe siècles (Paris, 1974) ; Grazia Dore, La democrazia italiana e l’emigrazione in America (Brescia, 1964) ; Antonio Franceschini, L’emigrazione italiana nell’America del Sud (Rome, 1908) ; Germani, Política y sociedad; David Rock, Politics in Argentina, 1880-1930 (London, 1975); Scobie, Buenos Aires; and Emilio Zuccarini, I lavori degli Italiani nella Repubblica Argentina (Buenos Aires, 1910).


In addition there were a small number of French, English, Germans, Jews, and Poles. The Argentine population included both those born in Buenos Aires and those born in the interior.


Savorgnan, “Matrimonial Selection,” p. 60.


Ibid., pp. 64-65.


Ibid., p. 65. Savorgnan’s study included French, English and Germans as well, but they constituted a tiny percent of the total.


Ibid., p. 65.


Germani, Política y sociedad, p. 207.


It was not uncommon for Italians in Buenos Aires to send back to their hometowns in Italy for a wife.


Juan A. Alsina, longtime Director of Immigration in Argentina, argued in 1910 that mixed marriages between foreign men and Argentine women did not produce the naturalization of the man. The foreign man “keeps his foreign ideas extending them to his wife; he has not become assimilated [to her ways], but she to his.” La inmigración en el primer siglo de la independencia (Buenos Aires, 1910), p. 184.


Censo general de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 1904, p. 97. Argentine married women had 3.70 children, Italians 4.64, and Spaniards 3.97.


Manuscript schedules of the Argentine National Census of 1895 located in the Archivo Nacional in Buenos Aires. The sample districts are: 2, 3, 5, 7 in the center of the city; 20 (Boca) in the south; 28 in the west; and 21 (Barrio Norte) in the north.


Censo general de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 1936, IV, 370-371.

Author notes


The author wishes to thank the American Philosophical Society, the Rutgers University Research Council, and the Social Science Research Council for financial support which has made possible his study of Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires, São Paulo, and New York City. He would also like to thank James Baer, Joan Baily, Nadine Nolan, and Rudolph Bell for commenting on an early draft of the manuscript. They of course are not responsible for any shortcomings that may still remain.