The primary immigration

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The Rom arrived in the United States and Canada from Serbia, Russia and Austria-Hungary beginning in the 1880s, as part of the larger wave of immigration from southern and eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Primary immigration ended, for the most part, in 1914, with the beginning of the First World War and subsequent tightening of immigration restrictions. Many in this group specialized in coppersmith work, mainly the repair and refining of industrial equipment used in bakeries, laundries, confectioneries and other businesses. The Rom, too, developed the fortune-telling business in urban areas.

Virtually all the anthropological and sociological work on North American Gypsies concerns the Rom, an emphasis which has led a British observer to label the North American academic tradition "Kalderashocentric," Kalderash being one of the Rom subgroups. The first work covered in this bibliography to concern the Rom appeared in 1903. Material appeared sporadically after that, and steadily from 1928 onward. This group is also referred to in the literature as Nomads, Coppersmiths, Nomad Coppersmiths, Vlach (or Vlax) Gypsies, or by reference to a country from which they immigrated to North America, as Brazilian Gypsies, Bulgarian Gypsies, and so forth. The individual subgroup terms Kalderash and Machwaya are also used. While in the Kalderash dialect of the Romani language, Rom is both singular and plural, the Machwaya dialect has plural Roma, which is also found in the literature. The inflected language of the Rom belongs to the "Vlach" branch of the Romani language family. Native speakers refer to "speaking Romanes" (adverb) "in the Gypsy fashion."

A group of Rom who began immigrating to the United States and Canada from eastern Europe in the 1970s is represented primarily in the police literature, where they are referred to as Yugoslavian Gypsies.


The Ludar, or "Rumanian Gypsies," also emigrated to North America during the great immigration from southern and eastern Europe between 1880 and 1914. Most of the Ludar came from northwestern Bosnia. Upon their arrival in North America they specialized as animal trainers and show people, and indeed passenger manifests show bears and monkeys as a major part of their baggage. Only a handful of items covering this group have been published, beginning in 1902. The ethnic language of the Ludar is a form of Romanian. They are occasionally referred to as Ursari in the literature.

"Black Dutch"

Gypsies from Germany, generally referred to in the literature as Chikeners (Pennsylvania German, from German Zigeuner), sometimes refer to themselves as "Black Dutch." (While the term "Black Dutch" has been adopted by these German Gypsies, it does not originate with this group and has been used ambiguously to refer to several non-Gypsy populations.) They are few in number and claim to have largely assimilated to Romnichel culture. In the past known as horse traders and basket makers, some continue to provide baskets to US Amish and Mennonite communities. The literature on this group is very sparse and unreliable.

Hungarian Gypsies

The Hungarian (or Hungarian-Slovak) musicians also came to this country with the eastern European immigration. In the United States they continued as musicians to the Hungarian and Slovak immigrant settlements, and count the musical tradition as a basic cultural element. The sparse literature on this group begins in 1921. Curiously the proportion of scholarly efforts is higher than for the literature on other groups: three sociological studies (although two are unpublished master's theses), and one survey focused on music.

Irish Travelers

The Irish Travelers immigrated, like the Romnichels, from the mid to late nineteenth century. The Irish Travelers specialized in the horse and mule trade, as well as in itinerant sales of goods and services; the latter gained in importance after the demise of the horse and mule trade. The literature also refers to this group as Irish Traders or, sometimes, Tinkers. Their ethnic language is referred to in the literature as Irish Traveler Cant.

Harper's ethnographic and sociolinguistic studies and Andereck's in the sociology of education are the few serious studies of this group. The popular literature on Irish Travelers includes articles in Catholic periodicals.