In the North racial and ethnic distinctions existed everywhere. Northern cities featured elaborate complexes of ethnic enclaves, complete with newspapers, street signs, and conversations all in native languages. Many of the more recent immigrants came from eastern and southern Europe and brought different cultures, languages, and religions than those already prevalent in the United States. Often these ethic groups gathered together to form support systems, job networks, and political organizations for each other and for new arrivals. They also used their bonds to preserve traditions from their home countries, helping them to feel less isolated in a confusing new world.
In the West, Chinese and Japanese immigrants faced legal restrictions on their activities and wide-scale discrimination. Immigration restrictions existed to keep certain "undesirable," in the eyes of nativists, groups out. Native Americans had long been pushed off their land and onto reservations with few opportunities available there.
Although the vast majority of African Americans still lived in the states of the old Confederacy in 1912, enough lived in the North to face serious discrimination and prejudice. In most cities only certain areas of town were open to black residents, and these were usually the least convenient locations.