Date of Award

June 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Kendall R. Phillips


Americanization, Citizenship, Delinquency, Industriousness, New York Catholic Protectory

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


In recent years, rhetorical scholars have been increasingly interested in questions of borders and citizenship. Scholars such as J. David Cisneros, Karma Chávez, Lisa Flores, and D. Robert DeChaine have tended to contemporary struggles at the southern U.S. border, while others, such as Jeffrey Bennett and Robert Asen, have articulated theories of citizenship that are tied to notions of belonging. To complement this ongoing work in the field, there is a need for additional historic work that seeks to understand the underpinnings of contemporary debates. In this thesis, I argue that the New York Catholic Protectory, in its mission to shepherd thousands of Catholic immigrant youth into white American identity, emphasized an articulation of citizenship built around the negative term “delinquency” and the positive term “industriousness.” By analyzing archival documents such as letters and the Protectory’s annual reports to the New York State legislature, I demonstrate the ways in which the discourses of delinquency and industriousness secured a powerful foothold in shared conceptions of citizenship that persists to the present day. This historical understanding of the development of these norms of citizenship can be seen as part of an ongoing collective project to unravel contested categories of race, identity, citizenship, and belonging, with hopes of increased understanding that can be applied to contemporary crises.


Open Access



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.