The Sweetness of Freedom presents an eclectic grouping of late nineteenth- and twentieth-century immigrants' narratives and the personal artifacts, historical documents, and photographs these travelers brought on their journeys to Michigan. Most of the oral histories in this volume are based on interviews conducted with the immigrants themselves.
Some of the immigrants presented here hoped to gain better education and jobs. Others—refugees—fled their homelands because of war, poverty, repression, religious persecution, or ethnic discrimination. All dreamt of freedom and opportunity. They tell why they left their homelands, why they chose to settle in Michigan, and what they brought or left behind. Some wanted to preserve their heritage, religious customs, traditions, and ethnic identity. Others wanted to forget past conflicts and lost family members. Their stories reveal how they established new lives far away from home, how they endured homesickness and separation, what they gave up and what they gained.