The Girls of the Ghetto

The Girls of the Ghetto

The Girls of the Ghetto is a 1910 American silent short drama produced by the Thanhouser Company. The film focuses on Bella, who works in a sweatshop and save enough money to have her little sisters emigrate to New York. John Magie encounters one of the girls and urges to attend classes. During an outbreak of fever, John is suddenly taken ill and Bella nurses him back to health. At the time of its production, the term "ghetto" was a buzzword and the focus of the hardworking Jewess struggling to survive was a focus of other 1910 productions. The film was released on July 19, 1910, and received criticism for not having the character appear to be Jewish and incorrectly portraying her place of work as a sweatshop. The film is presumed lost.


Though the film is presumed lost, a synopsis survives in The Moving Picture World from July 23, 1910. It states: "Bella is an immigrant girl doing sweatshop work in the ghetto of a great city. But by saving for some time, she manages to get enough money to send to the old country for her two little sisters. She meets them at Ellis Island and escorts them across Battery Park to their new home. The three girls live with an uncle and aunt in one poor room in a tenement. The smallest of the sisters while playing on the sidewalk one day gets lost and suddenly finds herself in Chinatown. She is dismayed at the entirely strange surroundings, and is weeping bitterly when found by John Magie, a young settlement worker. He dries her tears and takes her safely to her sweatshop home. John is at once attracted by Bella, whom he meets for the first time when he brings the little one back. He does the family many little kindnesses, bringing them flowers and books, and induces the girls to attend the classes at the settlement. While teaching his class one evening, John is suddenly attacked with a fever, which is epidemic at that time. All his pupils flee from him in fear, except Bella, who remains and nurses him back to health. Upon his recovery John makes Bella his wife and they take up together the work of bringing knowledge and happiness to the poor of the East Side [of New York City]."