Nineteenth-Century Immigration

Immigration is a topic that is woven throughout the history of the United States, from the Englishmen who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts in the early seventeenth century to the myriad of Latin America, African, and Asian immigrants who have arrived in this country during the early twenty-first century. This website focuses on primary sources about nineteenth-century immigration to the United States based on the availability of resources from the American Antiquarian Society, whose collections of materials printed in the U.S. end roughly around 1876.

Americans have a long history of both loving and hating immigration. On the one hand, the U.S. has embraced being a "melting pot," a nation that includes people from many different places but who live together in one place. On the other hand, Americans throughout the country's history have found an influx of foreign people to be deeply disturbing and something to be feared. Both of these feelings have coexisted and continue to coexist in the U.S., and teachers can make many connections between the current situations of immigrants and the resources on this website which depict nineteenth-century immigrant experiences.

While these resources will address a limited number of immigrant groups, each section will include both textual and visual resources. Through these sources, teachers and students can explore the competing visions of how immigrants would function in the U.S. Were they a great resource of workers, or did they take jobs from "Americans"? Should they live in their own communities, or should they adopt "Americanized" ways?