Digital History

The Huddled Masses

Migration as a Key Theme in U.S. and World History Previous Next
Digital History ID 3300



The massive movement of peoples as a result of voluntary choice, forced removal, and economic and cultural dislocation has been one of the most important forces for social change over the past 500 years. Changes produced by migration--such as urbanization or expansion into frontier regions--transformed the face of the modern world. Migration has also played a pivotal role in the formation of modern American culture. Our most cherished values as well as our art, literature, music, technology, and cultural beliefs and practices have been shaped by an intricate process of cultural contact and interaction. Because ours is a nation of immigrants, drawn from every part of the world, the study of migration provides a way to recognize and celebrate the richness of our population's ancestral cultures.

Historical understanding, however, demands more than a solid grasp of historical events and personalities. It also requires students to understand basic historical and sociological terms and concepts. The following skill-building exercises are designed to increase understanding of the complexity of migration.

The Language of Migration: Key Concepts

Demographers, historians, and sociologists have developed a technical vocabulary that is useful in understandings the nature, varieties, and results of migration.

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