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Learn About Immigration

Around the turn of the twentieth century, mass immigration from eastern and southern Europe dramatically altered the population's ethnic and religious composition. Unlike earlier immigrants, who had come from Britain, Canada, Germany, Ireland, and Scandinavia, the “new immigrants” came increasingly from Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Russia. The newcomers were often Catholic or Jewish and two-thirds of them settled in cities.

Today, Americans are highly conscious of the impact of immigration. Since 1965, when the United States eliminated quotas that restricted the number of people who could come from certain parts of the world,  the face of the nation has changed visibly. The recent movement of millions of migrants to the United States has had profound political and social repercussions, spurring intense public debate over such issues as bilingual education and immigration restriction. But this influx of people is only the most recent example of a long history of immigration to the United States.  In a single decade—1900 to 1910--8.8 million immigrants entered the United States.

Photographs and Films of Immigration

To learn more

Handouts and fact sheets:


Recommended lesson plan:

The Statue of Liberty:Bringing the 'New Colossus' to America


Test your knowledge about immigration.

Recommended books:

Roger Daniels, Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life
A comprehensive history of immigration including extensive discussion of the experiences of a wide range of ethnic groups.

Recommended film:

Hester Street
A powerful portrait of Jewish immigrant life in New York at the end of the 19th century.

A learning guide to the film Hester Street

learn more film

Recommended Website:

Ancestors in the Americas
The companion site to the PBS series exploring the history and legacy of Asians in the Americas, including historical documents and film clips.


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