Immigration in the United States

Overview The purpose of this pathfinder is to serve as a starting point for research on immigration in the United States. This page is designed for history students of all ages, educators, and anyone who wants to explore current immigrations issues. Both print and Internet resources are provided. Many of the resources listed focus on the history of immigration in the United States. However, visitors will also find resources regarding current issues in immigration. This pathfinder is by no means a comprehensive collection of material available on the subject. The resources listed here are merely recommendations of starting points. Just under a million immigrants arrive in the United States each year. For this reason, the United States has often been called a nation of immigrants. Indeed, the United States is unique in the fact that we are a melting pot for so many different cultures, races, and religions in the world. Our immigrant past has also helped us mold a national character. For the last several centuries, various ethnic, cultural, and social groups have come to our shores to reunite with their loved ones, to seek economic opportunity, and to find a haven from religious and political persecution. This pathfinder touches on resources that help us explore what it means to be a nation of immigrants, including everything from family photographs to the latest political debates with regard to immigration. Listed below are a variety of resources for those interested in learning more about the immigration process as well as organizations that support the needs and interests of foreign-born peoples. Additionally, a number of research organizations are also listed for those who are conducting intensive research on the topic of immigration.

Immigration History Internet Resources’s Immigration Issues Guide ( This site provides helpful, annotated links to a variety of information on the Web about the history of immigration, including laws, facts, important events, and remembrance. In addition to links about specific cultural groups, researchers can also use this site to help navigate the Web for genealogical information. American Memory Project ( This is the Library of Congress’ American Memory Historical Collections, a major component of the Library’s National Digital Library Program. Search under “immigrant” or “immigration” to find multimedia exhibits of digitized documents, photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures, and text from the Library’s Americana collections. Ellis Island Immigration Museum ( “The Museum tells the inspiring story of the largest human migration in modern history. Between 1892 and 1954, 12 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island. Today more than 40 percent, or over 100 Million, of all living Americans can trace their roots to an ancestor who came through Ellis Island.” National Park Service’s Ellis Island ( This virtual guided tour of Ellis Island offers a wonderful Internet exploration of the main port for immigrants.

Immigration Associations &Research Organizations American Immigration Lawyers Association ( The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is a national bar association of attorneys who practice and teach immigration law. Here visitors may obtain lawyer referrals, link to information about the contributions of immigrants, and explore the various myths surrounding immigration. National Immigration Forum ( The Forum advocates and builds public support for public policies that welcome immigrants and refugees and that are fair and supportive to newcomers to the U.S. The resources on this web site range from important immigration facts to current events and recent immigration legislation. Center for Immigration Studies ( The Center for Immigration Studies is a think tank devoted exclusively to research and policy analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States. In addition to its own publications on the topic, this web site provides an extensive book list, and collection of other immigration related web sites. Center for Migration Studies ( The Center for Migration Studies (CMS) is a research organization that publishes two journals, a newsletter, and various books and papers on migration, refugees, and ethnic groups. Visitors to this web site can order from the CMS catalog as well as browse its extensive online library of migration, refugees, and ethnic group materials. The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies ( The Balch Institute offers a museum, library, and archives devoted to America’s multicultural past. Visitors to this web site can browse the virtual exhibitions, search the library’s online catalog, or explore their extensive collection of manuscripts for specific ethnic groups. University of Minnesota’s Immigration History Resource Center ( The Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) at the University of Minnesota is an international resource on American immigration and ethnic history. Here, you can conduct online searches of your family’s history, browse the collections of specific ethnic group material, or check out the numerous publications produced by IHRC.

Government Resources Immigrant and Passenger Arrivals: Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications ( This catalog lists National Archives microfilm publications of records relating to the arrival of passengers, crew members, and vessels in U.S. ports. Trace your family’s history by searching through this catalog. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ( “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States.” U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review ( “Under delegated authority of the Attorney General of the United States, EOIR administers and interprets Federal immigration laws and regulations through the conduct of immigration court proceedings, appellate reviews, and administrative hearings in individual cases.” U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration ( “The Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration has primary responsibility for formulating policies on population, refugees, and migration, and for administering U.S. refugee assistance and admissions programs.” U.S. Census Bureau Statistics ( The U.S. Census Bureau is the best resource for genealogical information in the United States. This particular web site, which analyzes data on the foreign-born population of the United States from 1850-1990 will provide intent genealogist with a plethora of data to explore the past.

Teacher Resources Library of Congress’ American Memory Project Lesson Plans ( The American Memory Project’s Lesson Ideas offer strategies and lesson plans developed by education professionals to help integrate primary sources, especially those from American Memory, into the classroom. Several of these lesson plans focus on the history of immigration. Learning Network ( The New York Times’ Learning Network provides a number of lesson plans about immigration ranging from “Understanding the Immigration Process” to “An Examination of the Internment of Japanese- Americans During World War II” to “Exploring the New Visibility of Latino Culture in the U.S”. Just type in immigration at the Lesson Plan Search prompt. Remaking America: Contemporary U.S. Immigration ( This diverse array of curriculum guides created by Fellows at Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute are designed for both middle school and high school students. These teacher’s guides explore the historical and cultural backgrounds of newcomers to the United States, their diverse motives for emigrating, their varied legal statuses and the multiple modes of their incorporation into U. S. society. The History Channel Classroom ( The History Channel’s Ellis Island exhibit provides helpful immigration facts for any educator about information ranging from the breakdown of immigrant homelands at the turn of the century to narratives about the motivation for emigration.

Usenet The best usenet group for immigration issues is H-Ethnic ( H-Ethnic encourages discussion of ethnic history; immigration and emigration studies. Diverse bibliographical, research and teaching aids are also available from this site.

Print Resources While Internet resources can be an excellent source of information on immigration in the United States, anyone seeking to thoroughly study immigration will want to refer to books on the topic. In fact, there are numerous books on the subject of immigration. Many printed resources address the concerns and life experiences of specific immigrant groups. Additionally, there are number of excellent immigrant life stories that may provide insight into the immigrant experience. Indeed, there are so many books related to immigrant issues and experiences, it would be impossible to represent them all. Here are listed only a few of the most general books which address the role of immigration in American history or in present day politics. Of course, you can find books about immigration at your local library using the Library of Congress Subject headings: Immigrants—United States United States—Emigration and Immigration Immigration—advocates Immigration—opponents Bibliography

Barkan, Elliott Robert. And still they come : immigrants and American society, 1920 to the 1990s. Wheeling, Ill. : Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1996.

Daniels, Roger. Coming to America : A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life. York, NY : HarperCollins, 1990.

Dinnerstein, Leonard &David M. Reimers. Ethnic Americans : A History of Immigration. New York : Columbia University Press, 1999

Jacobson, David, edt. The immigration reader : America in a multidisciplinary perspective. Malden, Mass. : Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

Isbister, John. The immigration debate : remaking America. West Hartford, Conn. : Kumarian Press, c1996.

Morrison, Joan. American Mosaic : The Immigrant Experience in the Words of Those Who Lived It. New York : Dutton, 1980.

Reimers, David M. Unwelcome Strangers : American Identity and the Turn Against Immigration. New York : Columbia University Press, 1998.

Schuck, Peter H. Citizens, strangers, and in-betweens : essays on immigration and citizenship. Boulder, Colo : Westview Press, 1998

This pathfinder was created by Karen Scheuerer