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HIST.5350: Immigration History & History.4320-201: Research Seminar U.S. Immigration - Forrant


“Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.” - Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted

Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island.

Welcome to Professor Forrant's Course, Immigration History

We will delve deeply into the experiences of women, men, and children who came to the U.S. from the colonial era through the 21st century. But, this will take place within a global context since the movement of millions took occurred worldwide. European migrations during the mid and late 19th /early 20th centuries and the experiences of Chinese and Mexican immigrants are discussed. More recent emigration from the Caribbean, Central, and South America is covered. The flow of refugees into the U.S. will be our focus as well.

The evolution of federal restrictions on immigration imposed in the second half of the 19th century and for most of the 20th century is important to our work. What motivated restrictions? What were grounds for restrictions? Who advocated ‘closing the gates’? How and why did policy change after World War II? Four pieces of legislation—the Immigration Act of 1965, the Refugee Act of 1980, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, and the Immigration Act of 1990—are important to understand. A significant focus for the semester will be the Boston, Lawrence, and Lowell stories.

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with this library guide. Bear in mind that you should refer to the Syllabus, (linked at left) for readings and assignments. 

Password for Oral Histories page is H1ST5350-F0rr@nt .

Immigrant and Ethnic Collections Finding Aids

Below are some of the finding aids for the immigrant and ethnic collections held by the Center for Lowell History. You can view the full list of collections on the Immigrant and Ethnic Collections page.

UMass Lowell Special Collections

Both primary and secondary resources on American Immigration can be accessed at:

Course Objectives

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/ Course Expectations:

• Students will acquire an understanding of U.S. Immigration History - both the experiences of immigrants and reactions to that immigration over time, including federal legislation designed to curtail immigration.
• Students will gain a thorough grounding in the use of archives and oral histories.
• Students will analyze primary sources—including letters, government documents, city atlases, oral histories, and photographs.
• Students will be able to demonstrate a thorough grounding in a variety of perspectives on immigration history and how that history relates to contemporary debates on immigration reform.