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Immigration Stories: The World Comes to Lowell

Resources to learn about stories of immigrants who settled in Lowell.

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Each year, thousands of people arriving at our border or already in the United States apply for asylum or protection from persecution. Asylum seekers must navigate a difficult and complex process that can involve multiple government agencies. Those granted asylum can apply to live in the United States permanently and gain a path to citizenship and can also apply for their spouse and children to join them in the United States. The material here provides an overview of the asylum system in the United States, including how asylum is defined, eligibility requirements, and the application process. 

The United Nations Refugee Agency. What is the asylum process in the United States? 

Amnesty International. “Refugees, Asylum-Seekers, and Migrants"

  • From the site: “Every day, all over the world, people make one of the most difficult decisions in their lives: to leave their homes in search of a safer, better life. Most people in the world have had the experience of leaving the place where they grew up. Maybe they will only move as far as the next village or city. But for some people, they will need to leave their country entirely – sometimes for a short time, but sometimes forever. 

Habitat for Humanity Great Britain. “Refugees, Asylum Seekers & Migrants: A Crucial Difference.”

  • From the site: “An asylum seeker is someone who claims to be a refugee but whose claim hasn’t been evaluated. This person would have applied for asylum on the grounds that returning to his or her country would lead to persecution on account of race, religion, nationality or political beliefs. Someone is an asylum seeker for so long as their application is pending. So not every asylum seeker will be recognized as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker.” 

International Justice Resource Center. Asylum and the Rights of Refugees.

  • From the site: “States have been granting protection to individuals and groups fleeing persecution for centuries; however, the modern refugee regime is largely the product of the second half of the twentieth century. Like international human rights law, modern refugee law has its origins in the aftermath of World War II as well as the refugee crises of the interwar years that preceded it.” The site has an excellent online resource hub. 

The Center for Victims of Torture. Eight Facts about refugees and asylum seekers.

  • From the site:  “To help clarify misconceptions and shed light on the realities of the lives of torture survivors, here are eight facts intended to help dispel some of the myths about who refugees and asylum seekers really are.” 

Migration Policy Institute. Brittany Blizzard and Jeanne Batalova, “Refugees and Asylees in the United States,” June 2019.

  • From the article: “Global displacement reached a record high of 68.5 million people by the end of 2017, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Approximately 25.4 million of these individuals were formally designated as refugees, 40 million were internally displaced persons, and 3.1 million were asylum seekers.” 

Migration Policy Institute. Sara Staedicke and Michelle Mittelstadt, “Asylum Hangover? Governments Seek to Narrow Avenues for Humanitarian Protection,” December 2018.

  • From the article: “Faced with absorbing vast numbers of asylum seekers who headed to Europe during the 2015-16 migration crisis and the ongoing arrival of much smaller, but steady flows of Central Americans at the U.S.-Mexico border, EU Member States and the United States in 2018 took or explored steps to narrow asylum and harden policies.” 

Teaching About Asylum Seekers and Refugees. Virtual Lesson Plans.

  • Lesson plans aimed at spreading awareness on refugees and asylum seekers, as there are more now than after World War II. Students will gain an understanding of what it means to be a refugee in the 21st century, explore encounters of refugees in the resettlement process, and expose students to different organizations that work with asylum seekers. 

Brown University – The Choices Program. “Seeking Asylum in the United States.”

  • Students will: Practice image analysis skills. Understand the process for applying for asylum in the United States. Review a timeline of major laws and policies related to asylum in the United States. Analyze data about recent asylum trends. 

Asylum 101 for Educators: Learning & Lesson Plan Resources. 

Facing History and Ourselves.What is Our Obligation to Asylum Seekers” A Curriculum. 

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Books to Help Kids Understand What It’s Like to Be a Refugee.” 

15 Stories About Asylum & Immigration That Every American Needs To Read. 

American Library Association. “Libraries Respond: Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers.”

  • A Guide to Books on Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers. 

Children’s Books Ireland. Zana Fraillon, The Bone Sparrow.

  • Fraillon is a children’s author from Australia, moved to highlight the present day humanitarian crisis of asylum seekers and the routine internment of refugees. While her novel is fictional, it is founded in fact and focuses on the plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. The Bone Sparrow, like many books based on real events, is an exercise in empathy. Its charm depends on the reader’s engagement with the main protagonist. Subhi is an asylum seeker born in a refugee camp in present-day Australia whose fertile imagination powers a rich interior life. The fact that Subhi has known no other world outside of his ‘captivity’ allows the author to imbue him with wonder and innocence. Without bitterness he observes the cruelty and sadness of his situation, always holding on for ‘one day’ when it will all be better. 

WBUR, “This Makeshift School Teaches Children Seeking Asylum At The Southern Border,” 

  • Atop a scorching concrete lot in September, hundreds of migrants and asylum-seekers were stuck living in a tent city right next to a bridge that leads to the U.S. Many of them have months-long waits ahead to cross that southern border into Brownsville, Texas, for a chance to talk to an American immigration judge… (read more). 

Asylum Seekers, Pt. One and Pt. Two (produced by ABC 10; 6 minutes each).

  • Despite doing everything ‘the right way’ when seeking asylum in the U.S., Eduardo found himself living a nightmare worse than the one he had fled in Mexico. Lilia Luciano spoke with  Eduardo and compared his experience with findings in a recent California Attorney General report about the state of ICE detention facilities in the Golden State. 

The New Yorker, “Across the Border and Back: An Asylum Seeker’s Journey.”

  • El Salvador’s violence and murder rate have prompted many to seek asylum. But, with the United States’ strict immigration policies, people like Manuel are being sent back (5:29). 

Ladislava N. Khailova, The Stories We Share: A Guide to PreK–12 Books on the Experience of Immigrant Children and Teens in the United States.

  • Named Best Professional Resource for School or Youth Librarians—2019 SLC/ARBA Best of Reference Awards. Khailova identifies both fiction and non-fiction titles published in the United States and Canada between 1990 and 2015 that focus on the twentieth or twenty-first-century immigrant experience; organizes selections by their world region of birth, including Asia, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, with further subdivisions by countries of origin; provides historical background on the immigration patterns of each group, with a list of additional resources on the topic; and offers discussion starters and questions to promote self-reflection, sense of connectedness, and empathy. 

Laura Lambert, “19 Books for Kids About the Immigrant Experience in America” from Brightly.

  • Books arranged from Baby and Toddler to Teen+. Books listed include:
    • Elisa Gravel, What is a Refugee?: For young readers just learning about the refugee experience, Elise Gravel offers an accessible and affirming introduction; she also addresses why refugees must leave home and how readers can make their community a more welcoming one. The book opens with perhaps the most important message of all, in response to the titular question: “A refugee is a person, just like you and me.”
    • Anna Kim,  Danbi Leads the School Parade: On her first day at her new American school, Danbi has trouble understanding her teacher’s instructions and her classmates’ games. But over lunch, Danbi finds a way to meld her two cultures and create a new game, one everyone can play. An uplifting picture book about finding connection through, not despite, our differences.
    • Matt de la Peña, Carmela Full of Wishes: When Carmela finds a dandelion to blow, she ponders all the wishes she could make with it. Will she wish for a candy machine? For her mother to sleep in a bed as nice as the ones she makes every day?  Or for her father’s papers to be fixed so he can finally come home? 

Social Justice Books: Teaching About Immigration. Titles on immigration and the immigrant experience with a focus on the United States.

  • Books are organized into Elementary, Middle Grades, YA / Adult Fiction, and YA / Adult Nonfiction. Books listed include:
    • Gloria E. Anzaldua, Amigos del Otro Lado / Friends From The Other Side: “Did you come from the other side? You know, from Mexico?” So begins the friendship between Prietita and Joaquin, the young boy who, with his mother, has crossed the Rio Grande River to Texas in search of a new life.
    • Yangsook Choi, The Name Jar: Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning.
    • Duncan Tonatiuh, Undocumented: A Worker's Fight: Undocumented is the story of immigrant workers who have come to the United States without papers. Every day, these men and women join the work force and contribute positively to society. The story is told via the ancient Mixtec codex—accordion fold—format. Juan grew up in Mexico working in the fields to help provide for his family. Struggling for money, Juan crosses over into the United States and becomes an undocumented worker, living in a poor neighborhood, working hard to survive. 

Colours of Us.30 Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration.”

  • A great opportunity to teach all children empathy and kindness towards new immigrants with these touching multicultural picture books about immigration! And for children who have gone or are going through the difficult experience of immigration, these books can be helpful in talking about it and processing their feelings. 

Scholastic. Twenty-five Books About Immigration Experiences, organized for grades 1 – 10.

  • From the site: “Encourage students to explore the power and poignancy of the immigration experience through these affecting stories… This curated collection of titles beautifully captures the immigrant and refugee experiences through both the fiction and nonfiction lens. Use them to supplement lessons on history and culture and to spark powerful conversations around what it means to leave home for a completely new land.” 

The-Best-Childrens-Books.orgImmigraiton Stories in American History.

  • Collected and curated by classroom teachers, the children's books discussed are great resources for immigration lesson plans. Some would make for great read-alouds, others would be perfect for required student reading lists. This selection of books will help bring the immigrant experience to life for your students. It is arranged by grade and reading levels., Our favorite children’s books about immigration.

  • From the site: “These books address situations from being in a new school in a new country to hiding from the Border Patrol. At Little Feminist we believe that stories teach empathy, and by teaching our kids empathy towards immigrants we can raise a generation of humans that ensures this treatment of immigrants and refugees will not repeat.”, Classroom Empathy Kit: Diverse book list covering immigration and refugee experience, activities, posters, and discussion guide., “Literature for Children and Adolescents about the Refugee and Immigrant Experience.”

  • From the site: These books are geared for children and adolescents and are written about the refugee or immigrant experience from many different perspectives and lands. Some tell the story of life in a war zone or conflict, flight from a home country, life in a refugee camp, or adjustment to a new home in a faraway country. Age appropriateness: These books were categorized into age groups by the Chicago Public Library, mainly according to reading level. Some of the content may contain sensitive material that may be upsetting or scary. Please use your own judgment as to what is appropriate for your child. 

University of California Berkeley Library. Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies: Digital Archives & Oral History Collections.

  • In 2012, the Center for the History of the New America (now the Center for Global Migration Studies) established the Archive of Immigrant Voices to collect stories of the experience of migration. The purpose of the archive is to create, accumulate, and preserve a repository of memories that will not only reveal living history and features of the recent past, but will also document the fine lines of social change that might be otherwise ignored or lost to history. These stories will provide the basis for understanding how newcomers adapt to challenges and successes. 

Living Refugee Archive (University of East London) is home to a growing collection of resources relating to refugees and forced migration. 

  • The Living Refugee Archive was established as a portal to help facilitate access to digital archive materials and existing archival collections including the Refugee Council Archive at the University of East London. The LRA takes an active role in documenting the heritage and narratives of the refugee and migrant experience. Archives have the power to present a narrative determined by the documentary evidence that has survived. Archives have the power to preserve community memory and influence individual identity. What is the role of archives in enabling refugees to have a voice in the social, legal, and political empowerment of communities? 

Bracero Oral History Project.

  • The project presents the oral histories and artifacts pertaining to the Bracero program, a U.S. guest worker initiative that spanned the years 1942-1964. 

Center for Global Migration Studies, University of Maryland.

  • In 2012, the Center for Global Migration Studies established the Archive of Immigrant Voices to collect stories of the experience of migration. The purpose of the Archive is to create, accumulate, and preserve a repository of memories that will not only reveal living history and features of the recent past, but will also document the fine lines of social change that might be otherwise ignored or lost to history. These stories will provide the basis for understanding how newcomers adapt to challenges and successes. The Archive unites the Center's mission to advance scholarship and teaching while enhancing the Center's connection to migrant communities by capturing, recording, and preserving the experience of migration, dislocation, and community formation as immigrants, asylum-seekers, refugees, and other newcomers themselves understood it. In addition to housing these oral interviews, the Archive also contains further information on the history of immigration, educator resources, and tools for conducting oral histories. 

The Chinese in California, 1850-1925  (Library of Congress).

  • Describes experiences of Chinese immigrants in California from 1850 to 1925, including the nature of inter-ethnic tensions. Also documents specific contributions of Chinese immigrants to commerce and business, architecture and art, agriculture and other industries, and cultural and social life in California.  

Duke University Libraries, Refugee Lives Oral History Project, 2015-2018.

  • Oral history interviews with local refugee families from Iraq and Sudan and Syrian refugees now residing in Canada, Brazil, Lebanon, Germany, and Italy. 

Yale University Libraries. Latinx Studies: Oral Histories.

  • At this site are: 1) Bracero History Archive - The Bracero History Archive collects and makes available the oral histories and artifacts pertaining to the Bracero program, a guest worker initiative that spanned the years 1942-1964. Millions of Mexican agricultural workers crossed the border under the program to work in more than half of the states in America; 2) Hispanic Communities Documentation Project (Brooklyn Historical Society) Over fifty interviews were conducted to document the experiences of Brooklyn residents who arrived from Puerto Rico, Panama, Ecuador, and several other Central and South American nations in the latter half of the twentieth century. This collection includes recordings and transcripts of interviews conducted between 1988 and 1989; 3) Latino Arts and Culture Oral History Project (Institute for Latino Studies, Notre Dame) More than 100 interviews have been recorded with Latino leaders, writers, poets, artists, scholars, and Notre Dame Alumni, with a particular emphasis on the Midwestern United States. 

Many Paths, Many Voices: Oral Histories from the University of Washington Special Collections.

  • Since 1960 oral historians recorded interviews with members of the Scandinavian-American, African American, Japanese American, and Jewish communities in Seattle and Washington State. Later, this effort broadened to document the Northwest arts community and spawned new projects such as the North Cascades History Project. 

Lawrence History Center Oral History Collection.

  • Oral histories are stories that living individuals tell about their past, or about the past of other people. Gathering, preserving, and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events is the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies. Our collection currently includes approximately 700 audio tapes that have now been digitally mastered, some with eyewitness accounts going as far back as the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. Interviews cover a variety of subjects (e.g., military services, immigration, schools, churches, neighborhoods, labor, clubs & organizations, social services, family and civic life, and urban renewal). 

Mexican Migration Project - Oral Histories.

  • The MMP has an online collection of oral histories from thirteen Mexican migrant laborers who came to the United States, There is also a  gallery of paintings  about the migrant experience. 

Minnesota Immigrant Oral Histories.

  • Oral History interviews with some of Minnesota's newest immigrant groups. Immigrant Oral Histories presents a collection of over 360 oral history interviews conducted between 1967 and 2012 with recent immigrants to Minnesota and their American-born children, including both streaming audio and written transcripts accessible online in digital formats. These interviews are a unique source of contemporary history through the experiences of the newest Americans, in their own words. New oral history projects will continue to be added to this site as they are completed. 

New York City Immigrant Labor Oral History Project  (NYU Tamiment library) 

  • Documents the lives of immigrants and migrants who settled in New York, New York between 1900 and 1930, their family relationships, social lives and work patterns.  

New York Public Library American Jewish Committee Oral History Collection.

  • Over 156,000 pages of transcripts, 6,000 hours of taped interviews, 2,250 informants: this incomparable repository of unique and unpublished primary source material for the study of what is often called “the American Jewish experience in the 20th century” is the mother of all American Jewish oral histories and one of the American Jewish culture’s most substantial monuments. 350 of the transcripts are now available online at: 

Southeast Asian Archive(UC Irvine Libraries).

  • Documents the social, cultural, religious, political, and economic life of Americans of Southeast Asian origin. The collection includes materials relating to the resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees and immigrants in the United States, refugee camp and other experiences of the "boat people" and land refugees, and the development and progress of new ethnic communities. There is a special focus on materials pertaining to Southeast Asian Americans in Orange County and California. 

State Library New South Wales.

  • Stories from our migrant and refugee communities. Developed with the support of the State Library of New South Wales Foundation. The interviews record the experiences of people who have settled in Australia recently under refugee and migration schemes, or as asylum seekers. They also highlight the different perspectives of people working in the community to assist new arrivals. These recordings focus on people from a range of African countries, the Middle East, and South Asia. They add to the Library's collections of interviews with immigrant communities post-World War II, documenting the changing profile of immigrant and refugee populations in Sydney and NSW. 

Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Oral Histories.

  • Since 1973, the Ellis Island Oral History project has been dedicated to preserving the first-hand recollections of immigrants who passed through the Ellis Island immigration station between 1892 and 1954 and the employees who worked there. 

Tibet Oral History Project, produced by a non-profit organization based in Moraga, California, offers nearly 200 videotaped interviews recorded in 2007 and 2010 with primarily eldertly Tibetan refugees living in Bylakuppe, Mundgod, and Dharmsala, India.

  • The interviewees discuss their experiences of daily life in Tibet, the impact of Chinese Communist rule, and life in exile.  The full set of interviews, together with (searchable) English transcripts, is available for loan through the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. For holdings information about the DVDs, and the print and digitized transcripts, see  CLIO. A limited selection of the videos are also available online through the Project's  website

University of Florida Department of History.

University of Southern Maine: The Franco-American Collection

  • Maintains a wide variety of oral history interviews conducted with members of the local Franco-American community. Interview dates range between the 1970s and the present. Subjects include: childhood, music, religion, wartime, labor, business, sports, and language. These oral histories are provided for research and educational purposes 

Immigration History Markers and Monuments: Part of the way history gets remembered is through the ways in which we commemorate people and events in public spaces. These links provide a glimpse into how immigrant and refugee history is celebrated in the public square. For students and teachers, these markers and monuments are important classroom discussion tools. Here is an analyzing and creating memorial and monuments curriculum lesson plan

  • The Boston Irish Famine Memorial intersects the city’s Freedom Trail and Irish Heritage Trail. Unveiled in June 1998, the Memorial has been viewed by millions of residents, visitors and students, who have gained a historical perspective of one of the worst famines in human history, while learning an appreciation of the Boston Irish story. The sculpture depicts two Irish families; one starving and emaciated while combating famine in Ireland, and another well-nourished Irish family thriving, having found prosperity in the United States. The memorial also features eight narrative plaques that provide historical context for the Irish famine as well as famines in modern times in Africa and other places. 


  • The Vilna Shul is the last immigrant-era synagogue building that exists in downtown Boston. It currently operates as a cultural center celebrating Jewish heritage and its intersection with other cultures and communities in the city. In 1893, Jewish immigrants from Vilna Gubernia—the province encompassing the present-day Lithuanian capital of Vilnius—formed a new American community on the north slope of Beacon Hill in Boston’s West End. On December 11, 1919, they laid the cornerstone for the Vilna Shul at 18 Phillips Street. 


  • Hungarian Monument, Liberty Square, Boston, MA. This bronze and granite statue in Liberty Square dates from 1986, 30 years after the brutal Soviet crackdown on Hungarian rebels that it commemorates. The 1956 repression spurred thousands of Hungarians to flee their home country, with many settling in the U.S., including the Boston area. 



  • The Immigrants – Utah. This monument is dedicated to Carbon County’s proud immigrant heritage. In the early part of this century, thirty-two nationalities lived in Carbon County. Most of them came here to mine the coal. Carbon County is Utah’s melting pot. Because of its polyglot population, refined and tempered in the melting process, the religious, social, and cultural life of Carbon County has a broader, more tolerant, cosmopolitan type of lifestyle that sets it apart from the rest of Utah. These immigrants, together with the Native Americans, have left their imprint as part of this rough, often cruel, yet proud heritage. 


  • ‘Famine’, St. Stephen's Green, Custom House Quay, Docklands, Dublin (Ireland). By Edward Delaney. This location is particularly appropriate & historic as one of the first voyages of the Famine period was on the 'Perseverance' which sailed from Custom House Quay on St. Patrick's Day 1846.  The Steerage fare on the ship was £3 and 210 passengers made the historical journey. They landed in New York on the 18th of May 1846. All passengers and crew survived the journey.  


  • Angel Island Immigration Station Memorial. Located in San Francisco Bay, this memorial was originally an immigration detention facility in the first half of the 20th century. The facility mainly detained Asian immigrants, including Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Filipino immigrants. Tiburon, California. 


  • Angel Island Chinese Immigration monument. “Leaving their homes and villages, they crossed the ocean only to endure confinement in these barracks. Conquering frontiers and barriers, they pioneered a new life by the Golden Gate.”  (Eddie Ngoot Ping Chin) Monument near  United States Immigration Station


  • Vietnamese Boat People Monument. Description:  Cam Ai Tran and Hap Tu Thai and their two children escaped Vietnam by boat in 1979. Thirteen others on the same boat died and were buried at sea. Tran and Thai are now the publishers of the “Saigon Times”, based in Rosemead, California. For ten years they worked tirelessly to build a memorial to the Boat People, including the tens of thousands who died at sea. In the Spring of 2009, the Vietnamese Boat People Monument was dedicated in Westminster Memorial Park’s Asian Garden of Peaceful Eternity. 


  • "Bloody Monday": Election day, Aug. 6, 1855, known as Bloody Monday due to riots led by "Know-Nothing" mobs. This political party was anti-Catholic and nativist. Attacks on German immigrants east of downtown and Irish in the west caused at least 22 deaths, arson, and looting. Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption & St. Martin's Church were threatened with destruction. American (Know-Nothing) Party. This party feared that Catholic immigrants from Germany and Ireland threatened Protestantism and democracy. By 1854, the party claimed a million members nationwide and led Jefferson Co. govt. They split over slavery and by the end of the Civil War they had vanished from politics in Louisville and Jefferson Co., Kentucky. 


  • The Immigrants: This is part of NYC Parks’ Historical Signs Project. Sculptor Luis Sanguino (b. 1934) celebrates the diversity of New York City and the struggle of immigrants in this heroic-sized bronze figural group. The sculpture depicts figures of various ethnic groups and eras, including an Eastern European Jew, a freed African slave, a priest, and a worker. The figures’ expressive poses emphasize the struggle and toil inherent in the experience of the immigrant or dislocated person. The sculpture is located at the south end of the Eisenhower Mall in Battery Park, which served as a processing facility for newly arrived immigrants from 1855 to 1890, when construction began on a larger, more remote facility at nearby Ellis Island. The piece was donated by Samuel Rudin (1896–1975), who commissioned the sculpture in the early 1970s, intending it to be installed near Castle Clinton as a memorial to his parents, who, as it is noted on the plinth, emigrated to the United States in the late-19th century. Although Rudin died in 1975, Rudin’s family took up the campaign to install the sculpture at the park, and it eventually was dedicated on May 4, 1983. 


  • Monument to New Immigrants: Tania Bruguera’s piece is a meditation on the history and present-day significance of immigration in Philadelphia and beyond. She proposed a physically incomplete statue of an immigrant child—unmarked by race, ethnicity, or gender. As Bruguera stated, “the statue is not (meant) to represent a particular community, but all immigrants…they are not always in one place; part of them is somewhere else, in their home country.” For this project, Bruguera collaborated with students and staff from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ Sculpture Department to create a series of identical clay sculptures placed outside on Lenfest Plaza, in line with a view of City Hall. After days of weathering and outdoor conditions, the unfired sculpture was meant to “deteriorate and slowly disappear,” upon which another sculpture would take its place. This cycle would repeat throughout the exhibition until the series of fabricated sculptures fully disappeared.  


  • The Immigrant: Opposite  The Slave in the Central Terrace of the  Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial  is Heinz Warneke’s representation of The Immigrant, commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art). Born in Germany, Warneke himself became an immigrant to the United States at the age of 28. Well known for his animal sculptures, such as Cow Elephant and Calf, he also created monumental human figures for a number of public sites, including government buildings in Washington, D.C. In contrast to the enthusiasm expressed in Sterne’s  Welcoming to Freedom, Warneke’s Immigrant is a rather melancholy figure. Taken together, the works by Sterne, Sardeau, and Warneke suggest both the promise and the difficulties of American freedom. 


  • Bracero Monument honoring ‘braceros,’ Mexican migrant workers, unveiled in downtown L.A. created by artist Dan Medina, 51, as part of a $3.2-million streetscape and pedestrian improvement project that also highlights Native American, African American, and immigrant cultures from many L.A. communities, in Migrant’s Bend Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. It measures about 20 feet tall. A bronze migrant worker holds el cortito, a short-handled hoe that required field workers to be bent over for their 10- to 12-hour shifts. To the left of the worker, his wife holds their son, clutching a toy Ford truck in one arm while stretching out the other arm in search of his father. To the right, there’s a pile of workers’ tools and other symbols depicting how migrants were exploited. 


  • Black Rock: Stone commemorating 6,000 immigrant deaths, Point St. Charles, QC. The Black Rock was placed in 1859 near the entrance of the Victoria Bridge, in the middle of a cemetery where thousands of Irish immigrants were buried, victims of typhus in 1847-1848. In 1902, after the cemetery was moved, the commemorative monument was placed in St. Patrick Square, beside the Lachine Canal. It was, however, returned to the entrance of the bridge in 1912, where it remains to this day. 


  • Cairn commemorates the arrival of Scottish immigrants in Cape Breton. The plaque is in English and Gaelic and the English text reads: On 3 August 1802, the 242-ton ship "Northern Friends" arrived in Sydney Harbour with 415 settlers from Scotland. This marked the first emigration directly from Scotland to Cape Breton and formed the vanguard of the great migration which gave this Island its Scottish character. Erected through the co-operation of the Old Sydney Society and the Gaelic Society of Cape Breton, and unveiled by the Honourable Vincent J. MacLean, Minister of Lands and Forests, October 1977. 


  • Bridge of Tears. Roadside stone Gaelic monument is located where emigrants departing to America and/or Canada parted with family members remaining in Ireland, perhaps never to see one another again, with the emigrants just beginning a long walk to get to the ships and family members remaining in Ireland walking back to their homes in the opposite direction. 


  • Statue commemorating Lebanese immigrants in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It portrays a Lebanese traveler wearing traditional clothes. The plaque of the statue read as follows: “This monument is a universal symbol of a proud, strong, and globally united Lebanese community. The statue honors the early Lebanese settlers who, 130 years ago, established a presence in this country, sewing the bonds of loyalty, faith, and perseverance. We are thankful to our Nova Scotia community and for the enduring friendships built in our new home, Canada.” 

Migration Policy Institute.

Migration Policy Institute.


  • Nine maps and charts that explain the global refugee crisis. 

New American Economy.

  • Map the impact of immigrants on state economies. 

Pew Research Center. Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants, 1990-2017.

  • The figures in this interactive map refer to the total number of migrants living around the world as of 1990, 2000, 2010, or 2017.  Since migrants have both an origin and a destination, international migrants can be viewed from two directions – as an emigrant (leaving an origin country) or as an immigrant (entering a destination country). According to the United Nations Population Division, an international migrant is someone who has been living for one year or longer in a country other than the one in which he or she was born. 

All the World’s Immigration/Migration Visualized.

  • Maps include country-to-country net migration (2010-2015); The United Kingdom; Australia; United States. 

ESRI, The Science of Where.

  • The Uprooted. Since 2011, the world’s refugee population has increased by 45%. This story map examines the causes of forcible displacement and how it affects millions of people across geographies. The Uprooted tells a deeply human story, on global and local scales, in a way that is informative and evocative. The linear, scroll-driven layout of this story map works to deconstruct a highly complex issue into manageable chapters. 

Migration Data Portal. The Migration Data Portal uses statistics on migration to present timely, comprehensive migration statistics and reliable information about migration data globally.

  • The site is designed to help people interested in the field of migration to navigate the increasingly complex landscape of international migration data, currently scattered across different organizations and agencies. 

Michigan State University Map Library. 1903, Race and occupation of immigrants to the U.S.

  • Also the yearly increase and decrease of each state’s proportion and the number. From Annual Report of the Commissioner-General of Immigration for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1903, by F. P. Sargent. Several other relevant maps at this site. 

National Geographic. Immigration to the U.S. between 1870 and 1900, the largest number of immigrants continued to come from northern and western Europe including Great Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia.

  • But "new" immigrants from southern and eastern Europe were becoming one of the most important forces in American life. More controversial, and much more limited, was immigration from Asia and Latin America. 

National Geographic. The World’s Congested Human Migration Routes in 5 Maps

The Immigration Museum, Australia.

  • Among exhibits at the online site is one that discusses settling into a new country. Immigrants have to adapt to an unfamiliar environment and lifestyle, while maintaining aspects of their previous culture and way of life. Many newcomers to Victoria spent their new lives in limbo, spending months in temporary migrant accommodation, committed to two-year labor contracts. For others, settlement has been far easier because they spoke English, or government had offered assistant land or home scheme. Generations of immigrants have had to adapt to a new climate, new landscape, new language, new currency, and new lifestyle, especially those who have settled in rural areas. There are numerous first-person, generational accounts here

The Migration Museum, Great Britain

  • Explores how the movement of people to and from Britain across the ages has made us who we are – as individuals and as a nation. The site contains ‘100 Images of Migration’ a collection of diverse images by professional and amateur photographers that together tell a compelling story about what migration means to people across the UK. There is as well ‘Room to Breathe,’ an immersive exhibition inviting you to discover stories from generations of new arrivals to Britain. Journey through a series of rooms in which hundreds of personal stories are brought to life in creative and unexpected ways. 

Museum of Modern Art, NYC, ‘Crossing Borders: Immigration and American Culture’ online exhibits.

  • It includes Citizens and Borders, a series of discrete projects at MoMA related to works in the collection that offer a critical perspective on histories of migration, territory, and displacement; and, Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter explores the ways in which contemporary architecture and design have addressed notions of shelter in light of global refugee emergencies.  

Minneapolis Institute of Art, ‘When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Art and Migration’

  • Site includes a virtual video tour, as Gabriel Ritter, Curator and Head of Contemporary Art, talks about works in and related to the exhibition. About the exhibition: “By choice or by force. With great success or great struggle. People move or are uprooted, for many reasons. The world is currently witness to the highest levels of movement on record; the United Nations estimates that one out of every seven people is an international or internal migrant or refugee. Borrowing its title from Somali-British poet Warsan Shire, ‘When Home Won’t Let You Stay’ highlights the diverse artistic responses to migration, ranging from personal stories to poetic meditations in a range of mediums.” 

American Writers Museum, ‘My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today’

  • A special exhibit honoring and exploring the work of contemporary immigrant and refugee writers in America. The exhibit and related program series explore the influence of modern immigrant and refugee writing in America on our culture, history, and daily lives. The curating team includes Marie Arana, Ilan Stavans, Vu Hoang Tran, Chris Abani, Laila Halaby, Dipika Mukherjee, and special advisor Viet Thanh Nguyen. ‘My America’ gives visitors and students a deep and personal experience, bringing them face-to-face — both through videos and in person — with contemporary authors who are immigrants, refugees, and second-generation immigrants from all parts of the world, and is designed to elicit thoughtful dialogue on a wide variety of issues.  

Museums and Migration.

  • This site asks and answers these questions: How have museums reacted in the last years to migration? Have they silently observed from the “outside” (if there is an outside) or taken part in the debate, invited specialists, curated exhibitions, invented new forms of mediation, re-written their texts, created space for inclusion, co-designed with the protagonists? The wonderfully organized site contains numerous examples of immigration/migration history exhibits from around the world and also contains a lively blog discussing museums and immigration. There are also links to immigration exhibits and galleries from over twenty countries. 

Breman Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, ‘TERRA in FIRMA

  • “Our world is a sacred place.  It is the basis for our existence.  Taking care of our earth is our primary responsibility, and human beings must act to keep it healthy and to insure its survival. This exhibition is a call to action by artists, who are expressing the present condition and problems of today’s environment. These artists are sounding the alarm, asking viewers to slow or reverse climate change and global warming, as we preserve our world.  The artists examine social and political issues, including environmental contamination, rising global temperatures, oil leaks, polluted water, piles of trash, and the disappearance of bees. The exhibition is online at”  

American Historical Association. Classroom Materials: Migration/Immigration. 

Emerging America: Immigrant History Through Primary Sources: The Emerging America

  • Accessing Inquiry approach to making history and social studies accessible to all learners emphasizes the importance of showcasing the historical contributions of people with challenges that students can relate to. This includes the challenges of being an immigrant. 

Teaching Immigration with the Immigrant Stories Project.

  • Founded in 1965, the University of Minnesota's Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) aims to transform how we understand immigration in the past and present. Along with its partner, the IHRC Archives, it is North America's oldest and largest interdisciplinary research center and archives devoted to preserving and understanding immigrant and refugee life. The IHRC promotes interdisciplinary research on migration, race, and ethnicity in the United States and the world. It connects U.S. immigration history research to contemporary immigrant and refugee communities through its Immigrant Stories project. It advances public dialogue about immigration through its public programming, supports teaching and learning at all levels, and develops archives documenting immigrant and refugee experiences for future generations.  

Teaching Immigration History from National History Education Clearinghouse.

  • This is the link to a large collection of teacher resources including photographs, videos, and primary source documents for teaching immigration history. 

Anna-Cat Brigida, “How Educators Are Rethinking The Way They Teach Immigration History,” Yes Magazine, Jan. 2020. 

Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. Education Resources and Curriculum Guides for elementary, middle, and high school students alongside articles, and poetry for anyone teaching or learning about the history of Angel Island, the West Coast version of Ellis Island.

  • Angel Island Immigration Station's curriculum guides, called ‘Immigrant Journeys,’ provide strategies and background material designed for teachers of Grades 3-12. These guides contain lessons, student worksheets, primary source documents from the National Archives, historical photographs, and list of resources to introduce students to the experience of immigrants on Angel Island. 

Independent Lens from’s The New Americans series.

  • These lesson plans for The New Americans for grades 7-12 are available on the Web or as PDF documents. The PDF format provides a downloadable printed version of the lesson plan; Adobe Acrobat is required. The New Americans Series Guide and Activity Kit for higher education settings, including ESOL and professional development, is available through the Community Connections Project at

Teaching Tolerance: “Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice: Exposing Anti-Immigration Sentiment.”

  • The photo shows an anti-immigration protest on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. People with picket signs are arguing for stricter immigration policies that would make it a felony to be in the United States illegally. In this lesson, you will analyze two photographs, each dealing with a different element of identity. This is part of the Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice series. Grades 6-8 and 9-12. 

Teaching Tell complex stories about immigration in the United States and find strategies for serving immigrant students and families.

  • Our resources can help you teach accurately about immigration and offer undocumented and ELL students resources and support. Address immigration myths, research changing demographics and explore the value of a diverse society. 

Teaching New Scholarship Primary Source Documents.

  • Analyzing the History of Immigration in America: Reflections of New Immigrants in American Schools (Are we the same or different from those before us?) This unit promotes reflection on the value of diverse perspectives about immigrant experiences. The underlying goal is for students to understand that the United States is a nation of immigrants with a variety of backgrounds. These immigrants have different reasons for coming to the United States and have unique stories about their journeys that need to be shared with others. Students will experience what immigration was like 100-150 years ago and analyze a collection of images from the past to reflect on their personal immigration experiences, discussing what has changed in immigration today. Grades 4 – 6. 

The Tenement Museum (New York City).

  • With Tenement Museum resources, students become historians. Using teacher-designed, teacher-tested lesson plans, students engage in inquiry and learn to use critical thinking to interpret objects, oral histories, and primary sources, while making history relevant to today. Classroom resources support Social Studies and English Language Arts curriculum. 

Library of Congress. “Immigration and Migration: Today and During the Great Depression” (Eight lesson plans at this site).

  • Is there a novel in every person? Are there stories that have never been told because they seemed unimportant? What is the value of the lives of people who will never be famous or have their biographies written? Students address these questions through activities using oral history methods and investigating life in the 1930s. They compare immigration/migration experiences of their families to those of people living through the Great Depression using interviews with parents, and photographs, films, and documents from the Library of Congress and other sources. 

Library of Congress. “Immigration History First Hand.”

  • Designed to provide elementary children with experiences which enable them to begin understanding primary sources. Students move from personal artifacts to the vast Library of Congress online collections and learn how archival collections are organized, how to interpret artifacts and documents, how to use primary sources to tell a real story and how to do online research. 

Scholastic. Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today shares with students the many reasons people come to America and how they’ve helped create our rich and diverse country.

  • Through several learning activities (mostly for grades 3–8) at this site including oral histories of recent and historic immigrants, an Ellis Island history lesson, data analysis, research skills, and several graphing activities, students get a comprehensive look at immigration. Take a tour of Ellis Island, explore an interactive immigration timeline, and meet young immigrants in this online activity! 

Scholastic. Exploring Immigration History with data.

  • Questions include: What is the total number of immigrants who came to the United States from 1820 to 2010? Choose a decade, and then use your research skills to find out what the U.S. population was at that time. How does the overall population compare to the number of people who arrived in that decade? Data. Maps. Suggested classroom activities and projects. “A Picture’s Worth: Analyzing Historical Photographs in the Elementary Grades.”

  • A Lesson Plan for Analyzing an Authentic Photograph. When using historical pictures in the classroom, teachers should assume that students will need the most help drawing their observations together to reach conclusions about the lives of people at a particular time. Sets of photographs—along with probing questions and graphic organizers—can help students develop these important skills of authentic historical inquiry. 

History Teaching Institute, Ohio State University. “Immigration in U.S. History: Through the Eye of Editorial Cartoons.”

  • Generally students focus more on the causes of immigration and the perspectives of the immigrants themselves in a segmented, period by period view of immigration. This should have already been covered in class. In this lesson, students will relate the past of U.S. immigration to the present media conversation through a thematic, domestic perspective. Through an analysis of political cartoons dealing with immigration and racism from the 19th century through the present, students will make inferences about the opinions, biases and fears of Americans of these periods relating to the social, political, and economic effects of immigration. 9th grade 

History Teaching Institute, Ohio State University. “Irish Immigration to the United States.”

  • Brief overview of the how various immigrant groups have been accepted with a focus upon the Irish. Discussion of the melting pot concept of immigration and how it compares to the ‘salad bowl’ concept of immigration.  Discussion of what it means to be a citizen of a country. 7th and 8th grade 

History Teaching Institute, Ohio State University. “Seeking More Freedom!”

  • In the early 1900s, immigration to American reached a peak. Most of these newcomers settled in American cities. As machinery displaced Americans who worked on farms, they also poured into the cities. Many Americans criticized the immigrants for taking jobs away from Americans because they were more willing to accept lower wages. During World War I (1914-1918), European immigration declined. It picked up after the war, and debate about how to regulate immigration to the United States resumed. In 1921 the U.S. congress adopted a quota system severely restricting immigration from southern and eastern Europe. 

Best Children’s Books. “Immigrant Stories in Early American History.”

  • Any day is a good day for a story about immigrant experiences, since the characters in these books embody hope, sacrifice and determination--character traits we'd like to see all our students embrace. The children's books discussed here are great resources for your immigration lesson plans. Some would make for great read alouds, others would be perfect for required student reading lists. This selection of books will help bring the immigrant experience to life for your students. Grades K – 5. 

Colours of Us. “30 Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration.”

  • A great opportunity to teach all children empathy and kindness towards new immigrants with these touching multicultural picture books about immigration! And for children who have gone or are going through the difficult experience of immigration, these books can be helpful in talking about it and processing their feelings. Pre-school, Elementary, and Middle School 

Education World. Best Instructional Videos on Immigration.

  • Education World has scoured the Internet to bring you the most insightful and comprehensive educational videos on the topic of immigration. For each video, we include a description and grade level. 

Global Citizen. “14 Photos That Show America's Long History of Immigration.”

  • The Immigrants’ showcases the diversity of people who came to the US in hopes of finding safety and living the “American Dream.” People from around the world came to the US, passing through New York’s Ellis Island and California’s Angel Island — dubbed “the Ellis Island of the West.” And though most of the images featured in the exhibition are from the first half of the 20th century, they are poignantly relevant to today’s immigration discussion. 

George Lucas Educational Foundation. Teaching Poetry of the Immigrant Experience.

  • ‘I'm From’ poems, multicultural poetry collections, and the poetic artifacts of immigration history can teach valuable language arts as well as the rich tapestry of American culture. Bringing poems about the immigration experience into the classroom engenders cultural understanding and empathy. It highlights the human aspect of immigration often occluded by political rhetoric, and it engages youth voice. The site contains six ways to teach poetry of the immigrant experience in the classroom. 

Population Education. Pete Bailey, “5 Tips For Teaching Immigration to Elementary Students,” October, 2019.

  • “Immigration is a hot button issue in the United States and around the world. Therefore, it is likely that students as young as elementary school have heard about immigration in some way or another. Because students may have varying background knowledge on the subject, it is important to fill in any gaps and correct misconceptions about why people immigrate, who immigrants are, and why immigration has always been a hallmark of the United States.” 


The United Nations Refugee Agency. “Teaching About Refugees.”

  • With forced displacement reaching historic levels, schools all over the world are welcoming increasing numbers of refugee children. Teachers are facing new challenges in making sense of forced displacement and its complexities. Refugees and migrants regularly make headlines and the internet is bustling with information on the topic. Explaining the situation of refugees and migrants to primary and secondary school children has become part of many educators’ daily work. On this UNHCR Teaching About Refugees page you can find free-of-charge and adaptable UNHCR teaching materials on refugees, asylum, migration and statelessness and a section dedicated to professional development and guidance for primary and secondary school teachers on including refugee children in their classes.  

Facing History and Ourselves. “Understanding the Global Refugee Crisis.”

  • Teachers will find videos and a range of curriculum materials designed to provide ways to discuss the global refugee crisis. Students will gain a better understanding of the refugee crisis and what it means to be a refugee. They will reflect on the implications of the historical episode involving the St. Louis in 1939, particularly in relation to responses to the current refugee crisis. Students will consider the importance of “humanizing” those who otherwise seem distant and different from us.  

The Choices Program, Brown University. “Refugee Stories: Mapping a Crisis.”

  • Students will explore the human geography of the current refugee crisis. They will employ provided data to create a map of the crisis. Examine refugee stories and use them to map their experiences. And, consider challenges facing the international community and weigh responses to the crisis. Videos, primary sources, maps, discussion questions, and photographs are provided. 

PBS Teachers Lounge. “Integrating the Refugee Crisis into Your Curriculum.”

  • Materials center on the use of the 20-minute documentary ‘Welcome to Canada’ into the classroom. This short film highlights a young Syrian refugee, Mohammed Alsaleh, who was granted asylum in Canada. Mohammed now works to help resettle newly arrived refugees. Welcome to Canada, and its companion lesson plan, “A Refugee’s Story,” encourages students to explore the impact of immigration as well as the themes of cultural displacement, human rights, and resilience. 

PBS Learning Media. “A Refugee's Story (Lesson Plan) Global Oneness Project.”

  • Students watch a 19-minute documentary that tells the story of Mohammed Alsaleh, a young Syrian refugee granted asylum in Canada in 2014, who now counsels newly arrived refugees. In this lesson, students explore through classroom discussions the themes of cultural displacement, human rights, and resilience. Reflective writing prompts are included for students to demonstrate their understanding of the story. Designed for Massachusetts Curriculum Standards. Grades 9 - 12 

Immigration History. “Teaching About Refugees and Asylum.”

  • A compilation of material designed to teach high school students about the history of refugees and asylum seekers. Objectives include: students will be able to identify asylum as a path to lawful status in the United States and explain the main criteria for receiving asylum; students will be able to evaluate the asylum application process; students will learn about how you can stay in the United States if you are in deportation proceedings, called asylum. The site also contains a chronology of laws determining refugee and asylum status in the United States. 

Scholastic. “Refugee Discussion Guide.”

  • Pre-reading and post-reading activities and questions for discussing key ideas and details, craft and structure, and integration of knowledge and ideas in reading Alan Gratz’s book Refugee. About the book. Three young people are looking for refuge, a place for themselves and their families to live in peace. Separated by decades in time and by oceans in geography, their stories share similar emotional traumas and desperate situations and, at the end, connect in astounding ways. Josef in 1930s Nazi Germany, Isabel in 1990s Cuba, and Mahmoud in present-day Syria — all three hang on to their hope for a new tomorrow in the face of harrowing dangers. Grades 3-5 and 6 – 8. 

Amnesty International. “8 educational resources to better understand the refugee crisis.”

  • The world refugee crisis has led civil society to mobilize, and initiatives calling for greater support to refugees have multiplied across countries. But at the same time, there have been increasing demands, especially from schools on how to work on this issue, asking how to discuss it with young people, or with students. Teachers and educators can use the primary and secondary school curriculum packs containing  lesson plans on refugees. 

Teaching Tolerance. “Immigrant and Refugee Children: A Guide for Educators and School Support Staff.”

  • This guide was created for educators, school support staff and service providers who teach, mentor and help open the doors of opportunity for undocumented youth and unaccompanied and refugee children currently living in the United States. Educators, school support staff and service providers are often the first individuals a student and/or family comes out to as undocumented. 

State of New South Wales Department of Education. “Roads to Refuge." 

  • Materials designed to help educators develop lessons that raise awareness about refugee experiences and perspectives. Materials are focused on refugees in Australia and provide an interesting comparison to the same issues in the United States. 

Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. “Migration and Refugee Lesson Plans.”

  • According to the 2015 International Migration Report from the United Nations, “The number of international migrants worldwide has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.” Forced migration patterns, and the many factors that cause them, are at the heart of many of the world’s 21st century challenges. A dozen lesson plans present entry points to a diversity of stories reflecting the human impact of migration. Note: “Some lessons were written by members of our education team, and others were written and shared by our community of educators. This page will be updated regularly to feature new lessons exploring issues facing the environment, so please check back.” Grades 7 – 12. 

PBS Point of View. “The Global Refugee Crisis: A Community Responds.”

  • Daphne Matziaraki's 24-minute film 4.1 Miles follows local coast guard officers stationed off the Greek island of Lesbos, where thousands of refugees have braved the Mediterranean to flee conflicts at home. The waters of this small island were once tranquil, but the Coast Guard now finds itself overwhelmed by the task of saving hundreds of migrants from drowning at sea every week. Docks previously lined with restaurants have become makeshift first-response centers for the enormous number of people attempting to make the crossing--more than 600,000 from Turkey alone in 2015. Nominated for the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject. Grades 6 – 12. 

Trinity University Digital Commons. “Why We Had To Leave; A Study of Human Rights & Refugees.”

  • Students will independently use their learning to research then teach class members about the reality of a particular refugee group and devise a plan to address a refugee crisis currently happening in the world. Grades 9-12. 

Jennifer James. “Refugee Instructional Activities Common Core Grade.”

  • All of the pins included in this board relate to the Refugee Crisis topic. Many of these resources are complete teaching tools for you to cover the Refugee Crisis in your classroom. Please note that some of the resources start at grade 6 but provide activities and other learning tools up to grade 12. 

International Council for Science. “Climate Refugees and Environmental Migration.”

  • As a high school or undergraduate Social Sciences, Humanities, or Environmental Sciences teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to help you in teaching about topics such as Social and Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Human Migration, Climate Refugees/Environmental Migrants, and Climate Justice. This lesson plan enables students to learn about human migration caused by climate change, and the term “climate refugees” and its growing significance. The activity provides insights into geographic locations whose existence is threatened by climate change, and communities that are fleeing their homes, resulting in large-scale migration.