Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930, is a web-based collection of selected historical materials from Harvard’s libraries, archives, and museums that documents voluntary immigration to the US from the signing of the Constitution to the onset of the Great Depression.Immigration has profoundly influenced the character and the growth of the United States. Its salient themes—including acculturation, nativism, racism and prejudice, homesteading, and industrialization—and the policies governing it are illustrated in the online collection.
Concentrating heavily on the 19th century, Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930, includes approximately 1,800 books and pamphlets as well as 9,000 photographs, 200 maps, and 13,000 pages from manuscript and archival collections. By incorporating diaries, biographies, and other writings capturing diverse experiences, the collected material provides a window into the lives of ordinary immigrants. For example:
- Images from Harvard’s Social Museum, which was established in 1903 by Harvard professor Francis Greenwood Peabody, illustrate “problems of the social order” related to the rapid influx of immigrants.
- Original manuscript and archival materials—ranging from records of the Immigration Restriction League to the papers of New Jersey librarian Jane Maud Campbell (1869-1947)—document the plight of newly arrived immigrants.
In addition to thousands of items that are now accessible to any Internet user, the collection includes contextual information on voluntary immigration and quantitative data. The site also provides links to related digital resources that cover other aspects of immigration to the US, including vital materials on the African diaspora.
Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930, is part of Harvard’s Open Collections Program, through which the University offers online access to resources from Harvard’s libraries to benefit students and teachers around the world. The goal is to create a new model for digital collections that will benefit the Harvard community and the general public alike.
Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930, is made possible with the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.