This past week, we were excited to host our Primarily Teaching summer institute in our new Innovation Hub at the National Archives in Washington, DC! For this summer workshop, educators from around the country came to research our holdings to find and digitize documents suitable for lesson plans and classroom activities dealing with Chinese immigration.
Beginning in the 1850s, Chinese immigrants came in search of work laboring in gold mines or on the railroad. But the Chinese who crossed the Pacific were met with challenges. Economic pressures fostered ethnic discrimination and anti-Chinese sentiment in America, culminating in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.
Despite suspicions and strict immigration policies, Chinese laborers, families, and merchants continued finding their way into the country and avoiding deportation. Angel Island in California became the most famous—and hardest—way for the immigrants to enter America. But many Chinese took their cases to ports across the country, while others turned to smugglers at the Mexican and Canadian borders.
Due to the dedicated work of the Primarily Teaching educators, various types of documents related to Chinese Immigration have been scanned and made available on DocsTeach—our online tool for teaching with documents—for anyone curious on the subject.
Washington, DC, is one of five National Archives locations hosting Primarily Teaching this summer. Fitting with the broader National History Day theme of “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History,” each Primarily Teaching workshop focuses on a specific case study topic.
Thanks to the educators who were digitizing in our Innovation Hub this past week, affidavits, letters, newspaper clippings, and other interesting documents relating to Chinese immigration can now be accessed on DocsTeach.
The National Archives at Seattle held their Primarily Teaching institute during the same week, so check back with us shortly to discover what they found!
Primarily Teaching is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation, through the support of Texas Instruments and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.