Immigration Primary Sources & Teaching Activities

You can find primary sources and online activities for teaching about immigration on DocsTeach, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives.

On DocsTeach, you can access hundreds of immigration-related primary sources on a variety of topics throughout U.S. history, including:

You can also find activities for teaching about immigration on DocsTeach. In the online activity Chinese Exclusion Broadside Analysis, students go through the process of analyzing a broadside, or poster, to better understand attitudes towards Chinese and other Asian immigrants in the late 1800s.

In the activity How Have Americans Responded to Immigration?, students use our “Weighing the Evidence” tool to determine how documents support a historical argument. First they analyze a variety of documents and photographs related to immigration in the United States. Then they determine whether immigration was welcomed or feared by Americans, and to what degree, by placing each document on the scale according to their analysis.

In a series of new activities titled Exploring America’s Diversity, students analyze primary source documents pertaining to a particular immigrant’s life. They trace this new American’s arrival, settlement, and naturalization, learning about the person and immigration process along the way. These activities were adapted from a popular on-site field trip experience at the National Archives at New York City. There are versions for both younger (elementary) and older (middle and high school) students.

You can find several more immigration-related teaching activities on DocsTeach, including topics such as the Immigration Act of 1924 and war refugees.


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