Welcome to Immigration to the U.S.: 1840-1920. This course will allow you to learn about the interesting history of our country, and perhaps even your history.

The United States is an immigrant country. No other land can challenge America’s claim as the ultimate melting pot, although we can argue about whether or not we have really “melted together” to form a cohesive society.

Immigrants have always been a part of the American scene, but in some periods more people have come than in others. Currently, immigration is a hot topic as many immigrants are coming from countries such as Somalia, Laos and Mexico. This course will focus on another period when many immigrants were coming to the United States, from 1840-1920.

Here are some essential questions for you to think about:

1. Why would people leave their homeland and start a new life in a foreign country?
2. What difficulties did they face, not only in their passage to the United States, but once they got here?
3. What contributions did immigrants from various lands make?
4. What factors contributed to making life better or easier for some people, and not others, and why?

Please follow the course in a step-by step manner. In each module there will be some materials to read or view, called Steps, and then an Assignment to complete. Once you finish a module you may continue on to the next one. Good luck
The United States is referred to as a “melting pot” because so many cultures have come together to make America what it is today. The vast majority of people who live in the United States are immigrants or descendants of people who emigrated. Some of those immigrant histories are told as tales of glory and triumph, such as those of the pilgrims and many European immigrants. However, the process of coming to America and assimilating was not always easy. Some immigrant stories contain deep sorrow and loss, such as the journey of those who arrived to be sold as slaves or those who fled war and violence. In this “getting to know you” module, you will have the chance to learn about your own immigration/migration history and the history of others.

Vocabulary: As you read the various materials, you will encounter some important words that you may not be familiar with. You can click below to access a list of vocabulary words that you can refer to as you read. Some materials were written long ago and may include language or words that we do not use today. Do your best to use context clues to help you. Don’t worry if you do not understand every single word – just get the main idea.

Sources: Some materials that you will encounter are primary sources, while others are secondary sources.

A primary source is an artifact, a document, a recording, or other source of information that was created at the time something happened. It can also be something written by someone who was present at an event, although they may not write about it until later. Common primary sources include diaries, photographs, letters, autobiographies, news articles, etc.

A secondary source is something that is not from the actual event, or that was written by someone who was not actually there. Common secondary sources include encyclopedias, books, websites,
Why do immigrants come here?

Why would a person leave his or her own home to go and live somewhere far across the world? Traveling to the new country can be dangerous, and once you have arrived, life can be difficult as you do not know the language, customs, etc. What makes someone want to leave what they know for something so risky and unknown?

In this module you will have the opportunity to read and view some primary source documents that may give you some ideas as to why people chose to emigrate to the United States. You will need to use your skills of interpretation and inference (make educated guesses) in order to figure out why they came. Click below and follow the steps in order, leading to the assignment.
The Push-Pull Theory

Based on your reading, viewing and prior knowledge, you developed a list of reasons for why someone might immigrate to another country. In 1966, University of Pennsylvania professor Everett Lee developed the Push-Pull Theory of Migration which tried to explain why people move to different places. In this module you will have the chance to learn more about these important factors that not only “push” people out, but “pull” them in to new places. This is a very important concept that forms the foundation of our thinking behind immigration.

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