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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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A Congressman Denounces Immigration Quotas as "Un-American" (short version, with text supports)

Restrictions on immigration, largely aimed at would-be migrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, gained considerable popular support during the 1920s. Anti-immigrant sentiment culminated in the Quota Act of 1921, which effectively reduced [...]

Immigrants by the Numbers

In this activity, students work with quantitative data (charts, graphs, and tables) from the 1910 census and the 1911 Dillingham Commission Report to understand the lives of immigrants in the Ellis Island era. The activity includes an option [...]

Chart of First Generation Immigrant Women's Occupations, 1900

In 1907, Congress formed the Dillingham Commission to investigate the origins and effects of the massive wave of immigration then underway. The Commission compiled a variety of data about immigrants and their children. This chart shows the [...]

The Pay Envelope: A Role Play

In this activity students perform a role play of immigrant mothers and daughters arguing over who should get to keep the daughter's wages. This activity is used to teach with the film Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl, but can be completed [...]

A Congressman Denounces Immigration Quotas as "Un-American"

Restrictions on immigration, largely aimed at would-be migrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, gained considerable popular support during the 1920s. Anti-immigrant sentiment culminated in the Quota Act of 1921, which effectively reduced [...]

A Steelworkers' Ballot Calls "Strike!" in Many Tongues

In the years after World War I, American workers sought to consolidate and expand the gains they had achieved during the war years. In September 1919, some 350,000 steelworkers went on strike, seeking higher wages, shorter hours and better working [...]

"The Balloon Man"

As this photograph of a Jewish balloon man on Dupont Street shows, there were many non-Chinese peddlers in San Francisco's Chinatown. Chinatown was a popular tourist destination in the late 19th century, and many peddlers sold novelty goods to [...]

Female Garment Workers Labor in a New York City Tenement

Concentrated in New York City, the garment industry developed side by side with the sweatshop system of labor. Sweatshops employed a handful of workers, almost all of whom were immigrant Jewish or Italian women. They were supervised by contractors [...]

"Katy, Hannah and Mary"

This photograph identifies the women only as Katy, Hannah, and Mary. Over half—53%—of all Irish immigrants who came to the United States were women.  By comparison, only 41% of German emigrants were female.  Among Southern Italians, who [...]

"Tenement, New York City, 1910"

This photograph by Lewis Hine was taken in a New York City tenement in 1910. Hine was a documentary photographer who frequently turned his lens to the plight of immigrants, workers, and the poor. This family group, perhaps among the approximately [...]

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