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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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Rosa Parks Takes a Stand Against Segregation

Rosa Parks gained international fame in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat in the "whites-only" section on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Parks, an employee of the Montgomery Fair department store and secretary for the NAACP, later said [...]

Tags: Boycotts
Security Handbook for Freedom Summer Workers

A copy of the Security Handbook given to participants in the "Freedom Summer" campaign in Mississippi in 1964 highlights the dangers that young civil rights workers were exposed to. Tragically, the precautions suggested by the handbook proved [...]

A U.S. Diplomat Writes a "Long Telegram"

The famous "Long Telegram" was a message sent by George F. Kennan, a high-ranking diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, that provided an assessment of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the Cold War. In February 1946, the United States Treasury [...]

Tags: Cold War
New Amsterdam Grants "Half Freedom" to Slaves

In the 1640s, a group of enslaved Africans petitioned the Dutch West India Company for their freedom. The company's director-general, William Kieft, agreed to grant them "half freedom" (their children were not free and they owed an annual payment to [...]

Thomas Jefferson Decries Slavery in a Draft of the Declaration of Independence

The passage below was included in Thomas Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration of Independence as one of the grievances against King George III of England. Jefferson, a slave owner himself, later wrote in his autobiography that this passage [...]

A California Businessman Contracts for Chinese Immigrant Labor

This labor contract between a Chinese worker, "Affon," and California businessman Jacob P. Leese, was made in Hong Kong on July 28, 1849, and witnessed by A. Shue, C. H. Brinley, and Henry Anthon, Jr., acting U.S. Vice Consul in Hong Kong. The [...]

Rock Springs Massacre Victims Plead for Justice

Even in the late nineteenth-century American West, a notably violent region, the violence directed against Chinese immigrants was shocking. The Union Pacific Railroad employed 331 Chinese and 150 whites in their coal mine in Rock Springs, Wyoming. [...]

An American-Born Chinese Man Complies with the Chinese Exclusion Act

Wong Kim Ark, a Chinese-American born in San Francisco, was required under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to acquire this Certificate of Registration before leaving the country on an 1894 trip to China so that he would be allowed back into the [...]

A Would-Be Immigrant is Excluded for Being a Potential "Public Charge"

This memorandum records the recommendations of the Immigration Service Commissioner of the District Office of San Francisco regarding the fate of Samuel Kaplan, a would-be immigrant from Russia. The Commissioner upholds a previous ruling by the [...]

Mexico's President Herrera Decries the Annexation of Texas

In March 1845, shortly before leaving office, President John Tyler signed a Joint Resolution of Congress offering to annex the Texas Republic to the United States. Mexico, which had never recognized the Republic and still claimed Texas as its [...]

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