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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Historical Eras > Industrialization and Expansion (1877-1913) (x)

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Chart of First Generation Immigrant Men’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 [...]

Immigration Debates in the Era of "Open Gates"

In this activity students analyze a political cartoon, a presidential speech and an anti-immigration pamphlet from the early 20th century. After analyzing the documents, students write about why the United States passed immigration quotas in the [...]

Fruit Plantations Advertise for Japanese Workers

Sugar growers made a deal with the Japanese government in 1884 that allowed thousands of Japanese to immigrate to the Hawaiian islands to work on plantations. Western growers were also eager to tap into this new, un-unionized and cheap labor source. [...]

An Immigrant's Haiku Records Great Dreams

This haiku records the nearly universal hope of immigrants to the United States. The majority of Japanese immigrants to the U.S. between 1884 and 1908 were men and women from rural areas who had been displaced because of high land prices and rents. [...]

A Montana Miner's Union Boycotts Asian-Owned Businesses

In the 19th century, Asian Americans faced widespread hostility. In this 1898 flyer, the labor movement claimed that Asian-American workers "[lowered] standards of living and of morals." Particularly in the West, union organizers agitated for the [...]

Comparing the Cuban and Puerto Rican Flags

The similarities between the Cuban (top) and Puerto Rican (bottom) flags are not accidental. The Cuban flag was designed in 1849 by Narciso López, a pro-independence exile living in New York City. The design for the Puerto Rican flag was adopted by [...]

Cuba and Puerto Rico—"Two Wings of the Same Bird"

Puerto Rican poet and journalist Lola Rodríguez de Tió was one of the most prominent early advocates for Puerto Rican independence. Among her most popular works was "A Cuba," from which the excerpt below is taken. Rodríguez lived her final years [...]

Graphs of Cuban and Puerto Rican Immigration to the United States

The charts below measure the number of immigrants entering the United States from Cuba and Puerto Rico during the early twentieth century. Cuban immigration spikes during the earliest years of the twentieth century, when the U.S. repeatedly [...]

An Ybor City Resident Describes Work in the Cigar Factories

The family of Cesar Marcos Medina moved from Cuba to Ybor City in Tampa, Florida in 1903. In this interview, Medina details the experiences of his father, who worked as a lector (reader) in the city's cigar factories. Medina also describes the [...]

A Lector Reads to Cigar Workers

The lector, or reader, was an institution in Tampa cigar factories. Elected and paid by the workers, the lector read material of their choosing aloud as the workers assembled cigars. Lectores read newspapers, current affairs publications, and even [...]

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