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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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"The Inevitable Result to the American Workingman of Unrestricted Immigration"

This cartoon, published in the weekly humor magazine Judge around 1890, presents a vision of what large numbers of poor immigrants, willing to work for low wages, might do to American workers and their families. 

Tables Show Chinese Labor Distribution and Wage Discrepancies in Late 19th Century San Francisco

This chart shows the numbers of Chinese immigrants employed in various occupations in San Francisco from 1860-1880. Although the data is incomplete, the chart shows that the vast majority of Chinese worked in menial jobs as laundry workers, [...]

"Goddess of Liberty, Answer"

This poem refers to the Statue of Liberty, and appears to be a response to Emma Lazarus's poem "The New Colossus." The location mentioned by the author, "Sandy Hook," is on the coast of New Jersey, and signifies the border of the U.S. beyond which [...]

"I Am the Little Irish Boy"

Henry David Thoreau is one of America's best-loved poets and authors, known especially for his work Walden, with its meditations on nature. In this 1850 poem, Thoreau turns his attentive eye to a "little Irish boy," destined for a life of manual [...]

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 [...]

The U.S. Department of Labor Recruits Workers from Puerto Rico

The United States acquired the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in 1898 after its victory in the Spanish-American War. After a period of limited local autonomy, the U.S. granted Puerto Ricans American citizenship in 1917. The arrival of large, [...]

Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl Viewer's Guide

This booklet, divided into nine sections, is curriculum support for the American Social History Project 30-minute documentary Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl. The viewer's guide contains background information on issues raised by the [...]

Young Mexican and African-American Men Answer the Call for Farm Workers

The scale of the United States' war production effort during World War II touched every corner of the nation and millions of people. When traditional farm workers left for military service or higher paying jobs in war industries, the U.S. government [...]

"Corrido of the Uprooted Ones"

Between 1942 and 1964, 4.6 million Mexicans came to the United States to perform the much needed but incredibly difficult "stoop work" of planting, tending, and harvesting crops. These men, called braceros, were initially invited by the United [...]

A Bracero's Identification Card Certifies He Is Ready to Work

Aaron CastaƱeda Gamez and thousands of other Mexican workers had to pass a series of examinations to enter the bracero program. Recruits reported to centers in Mexico where they were inspected for lice and disease. Braceros' hands were inspected to [...]