Through the "Golden Door": Immigration to the United States, Past and Present

Spring 2017

FRPG 2077
Instructor:  Donna Alvah
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course counts as a 100 level HIST course and fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.

     “Give me your tired, your poor, 
     Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
     The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
     Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 
     I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” (1883)

These lines inscribed on the Statue of Liberty's pedestal come from poet Emma Lazarus.  Lazarus aided Eastern European Jewish refugees who had fled from attacks in their homelands and come to the United States to build new lives.  Throughout much of US history, the nation has heavily relied on the work of immigrants.  Most US citizens are descendants of immigrants who came to North America as early as the 1600s, and the United States is renowned for its diverse global influences, many of them from immigrants who have shaped it.  Established residents have long debated immigration policies, and have welcomed certain immigrant groups while objecting to others on the grounds of perceived racial, cultural, and political differences, as well as economic competition.

In this seminar, we will examine immigration in the United States and policies on and attitudes toward immigrants in the past and present.  We will consider experiences and perspectives of immigrants from various places and time periods.  Students will conduct research projects on historical and current topics relating to immigration.  In keeping with the interdisciplinarity of the First-Year Seminar and with methods of historical inquiry, we will study scholarship from various academic fields as well as different types of historical and contemporary sources such as firsthand accounts and film.

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