H-SHGAPE QOTW: Immigration in the GAPE

Chelsea Gibson's picture

Welcome to H-SHGAPE's Question of the Week! Each Wednesday, the list editors will ask a question about the Gilded Age and Progressive Era that we hope will provoke lively discussion. We encourage you to share your thoughts by typing in the "Post a Reply" box below the original post, or, if you're getting this by email, by clicking on the "Read More or Reply" link.

This week's question:

Immigration is a political flashpoint in our national discussion right now. What primary and secondary sources do you find most helpful when thinking about, or teaching about, immigration during GAPE? Do you think awareness of immigration issues during GAPE are relevant to our current political debates?


If you'd like to submit a question to be asked in a future week, please contact the H-SHGAPE Editor-In-Chief, Chelsea Gibson, at cgibson2@binghamton.edu.

I find Jacob Riis's photographs in How the Other Half Lives to be very helpful primary sources when I teach about the immigrant experience (and/or social reform movements) during the GAPE. Most students seem to have a thorough understanding of the "push" and "pull" factors of migration as well as what it was like for immigrants who were processed at Ellis and/or Angel Island. That said, many students seem unaware of the extremely impoverished conditions in which many immigrants lived after they relocated to the US, and Riis's photography captures that reality in a way that written primary sources simply do not.