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part of an 1887 illustration of immigrants on an ocean steamer passing the Statue of Liberty

A Nation of Immigrants

May 2018

April showers bring May flowers, Mayflowers bring Pilgrims, and the New York State Library public floor exhibit for May looks at immigration then and now.


Display Case 1: Books on immigration and an illustration from the 7/2/1887 issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper

The spiritual centerpiece of the exhibit (along with some Dreamer poetry) is a wonderful two-page spread from the 7/2/1887 issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, which appeared less than a year after the Statue of Liberty was dedicated. The caption reads, "New York—Welcome to the Land of Freedom—An Ocean Steamer Passing the Statue of Liberty: Scene on the Steerage Deck."

Display case 2: Books on immigration, passenger certificates, and two political cartoons from 1882 and 1903

Two large-format examples of turn-of-the-last-century anti-immigration sentiment raise their heads as well. An alarming illustration from the 3/29/1882 issue of Puck is captioned, "The High Tide of Immigration / Immigration statistics for the past year show that the influx of foreigners was the greatest in our history, and also that the hard-working peasants are now being supplanted by the criminals and outlaws of all Europe." And an 8/22/1903 illustration from the pages of Judge stirs racial stereotyping in with "fear of the other." That caption reads, "The Anti-Chinese Wall / The American Wall Goes Up as the Chinese Original Goes Down" under an ironic depiction of recent immigrants hard at work keeping the next wave from hitting our shores.

Display case 3: Books and documents on immigration

Rounding out the exhibit are a good number of books and government publications on this seemingly timeless topic.

A list of the contents of all nine display cases follows.


Looking Backward

  • Causes and Consequences of Human Migration: An Evolutionary Perspective edited by Michael Crawford (2014)
  • The Dutch in North-America: Their Immigration and Cultural Continuity by Rob Kroes (1991)
  • Passenger Certificate, ca. 1870 (from Manuscripts and Special Collections)
  • The Crisis!: An Appeal to Our Countrymen, on the Subject of Foreign Influence in the United States (American Republican Party of the City and County of New York, 1844)
  • Immigration and Passenger Movement at Ports of the United States (GPO, 1894)
  • Making Americans: How the Library Helps by Josephine Gratiaa (1919)
  • American Citizenship (Aline Brothier Morris Fund, 1933)
1903 political cartoon from Judge; The High Tide of Immigration

General Works

  • Destination America by Chuck Wills (2005)
  • Immigration in the United States edited by William Dvorak (2009)
  • The Huddled Masses: The Immigrant in American Society by Alan M. Kraut (1982)
  • The Other Half: The Life of Jacob Riis and the World of Immigrant America by Tom Buk-Swienty (2008)
  • Immigration and Asylum: From 1900 to the Present by Matthew J. Gibney (2005)
  • To a New World: Photos and Impressions of America in 1937 by Jon Bernstein (2015)
  • American Immigrant Cultures: Builders of a Nation by David Levinson (1997)
  • Migration and Immigration: A Global View by Maura Toro-Morn (2004)
  • Natives and Strangers: A Multicultural History of Americans by Leonard Dinnerstein (2003)
  • Immigration and American Diversity: A Social and Cultural History by Donna Gabaccia (2002)

New York State

  • Dutch New York: The Roots of Hudson Valley Culture by Roger G. Panetta (2009)
  • Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York by Philip Otterness (2004)
  • Voices from Ellis Island: An Oral History of American Immigration by Nanette Dobrosky (1989)
  • Swedish Passenger Arrivals in New York, 1820-1850 by Nils William Olsson (1967)
  • The Builders of Ulster County: A Curriculum on the History of Immigration by Susan Stessin-Cohn (2006)
  • The Italians of New York: Five Centuries of Struggle and Achievement edited by Philip Cannistraro (1999)
  • Ethnic Utica by James Pula (2002)
  • Irish Immigrants in New York City, 1945-1995 by Linda Almeida (2001)
  • A Family History of Our Sixteen Early Immigrant Lines into Western New York by Raymond Edward Vanderlinde (2002)
  • Memories of Migration: Gender, Ethnicity, and Work in the Lives of Jewish and Italian Women in New York, 1870-1924 by Kathie Friedman-Kasaba (1996)
  • An Invisible Minority: Brazilians in New York City by Maxine L. Margolis (2009)
  • A Community of Many Worlds: Arab Americans in New York City by Kathleen Benson (2002)
  • A Portrait of Immigrants in New York by Thomas P. DiNapoli (2016)
  • Coming and Becoming: Pluralism in New York State History compiled by Wendell Tripp (1991)
  • A Collection of Poems by Dreamers: Immigration & Deportation, the Road to Becoming an American (New York State Assembly Task Force on New Americans, 2014)

Reference Works

  • Encyclopedia of North American Immigration by John Powell (2005)
  • Immigration in America Today: An Encyclopedia by James Loucky (2006)
  • Encyclopedia of Racism in the United States by Pyong Gap Min (2005)
  • U.S. Immigration: A Reference Handbook by Michael LeMay (2004)
  • Encyclopedia of Ellis Island by Barry Moreno (2004)
  • Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World by Carol R. Ember (2004)


  • The Jews in Colonial America by Oscar Reiss (2004)
  • Ballykilcline Rising: From Famine Ireland to Immigrant America by Mary Lee Dunn (2008)
  • The Finns in America by Eloise Katherine Engle (1977)
  • Give Me Your Poor…?: Voluntary Black Migration to the United States: An Exhibition at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, June 15-September 26, 1986 by Roy S. Bryce-Laporte (1986)
  • Chinese American Transnationalism: The Flow of People, Resources, and Ideas Between China and America During the Exclusion Era by Sucheng Chan (2006)
  • The Russian Americans by Paul R. Magocsi (1989)
  • Puerto Ricans in the United States by María Pérez y González (2000)
  • Adrift: The Cuban Raft People by Alfredo Antonio Fernández (2000)
  • Irish Americans by Tom Deignan (2003)
  • North from Mexico: The Spanish-Speaking People of the United States by Carey McWilliams (1990)
  • Mexican Voices / American Dreams: An Oral History of Mexican Immigration to the United States Marilyn P. Davis (1990)
  • Border Crossings: Mexican and Mexican-American Workers by John M. Hart (1998)
  • The Politics, Economics, and Culture of Mexican-U.S. Migration: Both Sides of the Border by Edward Ashbee (2007)
  • Ex Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants by Jorge Castañeda (2007)

Federal Documents

  • Citizenship Education and Naturalization Information (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1987)
  • The Citizen's Almanac: Fundamental Documents, Symbols, and Anthems of the United States (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2011)
  • 'I Pledge Allegiance…': Bilingual—English/Spanish (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1990)
  • A Welcome to U.S.A. Citizenship (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1988)
  • Samyon sinch'ong haryonikka muot i turyopton kayo? [Korean] (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1988)
  • "Nunca pensé que iba a calificar—hasta que los de Inmigración me dijeron que sí!" (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1988)
  • The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children (2000)
  • "Ask Immigration" Telephone Information Systems: Answers to Your Immigration and Citizenship Questions (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1990)
  • Atencion Salvadoreños: la inscripción para el programa de protección provisional ha sido extendida hasta el 31 de octubre de 1991 (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1990)
  • Learn About the United States Quick Civics Lessons for the Naturalization Test (U.S. Office of Immigration Statistics, 2011)
  • Civics Flash Cards for the Naturalization Test, Spanish (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2017)
  • Retiring to a New Beginning: An Illustrated History of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 2003)
smaller display case with federal documents on topics related to immigration and citizenship

Yearning to Breathe Free…

  • Population Migration and the Changing World Order by W.T.S. Gould (1991)
  • Who Belongs in America?: Presidents, Rhetoric, and Immigration by Vanessa B. Beasley (2006)
  • The 50% American: Immigration and National Identity in an Age of Terror by Stanley Allen Renshon (2005)
  • Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 3697) to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act with respect to aliens associated with criminal gangs, and for other purposes… (GPO, 2017)
  • Detained: Immigration Laws and the Expanding I.N.S. Jail Complex by Michael Welch (2002)
  • Manufacturing Hysteria: A History of Scapegoating, Surveillance, and Secrecy in Modern America by Jay Feldman (2011)
  • From Our Immigrants with Love by Joan S. Follendore (1977)
  • We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant by Carl Frederick Wittke (1945)
illustration from the July 2, 1887 issue of Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper captioned: New York - Welcome to the Land of Freedom

Exhibit curated by Shawn Purcell

Last Updated: November 2, 2021