Immigration: An American Story, an exhibit was featured in the Morris Hall Art Gallery on November 7, presenting documents, maps, and images to tell select stories of those who came to America over the past few centuries. Created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, an academic group based in New York City dedicated to promoting the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources, this exhibit ends on December 16. The exhibit came to Academy through the efforts of Mr. Exline, Dr. Bundy, and Mr. Morford.
Immigration: An American Story starts in 1492 with Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the “New World,” following the decades of exploration, violence, disease, and colonization that occurred in the Americas.
Next, the exhibit details the settlement, forced migration, and slavery of the 18th century. Documents and photos reveal the horror of what enslaved people had to endure during that time period.
Other pieces shed light on how the percentages of Americans born in different countries increased over time, and where most of the immigrants came from in different time periods.
The exhibit ends with an overview of the complexities of immigration in America after the signing of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. It explains how “as the country has evolved, the nation’s views on immigration continue to be influenced by demographics, the global economy, and world events.”
Mr. Morford hopes all students will visit the exhibit. He said, “It really is an American story, since everybody’s got some immigration history to their background. We are a nation of immigrants, so there is a way for everyone to connect to it in some way.”
Morford stresses it is important for students to educate themselves on the history of immigration because there has been a “common theme of anti-immigration sentiment and nativism” in our nation. He adds, “You see examples of people who were most likely descendants of immigrants themselves not wanting the latest to show up to be considered as ‘real’ Americans.”
In today’s political climate, American policymakers continue to struggle with policies concerning the topic of immigration because citizens have contrasting views on the subject. Immigration: An American Story is an enlightening exhibit for students to educate themselves with the history of our nation to understand more deeply where we come from and who we are.