The United States is often described as a nation of immigrants. Native Americans immigrated to Alaska over a land bridge. Puritans, captured Africans, Irish fleeing the Potato Famine and Russian Jews hounded by pograms: these groups all helped form the America we know today. Try to narrow your research to a particular ethnic group or a particular time period. You might start by finding an entry in a good print encyclopedia or by reading a short, general book on your topic. This will give you an overview and help you to refine your search. 

Check out the starting your research project page before you start! Some possible subject areas for a project on immigration might include:
Jewish immigrants and the Lower East Side
a historical look at U.S. policy toward Cuban refugees
immigration restriction and the KKK in the 1920s
migrant farm workers and the fight for unions

We can't fit every resource about the history of immigration on to this list! A topic guide is just the beginning of building your bibliography.

Reference materials

This is the place to start any research project. Reference books offer short, authoritative information on every topic. These books must be used in the library. Most contain bibliographies of important books on your topic. A good first stop would be any of the standard print encyclopedias in the Beaver collection: Encyclopedia Americana, World Book or Britannica.


Daniels, Roger, ed. (2001). American immigration: a student's companion. REF 304.873 D22 2001
Levinson and Ember, ed. (1997). American immigrant cultures: builders of a nation. REF 305.8000973 Am3 1997
Lin, Ann Chih. (2002). Immigration REF 325.73 Im6 2002
Peoples of North America. (2003). REF 305.8 P39 A 10 volume set.


Britannica Online Great for pre-search and primary sources, including speeches, essays, biographies, court decisions, editorials and photos.
Gale Virtual Reference Library
General Reference Center Gold


Books about the history of immigration will be found around 973.04. Books about immigration can also be found in the 300s. Search in the catalog using the term United States -- Emigration and immigration -- History. Biographies can be found at 921, listed alphabetically by the subject's last name (for example, an autobiography of Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian immigrant, would carry the call number: 921 Danticat).

Bloom, Barbara Lee. (2002). The Chinese Americans. 973.04951 B62 112 pages.
Daniels, Roger. (1990). Coming to America : a history of immigration and ethnicity in American life . 973.04 D22 1990 450 pages.
Epstein, Lawrence J. (2007). At the edge of a dream : the story of Jewish immigrants on New York's Lower East Side 1880-1920. 305.8924 Ep8 2007 299 pages.
Hoobler, Dorothy. (2003). We are Americans : voices of the immigrant experience. 304.873 H76 2003 194 pages. Primary sources!
Jones, Maldwyn Allen. (1992). American immigration. 325.73 J72 1992 353 pages.


For these Gale Group Resources, use the subject guide search option to craft a search. Interested in Irish Americans? Try Irish Americans, then move down the subdivision column to find Emigration and Immigration or History. For information on Ellis Island, search for Ellis Island, then scan down to History. Ask one of the librarians to help you come up with some search terms.
Academic OneFile
Expanded Academic ASAP
General OneFile
Student Edition
Biography Resource Center For information on famous people associated with American immigration. Search by the person's last name.
SIRS Copy this subject heading: Emigration and immigration and paste it into the search field. Interested in anti-immigrant movements? Search Anti-immigration movement.
Facts on File For pre-search, biographies, primary sources and images.

Internet sites

Asian Nation A short history of Asian immigration to the U.S. and a current bibliography of related titles.
Chinese American Museum A new site for a newly re-designed museum.
Digital History A timeline of U.S. immigration history plus primary sources.
Ellis Island Search for passengers who came through this historic gateway, access the museum's exhibits.
Internet Modern History Sourcebook Maintained by Fordham University. Primary source material.
Library of Congress Enter through this portal to access information on the history of immigration in the U.S.

BPL: Electronic Resources

History Study Center This resource was designed just for students! Start here to learn more about the history of immigration, see a timeline of important events, learn about key people and places. An excellent starting point for your research.
History Resource Center: U.S.. A good starting point for pre-search and fact-checking as well as more advanced searches. Use the subject search. This site will also let you limit your searches to reference, biographies, periodicals, news, primary sources or maps and multi-media.
America: History and Life. This database indexes scholarly and popular articles on American history. You can limit your search to full text if you want articles instead of citations.
Archive of Americana. Search for primary sources: pamphlets, newspapers and government publications.

Updated, 9-09