The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "The pens at Ellis Island, Registry Room (or Great Hall). These people have passed the first mental inspection." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1902 - 1913.

The following OAH Distinguished Lecturers study and speak about U.S. immigration history. Let these historians help your audience understand more about the current immigration debates.


Cindy Hahamovitch

Caribbean Guestworkers, Florida's Sugar Industry, and the Last Attempt at Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The last attempt at "comprehensive immigration reform," which culminated in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, was as controversial and complicated as it is today. Then, as now, growers' demand for "guestworkers" was at the center of the debate over how to "fix" the nation's immigration...(Read More)

Suzanne M. Sinke

Dreaming of U.S. Citizenship

Examines a series of examples across U.S. history of people who gained citizenship, who sought unsuccessfully to gain it, and who experienced a limited version of citizenship in law or practice. This interweaves issues of gender and race with national origins and immigration status. Against the...(Read More)

Katherine Benton-Cohen

The Invention of Immigration as a Policy Problem

This lecture examines the formative period in the history of immigration policy, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This talk uses the story of the largest study of immigrants in American history, the U.S. Immigration Commission of 1907 to 1911, to trace the rise of modern...(Read More)

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