Featured Primary Sources

Immigration and Migration

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, and text to place the document in historical context. Additionally, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

Sebastian Brandt to Henry Hovener, January 13, 1622. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

A Jamestown settler describes life in Virginia, 1622

Creator: Sebastian Brandt Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
A Map of the Louisiana Territory, 1814. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

A map of the Louisiana Territory, 1814

Creator: Meriwether Lewis Curriculum Subjects: Geography, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8
William Barret Travis, “To the Citizens of Texas,” February 24, 1836. (GLC)

A plea to defend the Alamo, 1836

Creator: William Travis Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Fernando de Rivera y Moncada to Antonio de Bucareli y Ursua, October 20, 1776.

A report from Spanish California, 1776

Creator: Fernando de Rivera y Moncada Curriculum Subjects: Foreign Languages, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
A view of Savanah [sic] as it stood the 29th of March, 1734, engraving by Pierre

A View of Savannah, Georgia, 1734

Creator: Pierre Fourdrinier Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
American Colonization Society membership certificate, 1833, detail. (GLC)

American Colonization Society membership certificate, 1833

Creator: American Colonization Society Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Andrew Jackson, “To the Cherokee Tribe of Indians East of the Mississippi [circu

Andrew Jackson to the Cherokee Tribe, 1835

Creator: Andrew Jackson Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississippi [map of North America], by Guil

Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississipi, 1718

Creator: Guillaume De l’Isle Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels:
Enlistment poster for the Arizona Civilian Conservation Corps., September 24, 19

Civilian Conservation Corps poster, 1938

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Art, Economics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Christopher Columbus’ letter to Ferdinand and Isabella, 1493. Gilder Lehrman Col

Columbus reports on his first voyage, 1493

Creator: Christopher Columbus Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
David Crockett to Charles Schultz, December 25, 1834 (Gilder Lehrman Collect

Davy Crockett on the removal of the Cherokees, 1834

Creator: David Crockett Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Harriet Beecher Stowe to Prince Albert, March 20, 1852. (GLC)

Harriet Beecher Stowe sends Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1852

Creator: Harriet Beecher Stowe Curriculum Subjects: Literature Grade Levels:
Horace Greeley to R. L. Sanderson, November 15, 1871 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Horace Greeley: “Go West,” 1871

Creator: Horace Greeley Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“The Americanese wall - as Congressman [John Lawson] Burnett would build it ,” 1

Immigration cartoon, 1916

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography Grade Levels:
John Reid Jr., Indenture of apprenticeship with Robert Livingston Jr., 1742 (GLC

Indenture agreement, 1742

Creator: John Reid Jr. Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
George Custer, Report on the Battle of Washita, December 22, 1868 (Gilder Lehr

Indian Wars: The Battle of Washita, 1868

Creator: George Custer Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Japanese internment broadside, May 3, 1942. (GLC06360)

Japanese internment, 1942

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
John Quincy Adams to Roger S. Baldwin, November 11, 1840 (Gilder Lehrman Co

John Quincy Adams and the Amistad case, 1841

Creator: John Quincy Adams Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
John Winthrop to Nathaniel Rich, May 22, 1634. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

John Winthrop describes life in Boston, 1634

Creator: John Winthrop Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Landing of Christopher Columbus, 1856

Landing of Columbus, 1492

Creator: Martin, Johnson & Co. Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
The Landing of Henrick Hudson, 1857. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Landing of Henrick Hudson, 1609

Creator: Martin, Johnson & Co Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Novi Belgi Novaeque Angliae [New Netherland and New England], 1682.

Late seventeenth-century map of the Northeast, 1682

Creator: Nicholas Visscher Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Literacy and the immigration of “undesirables,” 1903

Creator: Immigration Restriction League Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels:
Recens Edita totius Novi Belgii [New Netherland - New York], 1730. (Gilder Lehrm

Map of the New World, with European settlements and American Indian tribes, 1730

Creator: Matthew Seutter Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Samuel Russell to his mother and sisters, June 10, 1862 (Gilder Lehrman Collecti

On the emigrant trail, 1862

Creator: Samuel Russell Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels:
Hooverville in Portland, Oregon, photograph by Arthur Rothstein, July 1936. (Lib

Photograph of a “Hooverville,” 1936

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Abandoned farm in the Dust Bowl, Coldwater District, near Dalhart Texas, photogr

Photograph of an abandoned farm in the Dust Bowl, 1938

Creator: Dorothea Lange Curriculum Subjects: Art, Economics, Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Henry W. Smith, “Texas Expects Every Man to Do His Duty,” February [28], 1836 (G

Politics and the Texas Revolution, 1836

Creator: Henry W. Smith Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
“Americans All” poster, War Manpower Commission, Washington DC, 1942. (GLC09530)

Preventing labor discrimination during World War II, 1942

Creator: War Manpower Commission Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
King George III, Proclamation of 1763, 1763. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Proclamation of 1763

Creator: George III, King of Great Britain Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“$2,500 Reward!,” Mississippi Co., Missouri, broadside, August 23, 1852. (Gi

Runaway slave ad, 1852

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Enoch M. Duley, “Two Hundred Dollars Reward!” broadside, KY (GLC06377.01)

Runaway slave ad, 1860

Creator: Enoch M. Duley Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Workingmen’s Party of California, “Chinatown declared a nuisance!” 1880

San Francisco’s Chinatown, 1880

Creator: Workingmen's Party of California Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Freedmen’s contract between Isham G. Bailey and freedmen Cooper Hughs and Charl

Sharecropper contract, 1867

Creator: Isham G. Bailey Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Francisco García de Loaysa to to Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, June 21, 1540.

Spain authorizes Coronado’s conquest in the Southwest, 1540

Creator: Francisco García de Loaysa Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Ulysses S. Grant to Tiffany and Co., January 1884. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Statue of Liberty, 1884

Creator: Ulysses S. Grant Curriculum Subjects: Literature Grade Levels: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Stephen Austin’s contract to bring settlers to Texas, June 4, 1825 (Gilder L

Stephen Austin’s contract to bring settlers to Texas, 1825

Creator: Stephen Austin Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Texas Declaration of Independence, March 2, 1836. (GLC02559)

Texas Declaration of Independence, 1836

Creator: Delegates of the People of Texas Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
“A Correct View of the Battle of the Horse-Shoe, March 27th, 1814” (GLC06772)

The Battle of Horseshoe Bend and the end of the Creek War, 1814

Creator: Isaac Stephens Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
The Brotherton Indians’ agreement to oppose white settlement, January 6, 1780.

The Brotherton Indians of New Jersey, 1780

Creator: Bartholomew Calvin et al. Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Stephen Bayard to Robert Livingston, November 12, 1725.

The death of slaves on a voyage, 1725

Creator: Stephen Bayard Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Demarcation bull, granting Spain possession of the New World, May 4, 1493.

The Doctrine of Discovery, 1493

Creator: Pope Alexander VI Curriculum Subjects: Geography, Religion and Philosophy, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“High Bluff, Black Buttes,” from The Great West Illustrated by Andrew J. Russell

The Great West Illustrated, 1869

Creator: Andrew J. Russell Curriculum Subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Grade Levels:

The Haymarket Affair, 1886

Creator: Dyer D. Lum Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
A Memorial of the State of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in New England to Q

The Province of Massachusetts Bay requests aid from Queen Anne, 1708

Creator: Thomas Oliver Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Joseph Rumshinsky, “Mamenu” or “The Triangle Victims,” 1911. (GLC06225)

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, 1911

Creator: Joseph Rumshinsky Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Foreign Languages, Literature, Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels:
William T. Sherman to David Douty Colton, September 26, 1878 (Gilder Lehrman Col

William T. Sherman on the western railroads, 1878

Creator: William Tecumseh Sherman Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
US Food Administration. Food Will Win the War, ca. 1917. (GLC09522)

“Food Will Win the War,” 1917

Creator: United States Food Administration Curriculum Subjects: Economics, World History Grade Levels:
James William Charles Pennington to unknown, April 29, 1851 (Gilder Lehrman Coll

“The whole land is full of blood,” 1851

Creator: James W. C. Pennington Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: