Immigration and Public Policy

Writings on the subject of immigration over the years vary widely in motivation, viewpoint, approach, and quality. Publications in the CRL collections run the gamut, from 19th century tracts designed to promote ethnic prejudice and bias, to those that use sophisticated metrics of modern social and behavioral science. A keyword search of the CRL online catalog under “immigration” yields several hundred primary sources. Here are a few.

The American Culture Series, a massive 627-reel microform set published by University Microfilms, is a collection of American political and cultural literature of the 19th century, rich in early writings on immigration. The massive collection contains a number of key works of the virulent anti-Irish and anti-Catholic ideology of the Nativist movement that arose in the northeastern US during the antebellum period. Among them are two 1835 polemics by Samuel F. B. Morse, better known for introducing the telegraph, and others:

American Culture also includes early writers who took a historiographical approach to the subject:

CRL holdings of later 19th and early 20th century American sociological literature document the attempts—some more progressive than others—of American thinkers and scholars to come to grips with the impact of the great tides of immigrants from Ireland, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Some of these authors saw the various migrating ethnic groups in terms of social Darwinist hierarchies. Others advocated public policy solutions based on quantitative, scientific observation of socialization processes among the new populations. The works of the latter signal the beginnings of social engineering in the United States.

A few of the works:

Immigration is a perennial interest of scholars in disciplines ranging from history to political science. CRL’s dissertation collection includes numerous studies of the nature, causes, and impact of immigration on France, Israel, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States. Some of the titles held by CRL: