Time Era

Historic time period: 1870–1900

Coming to America

Has everyone in your family always lived in America? Whether your family immigrated last year or 200 years ago, almost all Americans have family histories that trace back to other countries.

This OurStory theme explores the experiences of immigrants who came to America and the ways that immigration has changed life in America. Start with reading Feivel's Flying Horses, then explore other aspects of immigration history through the other related activities and books.

The National Museum of American History has many artifacts that tell the story of immigration to America. Because immigrant stories connect to the American experience in so many ways, there are several great online resources for learning more. For more objects, images, and stories about immigrants crossing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to come to America, visit On the Water. To learn about life for immigrant farm workers in late 1800's California, visit America on the Move. And to explore ways you can archive your community's history, visit Americans All, the immigration/migration initiative at the Smithsonian Institution.

Read This Book

You can learn more about immigration history over different eras and from different countries by reading these books. Click on the book titles below for more information, or visit our complete bibliography.

Feivel's Flying Horses book cover

Featured Book

Feivel's Flying Horses

by Heidi Smith Hyde

“Feivel’s Flying Horses” by Heidi Smith Hyde and illustrated by Johanna van der Sterre. Illustrations copyright (c) 2010 by Lerner Publishing Group, Inc. Reprinted with the permissions of Kar-Ben, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.


  • Foods from Far Away

    Foods from Far Away

    Take a Trip

    Explore your grocery store, looking for traditional foods from countries around the world.

    Download the PDF »
  • Imagine an Immigration Interview

    Imagine an Immigration Interview

    Play and Create

    What if you were coming to America? Could you pass the test to enter the country? Try questions from Ellis Island and Angel Island.

    Download the PDF »
  • Investigating Immigration Patterns

    Investigating Immigration Patterns

    Use Technology

    It's in the numbers! Explore how charts and data maps can help you see immigration patterns in history.

    Download the PDF »
  • Timelines Tell Stories

    Timelines Tell Stories

    Learn from Objects

    How can the Statue of Liberty be used in a timeline? Take a close look at an object made by an immigrant, then tell your family or cultural stories through a timeline.

    Download the PDF »

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Smithsonian's History Explorer