Immigration

Built on Agriculture - Selkirk Settlers | Scottish Highland Clearances

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Learn about the Selkirk Settlers who came to Manitoba from the north of Scotland. They were tenant farmers there, who were being displaced by their landlord, the Countess of Sutherland, in favour of sheep farming. The families were led by Lord Selkirk, a Scottish nobleman, who purchased a large area of land from Hudson's Bay Company.

Poverty and Homelessness Lead to the Orphan Train Movement | West by Orphan Train

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Many of the immigrants coming to New York in the mid-1800s were poor and could not adequately care for their families. Many children ended up on the street with no home. In 1849, New York’s chief of police decided to bring attention to the street children as the city simply did not have the infrastructure and services to deal with thousands of homeless children. This resulted in children being placed in orphanages and some eventually becoming Orphan Train riders. This segment from the West by Orphan Train documentary includes archival photographs and an interview with Renée Wendinger, historian, author and daughter of an Orphan Train rider.

Great States | Oregon History

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Learn about the history this land on the northwest coast where people first arrived 15,000 years ago. Find out about the changes that came after 1805, when explorers Lewis and Clark established Fort Clatsop, opening the land to newcomers who would help shape the state of Oregon into what we know today. 

Liberty Minutes | Land of Opportunity

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Historian William Sherman describes how immigrants who came to settle in the Dakotas must have felt about coming to a "land of opportunity" and what types of people they were.

Built on Agriculture - Selkirk Settlers | Building Community

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After the Battle of Seven Oaks, peace came to the Red River, but  the challenges of droughts, pests, and floods persisted. No more new settlers came direct from Scotland after 1815, but the colony was a centre to which fur traders could retire, and occasional settlers could come from Canada.

The Origins of the Orphan Train Movement & the Children’s Aid Society | West by Orphan Train

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Charles Loring Brace decided early in his life that he wanted to work with the homeless children of New York. He witnessed firsthand the poverty impacting children in New York and knew he had to take action. In 1853 he founded the Children’s Aid Society and the first Orphan Train left New York in 1854 with a goal of placing children in homes. This segment from the West by Orphan Train documentary includes archival photographs and interviews with Amanda Wahlmeier, former Curator at the National Orphan Train Complex; and Renée Wendinger, historian, author and daughter of an Orphan Train rider.

Great States | Iowa

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Explore the state named for the Ioway People, one of many American Indian groups that lived in the area. Learn how these groups were forcibly removed by European fortune seekers, paving the way for the expansion of Iowa’s railroads and farming. Transportation proved key to Iowa’s economic development. Learn how religious tolerance and a welcoming attitude to refugees and immigrants have created a rich Iowa culture today.

The Pilgrims: The First Winter

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Experience the Mayflower’s arrival in November 1620 and learn about the Pilgrims’ first winter, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Pilgrims. With passengers and crew weakened by the voyage and weeks exploring Cape Cod, the Mayflower anchored in Plymouth harbor in late December 1620. After ferrying supplies to land, the Pilgrims began building a common house for shelter and to store their goods. The weather worsened, and exposure and infections took their toll. By the spring of 1621, about half of the Mayflower’s passengers and crew had died.

Click on the links below to download a customizable student handout and a video transcript.

Student HandoutTranscript

See Support Materials for Teaching Tips and links to related materials. This resource is part of the American Experience: The Pilgrims collection.

Built on Agriculture - Selkirk Settlers | European Immigration and Rail Line Development

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The settlement grew and eventually it became Winnipeg. The waves of immigration from Europe followed. Between 1879 and 1881, 58,000 immigrants came to Manitoba.

Mercy Trains Transport Orphaned Infants in the Late 1800s to Early 1900s | West by Orphan Train

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In 1869 a group of Roman Catholic nuns established the New York Foundling Hospital to help care for and place homeless infants. Following the example of the already established Children’s Aid Society, trains were used to transport children to new homes. These became known as Mercy Trains. People who wanted a child could request specific attributes of the children they wanted to adopt. This segment from the West by Orphan Train documentary includes archival photographs and interviews with Amanda Wahlmeier, former Curator at the National Orphan Train Complex; and Renée Wendinger, historian, author and daughter of an Orphan Train rider.

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