An Immigration Exhibit at the NYS Library


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a nation of immigrantsThe New York State Library has a new exhibit, “A Nation of Immigrants,” which focuses on the past and present immigrants in the United States.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is a two-page spread from the July 2, 1887 issue of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, which appeared less than a year after the Statue of Liberty was dedicated. The caption reads, “New York — Welcome to the Land of Freedom — An Ocean Steamer Passing the Statue of Liberty: Scene on the Steerage Deck.”

pro immigration illustrationTwo large-format examples of turn-of-the-last-century anti-immigration sentiment are featured as well.

An illustration from the March 29, 1882 issue of Puck is captioned, “The High Tide of Immigration / Immigration statistics for the past year show that the influx of foreigners was the greatest in our history, and also that the hard-working peasants are now being supplanted by the criminals and outlaws of all Europe.”

An August 22, 1903 illustration from the pages of Judge stirs racial stereotyping in with “fear of the other.” That caption reads, “The Anti-Chinese Wall / The American Wall Goes Up as the Chinese Original Goes Down” under an ironic depiction of recent immigrants hard at work keeping the next wave from hitting our shores.

Rounding out the exhibit are a number of books and government publications on this seemingly timeless topic.

“A Nation of Immigrants” was curated by Shawn Purcell.

The New York State Library is located at 222 Madison Ave, Albany. For more information, click here.

Illustration: “New York — Welcome to the Land of Freedom — An Ocean Steamer Passing the Statue of Liberty: Scene on the Steerage Deck,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, July 2, 1887.

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