Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development


Americans often cite their country as a nation of immigrants. To this end, the topic of American immigration has garnered significant attention by historians and sociologists, as well as policy makers. This historiography will review the body of research and analysis which has contributed to our current understanding and perspectives on American immigration.

To gain a firmer grasp of American immigration as it has evolved over time, this paper will examine how immigration has been researched through nine themes and events. These themes are: the general study of American immigration; early American immigration; nativism; the Chinese Exclusion Act; Immigration from Mexico; immigration's effect on American culture; American opinion on immigration; immigration in education; and immigration policy formation. Reviewing the research performed in each of these themes or events lends perspective to the overall landscape of immigration in American history.

The researcher has established two key objectives which drove this study. The first objective was to analyze how six influential immigrant groups have been characterized in popular film. The second objective of this research was to examine how the six immigrant groups' respective demographic images in films compare to actual recent demographic statistics per the 2000 United States Census.

In order for students to connect to immigration in American history, teachers need to find ways to make the material appealing and relevant to them. The original research in this paper focuses on how film accurately or inaccurately portrays immigrant groups in society. Given that students are a vital part of American society affected by immigration, and that high school students generally have an interest in movies, teachers can use the research presented herein to provide instruction using film. With the knowledge and perspective gained from a film-based lesson, students will be prepared to perform their own research on immigration in their community.

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