Exploring Immigration History Research Center

On Monday, September 28th we had a pleasure to meet with Donna R. Gabaccia, Immigration History Research Center Director and Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, who took over late Rudolph J. Vecoli, a prominent scholar of immigration. Ms Gabaccia talked about the history of immigration history and the important role Minnesota played in the emergence of this scholarly field. Next, she introduced us to IHRC (Immigration History Research Center) which is an interdisciplinary center in the College of Liberal Arts, dedicated to advanced research on immigrants and refugee life in the United States and worldwide. Founded in 1965, the IHRC is widely recognized as a leader in documenting, preserving and promoting the study and appreciation of United States immigration history. It is proud to have built one of the largest and most important collections of materials documenting U.S. immigration and refugee life to be found anywhere in the world. Its richest holdings document migrations from southern and eastern Europe and the Middle East between 1880 and 1930 to the present. Papers of individuals and organizations, and an extensive collection of newspapers, reflect American immigration and ethnic history. To help us better understand how archive material looks like, Ms Gabaccia passed around a donated collection of postcards and some private documents of a German immigrant, such as passports and various certificates. The last part of our visit was a guided tour through the storage areas of the University of Minnesota Libraries’ Department of Archives and Special Collection, an extensive underground air-conditioned halls collecting and preserving an amazing array of materials that document e.g. records of immigrants and their descendants in original, microfilm, audiovisual and digital formats as well as valuable primary and secondary materials documenting the epic transatlantic migration of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and successive waves of migration.
Alina Koszowska

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