Teaching Civics through History


In this unit, students will learn about changing immigration policies as well as the experiences and contributions of immigrants to the United States.



Image Source: “Welcome to the Land of Freedom,” in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, July 2, 1887 (Library of Congress)

Print from 1887 showing immigrants at Ellis Island with the Statue of Liberty in the background
  • Grades: 9-12

  • Class Time: 1-2 Weeks

How has immigration shaped the United States?

Immigration is not a marginal theme in American history; it has been a crucial axis of America’s distinctive development and has shaped the relationship between race and citizenship in ways that continue to affect us today. As a result of immigration, the demography of the United States is composed of a wide diversity of cultural, ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds, beliefs, and traditions.

Core Lesson Plans

Connecting Historical Lessons to Current Events

The Gilder Lehrman Institute has worked with to pull up current articles* in the news media related to this topic written from different perspectives. Students can use these articles to develop their understanding of how history has shaped current events. Click on “Latest News” to see a range of articles from left, center, and right perspectives.

*The articles shown here update regularly, so if you find articles you are particularly interested in sharing with your students, keep track of the links to the original publications.


Additional Gilder Lehrman Resources