Programs & Events

A Nation of Immigrants: Migration in the Making of the United States, July 8–14, 2018


Madeline Y. Hsu, Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin


Widely considered a wellspring for US greatness, immigration has also been an abiding site of our deepest conflicts. The republican foundation of the United States with its promises of democracy and equality for all seems to strain against ever-increasing numbers of immigrants from parts of the world barely conceived of by the Founding Fathers, much less as sources of new citizens. What is the breaking point for the assimilating powers of US democracy, and how much does national vitality rely upon continued influxes of a diversity of immigrants with their strenuous ambitions and resourcefulness? Today we remain embattled by such competing beliefs about how immigration shapes our nation’s well-being and to what ends we should constrain whom we admit and in what numbers. Immigration restriction is all the more fraught because it is the arena of government authority with perhaps the most direct power to shape the demographics of the United States.

This seminar trains teachers in key topics and themes in the evolution of the United States as a nation of immigrants. All discussions will be chronologically organized while emphasizing the following strands: the changing population of the United States from colonial times to the present through free and coerced migrations, expansion, and conquest; ideologies concerning eligibility for citizenship and for restricting immigration; the development of immigration law as an aspect of sovereign authority; the entwining of immigration policy with international relations; immigration controls as enacting systematic inequalities; and the expansion of immigration enforcement authority and bureaucracies.    

Travel & Accommodations

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements; the Institute will reimburse up to $400 in travel expenses. Read the policy here.

The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) is located in southeast Austin on Texas Highway 71, eight miles from downtown. There are several options for shuttle and taxi service from the airport to campus.

Workshop participants will be housed in an on-campus dormitory. Participants will have single bedrooms and bathrooms but may share common space. The university provides basic bedding and towels only. Participants should bring alarm clocks, shampoo, hangers, irons, hair dryers, etc. Participants should bring laptops as computer access on campus will be limited.


Meals will be served in a university cafeteria in space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.


Please be sure to review the Institute's policies on independent school teacher participation and travel reimbursement before applying.


Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

Seminar Year: 2017-2018