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Debate & Diplomacy Resources, Grades 6-12

The following IHRC resources have been compiled by IHRC staffer Chris DiSalvi as appropriate resources for the topic "Debate & Diplomacy: Successes, Failures, and Consequences." Discussion questions are posed following each resource description.

18th Century Debate on American Immigration (Gjerede, Jon. Major Problems in American Immigration and Ethnic History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1998. Print.)

 From 1736 to 1790, several influential Americans held very distinct positions on American Immigration. For instance, Ben Franklin believed that immigration should be restricted only to English immigrants with useful skills because they could make an immediate positive impact on the economy and needed less time to adjust to the culture. In contrast, Patrick M’Robert claimed that the 13 colonies should not restrict migration to the country because all new people need time to adjust to the new culture, language, and occupational skills needed to thrive in the new colonies. After the U.S. wins the Revolutionary War, Congress passes its first legislation standardizing naturalization in 1790. However, these principles change when Congress passes The Alien Act of 1798, giving the president to deport any alien he felt to be a threat to the United States.

      • Potential Questions: What was the debate regarding immigration from 1736 to 1798? Which people favored more immigration? Which people favored less immigration? What was the relationship between this debate and The Alien Act of 1798? What were the effects of The Alien Act of 1798?
      • Source: Gjerede, Jon. Major Problems in American Immigration and Ethnic History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1998. Print.

Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service: Part 3: Ellis Island, 1900-1933 (Microfilm)

This microfilm collection documents several immigrants’ experiences upon arriving to Ellis Island. Ellis Island was the most common entry point for Europeans that wanted to immigrate to the United States. Once these people arrived at the island, many were checked to see if they were mentally, physically, or socially fit enough to be allowed passage into the country. As a result, arriving at Ellis Island was a stressful moment for many people. This collection includes information regarding how the “insane and mentally defective” immigrants were treated upon arrival, the medical services available to detained aliens, and allegations of unfair exclusion from the United States.

      • Potential Questions: How did the United States decide which people were acceptable to enter the country? What were the immigrants’ experiences when first entering the country? Did American immigration officials exclude certain immigrant groups from entering the country?
      • Please see: Reel 1, Frame 0284; Reel 2, Frame 0174; Reel 5, 0564; Reel 11, Frame 0514

Refugee Studies Center, University of Minnesota, Records (1970-1999)

The Refugee Studies Center was initially known as the Southeast Asian Research Center (SARS) and was interested in documenting the Southeastern Asian immigrants’ experiences arriving in the United States following the Vietnam War. As time passed, SARS began to expand its focus to other refugee groups arriving in the U.S., which caused them to switch names. The materials that are in the collection include unpublished manuscripts, videos of the living conditions of refugees in refugee camps and in the United States, journals and articles from scholars, among many other items.

      • Potential Questions: How did Hmong refugees bring their culture to the United States? How did the United States federal government acknowledge the contributions of Hmong soldiers and families during the Secret War? What were the similarities and differences of Southeastern Asian immigrants that had different ethnicities and nationalities?
      • Link to Finding Aid:

Tuomi, Kaarlo Papers (1916-1970s)

             Kaarlo Tuomi was born in a Finnish community in Michigan to a father who supported the Communist Party. In 1933, he immigrated to the Soviet Union. While living in the Soviet Union, from 1939-1946 he served in the Soviet Army fighting against the Finnish. In 1957, he became a Russian spy for the KGB. While spying on the U.S. he was discovered by the FBI and became a double agent against the Soviets.

      • Potential questions: How do people with various citizenships and ethnicities determine to whom they will be loyal? What was the United States foreign policy with the Soviet Union from 1957 to the 1970s? How do countries gather intelligence on other countries?
      • Link to Finding Aid:

Anne Guzy Papers

In this collection, Guzy writes a first-hand account of her family history in Velkop, Austria-Hungary (now in the Czech Republic).  Some of the topics in her manuscript include her thoughts on cultural traditions such as marriage customs, housing, child care, and food.

      • Potential questions: How do immigrants make the decision to move to the United States? Which aspects of immigration seem most appealing? Which aspects are reasons for them to stay in their homeland? What identity do immigrants assume when arriving to a new country?
      • Link to Finding Aid:

United States Immigration and Naturalization Service: Part 1:  Asian Immigration and Exclusion 1906-1913 (Microfilm)

 In 1882, President Chester A. Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act which officially excluded Chinese migrants from entering the country. These microfilms contain Chinese protests of the law, documentation of arrests, detention, and testimonies of Chinese migrants; allegations of Chinese migrants bribing INS officials, and U.S. Supreme Court decisions on regarding the law.

      • Potential questions: What was the purpose of excluding the Chinese from immigrating to the U.S.? How did Chinese arrive in the U.S in spite of the law? How were the Chinese treated once they arrived in the U.S.? What was the reaction of the Supreme Court regarding Chinese immigration?   
      • Please See: Reel 6, Frame 0447; Reel 23, Frame 0302;  Reel 25, Frame 1033; and Reel 26 Frame 902

Tyomies Society (Photographs), (1900-1975)

Tyomies was a Finnish-American newspaper that was published from 1900 until 1998. The newspaper critiqued American capitalism as well as published political, social, and cultural news regarding Finish people. Despite surviving the anti-socialist movement in the 1920s and McCarthyism of the 1950s, the newspaper lost relevance among Finnish-American readers due to the gradual assimilation of the population into the mainstream American culture.

      • Potential questions: In what ways did Finnish immigrants maintain their culture within the United States? In what ways did they assimilate? How did the popular American political ideology affect the relationship between Finnish immigrants and “mainstream” Americans?
      • Link to Finding Aid:

Assembly of Captive European Nations, (1953-1972)

Assembly of Captive European Nations (ACEN) members came from each of the Eastern European countries that the Soviet Union intervened in after World War II. ACEN’s purpose was to help the United States liberate these countries from Soviet influence during the Cold War, educate the American public about the daily problems of people living in the Eastern Bloc, and solicit support from public and private organizations.

      • Potential Questions: Did Eastern European immigrants come to the United States wanting to become Americans or did they come to the U.S. to wait until they felt it was safe to return to their homeland? How did political conflicts between the Soviet Union and the United States create new waves of immigration during the Cold War?
      •  Link to Finding Aid:

Immigration and Refugee Services of America (IRSA), (1918-1986)

The materials come from the American Council of Nationalities Services, an organization created during World War I in order to educate and provide services for new immigrants. After 1939, the organization created foreign language newspapers and radios stations. Additionally, the organization helped the government with alien registration and foreign language publicity. It has been very helpful with the resettlement of Cuban and Southeast Asian immigrants. Note: Access to Cuban refugee files is restricted. All other materials are available to the public.

      • Possible questions: How has the United States’ policy on refugee status changed/stayed the same during the twentieth-century? How did conflicts between the United States and Laos/Vietnam/Cuba cause migration patterns?
      • See also: International Institute of Minnesota, Records,
      • Link to Finding Aid: