English 110 – Family History & American Immigrant Experience

Immigration Station, Angel Island, California. (Library of Congress)

About this Guide

Students will find recommended print and electronic resources for research on family history American immigrant experience. Use the tabs to navigate through the pages of this guide.

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Reference Books are a good place to begin your research. You can take notes, or photocopy pages for ten cents a page. Examples of reference books related to the Immigrant Experience are listed below. These resources are available in the Luria Library Reference section.

  • The Historical and Cultural Atlas of African Americans — R 301.45196 A798h
  • Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World — R 304.8 E53e
  • Encyclopedia of North American Immigration — 304.8 P884e
  • Immigration in America today: An Encyclopedia — 304.873 L886i
  • Encyclopedia of Immigration and Migration in the American West — R 304.878 B168e
  • American Immigrant Cultures : Builders of a Nation — R 305.8 L657e
  • We the People — R 317.3 A427w (found in the atlas stand)
  • Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America — R 317.3 V413g 2000
  • Facts about American Immigration — R 325.73 B885f
  • The Atlas of American Migration — R 325.73 F584a
  • The Mexican American Experience: An Encyclopedia — R 973.04 M511m
  • Encyclopedia Latina: History, Culture, and Society in the United States — R 973.0468 S798e
  • The Encyclopedia of the Irish in America — R 973.049162 G553e
  • The Asian American Encyclopedia — R 973.0495 N278a
  • Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage — R 973.0496 A468e 2000 or Access Online
  • Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration — R 973.0496 R347e


The library also subscribes to some online reference sources. To access these resources from off campus, you will need to log in with your Pipeline account information:

  • Credo Reference: Contains the full text of nearly 600 encyclopedias, dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, and other reference books covering all major subject areas. Thousands of Topics Pages provide articles from different reference sources, arranged by subject. Includes “gadgets” for finding images, definitions, people, pronunciations, quotations, and measurement conversations, as well as a concept map feature for help identifying keywords and broadening or narrowing a topic. Additional features include videos, maps, and animations.
  • CountryWatch: Contains information about countries, including news on the latest political, economic, corporate, and environmental events as they occur, and detailed geographical, political, economic, corporate, and environmental briefings.
  • Countries and Their Cultures: Presents the cultural similarities within a country that set it apart from others by examining over 200 countries to document the myriad ways in which culture defines and separates the nations of the world as much as geographical borders do. Surveys each country’s shared values, behaviors and cultural variations from foods and rituals to pastimes and arts, using a standard entry format for easy comparison.
  • Asian American Chronology: Key moments in Asian American history come alive in this concise and accessible chronology.
  • European Social History: This six-volume reference includes more than 230 articles, ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 words, on everything from serfdom and the economy, to witchcraft and public health.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library: Contains the full text of encyclopedias and specialized reference sources. Subjects covered include arts, biography, business, education, environment, history, law, literature, medicine, multicultural studies, government and political science, religion, science, and social sciences.


Sometimes the words you use to describe a topic are different from the words used by the library catalog and databases. If you have trouble finding information on your topic, ask a librarian for help choosing the best keywords to use in your search. Or, try some of the search words listed below.

  • Immigration
  • Emigration
  • [Chinese] Americans
  • [Mexican] Americans
  • [Irish] Americans
  • Ellis Island Immigration Station (New York)
  • Angel Island Immigration Station (San Francisco)


Search the library catalog (books+) for print books and ebooks (as well as links to articles) on your topic. Your search results will include articles as well. Limit to books by choosing the appropriate box from the menu to the left of the results. Examples of possible search terms are shown below:

  • Irish Americans History
  • Mexican American immigration
  • Chinese immigrants United States


Journal and magazine articles usually provide the most current information on a topic. Journal articles are more scholarly while magazine articles tend to be shorter and more general. Newspaper articles are the most current of the three periodical sources and another good source of information.

To find articles on your topic, use one of the online databases listed below. These databases often provide full-text articles.

  • Academic Search Premier: This multi-disciplinary database provides full text for more than 4,600 journals, including full text for nearly 3,900 peer-reviewed titles. PDF backfiles to 1975 or further are available for well over one hundred journals, and searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,000 titles.
  • History Reference Center: Covers all time periods of U.S. and World History. Provides full text from more than 1,620 reference books, encyclopedias and non-fiction books, and cover to cover full text for more than 150 leading history periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals). Includes primary source material such as historical documents, photos, and maps. Also includes biographies of historical figures, and more than 80 hours of historical video.
  • Project MUSE: Provides complete, full-text versions of scholarly journals in subject areas such as: ethnic studies; art and architecture; literature; education; film; theatre and performing arts; history; language; medicine and health; philosophy; religion; science, technology, and math; social sciences; and gender and sexuality. Contains over 525 journals, 335 of which are full text. An good source of scholarly articles for advanced literary criticism.

Evaluating Websites

Figuring out whether the information you find online is credible enough for college research can be challenging. Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Test for Evaluating Sources to determine whether the sources you find are credible:

  • Purpose: The reason the information exists. Is the purpose to sell, to entertain, to inform, to teach, or to persuade? Do the authors and publishers/sponsors make their purposes clear? Is this source designed for general readers or academic readers?
  • Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs. Does it relate to your topic? Does it meet the requirements of your assignment? Is it too basic or too advanced?
  • Objectivity: The reasonableness of the information. Is it fact or opinion? Is it biased? Do the authors use strong or emotional language, or leave out important facts or alternative perspectives?
  • Verifiability: The truthfulness and accuracy of the information. Where does the information come from? Can you verify it in other sources? Are there citations or links to other sources? What do experts say about the topic?
  • Expertise: The source of the information. Who are the authors, publishers, or sponsors of the information? Are they experts, or has the information been reviewed by experts? Is it posted on a personal website or blog?
  • Newness: The timeliness of the information. When was the information published or posted? Is it up to date? Is your topic in an area that requires current information (such as technology or current events), or will older sources work as well?

Recommended Websites for Immigration History and General Information

Immigration History

Immigration Policy

Regional Information


New York

Recommended Websites for Information About Specific Ethnic Groups