Immigration Narrative

Background Information: Push & Pull Factors

These would all be great sources to find the push and pull factors of why your family immigrated or migrated.

Books in the school library:

Look at the books on the cart for resources on push and pull factors.


For push and pull factors on why they immigrated, check out World History in Context.


  • Always perform an Advanced Search.
  • Pick two keywords to help narrow your topics, for example Ms. McBride would use the keywords "Ireland" and "immigration" to find our why her ancestor left Ireland. Put keywords on separate lines, and make sure to change the drop down menus on the search bars to all say 'Keyword'.


Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today: An overview of Immigration, includes a nice timeline, separating the waves of immigrants into time periods. Include short stories from children who were recent immigrants.

MigrationPolicy.Org: This is a credible source, and if you are having trouble finding background information either with the books or the database, and you search on Google and find a link from this website, it is probably okay to use.

Pew Research Center: Again, this is also a credible source. If you find a result from this website through a Google search, it is probably okay to use.

Life in America: Living and Working Conditions

To find out what life was life for the immigrants once they arrived in the United States, check out these two great sources. Be sure to follow the instructions below each link!

For a Database, use US History in Context

  • Go to Advanced Search
  • On the first line, write the name of your people (for example, Ms. McBride would put "Irish"). Make sure the drop down menu says 'Keyword'.
  • On the second line, type in "American Immigrant Cultures". You need to type it exactly as written in order for this to work! Then, in the drop down menu next to it, choose 'Publication Title'.
  • Or type in "Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America." You need to type it exactly as written in order for this this work! Then, in the drop down menu next to it, choose "Publication Title."

Another option to search are the eBooks:

Primary Sources: The First Person Narrative

(use these for the first person narrative)


Ellis Island Interviews: 304.8 Coan

Encyclopedia of Multicultural America: Primary Documents: REF 305.8 Gale

Visions of America: 305.8 Vision

Websites: General

These websites have many stories from immigrants from a variety of countries. Look here first to see if you can find a narrative.

Made into America: Personal immigration narratives, arranged by the country they came from and also by where they settled in the US.

New England Public Radio: Words in Transit Stories from Western New England Immigrants; click on the links on the map to jump directly to a story. All are recorded on SoundCloud, without transcriptions.

Marygrove College Novak Archive: Immigration to the US: This website concentrates on immigrants who came to Detroit. There are PDF transcriptions of the interview, which you can download. It also includes a recommended citation to use.

Minnesota's Immigrant Stories: Concentrating on immigrants who came to Minnesota, this website contains many narratives, which you can then search by the country they came from. There are either audio or video narratives, and each one also has a transcription.

History Makers: Perfect for researching the Great Migration. You will need to log in with a BPL card number and PIN. Please ask Ms. McBride for help.

Websites: Specific

Cape Verde : This is an interview with a BU professor. Reading more into it, she is not Cape Verdean, it is her husband who is. However, about halfway through, they begin interviewing a BU Research Assistant, who is Cape Verdean and who tells her story. This source is himself a Cape Verdean immigrant, and he writes a narrative including his own history along with that of other Cape Verdeans who worked in the cranberry bogs.

Having trouble, especially finding a personal narrative?

Visit Ms. McBride in the library for research assistance!