Becoming American: A Century of Immigration Film Screening and Discussion

  • Overview

    Immigration has been an ongoing and central component of American history, with identifiable peak periods. Between 1820 and 1924, forty million immigrants were added to the population of the United States and in the process, made immigration a major and defining aspect of American life. This program provides a historical context for the study of immigration, looking at the reasons for and consequences of the period historians call America’s “Century of Immigration."

    "New York: The Power & the People" examines the great wave of immigration that began in the late 19th century, tripled New York’s population, and transformed the city and the nation. This film explores immigrants from southern and eastern Europe - Italians, Poles, Turks, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Greeks: their reasons for migrating, their passage through Ellis Island, their life in the Lower East Side, and their role in transforming America into an industrial nation.

    "The Jewish Americans: A World of their Own" explores the stories of Jewish immigrants, who fleeing poverty and oppression in Eastern Europe, were drawn to America by the promise of religious freedom and economic opportunity.

    Drake University professor Inbal Mazar will moderate the discussion. This event also features a mini-exhibit at the State Historical Building which tells the stories of some of the immigrants that made Iowa their home and appetizers provided by Cafe Baratta's and the State Historical Society.

    This event is sponsored by City Lore, Hometown Heritage, the State Historical Society, Des Moines Area Community College, Drake University, and other local sponsors. For more information, see our website ( or contact us at or 515-465-7713.