New York

Immigrant City

A showcase of immigrants in New York City, from past to present, through the projects made by NYU undergraduates.

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Taking History Outside the classroom

The projects featured on this website are made by NYU undergraduates at campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai as part of a guided research seminar, led by Professors Heather Ruth Lee and David Ludden and research assistant Deirdre Harkins. The spirit of collaboration and exploration drives History Beyond. Students work in interdisciplinary teams on research topics of their choosing, while Professors Lee and Ludden support their visions by helping design the project, organizing skill-based workshops, and pointing them to resources and people.

History Beyond gives undergraduate students experiences in undertaking independent historical research. The course encourages students to think creatively and boldly, to negotiate past difficulties in collaboration, and to learn from setbacks.

Student Projects

Fall 2019 – Spring 2020

Undergraduates at campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai launched the independent research projects to illuminate the fascinating contributions of immigrants in New York, from past to present. The projects span from podcast inspired audio episodes, to digital maps, and animations.

Approaches to Messy Digitized Archival Documents

Testing Automated Procedures for Enhancing OCR Legibility of 20th Century Business Licenses

Capturing Quantitative Data on Immigrants

US Census Data and NYC Immigrant Tenements

From Archive to Data

Optical Character Recognition and data visualization of documents used in New York Restaurant Keepers project.

NY Restaurant Keepers

By the end of the 19th century, a large percentage of the restaurants in the city were owned by foreign-born residents. Explore the migrant experience in New York through the city’s culinary scene.

Foreign Born Citizens and Tenement Housing

in the 18th and 19th Century

This project focuses on the history of New York tenements and sanitation policy. It highlights the impact of tenement growth on recent immigrants to New York City due to language barrier and lack of familiarity with normal living situation in the United States at the time.

Chinese Restaurant Database

The Chinese Restaurant Database is an original database created from the immigration files of Chinese immigrants. It contains granular data on the formation and operation of Chinese restaurants, in combination with the immigration patterns of people involved. This data helps illuminate the resilience and creativity of immigrant responses to legal adversity.

The 1917 Immigration Act

Listen to the podcast series that seek to explain the impact and legacy of the 1917 Immigration Act. The 1917 act was a crucial extension of existing anti-immigrant legislation, and it contributed to existing racialized discourse surrounding immigrants in the United States.

Immigrants at Ellis Island, N.Y.

The New York Public Library Digital Collections

New Method of teaching History

NY Immigrant City research cluster embraces the digital storytelling as a critical frontier in humanities pedagogy. Students are invited to present traditional research in innovative and creative ways. The intention is to give students independent, team-based research experience.

Taking cue from the physical and biological sciences, in which research teams work toward answering a common question, NY Immigrant City creates opportunities for students to work in unconventional settings and to develops skills less commonly taught in conventional classrooms. More importantly, the students draw upon their experiences as digital natives to curate and express their research findings.

Another view of Ellis Island from the harbor, showing various buildings.

The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1902 – 1913.

About the Team

NY Immigrant City is a guided research seminar with participation from the NYU New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai. It uses a team-based research program called Vertically Integrated Projects, piloted by Georgia Tech and coordinated through NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Chatham Square Branch, New York Public Library (old rented building)

The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1902.

Student Projects

Approaches to Messy Digitized Archival Documents

Capturing Quantitative Data on Immigrants

Chinese Restaurant Database

From Archive to Data

NY Restaurant Keepers

Foreign Born Citizens and Tenement Housing in the 18th and 19th Century