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Migration to New Worlds

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Discover the movement and memories of millions across two centuries of mass migration.


Set against a backdrop of colonial expansion, industrial progress and global conflict; personal diaries, oral histories, letters, travel journals and scrapbooks provide individual accounts of migration and settlement in North America and Australasia. Government papers, society correspondence, original maps, watercolours, engravings, objects, shipping papers and rare printed material offer significant context to these eye-witness experiences.

From 1800 to 1980, Migration to New Worlds charts the movement of people throughout the ‘Century of Immigration’, through the First and Second World Wars and into the modern era. Late eighteenth-century documents also provide context on the early stages of migration.

Key subject themes include:

  • Motives for emigration 
  • Colonisation Companies and Emigration Societies
  • Ports of emigration 
  • Ships and shipping lines
  • Journey conditions
  • Immigration at ports of arrival
  • The experience of displaced persons and refugees during and after the Second World War
  • Government legislation for emigration and immigration, including the transportation of convicts and anti-immigration laws
  • Reactions to immigration from local and indigenous populations
  • Travelling onward across new continents
  • Permanent settlement and successive generations
  • Remigration

This collection provides an important and multi-faceted resource for students, teachers and researchers from a diverse range of academic disciplines, including migration studies, history, sociology, law, economics and postcolonial studies.

Module 1: The Century of Immigration

Bringing to life the migration story between 1800 and 1924, Migration to New Worlds: The Century of Immigration provides a wealth of English, Scandinavian, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Polish and Scottish migrant experiences, along with a rich variety of documents covering Chinese and Japanese migration to the United States.

Hundreds of unique primary documents have been sourced from 15 contributing archives, libraries and museums, including government correspondence from The National Archives, UK; ships logs from Maritime Museum of San Diego; Australian emigration experiences from Museum Victoria and accounts of tenement living from the Tenement Museum, New York.

Discover the expansion of Canada as a British colony, research French and Irish migration societies in Pennsylvania and explore the mechanisms behind Indian indentured labour in the West Indies.

Module 2: The Modern Era

Commencing with the activities of the New Zealand Company during the 1840s, Migration to New Worlds: The Modern Era presents thousands of unique original sources focusing on the growth of colonisation companies during the nineteenth century, the activities of American immigration and welfare societies, and the plight of refugees and displaced persons throughout the twentieth century.

A wealth of primary documents sourced from 15 archives and libraries from across the globe bring the later chapters of this migration story to life. Organisational papers from the America-Italy Society and Immigration and Refugee Services of America (Immigration History Research Center Archives), Immigrants’ Protective League (University of Illinois at Chicago) and the Graham Taylor Papers (The Newberry Library) provide fascinating insights into the daily running of services for new immigrants.

Twentieth-century government correspondence and pamphlets encouraging Australian and Canadian immigration are well represented from Libraries and Archives Canada, National Archives of Australia and the University of Melbourne Archives. Oral histories from the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and Immigration History Research Center Archives also provide key personal reflections on European and Asian migration experiences.