Immigration History Calendar - Now Live!
An essential immigration resource is now available online–but needs your contributions to grow.
Immigration history matters.
Whether you’re a teacher, journalist, researcher, policy analyst, or otherwise just interested in immigration, you know that the stories that we tell about immigration from the past help shape how we think about immigration now.
Some of those events were major. The passage of immigration reforms in 1965. The Muslim ban in 2017. The DACA announcement by President Obama.
But many events fly below the historical radar. The beginning of the sanctuary movement in Arizona. The day Albert Einstein arrived in the United States as a refugee. The arrest of 6-year-old Elián González in Florida. These stories matter just as much, but they are often forgotten or unknown unless you lived through them.
Because I’m passionate about keeping history alive and about commemorating, remembering, and honoring the past, I have really wanted for a while now to have a resource that we could use for this purpose.
That’s why I worked with interns to think through how we might create some kind of simple but easily shareable repository of key events that others could use as, say, prompts for lesson plans for teachers, pitch ideas for reporters, or content generators for social media coordinators. We also wanted something that could eventually feed into more varied tools such as an interactive map.
Without further ado, this week I finally published the simplest version of our vision for this project. It’s live! And we call it the Immigration History Calendar. Creative, I know, but the URL was available: https://www.immigrationhistorycalendar.com/.
A few things you should know.
First, we paired down the data we are gathering to very few fields so that it would be easy to update. We are only asking for the event name, a short description, the date of the event (or of the start of the event), and one reputable website where a general audience can learn more. (Trust me, we had some very complicated demos that we revised down—thank goodness.) In the future, we will add more complete metadata that will aid in research projects, but for now, we want to keep it simple.
Second, we are very expansive in what we mean by “event.” A Supreme Court decision or the closure of Ellis Island are both significant events. But so, too, is a major rally in your city as part of an anti-deportation campaign, or the opening of an immigration court nearby, or the closure of a detention center. We want to capture as many national events as we can, obviously—but we also want to go deeper and more local that any timeline we’ve seen before.
Third, we are asking for your help. We realized early on that while we can easily add more detailed data and resources to events, we get much better and more diverse results when we ask others what they think is important. So this is where you come in. We could really use your help to fill in the gaps in our knowledge. What do you think are events in immigration history (history can be very recent, too) that you think more people should know about? Click here to add to the calendar.
Oh, and if you contribute, you can even include your name so we can give you a shout-out for your contribution. That’s fun.
Maybe the best part is, the current list of events is already public, so any event that you add will show up immediately. And we also have automation built in so that the events will get automatically added to a Google Calendar embedded in the website, too. We’ll have to refine this over time and it may break easily (we’ll see), but for now it’s working.
So give it a shot! And let me know what you think or how we can improve this in the comments. Thanks for reading.
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