Producer 1990 Institute 
Overview Journey through the treacherous and brave path of the Asian Americans who came to the U.S. before us. At times, arriving freely and by choice. At times, arriving forcibly; coerced; out of necessity. And for decades, excluded and barred from entry. Sometimes with a choice to stay, sometimes with no choice but to stay. Through the lens of the earliest surviving films and the eyes and pens of historical illustrators and photographers, see how, together as a community, they endured politics, imperialism, capitalistic development, and xenophobia. How their tenacity helped shape immigrant rights, not just for Asian Americans, but for many who are citizens of America today. This Reference Library page provides the background materials for each chapter as well as a ready-to-use downloadable Lesson Guide.

Video Time Codes: 

0:01 Introduction to Waves of Immigrants – The Asian American Journey

1:13 The First Wave: Our Nation’s Birth (Pre-1776 – 1812)

2:39 The Second Wave: Period of Opportunity (1830s – 1860s)

5:36 The Third Wave: Period of Discrimination & Exclusion (1870s – 1950s)

11:09 The Fourth Wave: Period of Preference & Growth (1960s – 1970s)

12:05 The Fifth Wave: Period of Refuge & Shift in Labor Force (1970s – 2020s)

13:34 The Sixth Wave: The Virus & Growing Global Tensions (2020s)

14:07 Moving Forward

Publish Date January 13, 2023
For 9-12 Teachers The Asian American journey was shaped by contentious topics such as politics, capitalism, imperialism and xenophobia. This ready-to-use Lesson Guide will lead students through important topics of discussion that encourage critical thinking. It also contains a vocabulary list and a diverse set of suggested activities.

Downloadable Word Document.

View pdf version here.

Reference Materials Read:

Background Information:

Immigration to the United States, 1851-1900, Library of Congress

Coming To America, Asian Migration, 2021, USC U.S.-China Institute

Immigration Resource Page, 1990 Institute Reference Library

4 Waves of Immigration, Mr. Cunneen’s Web Site

Hall, Nicholas Sean; WASP: The Case of the Chinese, FoundSF

Chinese Cartoons – Timeline, Thomas Nast’s cartoons of Chinese Americans

Constitutional Amendments, Treaties, Executive Orders, and Major Acts of Congress Referenced in the Text, by History, Art & Archives, United States House of Representatives

Immigration History,

 AP U.S. History, Immigrant History Initiative 

Chapter 1: First Wave – Pre-1776 to War of 1812

Chua, Paolo, The Fascinating Story of the First Filipinos in America, November 30, 2018, Esquire

Guillermo, Emil, If Filipinos were here first, shouldn’t this be the United States of the Philippines?, October 16, 2017, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Aráullo, Kirby, The First Asian American Settlement Was Established by Filipino Fishermen, May 12, 2021,

A Brief History of Slavery That You Didn’t Learn in School, curated by Mary Elliott, all text by Mary Elliott and Jazmine Hughes, August 19, 2019, New York Times

Slavery and the Making of America, 2004, THIRTEEN

Lan, Jou; Kuo, Debbie, The History of Chinese Immigration to the United States, 2005, KCC Alterna-TV News

Chapter 2 :Second Wave of Immigrants – Period of Opportunity (1830s – 1860s)

The Burlingame-Seward Treaty, 1868, Office of the Historian

Burlingame Seward Treaty, 1868, by State Historical Society of Iowa

Grigg, Cindy, Chinese Immigrants and the California Gold Rush, 2012, edHelper

Maranzani, Barbara, 8 Things You May Not Know About the California Gold Rush, August 31, 2018,

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, National Archives

Homesteading, Center for Great Plains Studies

A Brief History of the Hawaiian Islands, The Hawaiian Islands

Feb 8, 1885 CE: Japanese Immigrants Arrive in Hawaii, 2022, National Geographic Society

Sigall, Bob, Hawaii’s Chinese roots run deep through isle history, February 23, 2018, Hawaii Chinese History Center

Varner, Natasha, Strikers, Scabs, and Sugar Mongers: How Immigrant Labor Struggle Shaped the Hawai‘i We Know Today, August 22, 2017, Densho

Silverman, Jason, Lincoln’s ‘Forgotten’ Act to Encourage Immigration, July 1, 2016, President Lincoln’s Cottage

Chapter 3: Third Wave – Period of Discrimination and Restriction (1870s-1950s)

The Immigration Act of 1924 (The Johnson-Reed Act), Office of the Historian

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (The McCarran-Walter Act), US Department of State

Ellis and Angel Islands: Gateway to Usa (Adapted from Discovery Education: Social Studies textbook)

History of Angel Island Immigration Station, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

Immigration and the Great War, 2018, National Park Service

Carter, James, U.S.-China relations at the Time of the Chinese Exclusion Act, May 5, 2021, SupChina

Crown, Andrew, US Isolationism in the 1920s,

Eriksson, Katherine; Ward, Zach, The ethnic segregation of immigrants in the US from 1850 to 1940, August 6, 2018, VoxEU

Solomon, Lesley, Japanese Exclusion and the American Labor Movement: 1900 to 1924, 2012, Association for Asian Studies
Rumors of War: Immigration Disputes and the Social Construction of Hajimu, Masuda, American-Japanese Relations, 1905–1913, January 5, 2009

A more perfect union: Japanese Americans and the US Consititution, Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Zhu, Kyle, Alice Fong Yu: San Francisco’s First Asian-American Teacher, 2019, FoundSF

Introduction to Marysville’s Chinatown, by Chinese American Museum of Northern California, 2012

Meals, Hank, 19th Century Chinese Merchants: Boundaries & Beginings, April 27, 2020

Chinese America, History and Perspectives, 1991, Chinese Historical Society of America

14th Amendment,  updated June 23, 2022, editors 

Chapter 4: Fourth Wave – Period of Preference (1960s-1970s)

US Immigration Since 1965, 2019,

Ruiz, Neil G., Key facts about the U.S. H-1B visa program, April 27, 2017, Pew Research Center

Brice Anne, Why are there so many Filipino nurses in the U.S.?, May 28, 2019, Berkeley News

DiFeliciantonio, Chase, Is immigration Silicon Valley’s secret sauce for success? Report says more than half of ‘unicorn’ startups founded by immigrants, July 25, 2022, San Francisco Chronicle

Chapter 5: Fifth Wave – Period of Refuge and Selective Immigration (1970s – 2020s)

Immigration Act of 1990, Immigration History

Immigration Reform and Control Act (Irca) (1986), 2019, Immigration History

Lopez, Mark Hugo; Passel, Jeffrey S.; Cohn D’vera, Key facts about the changing U.S. unauthorized immigrant population, April 13, 2021, Pew Research Center

Refugees / Asylum, Immigration History

Refugee Arrivals Fiscal Year by Nationality and Religion Group and Religion October 1,2011 through September 30,2021,

Southeast Asian Americans,

Krogstad, Jens Manuel, Americans broadly support legal status for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, June 17, 2020, Pew Research Center

Refugee Relief Act, Wikipedia

Admissions & Arrivals, 2022, Refugee Processing Center

Refugees and Asylees, 2022, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy, 2017, Congressional Research Service
Refugee Policies – Refugees and the Cold War, American Foreign Relations
Gogol, Frank, What Are the 4 Types of Immigrants?, August 25, 2022, Stilt
Lakemore, Erin, Human Migration Sparked by Wars, Disasters and Now Climate, February 28, 2019, National Geographic

Even as the U.S. Unauthorized Immigrant Population Remains Steady in Size, Its Composition Is Shifting, MPI Finds, December 17, 2020, Migration Policy Institute

Bolter, Jessica, It Is Too Simple to Call 2021 a Record Year for Migration at the  U.S.-Mexico Border, October 2021, Migration Policy Institute  

Terminology, 2021, Department of Justice

Chapter 6: The Virus and Growing Global Tensions (2020s)

Loweree, Jorge; Reichlin-Melnick, Aaron; Ewing, Walter, The Impact of COVID-19 on Noncitizens and Across the U.S. Immigration System, September 30, 2020, American Immigration Council 

Schachter, Jason; Borsella, Pete; Knapp, Anthony, New Population Estimates Show COVID-19 Pandemic Significantly Disrupted Migration Across Borders, December 21, 2021, United States Census Bureau

Annual naturalizations in the U.S. have recovered from pandemic lows and are approaching all-time highs, December 1, 2022, Pew Research Center

Immigrants in Covid America Documenting the Impact of Covid-19 on Immigrants & Refugees in The U.S., University of Minnesota Immigration History Research Center

Kim, Eunice, COVID-19 and the Immigration Detention Industry Complex, November 1, 2021, University of Minnesota Immigration History Research Center

One Nation AAPIs Rising to Fight Dual Pandemics, COVID-19 and Racism, One Nation Commission

Zhang, Lei, Once We Were Model Immigrants; Now We Are a Detriment to U.S. Interests, June 12, 2020, MinnPost


Call It What It Is: Racism Against Asian Americans, 2021, 1990 Institute

Chinese Americans: The History You Were Never Told, 2021, 1990 Institute and Radii

CHSA webinar (Chinese Historical Society of America)

19:20 Angel Island exhibit and assets
22:00 cheat sheets for Paper Son

100 Years of Immigration to The U.S., 1919 to 2019, 2019, Animated Stats

Sandy Lydon “They Came Across the Sundown Sea: Honoring the Chinese Pioneers and their Legacy”, O’Keefe II, Andrew J., July 14, 2022, YouTube

Angel Island – A Story of Chinese Immigration, TheChangvin, May 28, 2019, Youtube

Angel Island Profile: Tyrus Wong, by Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, August 8, 2013, Youtube

Is the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. declining?, 2019, Pew Research Center

Why Chinese People came to the United States, 2017, AJ+

Galka, Max, Here’s Everyone Who’s Immigrated to the U.S. Since 1820, May 3, 2016, Metrocosm

What Is DACA?, Boundless Immigration, 2022


Asian-American Studies 201 (feat. Dr. Russell Jeung and Anuradha Vikram), (00:59), Feeling Asian, September 6, 2022

Data Sources Sources of information in the video 

Chinese-Americans 1785-: Demographics, 2022, Southern Connecticut State University

Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2020, 2022, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

An Overview of U.S. Refugee Law and Policy, Modified October 22, 2022, American Immigration Council 

U.S. Immigration Timeline, August 23, 2022,

Camarota, Steven A.; Zeigler, Karen, Foreign-Born Population Hits Record 46.6 Million in January 2022, February 23, 2022, Center for Immigration Studies

Camarota, Steven A.; Zeigler, Karen, Immigrant Population Hits Record 46.2 Million in November 2021, December 20, 2021, Center for Immigration Studies

Jones, Nicholas; Marks, Rachel; Ramirez, Roberto; Ríos-Vargas, Merarys, 2020 Census Illuminates Racial and Ethnic Composition of the Country, August 12, 2021, United States Census Bureau

QuickFacts United States, 2021, United States Census Bureau 

Ladyzhets, Betsy, How the U.S. census has measured race over 230 years, March 12, 2020

Immigration History Timeline, 2019, Immigration History

Go Deeper: Race Timeline, 2003, PBS

US Immigration by Region and Decade: 1821-2000, 2013, Johnstown Area Heritage Association

Timeline of Immigration to the United States, Free Library of Philadelphia and One Book One Philadelphia

U.S. Immigration Trends, Migration Policy Institute

U.S. Immigrant Population and Share over Time, 1850-Present, Migration Policy Institute

Timeline of Chinese Immigration to the United States, University of California The Bancroft Library

GCU Timeline, by lavibot, Timetoast

Recommendation Books:

Maeda, Daryl Joji; Like Water: A Cultural History of Bruce Lee, 2022, New York University Press

Wu, Frank H.; The New Chinese Diaspora: Embracing the Model Minority and Perpetual Foreigner?, 2018, The Journal of the Chinese Historical Society of America

Chan,Sucheng: The Exclusion of Chinese Women 1870-1943, 1991, Temple University Press

Jeung, Russell; At Home in Exile: Finding Jesus among My Ancestors and Refugee Neighbors, October 4, 2016, Zondervan

Hsu, Madeline Y.; Asian American History: A Very Short Introduction, 2017, Oxford University Press

Lee, Erika; The Making of Asian America: A History, 2016, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks

Zia, Helen; Asian American Dreams, 2001, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Takaki, Ronald; Strangers from a Different Shore, Updated and Revised September 28, 1998, Little, Brown and Company

Takaki, Ronald; A Different Mirror: A HIstory of Multicultural America, 2008, Back Bay Books, Little, Brown and Company


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