Immigration History Markers and Monuments

Part of the way history gets remembered is through the ways in which we commemorate people and events in public spaces. These links provide a glimpse into how immigrant and refugee history is celebrated in the public square. For students and teachers, these markers and monuments are an important classroom discussion tool. Here is an analyzing and creating memorial and monuments curriculum lesson plan.

THE BOSTON IRISH FAMINE MEMORIAL intersects the city’s Freedom Trail and Irish Heritage Trail. Unveiled in June 1998, the Memorial has been viewed by millions of residents, visitors and students, who have gained an historical perspective of one of the worst famines in human history, while learning an appreciation of the Boston Irish story. […]

The Vilna Shul is the last immigrant-era synagogue building that exists in downtown Boston. It currently operates as a cultural center celebrating Jewish heritage and its intersection with other cultures and communities in the city. In 1893, Jewish immigrants from Vilna Gubernia—the province encompassing the present-day Lithuanian capital of Vilnius […]

This bronze and granite statue in Liberty Square dates from 1986, 30 years after the brutal Soviet crackdown on Hungarian rebels that it commemorates. The 1956 repression spurred thousands of Hungarians to flee their home country, with many settling in the U.S., including the Boston area.

A recent journal article authored by some familiar names contributes important new evidence to our understanding of the earliest Irish immigrants in Lowell. “Migration and Memorials: Irish Cultural Identity in Early Nineteenth-Century Lowell, Massachusetts” (published in the International Journal of Historical Archaeology on December 18, 2019 examines the iconography of several hundred grave monuments in Lowell’s St. Patrick’s Cemetery.

This monument is dedicated to Carbon County’s proud immigrant heritage. In the early part of this century, Thirty Two nationalities lived in Carbon County. Most of them came here to mine the coal. Carbon County is Utah’s melting pot. Because of its polyglot population, refined and tempered in the melting process, the religious, social, and cultural life of Carbon County […]

‘Famine’, St. Stephen’s Green, Custom House Quay, Docklands, Dublin (Ireland). By Edward Delaney. This location is a particularly appropriate & historic as one of the first voyages of the Famine period was on the ‘Perseverance’ which sailed from Custom House Quay on St. Patrick’s Day 1846. The Steerage fare on the ship was £3 and 210 passengers made the historical journey. They landed in New York on the 18th May 1846. All passengers and crew survived the journey.

Located in San Francisco Bay, this memorial was originally an immigration detention facility in the first half of the 20th century. The facility mainly detained Asian immigrants, including Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Filipino immigrants. Tiburon, California.

“Leaving their homes and villages, they crossed the ocean only to endure confinement in these barracks. Conquering frontiers and barriers, they pioneered a new life by the Golden Gate.” (Eddie Ngoot Ping Chin) Monument near United States Immigration Station.

Description: Cam Ai Tran and Hap Tu Thai and their two children escaped Vietnam by boat in 1979. Thirteen others on the same boat died and were buried at sea. Tran and Thai are now the publishers of the “Saigon Times”, based in Rosemead, California. For ten years they worked tirelessly to build a memorial to the Boat People, including the tens of thousands who died at sea. […]

Election day, Aug. 6, 1855, known as Bloody Monday due to riots led by “Know-Nothing” mobs. This political party was anti-Catholic and nativist. Attacks on German immigrants east of downtown and Irish in the west caused at least 22 deaths, arson, and looting. Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption & St. Martin’s Church were threatened with destruction. American (Know-Nothing) Party. […]

This is part of NYC Parks’ Historical Signs Project. Sculptor Luis Sanguino (b. 1934) celebrates the diversity of New York City and the struggle of immigrants in this heroic-sized bronze figural group. The sculpture depicts figures of various ethnic groups and eras, including an Eastern European Jew, a freed African slave, a priest, and a worker. The figures’ expressive poses emphasize the struggle and toil inherent in the experience of the immigrant or dislocated person. […]

Tania Bruguera’s piece is a meditation on the history and present-day significance of immigration in Philadelphia and beyond. She proposed a physically incomplete statue of an immigrant child—unmarked by race, ethnicity, or gender. As Bruguera stated, “the statue is not (meant) to represent a particular community, but all immigrants…they are not always in one place; part of them is somewhere else, in their home country.” For this project […]

Opposite The Slave in the Central Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial is Heinz Warneke’s representation of The Immigrant, commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art). Born in Germany, Warneke himself became an immigrant to the United States at the age of 28. Well known for his animal sculptures, such as Cow Elephant and Calf, he also created monumental human figures for a number of public sites, including […]

Bracero Monument honoring ‘braceros,’ Mexican migrant workers, unveiled in downtown L.A. created by artist Dan Medina, 51, as part of a $3.2-million streetscape and pedestrian improvement project that also highlights Native American, African American and immigrant cultures from many L.A. communities, in Migrant’s Bend Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. […]

The Black Rock was placed in 1859 near the entrance of the Victoria Bridge, in the middle of a cemetery where thousands of Irish immigrants were buried, victims of typhus in 1847-1848. In 1902, after the cemetery was moved, the commemorative monument was placed in St. Patrick Square, beside the Lachine Canal. It was, however, returned to the entrance of the bridge in 1912, where it remains to this day.

The plaque is in English and Gaelic and the English text reads: On 3 August 1802, the 242 ton ship “Northern Friends” arrived in Sydney Harbour with 415 settlers from Scotland. This marked the first emigration directly from Scotland to Cape Breton and formed the vanguard of the great migration which gave this Island its Scottish character. […]

Roadside stone Gaelic monument is located where emigrants departing to America and/or Canada parted with family members remaining in Ireland, perhaps never to see one another again, with the emigrants just beginning a long walk to get to the ships and family members remaining in Ireland walking back to their homes in the opposite direction.

It portrays a Lebanese traveler wearing traditional clothes. The plaque of the statue read as follows: “This monument is a universal symbol of a proud, strong, and globally united Lebanese community. The statue honors the early Lebanese settlers who, 130 years ago, established a presence in this country, sewing the bonds of loyalty, faith, and perseverance. We are thankful to our Nova Scotia community and for the enduring friendships built in our new home, Canada.”