People on the Move: 50 Years of Documenting and Researching Migration Experiences at the Immigration History Research Center & Archives

Archives and Special Collections, University of Minnesota Libraries
Minneapolis, MN

People on the Move: 50 Years of Documenting and Researching Migration Experiences at the Immigration History Research Center & Archives presented broad themes of global migration, the unique story of the Immigration History Research Center and Archives, and the current composition and projects of the Center and Archives through artifacts, books, and maps. This project not only introduced visitors to the work of the IHRC&A, it also discussed the work and purpose of archives in general and how they collect, preserve, and interpret past and present events. Combining institutional history with social mission, this exhibit reached the community with a historic topic that remains pertinent and controversial today.

People on the Move used images, oral and video recordings, and artifacts to welcome visitors to the space and invite them to engage with the documentary record. The curators intentionally displayed few items, with a goal towards leanness in display, contrasting with our 450 gigabytes of electronic records and 18,000 feet of material available daily through our services. They invited a variety of audiences through University Libraries’ promotions including a video and social media; event invitations; and personal outreach to teachers and local community members.

The IHRC&A enables engagement, research, and scholarship for local and Minnesota residents, as well as users world-wide. Their impact continues as we work to engage with newcomers and build upon our strengths as a place for records of the underdocumented. The Twin Cities area is home to many refugees and im/migrants, and the IHRC&A and People on the Move exhibit aim to encourage civic conversation and dialogue around topics of immigration, race, and assimilation while connecting the past and present through archival collections.