The United States has often been called "a nation of immigrants" – an oversimplification, to be sure.
American Indians were present before the nation's founding, and hundreds of thousands of Africans were brought to these shores in chains.
Many Americans, however, descend from immigrants who fled religious or ethnic persecution, war or economic hardship. These same forces continue to drive immigration today. More than 40 million people in the U.S. can say they were foreign born.
Over time, each wave of immigrants has left its imprint. It's important to remember where we all came from and how public attitudes and policies on immigration have changed throughout the country's history.
Starting Monday, Sept. 16, and continuing through Oct. 14, Worthington Libraries will play host to the traveling exhibit "Immigration – An American Story" at Old Worthington Library, 820 High St., during regular hours.
The traveling exhibition, developed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, uses documents, maps and images to explore the forces that have driven immigrants to seek new beginnings in the U.S.
Several programs have been planned in conjunction with this exhibit. All start at 7 p.m. at Old Worthington Library, unless otherwise indicated.
On Sept. 16, Jayne Davis, professional genealogist and past president of the Franklin County Genealogical and Historical Society, will lead "Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors," offering tips on making their way through vital statistics and probate files, plus census, land and military records.
Whether you're just getting started or have hit a roadblock in your research, experts from the society will offer help during one-on-one genealogy sessions Sept. 28. Appointments are offered at 10 and 11 a.m. and noon. Registration is required; go to worthingtonlibraries.org/calendar/register or call 614-807-2626.
There will be a presentation of the History Channel documentary, "America: Promised Land" on Sept. 30 (part one) and Oct. 1 (part two). The special explores the historical forces that helped shape the immigrant country the U.S. is today.
Hillary Kline is a communications specialist for Worthington Libraries.