HIST 449: Immigrant Alexandria History Seminar


Instructor: Professor Krystyn Moon

Class Meetings: MWF 9:00-9:50AM

Classroom: Monroe 211

Office Hours: MW 11:00AM-1:00PM; F 11:00-12:00PM;

or by appointment

Office: Monroe 220


Office Phone: (540) 654-1479


Course Goals:

This seminar allows students to explore the varied history of immigrants in the U.S. South from the mid-nineteenth century through the late twentieth century. In addition, students will conduct primary and second source research on immigration to Alexandria, Virginia during this period, which will culminate in a website. Finally, they will work on the following learning outcomes:

  • Understanding of the discipline’s methods and processes
  • Using materials from other disciplines that can be relevant to history
  • Analyzing primary and secondary sources
  • Writing with clarity about the past
  • Conducting research in multiple sites
  • Recognizing the historical nature of global processes
  • Conducting a self-directed study
  • Communicating informally in a group setting
  • Making formal, oral presentations

This course is speaking intensive, which means it will address additional learning outcomes. They are the following:

  • Understand and be able to explain the conventions and expectations of oral communication as practiced within the discipline of the course taken.
  • Apply theories and strategies for crafting messages (verbal, nonverbal, and visual) for particular audiences and purposes.
  • Craft oral messages after a conscious process in which various options are reviewed and will be able to explain and support their choices.
  • Plan, research, organize, support, and deliver ideas and arguments in a public speaking setting.


Class Participation—Because this course is a seminar, students are expected to contribute to class discussions daily to receive a passing grade. Grades will be based on whether a student participated and the substance of his/her comments.

Classroom Discussion Facilitation—Each student along with a partner or partners will lead class discussion of a book or selection of chapters/articles during the semester that relates to your research. Students can lecture, do role-playing, have students analyze primary documents, or stage a debate about the reading assignments. At least one day must be reserved for a general discussion of the text.

Immigrant Alexandria History Project—Throughout the semester, students will be researching, writing, and presenting on the history of immigration to Alexandria, Virginia in groups. As part of this project, students will complete the following assignments:

Project Breakdown:

  • Topics—Students will work in small groups on a set of predetermined topics related to immigration in Alexandria, Virginia. They are the following:
    • Mid-to-Late 19th-Century English Immigration
    • Italian Immigration in the 1930s through the 1950s
    • Ethiopian Refugees from the 1970s through the 1990s
    • Bolivian Refugees from the 1960s through the 2000s
  • Primary Source Blog Posts—Each student will write four blog posts during the semester, which they will draft and share with their peers, revise based on feedback, and post on our website. The use of links, videos, and images will be a key component along with a thorough engagement of primary and secondary sources.
  • Literature Review—Each student will write a literature review briefly discussing the ways in which historians have written on a particular immigrant group. This assignment must relate to one’s topic.
  • Presentation—Each group will give a 10-to-15-minute formal presentation to the class on your research during the last week of classes. It is required that students include a multimedia component.
  • Research—Each group will post their final research project on the class website during finals week. As part of this assignment, students must include multimedia components as part of the text. Footnotes and a bibliography are also required.

Speaking Center—Because this is a speaking intensive course, students are required to visit the Speaking Center before the end of the semester for any of our speaking-related-assignments—research presentation, classroom facilitation, proposal presentations, or informal class discussion. Be sure to schedule appointments early!!! The Speaking Center schedule fills up fast, especially at the end of the semester. NOTE: Failure to attend to the Speaking Center reduces your participation grade by a full letter grade.


The instructor will give an unsatisfactory mid-semester report for anyone with a grade of D or below on work completed at that time. Students must complete ALL assignments in order to pass this course. Below is the grade breakdown:

  • Class Participation—30%
  • Classroom Discussion Leadership—20%
  • American Immigration Research Project—50%
    • Primary Source Blog Posts—20%
    • Literature Review—30%
    • Presentation—10%
    • Final Research Project—40%

Grading Rationale:

Academic performance is rated according to the following system:

A            4.00 quality points—Excellent

A-          3.70 quality points

B+         3.30 quality points

B            3.00 quality points—Commendable

B-          2.70 quality points

C+         2.30 quality points

C            2.00 quality points—Acceptable

C-          1.70 quality points

D+         1.30 quality points

D           1.00 quality points—Marginal

F            0.00 quality points—Failure

Honor Code:

The instructor believes that the Honor Code is an essential, positive component of the Mary Washington experience.  You should know that if you cheat or plagiarize in this class, you will be taken to the Honor Council.  So, do not do it.  On the other hand, I also believe that having friends or family read and comment on your writing can be extremely helpful and falls within the bounds of the Honor Code (assuming the writing itself remains yours).  If you have questions about these issues, then you should talk to me as soon as possible.


If a student receives services through the Office of Disability Services and requires accommodations for this class, please make an appointment with the instructor as soon as possible to discuss his/her approved accommodation needs. Bring the accommodation letter with you to the appointment. The instructor will hold any information the student shares in the strictest confidence unless the student gives the instructor permission to do otherwise. If a student needs accommodations (note taking assistance or extended time for tests), please consult with the Office of Disability Services (x1266) about the appropriate documentation of a disability.

Book List:

Donna Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas

Charlotte Erickson, Invisible Immigrants: The Adaptation of English and Scottish Immigrants in Nineteenth-Century America (Excerpts in Drop Box)

Tom Gjelten, A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story

Additional Essays and Articles Available in Drop Box


Course Schedule:

Week 1: Introduction & Orientation

  • August 29: Introduction
  • August 31: Technology Review
  • September 2: Erika Lee, “A Part and Apart;” Bruno Ramirez, “Globalizing Migration Histories?” and Adam Goodman, “Nation of Migrants;” Journal of American Ethnic History (Summer 2015) state of the field essays (Drop Box)

Week 2: History of Alexandria

  • September 5: Labor Day (no class)
  • September 7: Donald A. DeBats, “A Tale of Two Cities Using Tax Records to Develop GIS Files for Mapping and Understanding Nineteenth-Century U.S. Cities,” Historical Methods 41, no.1 (Winter 2008): 17-38 (Drop Box)
  • September 9: “America’s First Sit-Down Strike: The 1939 Alexandria Library (; Dean S. Rugg, “Comparative Aspects of the Urban Geography of Alexandria, Virginia and Bad Godesberg, West Germany,” Economic Geography 41, no 2. (April 1965): 157-181 (Drop Box).

Week 3: Mid-to-Late-19th Century English Immigration

  • September 12-14: Read Invisible Immigrants (excerpts—Drop Box)
  • September 16: Research workshop (Monroe 211)

Week 4: Census Data I

  • September 19-21: Look at 1860 and 1870 Census Data
  • September 23: Bring drafts of blog posts to class for peer review

Week 5: Mid-Twentieth Century Italian Immigration

  • September 26-28: Read Italy’s Many Diasporas
  • September 30: Research workshop (GIS Lab—Monroe 320; bring USB); final versions of blogs posted by 9AM

Week 6: More Census Data II

  • October 3-5: Look at 1920 and 1940 Census Data
  • October 7: Research Workshop (Monroe 211)

Week 7: Literature Reviews

  • October 10: No Class
  • October 12: Bring drafts of blog posts to class
  • October 14: Literature review workshop

Week 8: Late 20th Century Ethiopian Immigration

  • October 17: Fall Break
  • October 19-21: Read “Identity and Assimilation,” “Ethiopian Ethos,” “Mixed Embeddeddness, and ”The Lure of the Capital City” (Drop Box)
  • October 21: Final blog posts are due by 9AM

Week 9: Oral Histories

Week 10: Late 20th Century Bolivian Immigration

  • October 31-November 2: Read A Nation of Nations (excerpts–Drop Box)
  • November 4: No class

Week 11: Marriage Certificates

  • November 7: 1985 Bolivian Immigrant Marriage Certificates (bring spreadsheet to class)
  • November 9: Bolivian Immigrants in the Washington Post 
  • November 11: Bring drafts of blog posts to class for peer review

Week 12: New Research on the Washington Metropolitan Area

  • November 14: Read “Hybrid Sensibilities” (Drop Box)
  • November 16: Read “Alexandria YWCA” (Drop Box)
  • November 18: No class

Week 13: Newspapers & Thanksgiving

  • November 21: Final blog posts are due by 9AM
  • November 23-25: No class

Week 14: Technology and Presentation Preparation

  • November 28-30: Technology workshops (ITCC 407)
  • December 2: Research Workshop (GIS Lab—Monroe 320; bring USB)

Week 16: Presentations

  • December 5-7: Presentations
  • December 9: Please attend the History and American Studies Symposium

Week 17: Finals Week

  • December 16: Final websites are due by 11AM.






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