In 2013, the Immigration History Research Center launched the Immigrant Stories project to collect contemporary migration stories through digital storytelling and preserve them in the IHRC Archives. Immigrant Stories grew out of recent IHRC research projects which used digital humanities tools to expand access to the Archives and to preserve "born digital" historic materials.
Immigrant Stories teaches participants to make a digital story about a personal or family migration experience. We chose digital storytelling as our methodology because it allows participants to determine both the form and content of their stories. We encourage participants to recount a story that they feel comfortable sharing publicly and would like preserved for future generations. Participants write their own story, record an audio voiceover, and select images (such as personal photos, family documents, and original music) to create a brief video.
We define "immigrant" broadly. Our collection contains stories from first-generation immigrants and refugees- that is, people born outside the country where they currently live)- as well as stories created by their children and grandchildren. Immigrant Stories have been created by international students, international adoptees, and people who do not feel that their stories fit a particular (or just one) category. There is not one way to tell an immigrant story because there is no single story that represents all immigrants and their histories.
No specialized technical knowledge is required to make a digital story. We provide free and simple training in the basics of editing audio and video in our Immigrant Stories Toolkits. You can use these guides to help others make digital stories in a classroom or workshop setting. All participants are invited to share their completed stories with us.
The IHRC Archives will preserve these digital stories and ensure that they will be publicly accessible for future generations. Our digital stories are also discoverable through the Minnesota Digital Library and the Digital Public Library of America. Through these online libraries, the public can explore the Immigrant Stories collection alongside the collections of libraries, archives, and museums across Minnesota and the United States. All Immigrant Stories are also shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.