Netflix Academy: The best streaming videos on the history of immigration

Note: This post is part of our series, "Netflix Academy: The best educational videos available for streaming." Be sure to check out our previous Netflix Academy posts on Ancient Asian Culturesearly American civilizationsAncient GreeceAncient RomeNative American culturesChristopher Columbus and the Age of DiscoveryColonial America and the Revolutionary Warthe American founders; the Lewis and Clark expedition; the Civil War; movie adaptations of classic children’s booksAmerican folk heroesdinosaursaquatic lifeinsectsfrogs and other amphibiansreptilesbirdsmammalshuman evolutionearthquakes and volcanoesouter spaceand the systems of the human body

This post marks an important milestone: The terminus of our Netflix Academy series. We’ve now covered most of the major topics in the early grades of the Core Knowledge Sequence, save for some subjects on which high-quality streaming video options were scant.

We’ve learned over the course of this year that there’s a lot more high-quality science content on Netflix and Amazon than historical videos, at least for kids. But we’ve also come across some fantastic television shows that are content-rich and easily accessible, including the Dear America series featured below. (Others include Liberty’s Kids, The Magic Schoolbus, and Wild Kratts.)

This week’s topic—the wave of immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s—has special meaning for me, as my Italian ancestors were part of the “huddled masses” that came in droves from Europe at that time. And, of course, it’s an important reminder, as we are again gripped by a political debate over immigration, that we are a nation of newcomers. Enjoy!

Special thanks to research interns Liz McInerney and Marie Dandie for helping to compile these lists.


Best videos on the history of immigration


1. Dear America: So Far From Home (Season 1, Episode 4)

Based on the best-selling books, this series tells the stories of fictional teenage women at turning points in American history. Mary, a teenage immigrant from Ireland, finds that working in a mill in Lowell, Massachusetts, is not what she'd envisioned as her new life in America.

Length: 27 minutes

Rating: TV-Y7

Provider: Netflix

2. Dear America: Dreams in a Golden Country (Season 1, Episode 5)

Based on the best-selling books, this series tells the stories of fictional teenage women at turning points in American history. A Russian Jewish immigrant girl lives with her family in a tenement on the Lower East Side of New York City. She dreams of being an actress.

Length: 27 minutes

Rating: TV-Y7

Provider: Netflix

3. Remembering Ellis Island

A comprehensive documentary of the Ellis Island story in all its complexity. We take you behind the scenes into the memory-haunted ruins of unrestored Ellis Island. Our cameras trace the saga of Immigrants coming from the old world through what is now Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Length: 1 hour

Rating: NR

Provider: Amazon Instant

4. Schoolhouse Rock: ''The Great American Melting Pot''

Schoolhouse Rock was an American animated musical educational show that was originally produced in the 1970s and 1980s. “Great American Melting Pot” was aired in 1977. It tells the story of immigration from the Old World of Europe to the New World of the United States. It suggests that immigrants of different backgrounds have come together in America, bringing with them their own traditions and values, but ultimately becoming part of one “Great American Melting Pot.”

Length: 3 minutes

Rating: NR

Provider: Youtube

Michael J. Petrilli
Michael J. Petrilli is the President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.