My project uses a digital approach to demonstrate that northern European immigrants migrated due to economic push factors, and settled in the United States for economic opportunities. Despite the vast research on American immigration, few historians use a transnational approach to understand common immigrant motivations for migrating, and the development of lives in the United States. Current historiography tends to focus on a singular sending or receiving nation which provides a narrow understanding of typical American immigrant experiences because it does not connect multiple immigrant experiences across space and time. I use case studies from multiple countries to better understand typical nineteenth and early twentieth century northern European immigrant experiences in the United States. I use my family as case studies, and use a digital genealogy timeline to provide an interactive public history approach that incorporates government records, and family photos. The timeline allows viewers to track a family unit through space and time, revealing generational settlement and employment trends. My analysis of specific nineteenth and early twentieth century northern European case studies highlight the main push factor that sparked northern European migration: the lack of economic opportunities within a home country as the result of agricultural failures, political conflicts and industrialization. This study provides examples of the creation and development of immigrant lives in America through settlement location, employment history, and generational upward mobility. Immigrants preferred communities with similar cultural backgrounds, and areas with ample employment opportunities. This study’s transnational case study approach to northern European transatlantic migration through a public history lens provides better insight into the average nineteenth and twentieth century American immigrant experience.


Holt, Katie




Canadian History | Genealogy | Public History | Social History | United States History


Immigration, Genealogy, Public History, United States, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, England, Canada, Digital Timeline

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2017 Christine L. O'Grady