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The World Comes to the Merrimack River Valley: One Hundred Years of Immigration History in One Hour
February 22, 11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Prof. Robert Forrant, Ph.D. Distinguished University Professor of History, UMass Lowell
Massachusetts has a history of immigration dating back to newcomers’ first settlements building colonies along the New England coast. Immigrants continue playing a vital role in the Commonwealth today, making up 16 percent of the population. In 2020, over a fifth of the state’s labor force is foreign-born, many of them in frontline positions helping us to survive the pandemic. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the top countries of origin were French-speaking Canada and Southern and Eastern Europe. Today’s top countries of origin are China, the Dominican Republic, India, and Brazil. Through a careful look at Merrimack River valley history, we will spend an hour discussing this ‘old’ and ‘new’ immigration and leave our discussion with a greater understanding of the region’s rich immigration history.
Robert Forrant is Distinguished University Professor of History at UMass Lowell and a Lawrence History Center Board member. An authority on labor and immigration history, with a particular focus on Massachusetts and New England, he is working on a book titled Lowell: The Worlds and Histories of a New England Mill City. Forrant is the recipient of the UMass President’s Award for Public Service, UMass Lowell’s Martin Luther King Jr. award, and a Massachusetts History Commendation from the National Endowment for the Humanities.