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Enrique's Journey and the American Immigration Experience: Home

A research guide for Michelle Gonzales' English 1A class. This guide contains information for secondary sources research.

Primary and Secondary Sources - What's the difference?

Primary sources, generally speaking, are original objects, documents, or first-hand accounts of an experience, event, or time period in history.

Examples of primary sources include:

  • interviews
  • diaries/journals/letters
  • buttons/posters (from a presidential campaign, for example)
  • autobiographies
Secondary sources include comments on, interpretations of, or discussions about the original, primary source material.

Examples of secondary sources include:

  • encyclopedias
  • articles (magazines, journal, newspaper)
  • biographies
  • documentaries

 More information on primary and secondary sources:

Primary Sources (Las Positas College Library)

Identifying Primary and Secondary Sources (Indiana University-Bloomington)

Primary and Secondary Sources (UC Santa Cruz) 

Enrique's Journey and the American Immigration Experience

enrique's journey book cover image

This research essay will require you to work with primary and secondary sources. Enrique’s Journey will be the springboard for the research essay, but you will not necessarily be writing about or using information from Enrique’s Journey. Your research essay will require that you gather materials through interviews or personal research (primary sources) and gather, synthesize, and cite from a variety of different written sources (secondary sources).

Option One

Interview one or two people who came to the United States from another country and do research about their country of origin, reasons people leave that country, and waves/peaks of immigration from that country to the United States. This person could be a documented or undocumented immigrant. Your primary research should focus on the immigration experience with the purpose of finding out the following: Why did the interviewee leave their homeland? What obstacles did they encounter on their journey? How has living in the United States lived up to their expectations? How is their experience different from what they expected? What or who do they miss most from home? What has the interviewee gained or learned?

Option Two

Conduct both primary and secondary research to trace your own family’s immigrant experience. Interview a family member, or family members who know or remember such information because they remember it first hand, or because they remember the information based on stories past down from their elders, and do research about the time period in which your family member/s migrated, and waves/peaks of immigration from their homeland to the United States. You get to decide if you will focus on one or both of your parents’ backgrounds, multiple countries, or a single country. It’s important to remember that the journey depicted in Enrique’s Journey is both physical and emotional.

[Adapted from Michelle Gonzales' Spring 2013 English 1A assignment.  See Ms. Gonzales' syllabus and assignment for complete details.]

Subject Guide

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Angela Amaya