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Attachments: Faces and Stories from America’s Gates, June 15 to September 4

Attachments: Faces and Stories from America’s Gates, June 15 to September 4

A poignant exhibit that explores the stories of 31 immigrants


The new exhibit at the National Archives Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery in Washington DC, gives visitors the opportunity to meet 31 men, women and children who found themselves at America’s immigration gateways from the 1880s through World War II, via a unique and artistic account.

“Attachments: Faces and Stories from America’s Gates” tells their stories—the joy, disappointment, opportunity, discrimination, deceit and honesty—through the original documents and photographs “attached” to government forms.  Large photomurals depict each immigrant. 

The exhibit divides the experience into three sections: Entering, Leaving and Staying.

Entering into the United States meant so many things for so many different immigrants—with so many different results. The stakes were high for some, seeking asylum from political or religious persecution, forging documents, crossing borders, fighting deportation.

Leaving reminds us that, whether voluntary or not, some immigrants didn’t remain in America. From political radicalism to financial trouble to stealing a loaf of bread, many challenges forced them to return to their native lands.

Finally, Staying examines what it meant to leave behind the familiar and stay in America. Feelings of nostalgia mingle with excitement, the thrill of opportunity, tumultuous hardships, freedom, democracy, prejudice, discrimination, disenchantment and hope.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Find out more about the National Archives.