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New Virginians: 1619 – 2019 and Beyond

AE Curator Feb 20
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“Less than 50 years ago, only one in every 100 people living in Virginia had been born outside the United States. In 2012, the figure was one in nine. The number of foreign-born Virginians is now at just under one million. Nearly half these new residents are between the ages of 25 and 44.” – New Virginians Exhibition

For the last 400 years, Virginia has seen a steady stream of immigrants arrive on her shores. In the last 50 years, that stream has swelled into a river, with nearly a million immigrants becoming Virginians since 1969.

With New Virginians come new perspectives. New opinions. New cultures. New opportunities. A New Commonwealth.​

As a part of the 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution Stories is helping showcase the diverse backgrounds, perspectives and contributions that compose our collective history. Here, we are highlighting the stories of New Virginians and their experiences in their new home.

Stories like Sam’s are inspiring — it shows how her adopted sisters were granted opportunities by leaving China and growing up in the United States.

Aurica’s mother fled from her homeland, which was squeezed by communism’s grip, to seek democratic freedom in America.

In Columbia Pike,  read about how a three-mile piece of Arlington has become home to immigrants, refugees, and families from dozens–if not hundreds–of countries.

Over the past 400 years, countless numbers of people have left their native lands to seek better opportunities for themselves and their families here.

Some were god-like heroes of the Revolution. Some go back even farther still in Virginia’s history.

Now we’d like to hear your stories of life as a New Virginian. If you have a story to tell, share yours today.

To experience more New Virginian stories, visit the Library of Virginia to see our “New Virginians: 1619 – 2019 and Beyond” exhibit, featuring video-recorded conversations of immigrants and refugees from more than 30 countries around the globe.

Suggested prompts

Tell us about the circumstances that caused your family to move to the United States.

Tell us about the opportunities and challenges that living in Virginia has presented for you and your family.

Helpful Tips

Video/Audio story

Use your smartphone to film or record a 2-3 minute video or audio recording answering one of the prompts listed above. Think of your story — outline the key points on paper and rehearse telling it a couple of times before recording. While filming, make sure you have good lighting and hold the phone about one foot away so your head and shoulders fill the frame.

Text story

Take 30-60 minutes to draft a 200-500 word text story answering one of the prompts listed above. Your story should take a narrative approach detailing your experiences and the emotions you felt along the way.


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