Recent estimates place the number of foreign-born Virginians at just under one million, or about one in every eight people in the state. The composite portrait of Virginia is becoming more complex, challenging an older, simpler understanding of what it means to be a Virginian.
Whether our roots in the state go back ten thousand years, ten generations, or ten weeks, we must create the future of the commonwealth together.
New Virginians: 1619–2019 & Beyond explores the historical and continuous journey toward the ideals of America and seeks to foster an honest discussion about the immigrant and refugee experience and Virginia’s increasing diversity.
Produced jointly by the Library of Virginia and Virginia Humanities, the exhibition highlights the changing demographics of the commonwealth on the eve of the 2020 federal census through a series of interviews with first-generation immigrants and refugees who arrived in Virginia after 1976.
The interviews reveal the complexity of the experience for people representing a wide range of personal backgrounds, experience, age, and countries of origin–Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. To complement the videos, the exhibition includes objects that have special meaning for the interviewees. New Virginians is a Legacy Project of the 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution.