The Extraordinary Journey Series


The Extraordinary Journey Series


Nothing in today’s American society can compare to the risk-filled experience of immigrating to the United States a hundred years ago; an experience from which a sense of ethnic heritage resonates for millions of Americans. WVIA Public Media has produced The Extraordinary Journey Series, a collection of original documentaries, that turns back the hands of time and draws us into the Europeans’ extraordinary story of immigration to the United States. 

These compelling stories are told from the immigrant’s perspective, to create an evocative experiential context for the audience. They render a world far different than the one we live in today, in which you and your family would be forced to leave everything you owned and everyone you loved and everything you knew, to create a new life in a new culture in a new country. Very few ever saw their homeland again.

Many people still don’t know who they are. The Extraordinary Journey Series employs the storytelling and production values that distinguish public television documentary filmmaking to honor the courageous character our ancestors possessed to create a finer life for us today, and provide essential perspective to the contemporary issue of immigration in America.

The Films

The Eastern Europeans

The Eastern Europeans

Chronicles the precarious emigration of over 100,000 Eastern Europeans from 26 different homelands

The Irish

The Irish

The dramatic past, vibrant culture and future of the Irish in America



Chronicles the massive immigration of more than four million Italians to the US between 1890 & 1930

Lessons from the Era

The Great Immigration

The Great Immigration

Numerous developments created a dynamic migration and population shift not seen before or since in our history. The Northeastern industrial corridor, particularly Pennsylvania, ...

Prejudice and the Iron Hand

Prejudice and the Iron Hand

Not surprisingly, the social ills that surfaced from rapid urbanization was blamed on the recent influx of immigrants. Often unfairly deemed uncivilized, many immigrants were ju...

Settlement / Assimilation

Settlement / Assimilation

Due to the increased nationalistic atmosphere during World War I, the assimilation process for these immigrants was harsh and caused many to denounce their heritage.

Political Influence

Political Influence

Once they gained a foothold in American society, Eastern Europeans immigrants had considerable political influence on the United States government,

Other Assets

Photo Gallery

A selection of photos used in the films

Additional Resources

More great resources to explore the history of our ancestors and their extraordinary journey

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