What is migration? Why do people move? What makes a person look around themselves and decide to abandon everything, striking out for unfamiliar territory? Here at Migration Nation, we’ll explore these questions throughout American history.

Every couple of weeks, Lyman and Brian will explore a time in American history when significant populations were pushed or pulled to pull up stakes and participate in one of the most fundamental of human rights: movement. Those movements may have been prompted by a pioneer spirit, forced relocation effort, or even the promise of riches. What we hope is that by examining these migrations from multiple perspectives, a larger understanding of the American Migrant, and the role of migration in American history, will emerge.

In the United States, which this series will focus on, migration is more than just an individual’s story—it is a national faith. Stories of migration define American history, filling it with tales of hope, endurance, and destiny. Yet few of us know how these stories really fit into American history, and even fewer can offer any details of what actually happened on the Oregon Trail, or the Trail of Tears. Historic migrations, like our ancestors who embarked on them, are names we may remember, but we do not recognize their faces, do not know their experiences, and have not heard their stories.

Those are the stories we will tell. We will offer a different historical vignette in each episode, a story of Americans on the move, but our ultimate goal is not to make you an expert on demography or American history. Our goal is that you will see where you stand in this continuing story of American mobility, of an unsettled nation-on-the-move in pursuit of opportunity… and sometimes opportunism, as we’ll show. We hope to help us all see how we got to where we are: quite literally, in terms of physical location, but also in terms of how our nation came to see itself in the terms it does.