This collection of immigrant and ethnic caricatures from popular graphics dates primarily from the Civil War to World War I, a period of massive migration to the United States. To modern Americans, the contents are sometimes humorous, sometimes very disturbing. Nonetheless, the collection depicts American values and attitudes of its period and is a remarkable resource for the study of American cultural history.
The collection consists of cartoons, prints and lithographs, postcards, trade cards, stereopticon slides, sheet music, and other visual materials. The Appels donated over 4,000 pieces, plus their reference library and documentary materials, to the Michigan State University Museum.