Published: April 19, 2013

With immigration reform in the headlines, BackStory takes a look at the flip side of the Ellis Island story: emigration. This week, we bring you the stories of Americans who have left the country in search of a better life elsewhere.

From the Loyalists who fled to Canada in the wake of the Revolution, to the free blacks who sailed to Liberia in search of freedom (and a spot at the top of the racial hierarchy), to the Depression-era refugees who sought a better life in the Soviet Union, we ask who’s chosen to leave America, and what parts of their American identities they’ve taken with them.