Course/Grade Level: 7 Lesson Title: Immigration Stories- early Nineteenth Century Teacher: D. Johns Essential Question – Why did immigrants come to the United States and what impact did they have on society?


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Course/Grade Level: 7

Lesson Title: Immigration Stories- Early Nineteenth Century

Teacher: D. Johns

Essential Question – Why did immigrants come to the United States and what impact did they have on

Focus Question- What were the push and pull factors regarding early American immigration?

  1. Set Induction: America’s story cannot be told without engaging students in lively discourse and discussion about how America was built as a nation of immigrants. Students will be able to connect to this early period in our history in a very personal way as they relate their own distinct heritage to the early immigration either through personal family stories or through cultural traditions that remain from earlier migrations of ancestors. The goal of this lesson is to develop understanding of the different populations arriving in America in the early 1800’s, why they came to where they settled, and what they did. Students will read and recreate personal stories of the causes behind this movement and the degree of assimilation to an ever growing and always changing American culture.

  1. Aims/Objectives and Standards:

National Social Studies Standards:

Historical Comprehension- Standard 2 – Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage by identifying who was involved, what happened, what events led to these developments, and what consequences or outcomes followed. – Read historical narratives imaginatively-appreciate historical perspectives.

National Common Core Language Arts/Social Studies Standards:
RH 6-8.2 – Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source: provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
R.H. 6-8.7 - Integrate visual information with other information in print.
Illinois State Standards:
State Goal

14.F.4a - Determine the historical events and process that brought about changes in United States political ideas and traditions.

17.B.4b - Analyze trends in world ( U.S.) demographics

Lesson Goals : Students will trace the route of the immigrants on Smart Board map.

Students will compare and contrast immigration stories to identify both unique and similar characteristics of immigrant groups

Students will read for understanding and synthesize a narrative using identified key

terms and ideas in the secondary text.

  1. Procedures, Assessments and Materials Required:

Immigrant Scenarios – These narratives are designed to tell students an individual’s story of immigration during the early 1800’s. Narratives have been compiled from a variety of secondary sources and are intended to allow students to teach through their stories. There is a variety of ways these narratives can be used:

Whole class activity

Narratives could be presented individually on the screen and students would identify push and pull factors imbedded into the story. Narratives would drive class discussion. Students could then be asked to come to the front and, on a Smart Map draw the route of each particular immigrant which eventually would show migration routes from Europe during the early nineteenth century.
Individual Activities –

Students could be given narratives which would drive research and interesting poster presentations. Students would identify which type of primary sources would help them tell the story, research primary sources, and create a poster project using maps, drawings and photographs.

Students called upon to share their stories. Readings could include underlined portions which will be a focus of interpretation process. Students interpret the story and identify key ideas – summarizing the immigrant stories. With key words, phrases and ideas presented. Students present their (immigrant’s) story Underlined material required to be presented and students are given a worksheet which they can note the key ideas for assessment study.

Interview Teams

Students might be paired and work together to write and produce an interview. Student would take notes during the interview identifying push-pull factors as well as other information presented during the interview. Views of the interview might also be encourage to ask questions. This might get lively as students creatively elaborate on the stories they are presenting.

Groups create a format for presenting the material in an organized way by looking at and categorizing the information presented. For example, Those immigrant with stories about the exit from their homeland might first be asked by the moderator (teacher) about their experiences . Those with experiences to share would then, according to a pre-outlined plan, each tell the story of their exodus.

  1. Resources and Scholarship:

Bergquist. James M. Daily Life in Immigrant America – 1820-1870: How the First Great

Wave of Immigrants Made Their Way to America. 2nd Ed. Ivan R. Dee. 2009
Daniels, Roger. Coming to America. Harper Collins. N.Y. 2002.
Dinnerstein, Leonard. Reimers David M. Ethnic Americans- A History of Immigration

Columbia University Press. NY.2009
Kennedy, John F. A Nation of Immigrants.

  1. Conclusion/Lesson Wrap-up:

Students will be comparing the notes on their worksheets with information in the textbook and their class notes from discussion related to immigration.
Extension/ Interdisciplinary Activities
Creative Writing opportunity – Students will write a creative story of passage. Students should be given creative license to elaborate and provide more detail of an immigrant’s experiences. This may be done as a culminating activity after students have heard the varied scenarios and created pictures in their own mind of the immigrant’s stories.

Telling Your Story - Students, having been introduced to the nineteenth century immigration story, would then tell a story of their family’s heritage. They might tell a grandfather, grandmother, aunt, uncle or another family member’s story. Students themselves may be encouraged to tell their own stories using any of the format’s presented above.

Scenario 1

Gustav had lived in a small community called Dresden on the Elbe River in east central Germany. He found his skills were not serving him because of the Industrial Revolution in Europe.  Goods that were once created in home workshops were now being made in factories in industrialized areas.  Gustav had the choice of either working in a factory, facing a loss in wages and not being able to utilize the skills he had mastered, or migrate elsewhere.  Wages in the factories in America were higher than comparable factories in Europe.  There were also newly developing towns in which his skills might be put to productive use. Once he arrived in New York, he sought work in one of the many new factories

Scenario 2
Ethan managed to escape from British law. He was wanted for burglary and gained passage under a different name. Once he arrived in America, without the means or ability to turn to farming, he got a job working in the emerging transportation systems in America. Upon his arrival, he began to work in the shipping industry on the docks in Boston, Massachusetts, loading export goods for manufacture to Europe.  The ships would take goods across the Atlantic and return with goods from Europe, as well as passengers who would often travel in the lower levels of the ship or the "steerage".

Scenario 3

Anna has a story to tell about her experiences in steerage. She left Wales with very little. She spent all the money she had left after paying debts on the fare charged for travel in steerage. The fares at this time cost her about $30.00 for the very cramped accommodations. She had been told to bring her own provisions as the ships coming from Liverpool, England rarely supplied food for the steerage passengers. While Anna survived the trip, there were many voyagers in steerage who had become sick from the poor sanitation on the ship. Disease spread very quickly in such close quarters and several people she met on the ship died of cholera and typhus. There were many deaths from “ship’s fever”,

a strange ailment which would later be discovered to be carried by rats and mice. Anna was greatly relieved when she finally arrived in her new country.

Scenario 4

The experiences of Scott were a bit trying. The ship on which he sailed had to weather several rough storms. This traveler was making his exodus from Scotland prior to 1830 which meant that the likely timetable for his trip was 12 weeks. Because of the storms he was blown off course and it took him almost two more weeks to reach his destination. While the planned course veered north from the island of Great Britain, the ship he was traveling in ended up going as far north as Iceland and from there reaching port north of his New York destination. In Newfoundland he had to wait for a different transport to New York City. Once in New York, he found life difficult as he had spent all his extra funds on food during his extended voyage.

Scenario 5

Before leaving Europe, Hans had read a guidebook by A.C. Buchanan published in 1828. He took Buchanan’s advice and ended up spending only about 7 British pounds for food for his family of five who were traveling with him. Fortunately, he had followed Buchanan’s advice and bought tight fitting containers and barrels for the provisions he had purchased. The provisions he and his wife had packed were not sufficient for the trip to America and the family ended up running quite low and having to depend on handouts from other passengers in steerage. Cooking had been difficult, especially when the hatches in steerage were shut because of foul weather. The center of the compartment “tween decks” known as steerage was used by all the passengers and became quite smoky when the hatches were closed.

Scenario 6

Craig, a disgruntled Irish immigrant, had several weeks of frustration as there were constant delays in the embarkation (leaving) of the ship from the port in Dublin. The ship’s captain was pretty sure he could fill the lower steerage levels with more passengers and therefore make more profit, if he could wait a little longer. He felt that inclement weather had probably delayed some inland travelers and there was room for more cargo. He wanted to take a full ship across so that his profits would be higher. This created anxiety for those who had already signed on, had said their goodbyes, and were ready to go. The keepers of the boardinghouses in Dublin were happy, though, because their rooms were filled .

Scenario 7

Sarah made it through the inspections prior to the embarkation of the ship. While authorities claimed to constantly be making the process smoother, there were delays in Liverpool port because of the required medical inspections by government doctors. People were herded through like cattle and she counted over 400 people ahead of her being processed by the medical inspectors. When it was finally her turn, she passed by a small window, was asked her name, told to show her tongue, and then received a stamp of approval on her traveling papers. Judging by the spread of disease on this passage, it is not likely that the inspections did much to curb illness. Sarah joined her Aunt and Uncle who had come to America three years prior to her arrival. They had a friend meet her at the docks in New York and take her to New Jersey.

Scenario 8

Martin traveled on a deck from Dublin to Liverpool prior to embarking this very busy port for America. He had to deal with immigration agents who worked for a broker, a man who bought space in many ships and then turned a profit by selling the passenger spaces he had purchased. Brokers often bought the unused space of a cargo ship once the cargo was unloaded. Martin was more fortunate than others who found they had to wait even though they had paid for promised passage as the space had been sold to others prior to their arrival. These agents worked the waterfront in one of the most run down areas which had once been the center of the British African slave trade. Their goal was to get as much money for passage as they could.

Scenario 9

Margaret was distressed throughout the entire voyage because the brokers had simply sent all the waiting passengers to her ship. This created a situation of overcrowding which put the ship over the legal limit. Steerage was packed and some Irish travelers had to share the decks with the livestock for the entire trip. Margaret felt lucky that she did not have to sleep in the animal pens. Because of inconsistency and loose enforcement, this happened often. One of the reasons why her ship was so crowded was because this particular time of the year there were seasonal migrant workers who came to England to work the harvests on the large farms and returned to America at the end of the harvest season.

Scenario 10

Hans had traveled from the interior of his country via roadways and river travel to the port city of LeHarve near the mouth of the Seine River. An American ship broker had established a business selling reasonably cheap travel from LeHarve and Antwerp. This broker had connections with a network of travel brokers throughout southern Germany. While most of the German passengers traveled to New York, Hans was traveling to Kansas. There were several passengers on his ship who told stories of escaping the police or failing to get permission to leave the country. There were also those who had military obligations who had skipped out on those responsibilities and had stolen away on this ship to America. Hans was met, upon his arrival in New York, by an employment agent who offered him work along the canals. He took a job because he thought it might be a way he could move away from the cities of the east. Eventually, Hans, having no family to save passage for, was able to take advantage of government land in the wide open spaces of Kansas.

Scenario 11

Traveling from the port city of Hamburg Germany meant low rates for Eric, a German passenger who purchased passage on a trip bound across the North Sea to England, by land to Liverpool, and then on to New York. This route eventually became the course for two large shipping corporations which established agents across central and Eastern Europe and continued to flourish as steam replaced sail and later as iron ships replaced wood. The ship that this passenger boarded was about 150 feet in length. Sailing vessels were anywhere from 90 to 200 feet in length. This was a three-masted wooden ship with square rigging. Eric traveled north to upper New York State and then traveled on the Erie Canal to the Great Lakes. He eventually settled in Cleveland, Ohio.

Scenario 12

Heath and his Irish family booked passage through a broker on a “packet” ship. Packet ships were ships which sailed on a regular schedule. As was customary in Ireland, his friends and neighbors remaining behind held what was called an American wake--an all night gathering which included both sorrow and celebration. Because of the hazards of the trip, he was not certain that he and his family would see their homeland ever again. The separation from family and friends seemed as permanent and irreversible as death itself. When morning arrived, the family was accompanied by those who loved them to the dock. The parish priests blessed their trip and they would begin their initial journey down the river to the North Sea and to the trusted seaworthy vessels. Heath and his family survived the trip and disembarked in Boston. Because there was not an easy or inexpensive immigrant trail from Boston, many Irish stayed in the area, the women finding domestic work and the men often working on the docks.

Scenario 13

Ted found a group of Norwegian immigrants who were joining another group who had emigrated several years earlier to America and ventured into the frontier of Northern Illinois along the Fox River. He decided to join them. After a two month journey, they arrived in New York and prepared for their westward trip. They went by steamboat on the Hudson River and then by Erie Canal to Buffalo, New York, then via Lake Erie to Detroit and finally by boat across the Great Lakes to Chicago. His group included religious dissenters of the Norwegian state Lutheran church. Ted found the winter climate in Northern Illinois similar to the climate in his homeland and was fortunate to find work in industry.

Scenario 14

In Chicago, Sven joined a group of immigrants who had contact with other immigrants along an eastern river in Illinois. He ventured northeast and settled in a community on the Rock River. He initially worked in one of the many furniture factories which had sprung up in the area. His cabinet designing talents, as well as his crafting skills, enabled Sven to eventually open his own shop. Having his own business enabled Sven to be able to hire other immigrants who had arrived in the area from Sweden. In some cases, he recruited skilled workers from Sweden and brought them to work under indentured worker contracts. Sven’s business expanded and he was able to build a clientele of the more wealthy business owners in town.

Scenario 15

Ted decided to leave Norway after a falling out with his aristocratic father. Ted,

having spent four years earning a college degree, began to teach. Because he had started

to embrace and express sentiment for democracy and sympathy for the plight of the poor

ordinary peasants, he found himself growing away from his family. He had also made plans for marriage

with a woman of whom his father disapproved. For these reasons, Ted embarked for America and

eventually wrote a book of advice for prospective Norwegian immigrants, True Account of America for

the Information and help of the peasants and commoners. Ted settled in the Ohio River

Valley and taught school. He was supported by the families of his students who

provided for the schooling of their students through their tax dollars.

Scenario 16

Fiona left Ireland because of famine. She would join Irish immigrants in America

numbering close to 1.8 million by mid-century. This was the largest immigrant group in

America. Because Dublin was the closest port city to her small village, she embarked in

Dublin only to travel to Liverpool before leaving for America. Being a girl from a large

family and of a reasonable age for independence, Fiona would not inherit land, was not yet

married, and seemed fairly self-sufficient. She earned her passage by signing a labor

contract for a period of 7 years. She would be an indentured servant in America. Two of

her cousins had written to her and told her about their lives in America. Fiona would

work in Boston for a large Protestant family and eventually, once her period of indenture

. ended, she would marry and settle in eastern Pennsylvania.

Scenario 17

The Murphy family departed Ireland in 1820 and left behind a 13 year old son and 9

year old daughter. Martin Jr. stayed behind to retain tenant rights to the land. According

to Irish law, leases could not be sold without the consent of the oldest son who had to be

21. Martin Jr. sold the land on April 8, 1828, and he and his sister Margaret sailed from

Wexford, arriving in Quebec, a remarkable 28 days later. Coming to North America with

four of their six children, their parents Martin Sr. and Mary would eventually have three more. Once this

large Catholic family was reunited again, they made their move from Quebec to America

where there was cheap land, as well as better soil and a more favorable climate. This family moved to

eastern Missouri. Martin Sr. and his sons would travel to California when word of the discovery

of gold reached them. While their search for gold was not successful, the entire family

would eventually move to this new frontier.


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