Skip to Main Content
undefined

The History of Immigration in the United States

75 min
  • Students will analyze what immigration is and what it means to be an immigrant.
  • Students will be able to explain the fundamental factors that cause immigration.
  • Students will investigate the history of immigration in the United States from the colonial era to the early twentieth century.
  • Students will assess the history and compare it with immigration today.

  • Handout A: Family Survey
  • Handout B: Background Essay: A Nation of Immigrants – A History of Immigration to 1924
  • Handout C: Graphic Organizer
  • Handout D: Letter from Mary Garvey, Irish Immigrant, to Her Mother, October 24, 1850

  • Migrant
  • Customs
  • Immigrant
  • Immigration
  • Jurisdiction
  • Push factor
  • Pull factor
  • Sovereignty
  • Citizenship
  • Enumerable
  • Oppressive
  • Influx
  • Blight
  • Famine
  • New wave immigrants
  • Seminal

Distribute and assign for homework Handout A: Family Survey.

Display a large map of the world.

Have students mark with pushpins or markers on the map, where their families originated. Discuss any trends or patterns revealed by the map and the surveys.

Ask your students if their various backgrounds affect the class dynamic. Is this effect positive or negative? Why?

Activity I » 30 minutes

  1. Distribute Handout B: Background Essay: A Nation of Immigrants – A History of Immigration to 1924 to your students and have them read the document and answer the critical reading questions.
  2. Divide your class into groups of three to five. Have them fill out columns one through three on Handout C: Graphic Organizer. For each section, they should highlight what they believe motivated the immigrants of that era to migrate and what challenges they faced in doing so.
  3. Bring the class back together and discuss their responses on the graphic organizer.
  4. As a class, fill out column four, “Modern Era” and discuss how modern immigrants’ experiences are similar or different than those in the past.

Activity II » 20 minutes

  1. Have students read Handout D: Letter from Mary Garvey, Irish Immigrant, to Her Mother, October 24, 1850 and answer the critical thinking questions.
  2. As a class, discuss the responses to the critical thinking questions, tying in the themes discussed in the previous activity.
  3. Have your students write a letter home from their own immigrant ancestors. In the letters they should cover the same major themes that Mary Garvey touched on in her own letter.

Have your students write a short response to the following writing prompt: Why do you think tensions arise or have arisen between immigrants and natives of a nation? What challenges do you think a nation faces in welcoming immigrants? List and describe any parallels to new students arriving at your school.