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Irish and German Immigration DBQ

50 min
  • Students will compare and contrast the push and pull factors on the substantial numbers of international migrants from Germany and Ireland who settled in the United States between 1830 and 1850.
  • Students will practice analyzing primary source documents, grouping documents, and writing a thesis statement as essential skills for the DBQ essay on the AP Exam.

This activity is designed for groups of five students. The activity works best if each student only sees their printed primary source. The students should have some background knowledge on the European industrial revolution and its impact on urban growth and immigration in the United States.

This lesson targets the foundational skills of analyzing documents, grouping documents, and constructing a thesis as required of the DBQ essay on the AP exam.

Distribute Primary Source Immigration Activity Student Guide (Handout A) to each student.

Have each student complete the following task: Using your background knowledge of the industrial revolution and its impact on urban growth and immigration in the United States, imagine the year is 1850 and you are standing in the middle of the street outside a factory in New York City. What and whom do you see? Write a description or draw the scene of the street in the box provided. If you illustrate your ideas, add dialogue bubbles or words as needed to help convey your ideas. (4 min)

Have the students partner with a neighbor and complete the following: (3 min)

  • Share your written description or illustration with your partner. Write a brief reflection in the space provided of what your partner created.
  • With your partner, can you find any similarities between your two final products?

Your teacher will have a select number of groups share their similarities. (2 min)

Assign students to groups of five.

Give each student a different primary source and direct them to Task 2: Primary Source Exploration.

Allot 10 minutes for this individual exploration. (Do not answer any questions until 4 minutes have passed to give the students ample time to work through their own confusion.)

After 4 minutes, the teacher can circulate around the room and answer document-specific questions.

Within each group, each student will share their primary source exploration one at a time.

After each of the five students has shared with the group, they should work collaboratively to complete Task 3: Application – Identify the Pushes and Pulls of Irish and German Immigration chart.

Within each group, have students return to their initial drawings/descriptions of a factory scene in 1850 and discuss any additional details they could add to convey push-pull factors after having analyzed the documents in this lesson.

Exit Ticket: On the basis of your completed Task 3: Application – Identify the Pushes and Pulls of Irish and German Immigration chart, write a thesis statement responding to this prompt: Describe the various push-pull factors that contributed to Irish and German immigration to the United States between 1840 and 1875. Each student hands their exit ticket in as they leave the class.