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New Lesson Plan: Immigration versus Nativism

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"Uncle Sam" looks down at a crowd of immigrants with caricatured facial features and wearing the native dress of other countries while a rich man gestures blamingly in the crowd's direction.
1891 Cartoon, “Where the Blame Lies”

Carolyn Ritter, author of this newly available lesson on Immigration versus Nativism, writes: “The topic of immigration is just as controversial today as it was at the turn of the twentieth century. In this lesson, students will immerse themselves in the attitudes and opinions of many native-born Americans who did not welcome the arrival of immigrants from certain countries (Nativists).”  Drawing on a primary source recording of a popular 1916 song, and on political cartoons from the period, the lesson invites students to construct new understandings of popular opinions towards immigrants at the time. Helping students understand views from the past gives students background to aid them to better understand and deal with similar views today.

The lesson provides the teacher with a customized primary source analysis worksheet, detailed instruction for leading classroom activities, and a rubric for editorial writing that can be used with the culminating project of writing a period-correct Letter to the Editor expressing opposition to or support for immigration.

View more details, and download or access the lesson plan online.

Emerging America brings this lesson to you thanks to the resources of the Library of Congress. Aligned to Common Core and Massachusetts State History standards.

Alison Noyes

Assistant Director, Emerging America
Alison Noyes is the Assistant Director of the Emerging America program at the Collaborative for Educational Services. She has worked in the field of education for over 20 years, entering as a teacher of English Language learners and high school history, and working for many years with international students and college study abroad as a program director and assistant dean before returning to focus on engaging K-12 students.