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Teaching Guide: Exploring Immigration and Americanization, 1880-1930

This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, Immigration and Americanization, 1880-1930, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.

Discussion questions

  1. After reading the text discussing the critique of Chinese and Irish immigration, the summary of arguments for and against immigration, the pamphlet in defense of immigration, the speech delivered by a German immigrant, and the pamphlet calling on immigrants to embrace an American identity, how would you define “Americanization?”
  2. After reading the text discussing the critique of Chinese and Irish immigration, the text describing medical examination of potential immigrants, the summary of arguments for and against immigration, and the pamphlet calling on immigrants to embrace an American identity, summarize the arguments that were presented against immigration. Who mounted this opposition?
  3. After reading the summary of arguments for and against immigration and the pamphlet in defense of immigration, summarize the arguments that were presented in favor of immigration. Who favored immigration and why?
  4. Considering the two photographs, the play, the memoir, and the two postcards, how would you describe the process of immigration? What did individuals and families experience?

Classroom activities

Ask groups of three to four students to read over different portions of the play. Have each group discuss and then outline their plan for a contemporary version of such a production. Which immigrant groups would they spotlight? What aspects of their experience would they hope to capture? What broader message would they hope to convey through the production?

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