Why did Italians immigrate to Providence during this period?
While the Tirocchi family arrived in the United States during
a period of massive Italian immigration, their story was unique.
The aim of this exercise is to find the personal stories among
the many immigration tales, and then to weave these individual
stories into a pattern. At the same time, primary and secondary
sources of historical information should be used and compared
for accuracy and relevance.
Students will select an immigrant (an individual or a family) to
the United States from this time period, from their own neighborhood,
culture or family, and will research the reasons for immigration
to the United States. Students will be asked to gather general historical
information related to the time period of immigration, both in the
United States and the country of origin. A portfolio will be created
by each student containing the following:
Research materials on the immigrant, reflecting major events
in the United States and the country of origin at the time of immigration.
Possible sources for research include:
Public library and local resources
histories of family and relatives
Government agencies, such as INS
Cultural attaches and embassies
Personal stories. At least one oral history/interview should
be required. If the time period chosen precludes an interview with
a living immigrant, then immigrants from the same area could be
interviewed, or descendants of the immigrant, or a representative
of the country of origin.
Literacy. Students should select an appropriate, related
novel or short story dealing with immigration for reading (see resources
section for suggestions).
Timeline: This should reflect the time from 1870 to the
present, and should include major historical and cultural events
An artistic creation reflecting the culture of the country and
time of origin. This project should allow the student a wide
range of choices as far as materials. Examples might be drawings
or collages, musical selections, an ethnic costume or dance, or
recreation of a historical event. Depending on the variety of cultures
chosen within the class, this activity could be easily adapted for
group work and presentation.
Journal. Students should create a journal, writing in the
voice of the immigrant. This journal might encompass several days
around the time of the journey, or events leading up to the decision
Maps. Students will construct a historical map, showing
the journey from the country of origin. This map should reflect
world knowledge and national borders at the time of the immigrants
Statistics. Students should gather and analyze statistical
data related to immigration, and see how it does (or does not) reflect
their research findings.
At several checkpoints during this project, the teacher and group
should gather to compare and share progress and discoveries. As
the research and activities progress, a whole-group project should
be chosen and the students begin working towards its completion.
Examples might include:
Construct a timeline in the classroom where students immigrant
ancestors can be added.
Create a quilt of fabric, paper or ceramic tile visually indicating
the country of origin.
Create a statistics center. Much information on immigration
is presented in the form of statistics. Have the class gather
these together in a book or a box for later study. Create a
mathematical portrait of where and when immigrants came to the
United States (for example, bar graphs showing continents of
Unique foods or greetings in other languages could be shared
in an afternoon or evening get together, including parents and
other members of the community.
Create a hypertext presentation highlighting dramatic performances,
research, and readings from student journals.
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