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:

  • Tirocchi people database

  • Textbooks

  • School library

  • Public library and local resources

  • On-line searches

  • Oral histories of family and relatives

  • Government agencies, such as INS

  • Cultural attaches and embassies

  • Genealogical societies


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 appropriately indicated.

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 to emigrate.

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 journey.

Statistics. Students should gather and analyze statistical data related to immigration, and see how it does (or does not) reflect their research findings.

Group Activity:

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 origin).

  • 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.


The Curriculum Guide
  Constructing History
  Educational Standards
  The Curriculum Activity
  Beginning the Unit
  Exercise One
  Exercise Two
  Exercise Three

  History Standards
Arts Standards


Students can read about the TIrocchis' and Cellas' Immigration in 514 BROADWAY.





















The Tirocchi Timeline is one place to start researching historical events.