Guiding Question:

How was education for Russian Jewish children different than American Jewish children in the late 1800's?


Take a look at this picture of a typical elementary school in 1890.

Mary Antin's class picture, from The Promised Land, p.230, by Mary Antin, retrieved from Google Books

Twoscore of My Fellow Citizens-Public School, Chelsea; From The Promised Land by Mary Antin

In America, all children are entitled to a free education regardless of their sex, race or religion. Children begin kindergarten when they are five years old and continue going to school until they complete high school when they are eighteen years old. The question is, was this free education available for all children 100 years ago? Did immigrant children 100 years ago receive an education in their home countries?

In this lesson, we will try to answer these questions by looking at a Jewish, Russian immigrant named Mary Antin, who came to live in Chelsea in 1892.

Background images: Chelsea Ward Map, cover of The Promised Land, and survey title from Boston Public Library's Print Department Holdings and Leventhal Map Room