Guiding Question:

How was the experience of immigration for those who came to the US from foreign countries similar or different than for those who migrated within the US?


We all know a story of someone who experienced something so exciting, so horrific, or so life changing that it was made into a book. Examples are: A Child Called It by David Pelzer - the classic child abuse memoir; Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston - a survivor's memoir from the fellow who cut off his own arm when it became caught between two rocks while he hiked alone; Bad Boy, a Memoir by Walter Dean Myers, popular high school author of Slam and Monster, who was told he'd never amount to anything because of his speech impediment. These three stories are examples of the writer's format we call a MEMOIR.

Photo of Ralph Moody

What is a memoir?

The word memoir derives from the Latin word "memoria", which means memory. Therefore, a memoir is a written account, or memory, of an event or time in a person's history. That is how a memoir is different from an autobiography, which is an account of all the details in a person's life.

Memoirs by Mary Antin and Ralph Moody

This lesson will introduce you to two very special local people who had life altering experiences: Mary Antin and Ralph Moody. Both have written memoirs of the period in their lives when they moved from one home - or homeland - to another. One lived in Medford for a time and the other in Chelsea before moving to the South End of Boston.

Photo of Mary Antin 1915

The time period is between 1890 and 1912, when immigration to the U.S. was at an all time high. In reading exerpts from primary sources, such as their memoirs, looking at maps, viewing historical websites and creating a comparison of the two experiences you will be the historian and explore migration in the late 1800's and early 1900's both within the United States and from another country.

Is it a Primary Source?

Through this study you will also search for further proof of the authenticity of their experiences, whether they were similar or different, and determine if their memoirs can truly be used as primary sources.

Header Images: Timeless Books, photographed by Lin Kristensen; retrieved from Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license;
Quill pen, authored by BWCNY at the English Wikipedia project; retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

Background Image: Birds Eye View of Medford, Published by: O.H. Bailey & Co., 1880
Courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.

Inline image: Mary Antin,1915; retrieved from Wikimedia Commons