Guiding Question:

How have various groups of immigrants gained political power in the city of Boston?

Essential Question:

How has immigration contributed to the narrowing and expansion of American civic ideals?


During the 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of immigrants arrived and settled in the city of Boston. These immigrants came from all over the world, but in our lesson we will be focusing specifically on the Irish and the Italians.

1900 polling place in New YorkThe city they came to was inhabited primarily by Protestant, white Americans whose own immigration heritage was a distant memory. The new citizens of Boston formed their own neighborhoods, established their own churches and schools, and attempted to blend the Old World with the New. Over time, some even became major players in Boston’s politics while others did not.

In this lesson, you will examine political cartoons and analyze newspaper articles to determine which groups became politically active. You will also answer the question, "How did they enter politics?" If a group did not, you will explain why that occurred.

Background Images:

Inline Image: New York Polling Place - 1900 from Wikimedia Commons