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Grade Level(s): High school – World History

Age Levels(s): 14-17

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

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

Subject Area: World History

Goals:

  1. To understand the political basis of each group in Europe and to predict motives for emigrating to the United States.
  2. To analyze the media’s portrayal of the immigrant groups as well as their own political behaviors.
  3. To research the groups’ political influence in Boston today.
  4. To make connections between the early European history, the immigrant experience, and today’s politics within each group.

Curriculum Standards:

Materials/Resources:
Political cartoons Newspaper articles, images, maps and secondary sources. Please see Evaluation page.

Timeframe:

Student Foundational Skills: Provide a list of the skills and knowledge that students are expected to have as they begin the instructional activities. This includes content knowledge and technology competencies.

Introduction:

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 my lesson we will be focusing specifically on the Irish and the Italians. The 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, students will examine political cartoons and analyze newspaper articles to determine which groups became politically active. They will also answer the question, “How did they enter politics?” If a group did not, the students will explain why that occurred.

Task:

The students will be responsible for researching each group’s arrival and settlement patterns to determine whether or not they took part in city politics. They will then have to explain how the groups either did or did not gain political power. The students should also make connections to the group’s native culture in relation to the World History I curriculum. This will help to explain the immigrants’ motivations upon arrival to the United States.

Learning Activities and Organizational Notes:

Before starting this lesson,


(1) Pre-Assessment - Day 1

Objective: To understand the political basis of each group in Europe and to predict motives for emigrating to the United States.

Review the evolution of Irish and Italian governments as studied in the World History I curriculum (Medieval and Renaissance history). The students will answer the following questions using past notes, homework, and readings:

1. How did the fall of the Roman Empire affect the nation politically, religiously, militarily, and economically?
2. How did the nation emerge from the Dark Ages? Was it able to form a functioning, unified government? Why or why not?
3. What was the nation’s relationship with the Catholic Church?
4. What was the nation’s role in the Protestant Revolution?
2. The students will then be divided into groups of four to answer the following questions:
1. Why do you think the Irish and the Italians would want to immigrate to the United States? Specifically to Boston?
2. Do you predict any religious tension between the Americans and the immigrants? If so, what? Why?
3. Do you predict any political tension between the Americans and the immigrants? If so, what? Why?

Organizational Notes: none


(2) DAY 2:

Objective: To analyze the media’s portrayal of the immigrant groups as well as their own political behaviors.

The groups will examine the political cartoons showing the Americans’ view of Irish immigrants. They will take notes on the following:
1. How are the Americans portrayed?
2. How are the immigrants portrayed?
3. What stereotypes does the artist focus on?
4. How do you think this would affect racial and religious tensions within the Boston?

2. The groups will then read newspaper articles about James Michael Curley’s political campaigns and answer the following:
1. What are Curley’s platforms?
2. How does this reflect the city’s political climate?
3. How did Curley gain popularity with his constituents?

3. The groups will then examine the life and works of George Scigliano, using excerpts from a secondary source. They will answer:
1. How were the Italian neighborhoods organized?
2. What issues either helped or prevented the Boston Italians from unifying politically?
3. Were there any powerful politicians of Italian decent as you saw with Curley?

 


(3) Day 3:

Objective: To research the groups’ political influence in Boston today.

The groups will examine today’s politics by researching (in the library) current Boston politicians and their cultural backgrounds. They will answer:
1. Name three prominent politicians. What are their offices?
2. What are their cultural backgrounds?
3. How does this reflect the immigrants’ experiences at the turn of the 20th century?

Organizational Notes: none


(4) DAY 4:

Objective: To make connections between the early European history, the immigrant experience, and today’s politics within each group.

1. The groups will combine the information from days 1, 2, and 3 to create a presentation.
1. Did the Irish and the Italians enter into Boston politics?
2. If so, how? What issues helped them to do so?
3. If no, why not? What issues prevented them from doing so?
4. What primary sources support your argument?
5. What secondary sources support your argument?

2. The groups will then present their findings in a discussion – style setting.

 

Organizational Notes:

Assessments: Pre and Post Survey

The group presentations will be graded as a quiz and the participation in the class discussion as class work. There will be an essay question on the quarterly exam which reflects this lesson. For example: how did the medieval governments and participation in the Renaissance lead to political conflicts in the city of Boston at the turn of the 20th century?

Teacher Notes: none