Guiding Question:

  • What did it take for immigrants to become successful in America?
  • What was life like for an immigrant trying to become an American?
  • What does this tell us about the immigrant experience?
  • What cultural traditions did immigrants keep and let go of and why?
  • What did success look like for an immigrant in America?


Imagine it is 1878 and you are four years old.

Your mother, four brothers and you leave the only home you've known and travel to a country where they don't even speak like you. Your father has a hard time keeping feeding your family for many years, so everyone has to find a job- including you!

Harry Houdini in 1913

There are many years of struggle ahead as you continue to follow your dreams like many of the millions before you who came to America hoping for a better life.

This was the beginning for young immigrant, Ehrich Weiss who later became extraordinary magician and master escape artist Harry Houdini.

America was a destination for many looking for success and prosperity.

But not everyone did. America was a place of many hardships and adjustments.

Using Houdini's life, we will look at the immigrant experience and how they defined success as an American.

Header Image:Taken from the poster "Harry Houdini King of Cards" available from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Inline Image:"Harry Handcuff Houdini", 1913, available from Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA