Images of Immigration (lesson plan)
Artwork Related to this Lesson
Student Learning Objectives
- Students will evaluate how 19th-century images of immigrants reflected political and social attitudes toward them in the United States.
- Students will interpret visual images in the context of historical and political developments.
1. Assign students to read a textbook description of the immigrant experience in the United States from 1850 to 1880.
2. Hold a brief class discussion analyzing and evaluating the immigrant experience from 1850 to 1880 based on the following questions:
- Why did immigrants choose to leave their homelands and come to the United States in the second half of the 19th century?
- Why were Americans upset with the pattern of immigration during this time?
- How did these immigrants fare in their new homeland?
- How did the second and third generations of these immigrants fare? What factors might account for any of the differences in experience?
3. Students will use the Image Analysis Chart to analyze and examine A German Immigrant Inquiring His Way.
4. Students will use the Image Analysis Chart to analyze and examine Thomas Nast’s political cartoon Throwing Down the Ladder by Which They Rose (1870) from the Harper’s Weekly Web site.
5. Hold a brief class discussion focused on the following questions:
- Which immigrant group(s) is the focus of these pictures?
- What does the artist/cartoonist suggest about how these immigrants are viewed by Americans?
- What does the image reveal about American attitudes and policies toward immigrants in the year in which it was created?
6. Divide the class into groups of four students for a short debate on the following resolution: It is necessary for the United States to restrict certain groups of immigrants from coming to the United States during certain times. Pairs of students in each group should prepare to argue the affirmative or negative side of the resolution, using knowledge and research about the Timeline of U.S. Immigration Policy.
Written by Zoe Voigt, Humanities Teacher
• The teacher will use class discussion and debate to evaluate the students’ analysis of how the images of immigrants reflected political and social attitudes toward them in the United States.
• The Image Analysis Chart, class discussion, and debate may be used to assess the students’ interpretation of visual images in the context of historical and political developments.
Dijkstra, Bram. American Expressionism: Art and Social Change 1920–1950. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2003.
Konzett, Delia Caparoso. Ethnic Modernisms: Anzi Yezierska, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Rhys, and the Aesthetics of Dislocation. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2002.
Pozzetta, George E. Nativism, Discrimination, and Images of Immigrants. New York: Taylor and Francis, 1991.
Thomas Nast’s political cartoon Throwing Down the Ladder by Which They Rose (1870) from the Harper’s Weekly Web site.