Monday, December 22, 2014

Immigration Today, Immigration Then

Like many of you, I had the best of intentions during the last week or so, but the holidays, kids, travel plans, etc. all got in the way.

So, I decided to go ahead and post an incomplete post. I will be back with more good things after the New Year. Enjoy the school break and the holiday.

Teaching about Nativism

If you're going to talk about late 19th century immigration to the U.S., you also have to talk about anti-immigration sentiment, or nativism. You won't have any trouble finding current examples of nativism, even if that's not the term we use anymore, so you could start with the present and then look backwards.

But if you prefer to start with the past, one way to teach about nativism is by having students read some primary sources and look at political cartoons to come up with their own definition. I created this document for that purpose. I have followed up this in-class activity up by using some of the political cartoons collected here. See here for more Thomas Nast cartoons, especially on the Chinese Exclusion Act. And here is a google doc presentation I found online with more political cartoons about nativism. Also see this short, readable essay that has good background information for the teacher or older students, including a connection to the post 9/11 surge in anti-immigrant sentiment.

Teaching about Contemporary Immigration

For contemporary statistics and other information on current U.S. immigration:

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