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Herb - social history for every classroom

menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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"Mulberry Bend"

Jacob Riis is best known for his 1890 work How the Other Half Lives, a journalistic account, replete with Riis's dramatic photographs, of the deplorable conditions of late-nineteenth century urban life. Although Riis, himself a Danish immigrant, was [...]

Map of Block 160, 1902

This is a map of Block 160 in New York City's Five Points neighborhood 1902. Public opinion of the Five Points neighborhood was highly negative and filled with bias. The population of New York had ballooned by the mid-nineteenth century causing a [...]

"Character of Present Immigration"

These extracts from the report of the Commissioner-General of Immigration were reprinted and circulated by the Immigration Restriction League, a Boston-based organization that favored stronger restrictions on immigration at the turn of the twentieth [...]

"Child of the Romans"

The poetry of Carl Sandburg often documented the lives of ordinary working people in his adopted city of Chicago. Here he contrasts the backbreaking work and simple lunch of a railroad laborer with the comfortable lives and fine food enjoyed by the [...]

A "Red Scare" Leads to Backlash Against Immigrants

After World War I a "Red Scare" broke out as anxieties about political extremists and radicals led to widespread demonization and political persecution of leftists and immigrants. A series of high-profile events from the late-nineteenth century on, [...]

Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars (Excerpt)

This excerpt from Elizabeth Ewen's Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars describes the economic relationships of working-class immigrant families at the turn of the century. The female head of the family played an important economic role, often [...]

Let's Make an Immigration Deal

In this game, students are assigned different immigrant identities and advance based on their access to economic opportunity and religious, political, and social liberties at different times in U.S. history.

Chart of First Generation Immigrant Men’s Occupations, 1900

In 1907, Congress formed the Dillingham Commission to investigate the origins and effects of the massive wave of immigration then underway. The Commission compiled a variety of data about immigrants and their children. This chart shows the [...]

Immigration Debates in the Era of "Open Gates"

In this activity students analyze a political cartoon, a presidential speech and an anti-immigration pamphlet from the early 20th century. After analyzing the documents, students write about why the United States passed immigration quotas in the [...]

Fruit Plantations Advertise for Japanese Workers

Sugar growers made a deal with the Japanese government in 1884 that allowed thousands of Japanese to immigrate to the Hawaiian islands to work on plantations. Western growers were also eager to tap into this new, un-unionized and cheap labor source. [...]

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