Lesson Plan

Listen Closely to an Oral History

Teach using an oral history from the child of Italian immigrants in the 1930s.

Students read about how the Baldizzi family got started after immigrating from Italy to the United States in the 1920’s – a time of immigration policy that restricted entry to Italians and many others. They use a close listening protocol with Josephine Baldizzi’s oral history recorded in the 1980’s to recreate her childhood.


Getting Started


1-3 Class Periods


How do we do history detective work with an oral history to learn about a family?

Important Information

What will students understand through this lesson?

  • There are many common myths about immigrants and immigration. Among them are: that immigrants are taking jobs from American citizens, that certain immigrant groups have negative characteristics based on their cultural or religious identity.
  • Immigrants were processed at Ellis Island through a series of inspections, which brought fear and uncertainty to immigrants. Today, when immigrants come across a border, whether on an airplane or otherwise, there is still fear and uncertainty.
  • Im/migrants adapt to new living conditions and types of communities, often with creativity and resourcefulness. Communities help people meet their needs in a new place.
  • Neighborhoods with many immigrants and their children develop because they provide work, support, access to culture, less racism and discrimination, and friendship. While adult immigrants often spend time with people who speak their home language, children often make friends across difference.


Primary Source

Related Family Story

Related Interactive Activity

Questions on lessons and activities?

The materials on this page can enrich a visit to the Museum or help you teach about immigration. If you have questions or comments, please e-mail us.

Are you an Educator?

Sign-up here to receive our monthly educator newsletter featuring teacher resources, classroom activities, information on upcoming workshops and school program opportunities, and more.