Lesson Plan

Listen Closely to an Oral History

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

This lesson is part of our Upper Elementary Unit Plan.


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

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.



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


1-3 Class Periods

Primary Sources

  • Oral History: Josephine Baldizzi Discusses her Bedroom – Listen to Josephine Baldizzi, the child of Italian immigrants, remember her home and childhood in a tenement in the 1930’s. (See below)
  • Baldizzi Family Story article (See below)

Associated Family Story

Middle School: 6-8th Grade, Upper Elementary: 4-5th Grade

The Baldizzi Family Story

Learn about the Baldizzi family, who came from Italy in the 1930s.

Read More

Associated Interactive Activity

High School: 9-12th Grade, Lower Elementary: 1-3rd Grade, Middle School: 6-8th Grade, Upper Elementary: 4-5th Grade

Interactive: Passing Down Traditions

Interactive guided lesson for all grades exploring immigrant family traditions.

Read More

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.

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