Theme: Immigration Policy | Grades 9 – 12

Immigration Policy     Students learn about social, political, and economic conditions that led to various immigration policies, how those policies affected the demographics of the Lower East Side and the lived experiences of individual families.

1960s Saez Velez

The Saez Velez Family story features Puerto Rican family and their 1968 Tenement home. With the help of Puerto Rican migration scholars, students learn about the history of Puerto Rico, its relationship to the United States, and how it affected the Saez Velez’ journey to New York City as American citizens. Through exploration of the recreated apartment, video interviews, family and neighborhood photos, and other primary source documents, students will examine the ways the Saez Velez family established themselves in the culturally and racially diverse Lower East Side of the 1960s. Against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam war, students will examine how different generations of the family exercised citizenship at home, school, work, and beyond. Students will discuss how the family’s efforts made a difference on a larger scale and reflect on their understandings of citizenship.

Themes: Culture and Identity, Immigration Policy, Movements for Change, Industrialization and Labor

Topics: Puerto Rican Migration

Duration: 60 minutes

Connections to our Curriculum:

 

1930s Baldizzi Family

The Baldizzi Family story features an Italian-American family and their 1935 tenement home. By exploring a ship manifest and 1924 newspaper clips, students learn about the push and pull factors of the family’s immigration and the nativistic 1924 immigration law that created obstacles for their journey to the United States. Through exploration of the recreated apartment, oral histories, historic documents, and photographs, students will examine how the family created a home during the Great Depression. They will learn about the various ways the family obtained support, from community connections to New York State’s Home Relief program and the New Deal. Ultimately leading to a discussion about where people go for support today and the rights and responsibilities of citizens and government during times of crisis.

Themes: Complicating Stereotypes, Immigration Policy

Topics: European Immigration

Duration: 60 minutes

Connections to our Curriculum:

 


1950’s Epstein Family

The Epstein Family story features a Jewish American family and their 1950’s tenement home. Rivka and Kalman Epstein survived the Holocaust and entered the country as refugees. Students learn about their journey from Europe to find protection and safety in the United States and the challenges presented by restrictive immigration laws and attitudes towards newcomers. By exploring their recreated home and hearing the perspective of immigration scholars, students contemplate how and why the family revived some traditions and also started new ones. Through oral histories and videos with the daughter in the family, Bella Epstein, students discover how she found support, friendship, and a sense of herself in an increasingly diverse Lower East Side neighborhood. Students will consider how they themselves form their own senses of identity and belonging.

Themes: Complicating Stereotypes, Culture and Identity, Immigration Policy

Topics: European Immigration

Duration: 60 minutes 

Connections to our Curriculum: 

 


1970’s Wong Family   

The Wong family story features a Chinese American family and their 1970’s tenement home. With the help of immigration scholars, students learn about the push and pull factors of Chinese immigration and its relation to the Chinese Exclusion Act and subsequent immigration laws. Through exploration of a recreated apartment and garment shop, students will examine how the Wongs made a home in the neighborhood and how their experiences reflect the growth of Chinese communities and the garment industry in New York. Video interviews and family and neighborhood photographs will allow students to consider how different generations of the family navigate language, schooling, media, and work. Students will discuss how they themselves form their own senses of identity and belonging and evaluate roles of government, schools, and other institutions to ensure openness and acceptance of many.

 Themes: Complicating Stereotypes, Industrialization and LaborCulture and Identity, Immigration Policy

Topics: Asian Immigration    

Duration: 60 minutes 

Connections to our Curriculum: 

 


Teaching Resources

We offer teacher-designed, teacher-tested lesson plans where students learn to interpret objects, oral histories, and primary sources while making modern connections. Find unit plans, lesson plans, primary sources, and non-fiction family stories, made for flexible use in your classroom.

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