1. Introduce the lesson: vocabulary, brainstorming, and discussion
Vocabulary. Students should have a working knowledge of the following terms:
- primary resource
What evidence is there of German influence in your family? In the community? (Students may bring in pictures or slides of architecture in their community or region.)
How do we know a person lived? What artifacts exist?
Talk about old artifacts, letters, diaries, etc. (primary sources) that their family owns or knows about that were from an ancestor. Discuss traditions within the family for holidays, etc. Mention typical German customs and traditions and make comparisons with students' families. Move from here to a discussion of immigration and transition into the lesson.
2. Introduce the Library of Congress and the American Memory Home Page
- Present an overview of the Library of Congress online collections.
- Model online research by navigating and searching Pioneering the Upper Midwest, ca. 1820-1910 with emphasis on documents and pictures pertinent to your local community or region.
- Stimulate interest by reading Captured by the Indians: Reminiscences of Pioneer Life in Minnesota from the collection Pioneering the Upper Midwest, ca. 1820-1910.
3. Examine a primary resource by analyzing a photo
- Model analyzing a photograph by examining Sylvester Rawding family in front of sod house, north of Sargent, Custer County, Nebraska. Before the students begin, select questions from the teacher's guide Analyzing Photographs and Prints to focus and prompt analysis and discussion. Students may record their thoughts on the Primary Source Analysis Tool. Talk about this photo in German, if desired.
- Working in pairs, students examine a photo and discuss in German or English. Photos may be identified in an online search or selected from Isadore Haumont and family in front of two-story sod house, Coburg, Nebraska, Rural life in Neb.
4. Independent Primary Source Analysis
Students read and study additional primary sources from the Resources and consider why Germans immigrated to the United States and the contributions they made to our culture. Some questions to guide their thinking might include:
- Why did Germans settle in the Upper Midwest?
- Where in Europe did Germans immigrate from?
- What were the economic, political and sociological factors the immigrants faced (hardships and good experiences)?
- What and where are some German communities in the Upper Midwest?
- What significant contributions did the German immigrants make to our cultural heritage?
5. Culminating activity
Create a product designed to entice potential immigrants to the Upper Midwest. Photos and pictures from the web site must be incorporated into the product to make it more appealing. Pictures would be helpful to immigrants who were not literate. Upper level students can assemble a German-language product.
- Travel brochure
- Newspaper article
- A letter home
- Web page evaluation. How is searching the Library of Congress online collections different from using a search engine. How can you evaluate the information?
- Students may make a graph that illustrates immigration patterns and population shifts.
- Students may bring in a family heirloom for "show and tell."