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Mulberry Street, New York City

[Detail] Mulberry Street, New York City

Lesson Overview

The primary goal of this activity is to give students the genuine experience of oral history in order to appreciate the process of historiography. We identified immigrants in our community who reflect the ethnic diversity of our student body, enabling students to compare and contrast the stories of these contemporary immigrants with those researched in the thirties reflected in American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 and other American Memory collections. Students engage in visual and information literacy exercises to gain an understanding of how to identify and interpret primary historical sources.

As designed, this project is almost a year-long experience. However, individual components can be adapted as standalone units, dropped altogether, or expanded to suit local needs.


Students will be able to:

  • Discern how point of view influences and effects historical understanding.
  • Evaluate selected experiences of modern and early immigrant experiences.
  • Demonstrate the literacy skills required to identify and analyze visual, oral, and written primary sources related to immigration.


Time Required

This project consists of several components which can be used together or implemented independently as standalone units or expanded to suit local needs. Some components can take as little as three days. The complete curriculum takes approximately five months (with other class activities interspersed).

Recommended Grade Level

  • 9-12
  • 6-8


  • Immigration & Ethnic Heritage
  • Oral Histories


  • Great Depression and WWII, 1929-1945
  • Progressive Era to New Era, 1900-1929


Barbara Wysocki and Frances Jacobson