Immigrants quite literally helped to build America. With Labor Day and the school year approaching, HSP unit plans present ways to learn about immigrate contributions as well as to consider their living conditions.
While many lessons about immigration often focus on the challenges immigrants faced in America and the factors that brought them to this country, it is also important to acknowledge the roles that immigrants played in our nation’s history.It was hard for them to get jobs, so they often had to take low-paying manual labor jobs. They built our bridges, roads, and railroads.
HSP has two recently updated units that help to teach students about immigrant labor in 19th and 20th century America - Work and Travel on the Rails and Mexican Labor at Bethlehem Steel. In Work and Travel on the Rails, students will learn about the change in immigrant labor on the rails over time as well as the working conditions and life experiences of immigrant railroad workers. They will also compare the harsh life of immigrants who worked on the railroad and traveled in the third-class cars to upper-class members of society who traveled in luxury on the railroad. In Mexican Labor at Bethlehem Steel, students will learn about the controversy surrounding the recruitment of Mexican labor at the Bethlehem Steel and compare it to issues surrounding Mexican immigration today.
Through these lessons, students will learn about the dangers faced by immigrants in their working conditions, as well as the important and difficult work they did in helping to build a rapidly growing nation.