Question of the Week
Exploring Nativism in Pennsylvania
Exploring Nativism in Pennsylvania is a cross-curricular lesson plan that explores anti-immigrant sentiment and stereotyping during the 19th century. Using the Irish as a case study, students learn about the reasons nativism emerges in American life, and how they can apply the lessons of history to critically understand and contextualize attitudes toward immigrants today.
- Textual evidence, material artifacts, the built environment, and historic sites are central to understanding the history of Pennsylvania.
- Conflict and cooperation among social groups, organizations, and nation-states are critical to comprehending society in the Pennsylvania. Domestic instability, ethnic and racial relations, labor relation, immigration, and wars and revolutions are examples of social disagreement and collaboration.
- Synthesize a rationale for the study of individuals in Pennsylvania history.
- Analyze a primary source for accuracy and bias and connect it to a time and place in Pennsylvania.
- Summarize how conflict and compromise in Pennsylvania history impact contemporary society.
Background Material for Teacher
Historian’s note: “Reflecting on Nativism”
"Nativism," by Michael F. Holt, Getting the Message Out!National Campaign Materials, 1840-1860
City of Unbrotherly Love: Violence in Nineteenth-century Philadelphia
Immigration and Caricature: Images from the Appel Collection, MSU Museum
Roger Daniels, "The Triumph of Nativism," from Coming to America (NY: Harper Perennial, 1991), pp. 265-271. reprinted with permission
End of Unit Assessment
- Grade student-generated material from Lesson 2. Students could be graded on accuracy, creativity, participation/involvement, clarity, etc.
- Have students orally debate or write a paper comparing and contrasting ethnic tensions and violence in Philadelphia today with that of the 1840s. They may compare current news accounts to the primary sources in Lesson 2 to substantiate their claims
This unit was created with funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Lindback Foundation, the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, William Penn Foundation, the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, and the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.
About the Author
This lesson was created by Kathryn Wilson. Updated for SAS by Casey B. Wernick and Amy Seeberger, Education Interns, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.