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.
- 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
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
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.