Go to Teacher Notes

Immigrants in New York 1870-1915

Most of our families were immigrants at one time. For many immigrants arriving from Europe, New York City was not only the point of entry to the United States, but where they settled.

At http://www.wnet.org/tenement you will visit a building in New York where immigrant families lived in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Click on "Urban Log Cabin." By clicking on different rooms, you will see a picture and read a story about the family that lived there. On the left, it is 1870. On the right side the year is 1915 or later. Make a list of the families living in the building for both time periods. Next to each family, tell the country they came from.



How did the children in 1870 spend their time? Was it different for children in 1915?

What kind of work did immigrants do to support their families? Which members of the family worked?

As you can see, life was not easy. Some of the questions you may have are: Why were there so many immigrants? Why didn't they live somewhere else? Why didn't someone fix the buildings? Choose one question to research, then select a primary document to use for research at http://acad.smumn.edu/history/contents.html. Find the answer to at least one question for at least one immigrant group.

Immigrants in New York Teacher's Notes

Grade Levels: 5–8

Learning Objectives:

  • Select and analyze information from multiple sources
  • Use a graphic image map to access information
  • Integrate information from primary documents with other information sources

Time Required: 1–2 online sessions. This activity could be completed in one session, but as the sites contain a wealth of information, allowing more time for students to gather information would be a good idea. You will also need to spend some time preparing the students for what they will see as well as discussing what they find. With older students, you may want to allow additional time to research some of the topics in depth.