There are a number of ways that middle school teachers can use BEYOND RAGS TO RICHES to help teach their students American immigration history. Our collection of historic images of New York's Irish immigrant neighborhoods can be used to teach and discuss the great Irish Famine, tenement conditions, the high mortality rate for immigrants in American cities, Irish involvement in politics and political "machines" like Tammany Hall, and the concept of the "American Dream." You can also use these images to discuss comparisons between immigrants from the nineteenth century and those coming to the United States today. If, like many middle schools, yours has an "Ellis Island Day," your students can choose to portray one of the Irish immigrants in our curated document sets. Students can also use our maps to help them understand chain migration and patterns of immigrant settlement.
Irish Immigrants Whose Lives Students Can Recreate with the Documents
- Edmund Butler, a stevedore from County Cork
- Edmond Butler, a proof reader from County Tipperary turned Civil War officer
- Eliza Cline, a junk shop keeper from County Roscommon
- John Conway, a day laborer from County Tyrone
- John Forhan, a "gas man" from County Kerry
- Martha Boylan Healy Keane, a liquor store operator from the city of Dublin
- Ellen Lynch, a domestic servant from County Meath
- Thomas O'Toole Hartigan, newspaper deliverer in New York turned lawyer in Chicago, from County Limerick
- Michael Sheridan, a carpenter from County Galway
History Day Projects
(The applicable topics will vary depending on the annual History Day theme; these are just a few sample possibilities.)
- What can we learn about New York’s Famine-era Irish immigrants from their bank accounts?
- What was life like for New York’s Famine-era Irish immigrant domestic servants?
- What was life like for New York’s Famine-era Irish immigrant seamstresses?
- Immigrants from County Donegal?
- What was life like for Famine-era Irish immigrants in New York’s Five Points?
- What was life like for Famine-era Irish immigrants in New York’s East River waterfront district?