Seeing through Immigrants’ Eyes
This lesson plan was written for grades 9–12.
- assume the perspective of an immigrant moving to Texas as they read the section “How to Find a Home in Western Texas” from C. L. Riddle’s Immigrants’ Guide to Texas;
- investigate different cities in Texas for methods of transportation, various industries, and types of housing;
- write a diary entry from an immigrant’s perspective;
- compare their entries to an actual diary from a Texas immigrant.
Materials needed are:
- classroom Internet access;
- bird’s-eye views of Texas cities projected for the class to see;
- “How to Find a Home in Western Texas” from C. L. Riddell’s Immigrants’ Guide to Texas (1875);
- Texas maps featuring rivers, counties, and cities;
- paper and pencils or pens for each student;
- selections from Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge’s journal.
Note: Those without classroom Internet access may use the poster of the 1891 Fort Worth view to complete portions of this lesson. The poster is available through the Amon Carter Museum’s Teaching Resource Center.
1. Explain that Texas grew from a small frontier state in 1846 to more than a half million residents by 1860. Immigrants to Texas came from both Southern and Northern states, as well as Europe, and they arrived in different ways, including by ship, horse, wagon, and railroad. Tell students that they will assume the role of an immigrant as they complete these activities.
2. Have students read the section “How to Find a Home in Western Texas” from C. L. Riddle’s Immigrants’ Guide to Texas.
3. Have students select an occupation from the section that they would like to do (farming fruits and vegetables; sawing lumber or making turpentine; raising grain; cultivating sugar and cotton; raising sheep, horses, or horned cattle; or growing grapes and making wine). Based on Riddle’s text, have them consult Texas maps to determine which bird’s-eye-view city fits the location of their chosen occupation. (Several cities may be good locations for the same occupation.)
4. Looking closely at the bird’s-eye view from their chosen city, have students complete the following activities:
- Discover which method of transportation they will use to get to the city.
- Find where they will work depending on the job they selected.
- Decide which area of the city they want to live in. Is the area close to their work, school building, or place of worship? Is it on the city’s outskirts or in the town center?
5. Have students write a diary entry from an immigrant’s perspective, describing how they arrived in their new town, what steps they will take to get settled, and their feelings about their new home.
6. Students can compare their diary entries to that of an actual immigrant to Texas by reading portions of Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge’s journal. Hardinge traveled from Brooklyn to Texas in 1852 after inheriting land from her brother. Students may also read Hardinge’s biography and view her watercolors from her experiences in Texas. Please note: While Hardinge’s watercolors document her experiences in Texas, she kept her journal as her family began its return trip to the East. Therefore, it does not document her experience arriving in Texas as the students’ entries will.
- (8) Geography. The student uses geographic tools to collect, analyze, and interpret data. The student is expected to:
- (B) pose and answer questions about geographic distributions and patterns shown on maps, graphs, charts, models, and databases.
- (24) Social studies skills. The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired from a variety of sources including electronic technology. The student is expected to:
- (B) analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions;
- (H) use appropriate mathematical skills to interpret social studies information such as maps and graphs.
- (26) Social studies skills. The student uses problem-solving and decision-making skills, working independently and with others, in a variety of settings. The student is expected to:
- (B) use a decision-making process to identify a situation that requires a decision, gather information, identify options, predict consequences, and take action to implement a decision.
- (1) Writing/purposes. The student writes in a variety of forms, including business, personal, literary, and persuasive texts, for various audiences and purposes. The student is expected to:
- (A) write in a variety of forms using effective word choice, structure, and sentence forms with emphasis on organizing logical arguments with clearly related definitions, theses, and evidence; write persuasively; write to report and describe; and write poems, plays, and stories;
- (B) write in a voice and style appropriate to audience and purpose.
- (7) Reading/comprehension. The student comprehends selections using a variety of strategies. The student is expected to:
- (H) draw inferences such as conclusions, generalizations, and predictions and support them from text.
- (10) Reading/literary response. The student expresses and supports responses to various types of texts. The student is expected to:
- (B) use elements of text to defend his/her own responses and interpretations.
This lesson plan was created by the Education Department of the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, to accompany the Texas Bird’s-Eye Views Web site and was made possible by a generous grant from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation representing BNSF Railway Company.