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Great Sites Center

Each week, Education World's Great Sites for Teaching About page highlights Web sites to help educators work timely themes into their lessons. This week's sites are among the best on the Web for teaching about immigration.

  1. Ancestors in the Americas
    Originally a companion to a PBS video series, this Web page offers a variety of activities to help students extend and enrich their understanding of the experiences of immigrants to the United States. Areas of particular interest include Ancestors , which includes video clips from the series; Documents, which contains digital versions of important documents throughout our history that impacted directly on immigrants trying to establish themselves in this country; Tell Us Your Stories, a section that encourages visitors to tell their stories; and Discover Your Ancestors, resources for conducting genealogy work.

  2. The Dunbrody
    The famine that followed the failure of the potato crops in Ireland between 1846 and 1849 propelled up to a million immigrants to seek relief in the United States and Canada. This Web site covers the immigrants' story from the famine to the journey across the Atlantic on one of the "famine ships," the Dunbrody. Though this site can be viewed with or without Flash technology, the Flash-based version is impressive.

  3. Ellis Island Stereographic Images

    This Web site presents stereographic images of Ellis Island from the early 1900s. These three-dimensional photographs would have been used in schools to teach about immigration. As the site suggest, you can use this display to also help students understand the anti-immigration sentiment of the time.

  4. From One Life to Another
    This ThinkQuest presentation examines the journey of immigrants from their countries of origin to the United States. Your students can start with the Flash movie introduction, go on a site-wide tour, view the immigration time line, and play the life quiz. This site challenges students to immerse themselves in the immigrant experience. The authors invite contributions of stories of European immigration.

  5. Historical United States Census Data Browser
    This University of Virginia site presents immigration data from 1790 through the 1970s in a format that is easy to view and analyze. Visitors can search the database by gender, race, age, and a number of other criteria to zero in on the exact information. The developer of the site did not use Java or JavaScript so that as many computer users as possible could have access to the information.

  6. Letters from an Immigrant

    Bertha Starke Geerdts came to Milwaukee from Germany 100 years ago. Although she was happy in her new land, she never forgot her ties to her family, and she wrote letters faithfully. This collection of her correspondence in both German and English covers a span of time from 1890 through 1911 and offers striking glimpses into the ties that bind. The site also provides links to her family.

  7. National History Day Project

    Though this page is visually cluttered, it is full of questions and answers about immigrants from many lands as well as Native Americans. Several major colonies are examined up close to discern their immigration patterns over time, and interactive questions along the way keep students involved and responsive to the task.

  8. The New Americans
    This is an online supplement to a PBS series focusing on the immigration experiences of people from Nigeria and the Dominican Republic. The site, targeted to students in grades 7 through 12, follows the stories of Nigerians living in Chicago and Dominicans recruited by the LA Dodgers to play baseball. This online "adventure" provides interactive opportunities to explore immigration through time lines, maps, and genealogy activities. The site includes a teacher's guide.

  9. Ellis Island
    The official site of Ellis Island gives a brief introduction to the museum near the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Many students can probably trace their ancestors to this center, where 12 million immigrants passed on their way to new lives between 1892 and 1954. This is a site of information for prospective visitors to Ellis Island, but it also contains an activity that will engage online visitors to take part in the history of the island. The American Immigrant Wall of Honor allows visitors to search for immigrants' names and to add names as appropriate. Simply have first and last name and country of origin handy to conduct your search of all the immigrants processed here!

  10. Statue of Liberty Photo Tour takes you on this virtual tour of the Statue of Liberty -- from Battery Park, on the ferry, across the water to Liberty Island, and up into the statue itself. The descriptions that accompany the more than 30 photos provide many details of what a visitor experiences on the real tour.

Walter McKenzie
Education World®
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