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The Great Hunger and the Irish Immigration Experience in Iowa

Background and Rationale:

The purpose of this unit is to organize research and texts on the topic of Famine Irish immigration to Iowa , investigating the impact of these immigrants on Iowa 's development. This unit is designed for American Studies grades ten to twelve , complete with resources and activities. This could be used at the beginning of the semester as a introduction to the post Civil War or Enlightenment periods. I envision delivering this unit of instruction in a moderately diverse, middle-class, urban high school of moderate size similar to any high school in the Davenport School District .

I developed this unit as a vehicle through which I can apply critical thinking and effectively communicate historical concepts. I am sharing this unit in the hope that other potential educators will discover a passion for immigration history, subsequently sharing that passion with their students.


The objectives of this unit are to:

Encourage students' curiosity about the immigrant experience
Develop students' awareness of the contributions of immigrants to American society
Help students explore our American history of tolerance juxtaposed to Nativism
Expand students' vocabulary of immigration terminology
Help students relate to the concept of the American Dream  

Teaching Strategy:

As I believe history is about telling stories and good history is about telling good stories, this unit tells the story of the Mullin-Reagan family, their migration from Ireland , and their immigrant experiences in Iowa . My teaching strategy is to introduce each historical topic through the telling of individual segments of the Mullin-Reagan family story. Each segment is posted as an individual unit, including references, teaching points, projects, and readings.