Unit 1: Our Families’ Stories In Wisconsin


Dr. Ava L. McCall and Thelma Ristow


Definition Of Topic

Background Knowledge

Family Involvement Activities


History Of Main Cultural Groups

Overall Assessment Strategies

Unit Goals

German Americans


National Social Studies Thematic Strands

Irish Americans

Children’s Books

Multicultural Concepts/Themes

Polish Americans

Children’s Periodicals


Norwegian Americans

Professional Books

Introduction To Unit

Finnish Americans

Professional Periodicals

Family History

French Americans

Professional Curriculum Guides

Textile Arts And Family History

Dutch Americans

Audiovisual Materials

Cultural Group History

African Americans

Resource People

Experiences Of Leaving One’s Homeland

Hmong Americans

Field Trips

Life As Recent Immigrants

Latino/a Americans

Electronic Resources

School District Social Studies Curriculum Objectives

Native Americans

School District Literacy Curriculum Objectives



Definition Of Topic

This unit will focus on the family histories of the students and teachers and other main ethnic/cultural groups, what led to their emigration from their homelands, what drew them to Wisconsin, where their families settled in Wisconsin, and what helped families stay in Wisconsin.



Students need to learn that history includes the stories of themselves and their families as well as the stories of people very different from themselves. By beginning the study of the history of Wisconsin with a focus on students' family histories, students may be more motivated to learn about Wisconsin history and develop the personal connections which make history more meaningful and memorable.


Unit Goals

1. Students will develop greater knowledge of and appreciation for their family history, the influences that led their families to move to Wisconsin, to settle where they did, and factors which helped their survival in Wisconsin.

2. Students will develop greater knowledge of and appreciation for the histories and cultures of the main ethnic/cultural groups in Wisconsin.

3. Students will develop literacy skills through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

4. Students will develop cooperative learning skills by working with others.


National Social Studies Thematic Strands


            First, this unit will incorporate the culture thematic strand by focusing on aspects of culture and cultural diversity from the students' and teachers' backgrounds as well as main ethnic/cultural groups in Wisconsin. This strand is important because it provides students with opportunities to become more aware of and appreciate their own culture and the culture of others. Such understandings can contribute to people developing more harmonious relationships with diverse groups.


            Second, this unit will also focus on the people, places, and environment thematic strand by including ways the physical environment of the homelands and Wisconsin influenced our family histories. For some cultural groups, they left their homelands because of environmental changes and were attracted to Wisconsin because of its physical and cultural environments. The inclusion of this thematic strand will help students understand reasons for emigration from one place and immigration to another place.


            Third, this unit will address the global connections thematic strand by helping students understand how events in one part of the world such as war and economic crises can influence life in another part of the world. A number of ethnic/cultural groups who settled in Wisconsin came here because of a lack of economic opportunities or fear of persecution following war in their homelands. By incorporating this thematic strand, students will have opportunities to understand the global connections of their own family histories and the history of main ethnic/cultural groups within Wisconsin.


School District Social Studies Curriculum Objectives


1. 1a Students will define the terms state, country, and world in relationship to their family histories.

1. 1c Students will locate Madison and other major cities in the state on maps and globes in relationship to their family histories.

1. 1d Students will describe the location of countries of their ancestry relative to the U.S. and Wisconsin.

1. 1e Students will locate places in Wisconsin relative to physical features.

1. 1f Students will locate positions of continents and oceans in relationship to their family history.

1. 2a&d Students will locate the major parallels (North and South Poles, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and the Equator) on world maps and globes as markers to identify similarities and differences in the climate of their families' homelands and Wisconsin.

1. 2b Students will identify the hemispheres on maps and globes in relationship to their family histories.

1. 2e&f&g Students will use latitude and longitude and a grid system to locate places in their family history on maps and globes.


1. 3a Students will describe factors that helped influence the location of a particular town or city in Wisconsin.

1. 3b Students will describe factors that helped influence the growth and development of cities in Wisconsin.

1. 3c Students will locate Madison, Wisconsin and explain why it became the capital of Wisconsin.

1. 3d Students will analyze the reasons for the locations of major economic activities, population groupings, and transportation systems in Wisconsin.


2. 1b Students will define the characteristics of major landforms in relationship to their homelands and where their families settled in Wisconsin.

2. 1d&j Students will locate major bodies of water and river systems in Wisconsin and explain how they influenced the settlement of the state.

2. 1f Students will describe features of climate, natural vegetation, forests, and prairie lands in their homelands and Wisconsin.

2. 1h Students will compare climate conditions including wind, ocean currents, and elevations in their homelands and Wisconsin.

2. 1k Students will evaluate the effects of the climate in Wisconsin on agriculture, use of fuels, and recreational activities.


2. 2a Students will define ways that people changed the landscape when they settled in Wisconsin.

2. 2c Students will use maps to identify where ethnic groups settled and remain in Wisconsin.

2. 2d Students will describe the human characteristics of urban and rural areas in Wisconsin.

2. 2e Students will compare characteristics of places used for farming, mining, manufacturing, forestry, fishing, and recreation.

2. 2g Students will describe and evaluate how Wisconsin developed based on its resources.


2. 3c Students will classify ways in which Wisconsin has changed over time.


3. 1c Students will identify Wisconsin resources i.e. rivers and waterways whose value changed over time due to changing technology such as transportation developments.

3. 1d Students will list ways Wisconsin immigrants depend on the use of the environment (such as climate and vegetation).


3. 2c Students will identify areas in Wisconsin with high population densities and give reasons to explain these concentrations.

3. 2e Students will list ways Wisconsin immigrants adapted to their environment through their housing.

3. 2i Students will understand the influence of climate on the development of agricultural communities as immigrants moved into Wisconsin.


4. 2c Students will identify on a world map the homelands of their ancestors prior to immigration to Wisconsin.

4. 2i Students will understand how communication and transportation networks were part of the immigration process to Wisconsin.


4. 3b Students will trace the movements of their ancestors from their homelands to Wisconsin resulting in the growth of the U.S.

4. 3d Students will describe several movements of people from places in the world to Wisconsin as an example of a changing pattern in world geography.


15. 1 Students will identify ethnic groups who settled in Wisconsin, where they located, their work, and cultural contributions.


15. 2 Students will identify current local ethnic groups in their own community.


School District Literacy Curriculum Objectives


Reading Band E

Reading Strategies

Students will use a dictionary to gain information when reading.

Students will use the index, table of contents, and glossary to gain information when reading expository text.

Students will use a variety of word analysis strategies to decode words.

Students will use a variety of comprehension strategies to gain meaning from more complex text.


Reading Responses

Students will improvise in role play.

Students will prepare written responses to show meaning inferred from text.

Students will demonstrate understanding of a piece of literature.

Students will express and support an opinion on the author's purpose.

Students will analyze text to show understanding of character traits and actions.

Students will evaluate the behavior of characters from different cultural perspectives.

Students will paraphrase informational/expository text.

Students will read orally with expression.


Interest and Attitudes

Students will choose books of personal interest related to the curriculum unit.

Students will participate in SSR.

Students will independently choose books appropriate to their reading level.

Students will demonstrate effective listening and speaking habits.


Writing Band E

Writing Mechanics

Students will construct more complex sentences.

Students will write passages with clear meaning, accuracy of spelling, and appropriate punctuation and grammar.

Students will use a dictionary and/or thesaurus to check and extend vocabulary for writing.

Students will write statements, questions, commands, and exclamations.

Students will consistently use legible handwriting.

Students will use the editing mechanics of spelling, indentation, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization.


Writing Strategies

Students will link paragraphs into a cohesive structure.

Students will write for different purposes.

Students will write from different perspectives.

Students will use the writing process to prepare for publication.

Students will incorporate feedback from adults and peers through revising and editing.


Writing Responses

Students will write a summary of expository texts including the main topic, main ideas, and supporting details.

Students will respond to text through logs or journals.


Multicultural Concepts/Themes


This unit will include the experiences and perspectives of different ethnic/cultural groups, including the students themselves. The unit will be relevant to the students because it will offer many opportunities for students to connect their lives and experiences to the curriculum in meaningful ways. The unit will also incorporate critical thinking skills and the analysis of diverse viewpoints.



Our Families’ Stories In Wisconsin: Background Knowledge


Ava L. McCall's Family History


            I am the only member of my family to live in Wisconsin. My husband David Calabria and I came here for economic reasons, so that I could teach at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Wisconsin also attracted me because it was similar to my home state of Indiana in the importance of agriculture in its history and culture. In addition, I was attracted to the progressive views in the state regarding education, labor, and equal rights issues. We remain in Wisconsin largely because we enjoy our home and because of the satisfaction I find in my work as a teacher educator.


            My maternal grandparents are Ava Melvin Lashley whose background we believe is Irish and Charles Lashley, who may have some German background. They owned land and were farmers in southern Indiana. I'm unsure why they left their homeland and came to Indiana. Grandmother and Grandfather Lashley had nine children during 19 years: Helen, Juanita, Joe, Agnes, Bertha, Russell, Ruby, Herman, and Anna Marie Lashley McCall, my mother. Joe died in a swimming accident during World War II and Herman and Russell both built new houses on the family farm. Helen, Juanita, Agnes, and Bertha married, had families, and lived in Washington, Indiana. Ruby and her family moved to Florida when I was in elementary school. Mother moved to live on my father's family farm after she married my father.


            I was named after my maternal grandmother and I remember spending week-long vacations with her in the summer. We took baths in the pond (there was no indoor plumbing) complete with soap, wash cloths, and towels. I can remember Grandmother slipping in the pond and explaining "a turtle got my toe." We drank cold water pumped from the well and stored in a water bucket on the inside porch. Everyone drank from the same tin ladle and bucket all day, but the water always seemed very cold. Together we swung on the porch swing every evening and watched the road as it disappeared with the growing darkness and the appearance of the fire flies around the yard. The rhythmic, night time sounds of the swing squeaking as it moved back and forth, Grandmother's quiet voice, and the voices of the crickets and frogs were part of this ritual until Grandmother announced, "It's time to hit the hay." I later realized "hitting the hay" was a metaphor for going to bed. Then we went inside and together slept on thick feather beds, so deep they almost engulfed us once we lay down on them. Sleeping with Grandmother was a treat, and I seemed to do this often. Perhaps she knew I would be afraid if I slept alone.


            As a special treat each visit, Grandmother usually took me "to town" and bought me a new dress at Penney's. I'm unsure how we got to town because Grandmother didn't drive and I did not remember Grandmother and Grandfather Lashley ever owning a car. I always looked forward to these new dresses each visit, although I now realize Grandmother did not have much money for such luxuries. Grandmother was also a quilter, although I have no memories of her actually quilting. I remember she saved fabric scraps and made a beautiful quilt out of scraps of fabric of clothing made for family members by my mother or her sisters which she gave to Mother to save to give me as a wedding gift. Grandmother did all the stitching by hand; I'm not sure she had a sewing machine. During one of the regular Sunday afternoon family visits with Grandmother and Grandfather Lashley, Grandmother called me over and told me she had something to give me "if something should ever happen to me." I later discovered this gift was several silver dollars which I received after she died in 1957 when I was nine years old.


            I have fewer memories of Grandfather Lashley, who was 10 years older than Grandmother. He was no longer actively involved in farming when I was growing up and visiting in the summers, but still spent a great deal of time outside. Grandfather wore overalls, usually sat in a chair outside, smoked a pipe, and spoke little. Grandmother and Grandfather were both rather reserved and invested most of their energy in their family and farming, with little involvement in the local community. Grandfather died in 1961.


            My mother, Anna Marie Lashley McCall, was born on New Year's Day in 1927. She was the youngest of nine children and she and Uncle Herman were the only ones who graduated from high school. Mother wanted to attend college to become a nurse, but her family could not afford it. After Mother married my father in 1945 at the age of 18, they moved to a small house on the McCall farm. My parents had five daughters; I am the oldest. Charlotte, Mary, Andrea, and Nancy follow. Mother developed a strong work ethic growing up which she has maintained all her life and passed on to her children. She worked for wages outside the home most of the time we were growing up. Mother first worked in a factory which produced rubber products such as raincoats, then the majority of her work life was spent as a cashier in a grocery store. Mother also worked very hard at home. She always had a very large garden and froze and canned excess vegetables every summer which provided much of the food for the year. Mother sewed most of our clothes, washed them in her wringer washer, and hung them on the clothes line to dry until she bought her first automatic washer and dryer when I went to college.


            Two of Mother's outstanding talents are her cooking/baking and quilting. She bakes delicious pies, cakes, breads, and cookies and prepares very large meals in record time. When we were growing up, our large meal of the day was at noon, especially when Dad was planting or putting up hay and had extra "hired hands" to feed. These meals consumed the entire morning in preparation and another hour or two afterward in cleaning up. While these meals were delicious, the amount of labor involved in cooking and cleaning up was often unrecognized and unrewarded. Although I have few memories of Mother quilting when we were growing up, she became an avid quilter after her daughters left home and she could devote more time to quilting. Mother has made over a hundred quilts, some given as gifts to friends and family members, some sold at quilt shows, and some kept. Mother continues to stockpile quilting supplies and will have to live another 50 years or so to consume all the fabric she has collected for new quilts.


            My paternal grandmother is Tillie Pearl Taylor McCall who was born on December 5, 1892 in southern Indiana. She was one-half German. Her father was Ulysses "Louis" Grant Taylor, whose father was a German immigrant. Grandmother McCall's mother was Mary Elizabeth Franklin Taylor, also of German descent. The original German names were Frankenberger and Mergenthayler which were changed to "Franklin" and "Taylor." I'm unsure why my great great grandparents left Germany and settled in Indiana. To raise the money for Grandmother McCall to attend school beyond high school, Grandmother's mother sold a cow. Grandmother remembered her father saying after high school she could either work in someone else's kitchen or teach school. Grandmother decided she preferred teaching. She attended a six-week training session to become licensed as a teacher at the normal school in Terre Haute, Indiana, which later became Indiana State University. She taught school for only two years, from 1913 until 1915, but talked about those years a great deal, so they must have been important to her. At the time Grandmother was teaching, it was mandatory for women to quit teaching once they married. If Grandmother would have lived in a later era, she might have become a feminist as well as a career woman. But in the early 20th century, fewer options were available.


            Grandmother and Grandfather McCall married in 1915 and moved to the McCall farm in Plainville, Indiana. They moved into the house where Grandfather was born and where Grandfather's mother still lived. Grandmother was very outgoing and involved in community activities. She was a charter member of the local home economics club, active in church activities, helped at the polls and voted every election day, and raised money for such organizations as the American Red Cross or the March of Dimes. One of my favorite stories was Grandmother encouraging women to vote after women's suffrage in 1920. She even volunteered to take women to the polls whose husbands discouraged their spouses from such political activities.


            In addition to these community activities, Grandmother Pearl did all the household chores, helped milk the few cows which she, Grandfather, and my dad milked each day, raised chickens, sold eggs, planted and harvested vegetables from a large garden, froze and canned food from the garden, and at times helped in the fields. Grandmother Pearl invested considerable time in raising chickens. She bought incubators to incubate her own eggs, developing a line of leghorn chickens good for egg production. She supervised the building of a large chicken house for her laying hens, constructed from used lumber from a house. As Grandmother grew older, she devoted more time to her egg business and garden. She shipped eggs to New York and took orders from local customers which my parents or sisters and I delivered on Saturdays when we took piano lessons. When Grandmother became more frail and unable to live by herself, she moved into my parents' home in 1984. Grandmother died in 1991 at the age of 98.


            My paternal grandfather is John Austin McCall, born on May 10, 1894 of Scottish descent. His father was Andrew McCall and Andrew's father William was the first McCall to settle in Indiana after migrating from the western Pennsylvania area of Altoona. William (either alone or with his family) traveled down the Ohio River on a boat aiming to settle on the Mississippi River in northern Illinois. He obtained the job of helping to fire the boilers on the steamboat which paid for the passage. For some reason, William did not like the northern Illinois area, so was returning to Pennsylvania when the steamboat broke down near Evansville, Indiana. While waiting for repairs to the steamboat, William heard about good farm land available in Daviess County, Indiana. He traveled to Daviess County and bought land near Prairie Creek, some of which the McCall family still owns.


            Andrew bought additional land to create the 465-acre family farm the McCall family now has. Great Grandfather Andrew was known for his managerial abilities, accumulated some capital and land before he married at the age of 32. Land was inexpensive, and Andrew bought several small farms of approximately 40 acres from other farmers who decided to give up farming. At the time, a 40-acre farm would allow a family to exist, but not prosper. He married Mary Charlotte Peachee McCall in 1871. For their wedding, great Grandfather Andrew sold a wagon load of wheat in town for $2 which paid for the $2 marriage license. They had six children, but five died in childhood. Grandfather Austin was the only child to live into adulthood. Great grandmother Mary ran the house with the help of a hired girl. They also had "hired hands" who helped with the farm work and stayed overnight in the bedrooms upstairs. These workers were young people who needed to become established. Even after they no longer worked for great Grandfather Andrew and great Grandmother Mary, they came back to visit. Large noon meals were a tradition in order to feed the workers and family. Regularly, relatives and former workers stopped by for this noon meal. Meals included homemade bread or biscuits, fried slices of pork cut from meat stored in the smokehouse, cooked potatoes and canned vegetables from the cellar, gravy, and canned fruit for dessert. Great Grandmother Mary grew and preserved all the food they needed. Great Grandmother Mary continued to live in the same house with Grandmother Pearl and Grandfather Austin after they married and great Grandfather Andrew passed away. However, my grandmother and her mother-in-law did not get along well.


            Grandfather McCall was actively involved in farming and such community activities as encouraging the movement of utilities (electricity and telephone service) to local farming communities. Unlike Grandmother, he believed church involvement could be limited to attendance on Easter and Christmas. Grandfather loved to read and spent hours sitting in his favorite "reading chair" and reading magazines such as The Reader's Digest. He was also very particular about the yard and his 1950 Buick. The yard had to be mowed in a certain way and he spent many hours washing and polishing the Buick. Grandfather loved to talk about history and our family history and at times wanted to discuss these subjects with me, but as a child, I unfortunately found these topics uninteresting. Grandfather did not like my first name "Ava," because it reminded him of Ava Gardner whom he disliked. Grandfather always called me by my middle name "Louise" which I was not particularly fond of, but would never complain about, especially to my grandfather. Grandfather died in 1962 when he was only 68 years old.


            My father is John Austin McCall, Jr. and he was born September 17, 1923 in southern Indiana. He was always called "Junior" by those who knew him and his father, a name he disliked greatly. Since he was the only child, his parents expected him to continue farming the family farm. Dad attended Purdue University and studied agriculture for one and one-half years, but came home to work on the farm during World War II. Because Dad was needed to work on the farm, he was not called to serve in the military during the war. After he and Mother married in 1945, they settled in a small house down the road from his parents on the family farm.


            Dad had a number of health problems as a child and young adult. He contracted scarlet fever as a child and Guillian-Barre Syndrome soon after I was born. The scarlet fever impaired his hearing and the gillian barres damaged the muscles in his left leg and caused him to walk with a limp most of his adult life. The physical labor involved in farming many times was very difficult for my father. His parents had high expectations for his work on the farm and it was challenging to meet them. The physical proximity of our home to Grandmother and Grandfather McCall's home offered little respite from their expectations and careful scrutiny. Dad was very involved in community activities all his adult life, from running for the local school board (he was never elected much to Mother's relief) and being involved in all school activities, to working in soil conservation programs and organizations, to being part of the Farmer's Union, to supporting political candidates with views he agreed with and working to defeat those he disagreed with.


            Dad has always enjoyed music, especially classical music and opera, took piano lessons as a child, and he and Mother insisted my sisters and I also take lessons. Dad's interest in education was apparent in his careful scrutiny of our homework and report cards. Getting good grades was one way to win praise. One distinct memory I have of Dad growing up was his regular school visits. One day during the school year Dad would unexpectedly show up at school, enter the classroom, nod at the teacher, and sit in the back of the room observing the lesson. The teacher, of course, called on me more to show I was learning. I felt both pride in my father's interest in school and embarrassed that no other parents engaged in such activities. Mom and Dad both knew all the teachers, respected them, believed they were doing a good job of teaching, and supported their teaching and disciplinary practices. If I complained to Mom and Dad about the ways any of my teachers disciplined me, these complaints fell on unsympathetic ears. If I experienced difficulty learning something, it was my own weakness, not the teacher's.


            Music and education have both become very important to my sisters and me in various ways. All of us took piano lessons growing up. Most of our lessons were on Saturday mornings. On Friday evenings we all rushed to practice the pieces we were to learn for the next lesson, trying to make up for the daily practice we should have done. We also played instruments in the school band. I played the flute, Charlotte the cornet, Mary the saxophone, and Andrea played the clarinet. Charlotte, Mary, and Andrea took voice lessons and were in demand for solos and ensembles at various school, church, and community functions. My role was usually that of piano accompanist for their singing, especially for Charlotte as we were very close in age and attended the same events. It seemed to be commonly understood in the family that I did not possess the singing talent of my younger sisters. However, I compensated by developing skills as an accompanist and not only played for my sisters, but also played for church services as well as the school choir while in junior high and high school.


            Music was one of the few recreational activities we had growing up. We did not have the time or money to take family vacations. I can remember taking only two trips during which we stayed overnight. We were expected to work hard helping prepare meals and do housework; planting, weeding, harvesting, and preserving food from the garden; mowing our yard and Grandmother's yard and lane; and at times helping Dad in the field when he was planting or harvesting. I preferred housework to work outside and as the oldest assumed primary responsibilities for cleaning the house while in elementary school and in meal preparation and clean up while in high school, especially when Mother was working outside the home. Charlotte and I also divided the mowing responsibilities, so each week we spent several hours pushing the gasoline-powered mowers back and forth over the yards. I dreaded the times Dad hired many high school boys to help put up hay, plant, or harvest crops. This meant much of the morning was devoted to making a dessert, frying or baking a meat, and cooking several vegetables for the large noon meal. Mother could accomplish all this much more easily than I, but I was expected to help her. When Mother was working outside the home, it was my responsibility to prepare these large meals, and my younger sisters assisted. These experiences still influence my reluctance to prepare large meals and my desire to cook and bake only occasionally.


            My parents' interest in education certainly influenced my decision to become a teacher, one of two professions along with nursing obviously open to women when I graduated from high school in 1966. All of my adult life since I graduated from college has been devoted to education, either teaching or attending school full time. Charlotte and Mary also obtained degrees in education and have spent many years as teachers while Nancy and Andrea have taught as volunteers in Sunday School or literacy programs. These family traditions continue.


History Of Main Cultural Groups


1. German Americans


Why did they leave their homeland?

Germans began leaving Germany in 1830. Some Germans left for religious freedom since Bismarck (the German leader at the time) wanted the government to overrule the Catholic Church. Some left for political reasons because they disagreed with government leaders, some fled after trying and failing to make the government more democratic, or they wanted to avoid being called into the army. Some Germans left for economic reasons. They found the high cost of living, high taxes, and low wages in German cities where they had gone to find work and live too difficult to survive. For those remaining in rural areas, they left because they could not own land since only the oldest son inherited the family farm. The crop failures of the 1840s also precipitated some German emigration.


Why did they move to Wisconsin?

Germans are the largest ethnic/cultural group in Wisconsin and about half of Wisconsin residents claimed German ancestry in the 1990 census. Some came for economic reasons. They could purchase good farmland offered for sale at cheap prices ($1.25 an acre in 1880). Some Germans came to find work at higher wages and pay lower taxes than in Germany. The economics of traveling to Wisconsin were eased with the ability to travel through the Great Lakes and the possibilities for shipping goods on the Mississippi River. Some Germans came for political and social reasons. They could vote after living in Wisconsin one year and had the freedom to start their own schools, churches, and newspapers. The social attraction of living with other Germans who shared the same cultural and/or family background who were already living in Wisconsin provided yet another reason for moving to Wisconsin.


Where did they settle in Wisconsin?

Some Germans settled in eastern Wisconsin to farm. Many settled in Milwaukee to make it one of the most German cities in the nation. Germans worked as tanners, carpenters, bakers, tailors, shopkeepers, and furniture makers in Wisconsin. They settled mostly in counties in the southeastern and eastern corridor of the state: Marathon, Shawano, Outagamie, Winnebago, Fond du Lac, Marquette, Green Lake, Dodge, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Washington, Ozaukee, Jefferson, and Milwaukee Counties.


How did they survive after moving to Wisconsin?

German immigrants worked in flour and saw mills and factories, opened small shops or businesses, worked as mechanics, masons, and shoemakers, worked on farms, railroads, or as lumbermen, or bought land and farmed.


2. Irish Americans


Why did they leave their homeland?

Some left for political reasons, the desire to be free of English rule. Many left for economic reasons. Poor farmers, or cotters, struggled to grow enough food and poor people also lived in large cities. When the great potato famine occurred in the 1840s, many people starved or died of disease. Potato crops, a staple in the Irish diet, were unable to grow because of cold weather, rotted after harvesting, were of poor quality, or were destroyed by mold. Farmers could not pay rent and had to move. More and more people had no way to survive.


Why did they move to Wisconsin?

They came for the farmland, especially the open prairie land in Washington and Ozaukee Counties. Some worked as fur traders or in the lead mines in southwestern Wisconsin. After the Irish Emigrant Aid Society was formed in Madison, they helped new Irish immigrants find jobs and homes in Wisconsin.


Where did they settle in Wisconsin?

Farmers settled in Washington and Ozaukee Counties. Some worked as fur traders or in the lead mines in southwestern Wisconsin in the 1820s and 1830s. Early settlements began at Prairie du Chien, Patch Grove, and Bloomington. Others moved to Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Dodge Counties.


How did they survive after moving to Wisconsin?

Irish Americans survived economically by working as fur traders, farmers, and miners. Some may have worked on the railroads and in trades such as carpenters. A few became involved in state government. The Irish Emigrant Society was likely an important source of support for new Irish immigrants in finding jobs and homes.


3. Polish Americans


Why did they leave their homeland?

Poles left Poland for political reasons. In the 1830s and 1860s, Polish freedom fighters tried to free their land from Russian, Prussian, and Austrian rulers. When they failed, they had to flee for their lives. In Prussian Poland, Poles left for political reasons. The Polish language and national anthem was being replaced with German in order to help Bismarck create a German empire. Poles also left for economic reasons since little work was available in their homeland. In Russian Poland, most farmland was operated by rich landlords, but peasants planted and harvested crops on small areas of land. Although factories were built in Russian Poland, not enough jobs were available for everyone who wanted to work. In Austrian Poland, farm land was divided among the sons, but as the farms became smaller and smaller over the years, they became too small to feed a family. Large fields were owned by rich landlords. However, overall in Austrian Poland, food was scarce, jobs were few, and taxes were high. Some Polish people left for religious reasons when the government tried to pull the people away from the Catholic Church.


Why did they move to Wisconsin?

Most Poles came to Wisconsin between 1870 and 1910. Poles came for economic reasons; they were recruited to work on the railroads, worked as farmhands or lumberjacks, and bought farms. Polish people also came for social reasons--they were friendly with the German community in Wisconsin because they had lived in German areas in Europe. They also came because their Polish friends and families moved to Wisconsin. After the first Polish immigrants moved to Wisconsin, they wrote letters to friends and relatives still in Poland encouraging them to emigrate to Wisconsin. A Milwaukee land company urged Poles to settle in Wisconsin. They advertised the land, gave information about crops and farm equipment, sold lumber, offered to plow settlers' fields for a fee, and built churches, schools, and a monastery for the Polish immigrants.


Where did they settle in Wisconsin?

Most settled together in cities and developed Polish neighborhoods. A minority chose to become farmers. The first Polish farmers settled in Portage County; one-third of Portage County residents claim Polish ancestry. Farmers took products to sell or exchange in a market square in Stevens Point. Another group of Polish settlers moved to Trempealeau County in the early 1860s and bought land to farm. Another rural community developed in Brown, Oconto, and Shawano Counties in the villages of Pulaski, Sobieski, and Krakow when a Milwaukee land company urged Poles to settle there.


How did they survive after moving to Wisconsin?

Polish farmers were able to make a living from their farming in Portage County. In addition, newspapers, schools, and churches in Portage County helped preserve Polish culture. For the farmers in Trempealeau County, in the winter, men worked in lumber camps to earn extra money while in the summer, women, children, and men worked together in the fields. Through community celebrations, such as weddings and dances, the Polish in Trempealeau County were able to meet their social needs. In Milwaukee, Polish immigrants began Polish Catholic Churches and schools and newspapers printed in Polish. Most Polish men in Milwaukee found jobs in factories; women worked as maids or cooks. They opened neighborhood groceries, butcher shops, bakeries, drugstores, and other small businesses. Polish doctors, lawyers and architects also worked in Milwaukee and now Poles work in every type of business and profession. Because Poles settled together in neighborhoods, they elected Poles to city and county posts who could represent their interests.


4. Norwegian Americans


Why did they leave their homeland?

Many Norwegians left Norway for economic reasons. In Norway, there was little land to buy for farms and the land was rocky which limited agriculture. Small farmers had difficulty growing enough food for their families to last through the long, cold winters, especially if crops failed. Few could afford to pay the high taxes. Limited jobs were available in cities and what jobs there were paid low wages.


Why did they move to Wisconsin?

The first Norwegians settled in Wisconsin in 1838 and continued to settle in Wisconsin through the early 1900s. Norwegians moved to Wisconsin because of economic opportunities; sailors, business people, craft workers, and especially farmers could continue the same jobs they had in Norway. After the first Norwegians settled in Wisconsin, they wrote to their friends and families in Norway encouraging them to move to Wisconsin and frequently sending tickets for their trip. Steamship companies also encouraged Norwegians to sail to the United States and published materials about Norwegians who had successfully settled in the U.S. Many Norwegians wanted to own their own land.


Where did they settle in Wisconsin?

The first Norwegians settled in Jefferson in Rock County. Others built Muskego in Racine County, named after Muskego Lake in Norway. Eventually Norwegians lived all over Wisconsin. Another settlement was located in Dane County.


How did they survive after moving to Wisconsin?

Norwegians helped one another and provided the social support necessary for survival. When the first Norwegians arrived in Wisconsin, they shared a small cabin until each family could build their own cabin. Norwegians often settled in small groups. The Norwegian community of Muskego also built a Norwegian Lutheran Church and published a Norwegian newspaper. Norwegians also took advantage of economic opportunities and bought land and farmed, and worked in cities as lumberjacks, millhands, miners, and quarry and factory workers.


5. Finnish Americans


Why did they leave their homeland?

Limited economic opportunities in Finland was a significant factor in the Finnish emigration to Wisconsin. Most Finns were farmers in Finland, but struggled to survive due to limited land for farming. Rocky hills, forests, lakes, and marshes were prevalent which reduced the land available for growing crops. As farm land was divided among the children in large families or passed on to the eldest, not enough land was available for the children to have their own farms. When the children grew up, they were forced to become hired hands on other farms or rent land to farm. When farming became more mechanized, fewer workers were needed on farms. Farmers who rented land were forced to harvest the landowners' crops before harvesting their own as well as pay rent on the land. Land prices became more expensive which exceeded what many potential farmers could pay. In cities, workers exceeded the jobs available. Factory workers worked long hours under dangerous conditions for low pay. Unemployment was high. Craft workers such as bakers, tailors, carpenters, shoemakers, and tanners also found it difficult to make a living. The Finns also left their homeland for political reasons. When Russia controlled Finland in the late 1800s, they limited the rights of Finns to publish newspapers, hold meetings, and vote. Mandatory military service in the Russian army in the early 1900s precipitated the move of many men from Finland.


Why did they move to Wisconsin?

Economic opportunities, especially farming, attracted the Finns. The majority of Finnish immigrants farmed. Finnish miners could also mine iron and granite in Wisconsin. The geography of Wisconsin around Lake Superior especially was attractive to the Finns because it reminded them of their homeland.


Where did they settle in Wisconsin?

Finnish people had difficulty learning English, so often settled close together. Farming settlements were created in Price, Douglas, Vilas, Ashland, and Clark Counties. Finnish miners worked in iron mines at Montreal in Iron County and in granite quarries in Marinette and Waushara Counties. Workers and their families also lived and worked in Superior, Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha.


How did they survive after moving to Wisconsin?

Finns provided social support for survival by living close together. They formed cooperatives, organizations owned by the members, and operated stores. They also created Finnish newspapers and churches and celebrated Finnish holidays together. Finns also took advantage of economic opportunities frequently by farming with women and men working together to develop the farms. Women helped in feeding, tending, and milking the cows and generally being in charge of the dairy. Other economic opportunities included mining lead and granite. During the winter when they could not mine, Finnish miners worked on the lumber crews cutting and stacking logs in the north woods. Finnish ship workers loaded iron ore onto ships in Allouez during the warm months when ships could get through the ice to reach port. In the cities of Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha, Finnish workers worked in machine shops and tanneries with many serving as labor union leaders focusing on getting better wages and working conditions.


6. French Americans


Why did they leave their homeland?

The first French came temporarily to Wisconsin to work as fur traders, missionaries, and explorers. Fur was plentiful along the Great Lakes and native people were skilled in hunting fur-bearing animals, which attracted traders to develop trading relationships with Native Americans in the area. For missionaries who believed their calling was to convert native people to Christianity, the presence of many Native Americans precipitated their movement to Wisconsin. For explorers interested in learning more about the North American continent to use its resources for France's benefit, they were drawn to Wisconsin to explore the Great Lakes and other water routes. Some settlers came to live permanently. Since 1800 most French immigrants came from Canada rather than France.


Why did they move to Wisconsin?

The first French came temporarily for economic reasons, to earn money as fur traders or to the water ways in Wisconsin. Some French came to work as lumber workers and farmers. Missionaries also came to Wisconsin to convert native people to Christianity.


Where did they settle in Wisconsin?

French often settled on rivers because they worked along rivers. They scattered among communities like Cadott, Chippewa Falls, Coleman, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Lena, Marinette, Niagara, Oconto, Paoli, Prairie du Chien, Rice Lake, Somerset, Superior, and Two Rivers. Somerset is one of the most French communities, originally settled as a farming community. Today, French live all over Wisconsin.


How did they survive after moving to Wisconsin?

French fur traders and explorers developed relationships with different Native American tribes in order to learn survival skills. They had to learn the different languages and something of the cultures in order to trade successfully with the tribes. Traders first had to purchase goods such as iron rools, kettles, ornaments, and guns to trade for beaver skins from Native American nations. For those traders who were dishonest in their dealings with native people, they destroyed good relationships with the tribes. Explorers had to develop knowledge of the wilderness, and skills in making their own shelter, weapons, tools, and canoes. They had to learn how to hunt, fish, and cook. Explorers also needed to learn different Native American languages and customs in order to deal successfully with native people and learn from them. French Canadian farmers had to clear the land and plant crops, perhaps working as lumberjacks in the winter to earn additional income.


7. Dutch Americans


Why did they leave their homeland?

The Dutch left the Netherlands or Holland between 1845 and 1855. They left for economic reasons. Few jobs, small farms, and high taxes contributed to economic struggles. When fields were flooded and crops were damaged or lost, economic difficulties increased for farmers. Poor quality water also led to disease and death among the Dutch. When potato crops, a staple in the Dutch diet, were destroyed by disease in 1845 and 1846, there were severe food shortages among the people and food riots resulted. Some left the Netherlands for religious reasons. Protestants and Catholics both were unhappy with the government and the Catholics wanted religious freedom and the right to send their children to Catholic schools. Some Protestants disagreed with the Reformed Church and wanted to begin their own church. Another immigration wave began after the Civil War due to crowded living conditions in Holland.


Why did they move to Wisconsin?

For the Dutch who left the Netherlands for religious reasons, groups of Dutch immigrants were often led by pastors or priests to Wisconsin. Churches formed organizations to help emigrants travel to their new homes together. After they arrived in Wisconsin, they began communities and churches.


Where did they settle in Wisconsin?

Most Dutch settled in five areas: (1) Milwaukee and Franklin; (2) Alto; (3) Oostburg and Cedar Grove; (4) Little Chute and Holland; and (5) New Amsterdam. Dutch Catholics settled in the Fox River valley while Dutch Protestants settled in Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Dodge, Columbia, and La Crosse Counties.


How did they survive after moving to Wisconsin?

Moving together in a group and creating a Dutch community provided the social support Dutch immigrants needed. The communities also developed their own churches, including both Reformed and Christian Reformed congregations. Dutch immigrants were also able to purchase and clear land and farm.


8. African Americans


Why did they leave their homeland?

From 1500 to the 1800s, approximately 50 million Black Africans were kidnapped from West African countries and forced onto slave ships to travel to North America, South America, and islands in the Caribbean. There, they provided free labor in gold and silver mines and on plantations to grow crops like sugar. Most slaves in North America worked in the agricultural southern states where the cultivation of cotton, tobacco, and rice required a large labor force.


Why did they move to Wisconsin?

African Americans came to Wisconsin because of economic opportunities. Black trappers, guides, boatmen, and interpreters accompanied French and British fur traders to Wisconsin during the fur trade era. Later, when Wisconsin was under British control, they continued these positions and also served as soldiers. Sometimes slaves were forced to move to Wisconsin with their owners. Although the Ordinance of 1787 forbid slavery in the Northwest Territory, southern soldiers stationed at Fort Crawford and lead miners from southern states brought slaves into southwest Wisconsin in the 1820s. These slaves became free by 1850. After slaves were freed in southern states prior to the Civil War, they had to emigrate from their home state and some came to Wisconsin during this time. Many African Americans came to Wisconsin for freedom, educational, and economic opportunities. Some slaves escaped from slavery following the Underground Railroad with the last stations in Wisconsin and settled in Wisconsin, even after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 which allowed slave owners to capture slaves in "free" states like Wisconsin. A number of African Americans were attracted to the cheap farm land in Wisconsin and moved to begin farming their own land. After the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in 1865, many more African Americans moved to Wisconsin. During World War I and World War II, African Americans moved from the South to Milwaukee to work in factories to support the war effort. The majority of African Americans came to Wisconsin since the 1940s searching for better jobs and living conditions.


Where did they settle in Wisconsin?

Free Blacks founded the town of Chilton in the 1840s. Free Blacks settled the frontier community of Cheyenne Valley in Vernon County and escaped slaves or recently freed African Americans settled Pleasant Ridge in Grant County in southwestern Wisconsin before the Civil War. Milwaukee also became an urban center for African Americans.


How did they survive after moving to Wisconsin?

African Americans made a living through farming and factory work. In the Cheyenne Valley community, African Americans and European Americans integrated, intermarried, and cooperated in building schools and churches and developing the land. Although the school had no African American teachers, community members of both races socialized as well as worked together. It became the larger of the two communities. Men also worked as lumberjacks and at other jobs associated with wood such as barrel, shingle, and lath makers and stave cutters. Although there was little interracial marriage in the Pleasant Ridge community, it is believed the community created the first integrated school district in the state in 1870 with both European American and African American teachers.


9. Hmong Americans


Why did they leave their homeland?

The Hmong originally lived in the highlands of Laos, as one of 60 ethnic groups. Many fled their homeland due to war. The Hmong assisted U.S. soldiers, the Royal Laotian Army, and South Vietnamese soldiers in fighting the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. When the Americans withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, the Hmong feared reprisal from the Communists once they came to power. From 1975 through 1992, more than 100,000 Hmong escaped across the Mekong River into Thailand while approximately 200,000 remained in Laos. The Hmong lived in refugee camps in Thailand from a few years to over a decade and 100,000 to 120,000 now live in the U.S.


Why did they move to Wisconsin?

The Hmong largely migrated to Wisconsin because Wisconsin churches offered to help them settle in Wisconsin. The two main church groups were the U.S. Catholic Conference and the Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services. They helped the first Hmong families move to Wisconsin in the mid-1970s until the mid-1980s. Hmong who came after 1986 were sponsored by their relatives. Since Hmong prefer living with their relatives, once some families settled in Wisconsin, other family members moved to Wisconsin as well. In addition, Wisconsin has offered educational and economic opportunities.


Where did they settle in Wisconsin?

There are large Hmong communities in La Crosse, Sheboygan, Green Bay, Wausau, and Milwaukee.


How did they survive after moving to Wisconsin?

After the Hmong began immigrating to the United States in 1980, their most pressing needs were finding housing, food, and clothing, then they could focus on learning English, obtaining basic education, and finding employment. Surviving economically and culturally continues as a concern today. The Hmong remain among the poorest citizens in the United States with 70 percent receiving welfare benefits and only 2 percent obtaining an education beyond high school. The cultural tradition of cooperation has also helped Hmong people survive. If the Hmong want to begin a business, buy a shop, van, or house, they may ask others in the clan to help. Each family gives what it can with no expectation for paying back the money. Family members may also help out in the business or farm.


10. Latino/a Americans


Why did they leave their homeland?

Mexican Americans left Mexico because of limited economic opportunities. Many came from farms or "ranchos," small farms that do not produce enough to support a large family or large farms which belong to someone else. Mexican farm workers also had limited pay and educational opportunities. Although more schools are being built in rural areas in Mexico, children may still be unable to attend these schools because they are needed to help with farm work.


Puerto Ricans left Puerto Rico because of economic problems: low wages, high unemployment, and a high cost of living. Because Puerto Rico is an island, most goods must be imported which increases the cost of living.


Why did they move to Wisconsin?

Labor contractors went to Mexico during the 1920s and promised people steady work at good wages, sometimes replacing striking workers in Milwaukee industries. During the World War II Emergency Farm Labor Program, workers from Mexico were recruited to harvest crops because so many men were fighting in the war. Mexicans and Mexican Americans also migrated during this period from the southwest states to harvest crops and stayed to work in industries. Now more Mexican Americans work in factories than on farms. Young men may come to Wisconsin to work, earn money, and send it home to help their families. Some Mexicans came for social reasons. After relatives moved to Wisconsin, new Mexican immigrants moved to stay with relatives and find jobs.

Milwaukee factories encouraged Puerto Ricans to move to Wisconsin and work after World War II. Puerto Ricans were encouraged by labor recruiters beginning in the early 1950s to move to Milwaukee to work in factories, foundries, and tanneries. However, in the mid 1950s, workers lost their jobs and some returned to Puerto Rico.


Where did they settle in Wisconsin?

Most Mexican Americans live in Milwaukee where they worked in the tanneries, in foundries, on railroads, and in factories. Communities of Mexican Americans also settled in Racine, Kenosha and the rural areas around Madison.

Puerto Ricans settled in Milwaukee for economic reasons; they could work in tanneries and foundries.


How did they survive after moving to Wisconsin?

Migrant agriculture work on farms and canneries has helped Mexican Americans survive economically. Also, Mexican Americans often work in restaurants, food processing plants, tanneries, and foundries at minimum wage which barely ensures survival. Mexican Americans are taking advantage of educational opportunities and moving into jobs in community service, education, and other professions. Mexican Americans still face challenges in schools because English is not their first language and their culture is often not as highly regarded. Those who worked as migrant workers worked for low wages, lived in shacks with no running water or bathrooms, and had no medical insurance. Although some of these conditions have improved, those who engage in farm work still find the work very hard.


Puerto Ricans worked in tanneries, foundries, or in such low-paying jobs as janitors, car lot attendants, cooks, or kitchen helpers in Milwaukee. However, a growing number of Puerto Ricans are working as professionals in government and education. Puerto Ricans have created organizations in Milwaukee to work for better health care, education, and housing to help other Puerto Ricans. Bilingual programs in schools have helped Puerto Rican children maintain their first language and culture while learning English and life in the U.S. However, Puerto Ricans reported facing racial discrimination when they moved to Milwaukee which they had not encountered in Puerto Rico due to the mixture of Spanish, Taino Indian, and African cultures and the equal treatment of these different cultures.


11. Native Americans


Native people always lived in this part of the world and were the original inhabitants of Wisconsin. They migrated due to economic and political reasons on the continent, but were pushed off their homelands by the U.S. government in the 1830s. Generally the different tribes in Wisconsin lived off the land through fishing, hunting, gathering wild rice, and making maple sugar and growing crops. Six federally recognized tribes remain in Wisconsin. Units 2 and 3 deal more extensively with Native American culture and history.





Introduction To Unit

Teachers should provide opportunities for students to illustrate what they know about the topic prior to beginning the study in order to understand students' prior knowledge and questions they may have. For example, you may ask students to complete the K (Know) and W (Want to Learn) parts of an individual K-W-L (Learned) chart to show what they know about their family history. Students might write to express what they know about any of these questions on the chart: What was my family's homeland before living in Wisconsin? Why did my family leave their homeland? When did they leave? Why did my family move to Wisconsin? Where did they settle? Why? What has kept my family in Wisconsin? For the W part of the chart, they could include questions they were genuinely interested in exploring about their family history.


Students might also draw what they know about their family history portraying their knowledge through pictures as they respond to any of the above questions. Teachers could hold a conference with students to encourage students to explain their drawing.

At intervals during the unit, students add what they are learning to the L portion of the chart so that by the end, the chart provides a brief summary of what they learned.



Family History

Teachers introduce their own family histories as a way to encourage students to share their family histories. Offer a variety of activities for students to learn more about their family histories and options of how they might share what they learned. Perhaps a class publication of our family histories could be created with everyone writing at least one piece for the publication.


1. Provide students with general directions for investigating their family history, such as those given on pp. 34-35 in Do People Grow on Family Trees? Genealogy for Kids & Other Beginners. More extensive directions are provided in chapters 1 and 2 in Through the Eyes of Your Ancestors: A Step-by-Step Guide to Uncovering Your Family’s History, including computer programs for organizing one’s family history. Chapters 5 and 6 list major genealogical libraries in the U.S. and helpful Web sites for completing family history research.


2. As a prelude to interviewing family members about family history, have students interview one another about their backgrounds and family history. The interviewers introduce their interviewees to the class. See chapter 2 in History Comes Home: Family Stories Across the Curriculum for more specific directions.


3. Encourage students to interview a relative who is knowledgeable about family history.

Examples of questions to ask are on pp. 31-33 in November, 1980 issue of Cobblestone and pp. 33, 58-59, 60-63 in My Backyard History Book.

Example of procedures to follow and excerpts of interviews are given on pp. 16-23 in Tracing Your Roots, November, 1977 issue of Badger History and pp. 81-85, 88-90, 92-93. Additional suggestions for interviewing family members are included on pp. 56-57 in My Backyard History Book, chapter 2 in Keepsakes: Using Family Stories in Elementary Classrooms, and chapter 3 and pages 77-79 in History Comes Home: Family Stories Across the Curriculum.


4. After students complete interviews with family members about their family history, ask students to prepare charts or graphs of common elements, such as their country of origin, jobs family members have had, and their involvement in wars. See chapter 3 in History Comes Home: Family Stories Across the Curriculum for additional guidelines.


5. Invite students to complete a family chart or tree showing the student, their parents, and grandparents.

Steps in completing a family tree are given on pp. 13-15 and examples of pedigree chart, family sheet, and individual work sheet are given on pp. 44-49 in Tracing Your Roots, November, 1977 issue of Badger History.

An example of a family chart is shown on pp. 22-23 in November, 1980 issue of Cobblestone.

Another example of a direct-ancestry chart is on pp. 38-39 in The Great Ancestor Hunt.

Yet other examples of family trees, generation charts, and kinship charts are on pp. 24-27, 30-32, 34-40 in My Backyard History Book and pp. 89-91 in History Comes Home: Family Stories Across the Curriculum.

Examples of a pedigree chart, family group sheet, and family tree are given on pp. 36-39, 162-163 in Do People Grow on Family Trees? Genealogy for Kids & Other Beginners.

In order to accommodate diverse family structures, including adopted children, offer students different options for completing a family tree. These may include loving or caring trees, a tree with roots, family houses, a genogram, or wheel pedigree, which are all described in Lucy’s Family Tree.


6. Introduce students to the project of creating a family shield with symbols which represent their families. Encourage students to create a symbol to represent their homeland, another for how their families traveled to Wisconsin, another for their family members now, and a symbol representing a tradition or custom their family continues to practice.


7. Invite students to visit places in Wisconsin or the Midwest related to their family history with their family. They may want to take photographs to make a chart or poster to share with the class when they complete the visit.


8. Request students to complete an individual map tracing the route their family took from their place of origin to Wisconsin. On a world map, students could use yarn to connect the countries of origin to their current place in Wisconsin. Students may create self-portraits or masks of their faces to be placed around the world map with yarn connecting their masks to their family’s place of origin (see pages 10-11 in Keepsakes: Using Family Stories in Elementary Classrooms for directions). Lead a discussion in which students distinguish between the continents, countries, states, cities or towns of their homeland and where they settled in Wisconsin.

An example of a map showing the migration route for a family is shown on pp. 24-25 in the November, 1980 issue of Cobblestone and pp. 28-29 in My Backyard History Book.


9. Invite students to investigate the meanings of their name, including their given name (first and middle names) and surname (last name).

Some information on given names and surnames are given on pp. 22-33 in The Great Ancestor Hunt, pp. 38-40 in the November, 1980 issue of Cobblestone, pp. 12-15 in My Backyard History Book, chapter 4 in Through the Eyes of Your Ancestors: A Step-by-Step Guide to Uncovering Your Family’s History, and pp. 104-113, 155-161 in Do People Grow on Family Trees? Genealogy for Kids & Other Beginners.


10. Strongly encourage each student to write a summary of their family history or focus on specific family members such as parents or grandparents. They may choose to make their own book about their family history, but a class book could be made of these family histories as well.

Examples of family histories are shown on pp. 28-29, 30-31, and 34-42 in Tracing Your Roots, the November, 1977 issue of Badger History. For additional examples of written family histories, see the “All About Me” visit to Madison, Wisconsin, eastern ridges and lowlands region on the Wisconsin map, located on the Cultural Horizons of Wisconsin CD-Rom.


11. Invite students to interview family members who immigrated to the United States and Wisconsin. First model the process with one’s own family members or students’ parents, develop a list of questions as a class, and provide time for students to complete the interviews. After students have completed the interviews, the responses to the interview questions could be rewritten as first-person immigration stories. Students might also make puppets representing the immigrants and retell the immigration stories through puppets. For additional guidelines for this project, see chapter 6 in Keepsakes: Using Family Stories in Elementary Classrooms or the activity “Write an Immigration Story” from They Came to Wisconsin Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials.


12. Request students to create a personal timeline showing the important events which have happened each year of their life. When students share their time lines, they should explain why each event is important. Additional directions for personal timelines are provided in chapter 6 and pages 80-81 in History Comes Home: Family Stories Across the Curriculum.

Examples of personal timelines are shown on pp. 22-23 in The Great Ancestor Hunt and pp. 18-19 in My Backyard History Book.


13. Persuade students to create a family history timeline showing when important events happened in their families. They might begin with the present and go back as far as they can focusing either on individual years or decades (1990, 1980, 1970, 1960). Students could choose to create a class timeline or individual timelines. Additional guidelines for creating family history timelines are provided in chapter 6 in History Comes Home: Family Stories Across the Curriculum.


14. Encourage students to create a collage or time capsule of important objects in their lives so far and/or write about their own history.

An example of what to include in documenting one's own history is described on pp. 86-87 in Do People Grow on Family Trees? Genealogy for Kids & Other Beginners and pp. 20-21 in My Backyard History Book.


15. Invite students to investigate significant family artifacts or objects which are important in their families. These may include a pair of old baby shoes, old letters, photograph albums, or marriage or birth certificates.

An explanation of different family treasures is given in chapter 4 in The Great Ancestor Hunt and pp. 76-81 in Do People Grow on Family Trees? Genealogy for Kids & Other Beginners.


16. Ask students to bring three or four artifacts representing their family history which could be handled by others. The students should bring the objects in a grocery bag to keep their identity a secret until the class completes the activity. Model the activity by showing artifacts from your own family history and encourage students to explain what the objects are, who used them, where they were used, why they were used, and what the artifacts tell about those who used them. Explain that archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians often use artifacts to learn more about people's lives by observing and interpreting artifacts. Then distribute the bags of artifacts (with no identification on the objects or bag) to students so no one receives the bag that she or he brought. Ask the students to study the objects in order to explain what the objects are, who used them, where they were used, why they were used, and what the artifacts tell about those who used them. Ask the students to share their findings with the rest of the class, with the owner of the objects adding to the explanations. For a more complete description of this activity, see pages 5-10 in the Teacher's Guide and Student Materials for Digging and Discovery: Wisconsin Archaeology.


17. After students have brought several artifacts and other family history documents to class, encourage them to create a brief script in which they explain these objects. Then create two-minute videos in which each student explains the artifacts, their significance, and what they learned about their family history. For additional guidance on this project, see chapter 7 in History Comes Home: Family Stories Across the Curriculum.


18. Invite a family member to be a guest speaker for the class by sharing a part of the family history through pictures, artifacts, or stories.


19. Encourage students to investigate significant quilts or other textile arts in their families which reflect their family history. Students should find out if someone in their families quilts, makes paj ntaub, or creates other types of textile art which show family history or traditions.


20. Invite students to create a family history chart with xeroxed copies of photographs of family members and brief explanations of each person and their activity in the photograph.


21. Read aloud the poem "Both My Grandmothers" from the text Celebrating America: A Collection of Poems and Images of the American Spirit which describes the challenges of leaving their homeland and raising their families in another country. Lead a discussion with students regarding the meanings of the poem, students' reactions to the poem, and their views on the challenges of leaving one's homeland and living in another place.


22. Read aloud the book Seven Brave Women which depicts the author's family history, especially the women who lived during different wars, but did not fight in them. The author begins with her great-great-great-grandmother who lived during the Revolutionary War period and came to the United States from Switzerland and closes with the important things she does today as a young girl. Encourage students to find out more about their family members who did important things unrelated to fighting in wars.


23. Read aloud This is the Bird which describes a wooden bird carved by the author's great-great-great-great-great grandmother while she lived in a sod house and was passed down from mother to daughter. Each daughter cherished and protected the bird while coping with natural disasters or personal challenges. The author receives the bird from her mother as a symbol of her courage. Ask students to talk with their families about any artifacts which have been passed down from one generation to another and have special meanings. Invite students to describe or show these artifacts, explain their origins, and the special meanings they possess for their family.


24. Read aloud Grandfather’s Journey which portrays the author’s grandfather’s love for two countries: his homeland and the new country to which he immigrated. The author’s grandfather immigrated to the United States from Japan. Although he settled and lived most of his life in San Francisco, he longed for his homeland of Japan and eventually returned there. After moving to Japan, his memories of California stimulated a desire to return to his second country. Encourage students to discuss how immigrants can love and wish to live in two countries simultaneously.


Textile Arts And Family History

1. Read aloud The Whispering Cloth and Dia's Story Cloth which deal with the creation of story cloths documenting Hmong history and culture. Invite students to discuss: What did you learn about Hmong history and culture through the texts? What do you see in the story cloths? Why are the story cloths important? Why did Hmong people make them?


2. Invite Hmong women who sew traditional clothing decorated with paj ntaub to show and explain examples of such clothing and their use in the Hmong New Year celebration.


3. Introduce students to photographs of story cloths or examples of story cloths and have students work in small groups to develop their interpretations of the meanings of the story cloths.


4. Introduce students to examples of different forms of Hmong paj ntaub for students to observe differences among the flower cloths, clothing decorated with paj ntaub, Western products decorated with paj ntaub such as t-shirts or book marks, and story cloths. Discuss: What differences do you notice in the colors of fabrics used? What differences do you see in the designs and stitches used? What are the differences in the use of the paj ntaub?


5. After studying the importance of story cloths in Hmong history and culture, invite students to make their own story cloth illustrating their family’s emigration to Wisconsin. For additional ideas, see the activity “Create a Family Storycloth” from They Came to Wisconsin Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials. Encourage students to explain their finished story cloths and display them in the classroom or school.


6. Read aloud different trade book selections which deal with quilts and family history such as: The Crazy Quilt, My Grandmother's Patchwork Quilt: A Book and Pocketful of Patchwork Pieces, The Bedspread, The Patchwork Quilt, The Quilt Story, The Keeping Quilt, and Tar Beach. Encourage students to discuss how the texts show family history in quilts.


7. Invite students and their families to bring in and explain quilts which portray their family history. Bring in any quilts from your own family history to explain and begin the discussion.


8. Lead the class in making a paper class quilt showing important aspects of family history based on students' earlier research. Students could create individual blocks showing one important component of their family history. If members of a quilting guild are available, they could guide the class in transforming their paper quilt into a cloth quilt representing the family histories of all class members. For additional suggestions in completing a class or individual family history quilts, see pages 84-85 in History Comes Home: Family Stories Across the Curriculum or “Making a Paper Quilt” in They Came to Wisconsin Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials.


Cultural Group History

1. Read aloud or encourage students to read excerpts from May, 1995 issue of Cobblestone focusing on Polish Americans, from the March, 1994 issue of Cobblestone focusing on Irish Americans, the April, 1989 issue of Cobblestone focusing on Hispanic Americans, and the May 2001 issue of Cobblestone on German Americans which deal with why these groups emigrated from their homelands, what drew them to the U.S., and the challenges they experienced after immigrating into the U.S. Another picture book which portrays the motivations and challenges for Mexican Americans in emigrating from Mexico to the U.S. is My Diary from Here to There by Perez. The September/October, 2000 middle level learning supplement to Social Education provides additional background on the impact of the potato famine on families in Ireland. The January/February, 2001 middle level learning supplement to Social Education describes the discrimination and hardships Irish Americans faced once they arrived in the U.S. If students complete the reading, encourage them to provide a verbal and visual summary of what they learned. For advanced readers and teachers interested in a more comprehensive description of the potato famine in Ireland which precipitated Irish emigration to the United States, read Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850. The text is well-researched and provides a detailed account of Irish people’s devastation from the potato famine, especially for the lowest class, the farm laborers. Additional background reading for teachers and advanced readers is the text Bound for America: The Story of the European Immigrants. The author focuses on why immigrants came from Ireland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and eastern Europe and immigrants’ experiences after they settled in the United States. For a brief overview of Yankee migration to Wisconsin and European immigration to Wisconsin, teachers might read pages 79-84 “The Population Surges”in Wisconsin: The Story of the Badger State.


2. Summarize main ideas from Black Settlers in Rural Wisconsin which deals with the first African Americans who lived in Wisconsin. Also read about two ex-slaves in Middleton, Wisconsin in "Early Black Residents" from We Were Children Then, pp. 126-127. Read “The Great Migration” aloud which portrays the migration of African Americans from the South after World War I to find more opportunities in northern cities. The movement of African Americans to Wisconsin was part of this migration, especially for those looking for work in Milwaukee. A brief summary and map of African Americans’ movement to Wisconsin and where they settled is provided in Chapter 3: Migration and Settlement from Mapping Wisconsin History: Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials. Read aloud Now Let Me Fly: The Story of a Slave Family which illustrates the capture of Africans in Western African countries and their forced migration to the U.S. as slaves. Invite students to summarize what they learned about African Americans moving into Wisconsin verbally, in writing, or through drawings.


3. Read aloud excerpts or encourage students to read from these Badger History magazines which deal with why each ethnic group left their homeland, why they moved to Wisconsin, where they settled, cultural traditions, and contributions they made to the state:

The Dutch in Wisconsin (March, 1979)

French in Wisconsin (September, 1976)

The Finns in Wisconsin (January, 1974)

Norwegians in Wisconsin (January, 1975)

Germans in Wisconsin (March, 1974)

Poles in Wisconsin (January, 1979)

Irish in Wisconsin (March, 1978)

Hispanics in Wisconsin (January, 1980) 


Additional background information on when different cultural groups settled in Wisconsin is provided in Chapter 3: Migration and Settlement from Mapping Wisconsin History: Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials. English immigrants’ attraction to lead mining in southwest Wisconsin during the early 19th century is briefly described in Chapter 5: Mining and Shipping from Mapping Wisconsin History: Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials. An excellent map showing the lead mining area is also included. Following the reading, a chart might be created summarizing main ideas. Old World Wisconsin is a valuable teacher resource for additional background on different cultural groups’ emigration from their homelands, where they settled in Wisconsin, special traditions brought with them, and economic activities until the mid 20th century. A Proud Heritage: History of Dutch Settlements in the Lower Fox River Valley and A Proud Heritage: History of Welsh Settlement booklets provide brief additional information on why the Dutch and Welsh left their homelands and settled in Wisconsin. The revised and expanded text Germans in Wisconsin by Zeitlin provides significant background information on why Germans left their homeland and settled in Wisconsin, some of their early activities after settling in the state, characteristics of German culture, and their contributions to state industry, education, and government. Another revised and expanded text Norwegians in Wisconsin by Fapso, summarizes motivations for Norwegians to leave Norway and settle in Wisconsin, travel conditions during the mid-19th century, and how they adapted to life in a different country while retaining some of their traditions through religion and the ethnic press. Yet another revised and expanded text Swedes in Wisconsin by Hale, clarifies why Swedes left their homeland and settled in Wisconsin, where they settled, how they earned a living, and reasons for their rapid assimilation into American society. The revised and expanded Irish in Wisconsin by Holmes clarifies different time periods during which Irish immigrated to Wisconsin, factors precipitating their immigration and settlement in Wisconsin, characteristics of Irish culture, and their contributions to politics. Welsh in Wisconsin by Davies is another revised and expanded text describing when the Welsh immigrated to Wisconsin, reasons for leaving their homeland of Wales and settling in Wisconsin, the importance of religion, singing, and education to Welsh immigrants, and the strong desire to maintain their cultural identity. The revised and expanded text Danes in Wisconsin summarizes the early immigration patterns for the Danes, motivating factors for their emigration from Denmark and settlement in Wisconsin, their tendency to assimilate because of their small numbers, and the importance of the family to the Danish culture. Swiss in Wisconsin, the revised and expanded edition by Hale, clarifies where the Swiss settled in Wisconsin, in addition to the well-known New Glarus settlement in Green County, the relatively large percentage of Swiss settlers who settled in Wisconsin in the 19th century and early 20th century in comparison to other states, and the tendency for Swiss settlers to remain on farms and small towns until after World War I. Swiss immigrants were involved in dairy farming and developing the cheese industry, interacted with other ethnic groups, and many assimilated into majority culture in Wisconsin. The revised and expanded edition of Finns in Wisconsin by Knipping explains economic hardships and lack of political rights contributed to Finns’ motivation to leave Finland, travel on crowded ships, and settle in northern Wisconsin where they worked as miners, loggers, and farmers. Finnish farmers often built farms in the northern “cutover” lands, but the infertile soil was not conducive to growing crops. Finnish farmers frequently built many small buildings, including a sauna, each serving a specific purpose. Finns became involved in religious, temperance, workers, and consumers’ cooperative organizations.


4. Distribute copies of the New Badger History text They Came to Wisconsin to students and ask them to read Unit 1: Deciding to Leave (pages 6-29). Encourage students to summarize why people left their homes in Norway, Ireland, Russia, Mississippi, and other slave states within the United States and why they settled in Wisconsin. Use a graphic organizer or chart to summarize important ideas as a class. As a follow-up activity, ask students to argue reasons for and against people migrating or emigrating from their homes and immigrating to Wisconsin. For additional background on this activity, see “Debating the Decision” from They Came to Wisconsin Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials.


5. Encourage students to summarize different cultural groups who settled in Wisconsin, including Native nations and people from Europe, Africa, Asia, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Then create a timeline of when each group settled in Wisconsin. See “Create a Timeline” from They Came to Wisconsin Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials for an explanation of this activity. Invite students to speculate what immigrants might bring with them when they emigrate or migrate from their homes and settle in Wisconsin, given the time period they immigrated. Record the students’ ideas. Then create a list of important items immigrants needed for their new life in Wisconsin. See the activity “Packing a Trunk” from They Came to Wisconsin Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials for additional background.


6. Read aloud Two for America which portrays Anna Arnold, a 17-year-old Swiss woman, coming to Glarus, Wisconsin with her three-year-old niece. The text briefly portrays Anna's life in a rural Swiss area as well as adjusting to life in Wisconsin and the importance of family in both countries. Encourage students to share the meanings they constructed regarding the text, their reactions, and the challenges and joys Anna experienced living in Switzerland as well as Wisconsin.


7. Read aloud excerpts from an “American Letter” by Norwegian Immigrants, 1854 or encourage more capable readers to read excerpts to other students in small groups. Ask students to speculate on the purpose of the letter and why the author focuses so much on farming costs and wages. The letter is available from: http://www.shsw.wisc.edu/wisconsinstories/documents/norweigians/an.htm.


8. Read aloud My Grandmother's Journey which portrays the horrors of the Russian Revolution, Nazi invasion of Russia during World War II, being captured by German soldiers and made to work in German factories, and finally their escape to the U.S. Encourage students to analyze the text for reasons why Russian people left Europe during this period.


9. Take a field trip to Old World Wisconsin which portrays the lifestyle of Norwegians, Germans, Finnish, and Danish immigrants at the time they first immigrated to Wisconsin. A small African American pioneer area, Pleasant Ridge, contains two cemeteries, a church, and a chapel. The chapel holds exhibits detailing the stories of African American families who lived in this early integrated rural community. Persuade students to summarize what they learned about each immigrant group's experiences and add to the chart created earlier.


10. View Program 4 "Where We Came From" in the Exploring Wisconsin Our Home video (15 minutes) which deals with different ethnic groups in Wisconsin historically and currently, why they left their homeland, and where they settled in Wisconsin. After discussing what students learned from the video, they may add any new ideas to the chart.


11. Show maps depicting where the different ethnic groups settled in Wisconsin and the four major geographical regions areas of the state. Why might the different groups settle in those areas? What characteristics of the physical environment might have attracted them to the region? For example, why might the Finnish people settle in the northern highland region and the Germans settle in the eastern ridges and lowlands? (Small maps are located in the Badger History issues which focus on different cultural groups and on page 32 in Wisconsin by Bratvold. A larger map showing where different cultural groups lived in Wisconsin during 1940 is provided in Mapping Wisconsin History: Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials.) For current examples of European cultures celebrating their heritage in different parts of Wisconsin, encourage students to review the Cultural Horizons of Wisconsin CD-Rom. For example, they should visit “Longest Day of the Year” in the Lake Superior lowland region to learn more about Finnish cultural celebrations; visit “3 Generations of Polish Americans” from the northern highlands region to discover how the Polish celebrate their culture; visit “Belgian Days Parade” from the eastern ridges and lowlands to investigate how Belgians in Brussels keep their culture alive; and “Be Czech for a Day” from the western uplands region to understand how Czechs in Hillsboro maintain their cultural background.


12. Give students various maps of Wisconsin showing rivers, soil types, vegetation (before 1850), minerals mined, and growing seasons. Ask students to imagine they are immigrants settling in the state for the first time. They should work in small groups, decide where they would like to live, and the reasons for their choice. Encourage students to notice similarities and differences in the chosen locations and reasons for the different groups. See Activity 1: Where Would You Like to Live? (pages 1-8) from Learning from the Land: Wisconsin Land Use Teacher’s Guide and Student Material for maps and additional background.


13. Introduce students to the music of different ethnic groups by playing examples of songs, inviting students to sing along, and encouraging students to discuss their reactions to the music. Students might share possible meanings of the songs, how the music makes them feel, their observations of the tempo and mood of the music, and the overall intent of the music. Consult these resources:


African American: Be a Friend: The Story of African American Music in Song, Words and Pictures, Lift Every Voice and Sing (the Negro national anthem), and How Sweet the Sound: African American Songs for Children.


Latino/a: De Colores and Other Latin American Folk Songs for Children.


Polish: polka music and dance


Irish: Irish folk songs


German: see "Germans and Music" in Badger History issue focusing on Germans in Wisconsin which deals with the different types of music which are a part of German culture and history. Also listen to German emigrant songs sung in German on Nun ade, du mein lieb' Heimatland. . . tape. The English translation of the lyrics and background information on the songs are included in an accompanying booklet.


14. Discuss with students the difference between a refugee (someone who is escaping persecution in one's homeland, an immigrant (one who chooses to leave one's homeland), an indentured servant (one who agrees to work for a family for a specific period of time in exchange for the cost of the immigrant's passage) and an involuntary or kidnapped immigrant (one who is forced against one's will to leave one's homeland). Who are examples of refugees, immigrants, indentured servants, and involuntary immigrants? How were their lives different?


15. Read aloud "Grandpa's Pride" in We Were Children Then, pp. 134-135 which deals with reasons for German immigrants leaving Germany, coming to Wisconsin, and living as immigrants in Wisconsin. Discuss the challenges and joys of leaving one's homeland and beginning a new life in another place as portrayed in the reading.


16. Students should summarize what they learned about the theme of ethnic group immigration into Wisconsin by adding to their K-W-L chart, preparing an original chart, drawing, song, creative drama vignette, or a piece of writing (historical fiction, historical fantasy, informational text, poem, or personal narrative).


Experiences Of Leaving One’s Homeland, Traveling To The U.S., And Entering The U.S.

1. Read aloud, as a class, or in small groups "A Crossing Dark and Dangerous" in the December, 1982 issue of Cobblestone which deals with the difficulties of immigrants traveling from Europe in steerage to the U.S. Another text which portrays the challenges of this journey is So Far from Home: The Diary of Mary Driscoll, an Irish Mill Girl, especially the section “Atlantic Ocean.” Yet another short chapter book is The Cat Who Escaped from Steerage which describes the conditions for steerage passengers on steamships in contrast to those for third-class and first-class passengers. The picture book Dreaming of America: An Ellis Island Story provides a more uplifting depiction of a teenage Irish girl traveling with her two younger brothers to be reunited with their parents in America. After reading, students individually should write about the feelings of immigrants as they endured this experience, share their writing with a partner or in small groups, then groups share their responses with the class. Students may then add to their original writing ideas they gained from group discussion.


2. Read aloud Coming to America: The Story of Immigration which depicts many different ethnic/cultural groups (including the forced immigration of Africans as slaves), why they came to the U.S., the periods of time during which each group came, some of the difficulties they endured on the journey, the inspections they experienced at Ellis Island, and the tendency for different ethnic/cultural groups to settle close together. Although the author explains that Native Americans migrated from Asia to Alaska (which native people refute), she does acknowledge the hardships which immigrants caused for native people. Encourage students to share what new ideas they learned about immigration from the text.


3. Read aloud Watch the Stars Come Out which portrays the emigration of two children from Europe to join their parents and sibling already immigrated to the U.S. When Jessie Came Across the Sea is another text which describes the immigration of a young Jewish girl from a poor village in eastern Europe who worked for several years to earn money to send for her grandmother who remained in Europe. Yet another text is Streets of Gold which depicts the oppression of Jews in Russia precipitating their immigration to the United States. The story illustrates the suffering of one Jewish family in Russia, their journey to America, and the difficulties and opportunities they faced in their new homeland. Discuss important ideas about the challenges facing immigrants, including leaving one's homeland with only part of the family, entering the U.S., and working for survival after immigrating.


4. Select a few picture books or chapter books which focus on immigration, ask your students to select one to read, and form literature circles for reading and discussing important ideas regarding immigration. Such texts may include American Too by Bartone, My Grandmother’s Journey by Cech, A Russian Jewish Family by Leder, A Guatemalan Family by Malone, A Kurdish Family by O’Connor, Good-bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong by Park and Park, Landed by Lee, or My Diary from Here to There by Perez. See “Using Literature Circles to Teach About Immigration” by VanFossen for a more complete description of this teaching strategy.


5. Read aloud excerpts from “The Journey of an Immigrant Family from The Netherlands to Milwaukee in 1854" published in Learning about Wisconsin: Activities, Historical Documents, and Resources Linked to Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Social Studies in Grades 4-12. Ask students to listen for the difficulties and celebrations during the journey, then work with a partner or small group to summarize the main challenges and joys of this experience. Make a class list of significant difficulties and celebrations facing immigrants as they traveled to the U.S.


6. Distribute copies of the New Badger History text They Came to Wisconsin to students and ask them to read part of Unit 2: Making the Journey. Focus on the different methods of travel for immigrants as they traveled to the United States and to Wisconsin (pages 44-73). Contrast the travel methods for European immigrants with Mexican Americans from Mexico, the Mohicans from the eastern part of the United States, and African Americans from the southern part of the United States. For additional background on the importance of water transportation for immigrants, see chapter 3 in Working with Water: Wisconsin Waterways. On a world map, draw the routes each group took from their homes to Wisconsin.


7. Encourage students to investigate the significance of the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of welcome for new immigrants. See "Our Most Famous Immigrant" in the December, 1982 issue of Cobblestone. Read the poem "The New Colossus," the inscription on the Statue of Liberty in Celebrating America: A Collection of Poems and Images of the American Spirit. Discuss the meanings of the poem.


8. Read aloud excerpts from Ellis Island: Doorway to Freedom which depicts the process immigrants experienced of moving through Ellis Island, including the physical exams and questions asked of new immigrants. Encourage students to discuss what new immigrants might be thinking and feeling as they moved through Ellis Island.


9. Read aloud or have students read individually or in small groups Ellis Island: New Hope in a New Land which portrays the hardship of immigrants who travel in steerage, the medical examinations, the responses to questions about marital status, occupation, plans for work, amount of money brought into the country, plans to meet anyone, and the exchange of money. The text also briefly describes different reasons why people came to the U.S., the creation of Ellis Island, changes in immigration laws, and the creation of Ellis Island museum. Students might discuss: What did you learn about Ellis Island from the text? What is your reaction to all the test Ellis Island officials put the new immigrants through? Why were these important? Why were they unnecessary?


10. Read aloud or have students read individually or in small groups If Your Name was Changed at Ellis Island which shows the significance of Ellis Island as the entry point for the majority of immigrants into the U.S. around the turn of the century. It describes the medical examinations, mental tests, legal inspection, reading test, job and monetary requirements immigrants must pass before being admitted to the U.S. Encourage students to summarize the perspective of Ellis Island officials and the perspective of new immigrants regarding the process of checking new immigrants at Ellis Island.


11. Summarize important points about the creation of Ellis Island and Angel Island, the two main immigration stations in the U.S., in "The Immigration Stations" in the January, 1983 issue and the history of Ellis Island described in “Ellis Island: Gateway to America” in the February, 2006 issue of Cobblestone. Read aloud the picture book Landed by Lee to learn more the challenges for Chinese immigrants entering the U.S. through Angel Island after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. Encourage students to discuss their views on whether these entry points were necessary for admitting new immigrants to the U.S.


12. Read or summarize important points about the process and reasons for new immigrants' names being changed when they entered the U.S. in "What's in an American Name?" in the January, 1983 issue of Cobblestone. Invite students to speculate on how new immigrants might feel about having their name changed.


13. Create a simulation to enable students to have some of the experience of traveling in steerage to the U.S. and moving through Ellis Island. Encourage students to first write about what they learned and felt as a result of the simulation, then discuss ideas in small groups, then lead a class discussion.


14. Invite students to engage in an on-line simulation, “The Virtual Ellis Island Tour,” which portrays four characters leaving their homelands of Greece, Germany, Poland, and Spain in the early 20th century, traveling in steerage, and entering the United States through Ellis Island. At Ellis Island the characters must travel through the waiting room, the initial document station, the personal document station, the education and occupation station, the character station, the communication station, the health station, and the physical abilities station.


15. As a final summary of this theme, persuade students to prepare a chart, drawing, or a piece of writing (historical fiction, historical fantasy, informational text, poem, or personal narrative) to illustrate the experiences of immigrants leaving their homeland, traveling to the U.S., and entering the U.S.



Life As Recent Immigrants

1. Show the video Wisconsin Homesteads which portrays the first European American settlers' lives in Wisconsin. The video depicts how Native people assisted European Americans in surviving in Wisconsin; the importance of water in the development of the first towns; the different types of homes the first European Americans built; how neighbors helped one another in building homes; and descriptions of the early log cabins. Encourage students to draw pictures of what they think European Americans' first homes looked like after watching the video.


2. Distribute copies of the New Badger History text They Came to Wisconsin to students and ask them to read Unit 3: Settling in Wisconsin (pages 74-111). Compare the experiences of the Mohicans as they began their lives in Wisconsin with Europeans, African Americans from the South, and Hmong who originally settled in other states, but chose Wisconsin. List similarities and differences among these groups. The video “Program 5: Coming to Wisconsin” (approximately 15 minutes) from the series Investigating Wisconsin History also reviews the pull of land and jobs for Europeans, African Americans, and Native American nations, in particular the Oneida, Brotherton, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican.


3. Invite Clarence Jungwirth to speak about the immigration of Germans to Wisconsin and especially to Oshkosh, what drew them to Wisconsin, experiences in their daily lives, and their work in the lumber industry. Prior to Clarence's visit, encourage students to brainstorm questions on these topics to ask during his talk. At the close of the talk, persuade students to write thank you letters to Clarence summarizing what they learned from his presentation.


4. Show the video The Germans of Wisconsin (18 minutes) which portrays reasons which attracted German immigrants to Wisconsin, where they settled in the state, the different occupations they engaged in, and their early traditions and lifestyles. Ask students to summarize ways German immigrants continued their traditions in Wisconsin, ways they adapted to life in a new land, and important contributions they made to Wisconsin history.


5. Show the video Swedes of Wisconsin (14 minutes) which depicts some of the reasons for Swedes leaving their homelands and settling in Wisconsin, the hardships they experienced on the journey and after arriving in the state, where they settled, and several of their accomplishments. Encourage students to discuss if they thought the Swedes’ accomplishments made the hardships they experienced in immigrating to and settling in Wisconsin worth all they endured.


6. Read aloud excerpts from First Farm in the Valley: Anna's Story about recent Polish immigrants' everyday life on a farm in a valley in Wisconsin with several other Polish families. Lead a discussion of ways the family continued the Polish culture while adapting to life in Wisconsin. The sequel to this text is Winding Valley Farm: Annie’s Story, which could also be read aloud and analyzed for the continuation of Polish traditions during the second generation of Polish families living in Wisconsin during the early 20th century.


7. In small groups or as a class read They Sought a New World: The Story of European Immigration to North America which provides a good overview of why immigrants left Europe and came to North America, the challenges of finding work and earning a living from it, the experiences of farming, the roles of women, men, and children in surviving, and methods of maintaining cultural traditions in a new land. Invite students to share the meanings they constructed from the text and beautiful illustrations, what they believe the author's purpose might have been in creating the text, and what they learned about immigration from the text.


8. Read aloud Homeplace which illustrates the building of a house and creating a farm by a great-great-great-great grandfather in 1810, the activities within the house and around the farm, and how the descendants changed the house and farm in later generations. Invite students to react to the text by sharing the changes they noticed in the home, farm, and in the people's lifestyle.


9. Read aloud Seven Brave Women which portrays the author's parents' foremothers, the time period in which they lived, and the ways these women were brave despite their absence in wars which occurred during each time period. Ask students to notice how each woman was brave as they listen to the story and think of how their own foremothers might have been brave when they first moved to Wisconsin.


10. In small groups read Little House in the Big Woods which represents the everyday life of a family in Wisconsin. The family's home is rather isolated from other homes in a heavily wooded area before land was cleared for many farms. The text portrays the seasonal activities of growing and preserving food and the different responsibilities of the mother, father, and daughters.


Discuss who the narrator is in the text, whose perspective the text is written from, evidence for this conclusion, and how the text might be different with a different narrator and different perspective.


Develop character webs to analyze the traits of Laura, Mary, Ma, and Pa and give examples to support each trait from the text. You may include dialogue or actions to support each trait.


Analyze the text for what it tells readers about the themes of the foods, clothing, work, recreation, roles of women, men, and children, homes, holidays, and the physical environment of early European American immigrants in Wisconsin. The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories provides additional information on the foods of early immigrants. A photograph of a log cabin (built to replicate the original log cabin) on part of the Ingalls homestead in Pepin, Wisconsin is included in the February, 1986 issue of Cobblestone which focuses on Laura Ingalls Wilder: Growing Up on the Prairie. Make charts, webs, or diagrams for each theme.


Analyze the text for the hardships as well as the joys Laura and her family experienced as settlers.


Analyze the text for prejudicial phrases for Native Americans which reflect the lack of understanding and racist views that many immigrants had for Native Americans. For example, in chapter 3 Pa tells "The Story of Pa and the Voice in the Woods" in which Pa claims to stalk wild animals and Indians and then says the "woods seemed full of wild men." Pa seems to imply that Indians are wild men. Do you think that is what he meant? Why would Pa think that? Is that an accurate description of Indians? How might Indians view immigrants living on the land that was originally theirs? Another example is Ma baking "rye'n'Injun bread" for Christmas in chapter 4. Why might this bread have the name "Injun?" How might Indians feel about European immigrants naming a food "Injun?" What might be a more appropriate name? See pp. 86-87 in The Little House Cookbook for a more complete explanation of this bread.

Investigate how the author came to write the Little House in the Big Woods and other background information on the author Laura Ingalls Wilder. See Laura Ingalls Wilder: Growing Up in the Little House by Giff and Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography by Anderson (especially comprehensive) for additional information. Another biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, her life experiences, and the circumstances which led her to become a children’s book author is Little Author in the Big Woods: A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder by McDonough. Yet another book about Laura Ingalls Wilder provides a more comprehensive description of the hardships she faced growing up and how she came to write books about her childhood is Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Fraser.


Sing "Turkey in the Straw" from Gonna Sing My Head Off! American Folksongs for Children which is one of the songs Pa played on his fiddle for square dances. Square dances were one means of recreation and socializing for early immigrants. Perhaps students might learn a square dance (with the assistance of the music teacher).


Invite students to read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder to compare Almanzo’s experiences of growing up on a farm in New York about the same time that Laura grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. Compare how the Almanzo family addressed the themes of foods, clothing, work, recreation, roles of women, men, and children, homes, holidays, and the physical environment of early European American immigrants in New York with those of Laura’s family.


11. Invite struggling readers to read the picture books based on the chapter book Little House in the Big Woods. Show the illustrations to the class and ask students to compare their mental pictures of the chapter book with the pictures created by the illustrator. Encourage students to explain new insights they gained from the picture books. These books include: A Little House Birthday, Christmas in the Big Woods, Dance at Grandpa’s, The Deer in the Wood, Going to Town, Summertime in the Big Woods, Winter Days in the Big Woods, and Sugar Snow.


12. For additional background information on 18th century foods, farming practices, food preservation methods, clothing styles, wool processing, and house construction, see Social Studies Excursions, K-3: Powerful Units on Food, Clothing, and Shelter. Especially helpful lessons are: “Changes in Food Over Time,” “Changes in Farming Over Time,” “Development of the Food Industry,” “Changes in Clothing Over Time,” “Changes in Children’s Clothing Over Time,” “Land to Hand: The Story of Wool,” and “Progress in Shelter Construction.”


13. Lead a field trip to Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, Wisconsin to learn more about activities featured in Little House in the Big Woods, including “Threshing Days,” “Making a Quilt,” “Tending the Crops,” “Listening to Fiddling Music,” “Churning Butter,” “Washing Clothes,” Grooming Horses and Oxen,”and “Cutting Wood.” Ask students to illustrate in words and drawings what they learned from these activities.


14. Lead a field trip to the State Historical Museum in Madison to participate in the docent-led programs "The Immigrant State," “Life on the Farm,” and “Frontier Life.” Each program offers students hands-on experiences. “Frontier Life” shows how Wisconsin looked 200 years ago and who was living and working in the state at that time. It deals with early 19th century Wisconsin, including the roles of lead mining, military, land surveying, government, banking, and transportation in Wisconsin’s growth. “Life on the Farm” allows students to handle objects related to 19th century farming in Wisconsin and childhood activities on the farm. “The Immigrant State” focuses on what life was like for immigrants coming to Wisconsin during the 19th century. The program allows students to visit a 19th century dock and consider the decisions individuals and families made before coming to Wisconsin. Students also view trunks filled with objects immigrants brought with them and think about why these objects were chosen. Journal accounts of immigrants’ journey from their homeland to Wisconsin are also available for students to use during the program. Following the field trip, solicit students' summaries of and reactions to what they learned from the programs.


15. Encourage students to read individually or in small groups Immigrant Kids which describes the experiences of families including children as they first immigrated into the U.S. and settled in tenements in New York City around the turn of the century, attended schools at the time, and often worked to help support their families. The games children and youth played at the time usually occurred in the streets because of lack of space. While the text contains photographs of New York City immigrant life, this illustrates life for poor immigrants in cities as well as pressures immigrants might have experienced to move west to states such as Wisconsin for a better life and more space. Invite students to explain their reaction to living during this period and how such a lifestyle might have influenced people to move west.


16. Listen to the folksong "Away to Wisconsin" printed in the November, 1973 Badger History issue focusing on Wisconsin Folklore, which tells about the desires of European Americans on the east coast to move west into Wisconsin. Discuss the meanings of the song. In the fourth verse, the wife warns of the dangers of Indians in Wisconsin. Why might this be a concern for new immigrants? What might the Native American perspective on this song be? Discuss the purposes and origins of folksongs in "Collecting Folksongs in Our State" in the same issue.


17. Show the video An Apron Full of Stars (17 minutes) which deals with the Wade family's migration from Massachusetts to Green Bush and their efforts to settle Green Bush in the 19th century. It also deals with the importance of the Herling Sawmill and the Jung Wagon Company to the town. Encourage students to discuss what they learned about early immigrant life from the video.


18. Show the video Pioneer Women's Diaries (15 minutes) which includes excerpts from pioneer women's diaries explaining the difficulties of traveling west, clearing land, building a house, having little furniture, living through storms, surviving childbirth, taking care of babies and young children while still doing housework, and keeping warm in winter. On the other hand, they found joy in the health of their children, in improving their home, and in the beautiful landscape. Discuss with students: Why would women leave their homes for an unknown life in Wisconsin? What were some of the difficulties women experienced? Do you think these difficulties were worth it for these women and their families?


19. Read aloud excerpts from "Part I: Wisconsin's First Women and the Wisconsin Frontier" in Uncommon Lives of Common Women to illustrate many aspects of the lives of the first European American women living in Wisconsin. Some of the aspects of daily life include the challenge of living in primitive first log cabins; the numerous family health problems women coped with; the loneliness due to isolation from one's family; the different responsibilities and kinds of work women often did; and women's ability to own property in the 19th century. Encourage students to summarize what they learned from the reading and their reactions to life during this period.


20. Encourage students to read about Rosaline Peck, the first European American woman to live in Wisconsin, pp. 26-28 in Wisconsin Women: A Gifted Heritage and on pages 54-59 in the September, 1973 issue of Badger History dealing with Wisconsin Territorial Days. Encourage students to summarize and react to all the responsibilities women had at this time. Another means of learning about Rosaline Peck is through the play “Rosaline Peck: Madison’s First Woman Settler” from the resource Wisconsin History on Stage: Scripts for Grades 4 Through 8. Ask students to assume different roles and read aloud the play, then discuss the characteristics Rosaline showed in this play about her life.


21. Invite students to explore what African Americans' lives were like in Wisconsin. Read about Ann Bicknell Ellis and her partner Jim Ellis on pages 18-19 in Uncommon Lives of Common Women who settled in Fort Atkinson as the only African Americans after the Civil War. What might have been the challenges of being the only African American family in a small town?


22. Take a field trip to Heritage Hill Living History Museum in Green Bay which has recreated buildings and historical actors to portray a French trading post and Jesuit missionaries' work in 1672-1825; a small town in Wisconsin in 1871; Fort Howard, a military fort in 1836; and a Belgian Farm in 1905. With the students, brainstorm questions to ask the actors as they have studied the era they are portraying and can provide additional background information.


23. Show students pictures of early log cabins to students and encourage students to observe the pictures carefully and speculate about what these cabins tell us about the lives of the first immigrants who settled in Wisconsin. Notice the size of the cabin, building materials, windows, and doors. What does these observations tell us about the warmth and coolness of the cabins and the space for living activities and furniture inside? See Wisconsin: The Way We Were for photographs. Another source of sketches of log cabins is The Early Family Home.


24. Show the video Life on a Wisconsin Farm (18 minutes long) which shows farming life among early Wisconsin immigrants. The setting is Old World Wisconsin and historical actors portray German and Finnish immigrants milking cows; separating cream and milk; working in the vegetable garden; children attending school; blacksmith making tools; preparing cloth from flax; and baking bread in a bake oven.


25. Read aloud The Day They Gave Babies Away about the true story of the Eunson family, Scottish immigrants who settled on the Fox River in the 1850s. When both parents died of diphtheria, the oldest child found homes for his five younger siblings among families in the community. Encourage students to share their reactions to the book and the effects of diseases on people's lives at that time.


26. Read aloud excerpts from We Were Children Then, Volumes I and II about German immigrant's arrival in Wisconsin, everyday life for immigrants, challenges of immigrant life, the challenges of clearing land for farming, available transportation before cars, farming activities, the preservation and preparation of food, various rooms and equipment in farm houses, the experiences of teaching, attending, or being forced to drop out of school, home remedies used for treating different illnesses and injured, early grocery stores, and forms of entertainment. Encourage students to summarize as well as react to these vignettes.


27. Show students the texts 19th Century Clothing, Children's Clothing of the 1800s, Games from Long Ago, A Child's Day, and The Kitchen, 19th Century Girls and Women, A One-Room School, and The General Store. The narrative and beautiful illustrations and photographs depict many aspects of everyday life for immigrants in the 1800s such as some of the clothing, work, and roles for women and girls of this era; chores children completed; games children played; prevalent kitchen furniture, tools, and activities; typical Sunday activities; the goods, function, and activities of community general stores; and school life for children. Additional texts which include photographs of typical activities on a pioneer farm in 1880 and a village general store in the early 1900s are Pioneer Farm: Living on a Farm in the 1880s and General Store: A Village Store in 1902. Students may read the texts independently and refer to them as they draw illustrations of immigrant life in the 1800s.


28. Encourage students to read What Was It Like Before Electricity?, What Was It Like Before Television, What Was It Like Before the Telephone?, and In Grandma's Day which describe in simple language what life was like before electricity became available in the 1920s and 1930s. The first text depicts the lights, cleaning tools, heating methods, laundry tools, and recreational activities before electricity; the second explains the many forms of recreation before television such as games, collection activities, sewing, toys, music, and movies/shows; the third text shows the forms of communication used prior to the telephone such as letters and telegraphs; and the fourth text illustrates transportation, clothing, toys, and recreation in the early 20th century. Invite students to give their evaluation of life in the 1920s and 1930s.


29. Bring in artifacts from immigrants' lives (ask students' families to contribute or ask to borrow artifacts from an antique store) such as old irons, washboards, butter churns, plows, or planters. The Oshkosh Public Museum also has educational kits containing artifacts of Wisconsin pioneer homes from the 1840s, including: candle mold, apple corer, lantern, snuffer, sander, quill pen, pig scraper, triangle, hoe, coffee mill, washboard, clay mug and jar, and molded candles. Provide opportunities for students to handle the artifacts and engage in inquiry through such questions as:

How would you describe these objects?

What materials are they made from?

When were they made? How can you tell?

What is their purpose?

How are they used to accomplish their purpose?

How well do they do what they are designed to do?

What do these objects tell us about the people who used them?

What do these objects tell us about the people's culture?

How have these objects changed from the past to the present?


30. Bring in examples of foods eaten by Wisconsin immigrants in the 19th century. Encourage students to speculate what each of the foods are, how the immigrants obtained these foods and why these foods were so prevalent. Invite students to taste. Such foods might include:

Foods Grown Wild and Gathered: grapes, cranberries, blackberries, cherries, walnuts, and maple sap made into maple syrup or maple candy

Foods Introduced by Native People: pumpkins (made into pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread or eaten plain) and corn (made into corn meal, cornbread, popped corn, and parched corn prepared by placing dried, shucked corn in a pan with bacon fat and cooking until corn puffed).

Foods Grown or Produced by Immigrants: apples (made into applesauce, apple cider, and apple pies), wheat (made into bread), milk (made into butter and cheese), and oats (made into gruel).

Foods Brought into Wisconsin by Immigrants: apple seeds, wheat seeds, oats seeds, cows, pure chocolate (made into hot chocolate or other baked goods or eaten plain), and brick tea (a small scraping made a cup of tea).

The Bradley Company of the Fox is a good source for parched corn, pure maple sugar cakes, pure chocolate, gruel, brick tea, dipped and molded candles


31. Invite a member of the Fox Valley Spinning Guild to demonstrate how wool is processed after being sheared from a sheep to being spun into yarn. Encourage students to speculate the amount of time Wisconsin immigrants needed to make clothes. Following the demonstration, ask students to draw or pantomime the steps involved in processing wool.


32. Bring in pictures or photocopies of photographs from immigrants' lives without any captions and engage in inquiry with students with the pictures. One source of pictures is 19th Century Skills and Crafts (folder of pictures and drawings) which portrays building homes, making soap, churning butter, washing clothes, and weaving cloth. Another source is the text Portraits of the Past: A Photographic Journey Through Wisconsin which depicts 19th century homes in rural areas, small town life, different kinds of work, social activities, the first stores, clothes of the period, and urban life. A third source is the packet of pictures and teacher’s guide Another Look: Wisconsin Photographs Past and Present. This packet contains pictures of children and adults engaging in different recreational activities in the 19th century, such as playing on a carpet, bicycling, and having a picnic. The teacher’s guide provides background on the photographs and suggests important aspects of the photographs. This activity encourages students to observe carefully, speculate, use background knowledge and any other clues to respond to the questions. This activity also stimulates interest in learning more about the activities portrayed in the pictures. Develop questions such as:

What seems to be happening in the picture?

Who seems to be engaging in the activity?

Why are the people engaged in this activity?

What tools and materials are the people using?

What skills do the people need to complete the activity?

What does this picture tell you about the values, beliefs, and/or lifestyle of the people portrayed?


33. Ask students to read chapter 3 “Sailing to Settlement” in Working with Water: Wisconsin Waterways to learn more about how immigrants traveled by water to Wisconsin and settled near waterways. Encourage students to summarize the differences in how Native people, Yankees, and European immigrants traveled on and changed waterways.


34. Read aloud American Too which portrays the desire of some immigrants to assimilate or "fit in" with "American" culture. The main character is an Italian girl, is teased by other girls because of her traditional Italian beliefs and ways, and tries to change characteristics of her life which are Italian. Discuss the challenges of maintaining one's culture while dealing with the pressures to give up one's culture.


35. Students could read individually or in small groups Where Did Your Family Come From? A Book About Immigrants which introduces children who immigrated to the U.S. from Russia, Mexico, Italy, and Korea, what led them to leave their homeland, what attracted them to the U.S., and their experiences after they arrived in the U.S. Another book which portrays children from different backgrounds, how they got to the U.S., and the challenges and joys of life in the U.S. is Got Me a Story to Tell: A Multiethnic Book: Five Children Tell About Their Lives. Children from El Salvador, China, Fiji Islands, and the Philippines are portrayed as well as an African American. Additional texts which could be used to portray the experiences of refugee families as they escape from their homeland, travel to the U.S., and struggle to survive in the U.S. include A Guatemalan Family, A Russian Jewish Family, A Kurdish Family, A Hmong Family, My Diary from Here to There, The Color of Home, Coming to America: A Muslim Family’s Story, and Hannah is My Name (which portrays a family who immigrated to America from Taiwan). Students may also read the picture book I Hate English! which deals with a young Chinese immigrant girl’s reluctance to speak English for fear of losing her Chinese language and background or Good-bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong by Park and Park about a young girl’s reluctance to leave her home in Korea for a new home in the U.S. The experiences of refugees who escaped their homelands to escape danger could be compared and contrasted with the experiences of immigrant families who chose to migrate to the U.S. hoping for a better life. For background information on contemporary immigration with the majority of immigrants coming from Central America and Asia and the challenges they face, see “The New Immigration: Challenges Facing Social Studies Professionals” in the November/December, 1998 issue of Social Education.


36. As a way of introducing the discrimination and prejudice immigrant children often experience after moving to the U.S., small groups of students might read and discuss Who Belongs Here? An American Story which depicts the discrimination a Cambodian child encountered, Aekyung's Dream which represents the discrimination a Korean child faced, Angel Child, Dragon Child which illustrates the discrimination against a Vietnamese child in school, and Molly's Pilgrim which portrays the prejudice a Russian Jewish child endured in school. Each group can select a way to illustrate the main ideas of the book for the rest of the class.


37. Encourage students to listen to, sing, and study the lyrics of the folksong "My Name is McNamara" in Folksongs Out of Wisconsin: An Illustrated Compendium of Words and Music and Badger History issue of Irish in Wisconsin which deals with the difficulty an Irish person had in finding a job. Discuss the possible reasons for prejudice against Irish immigrants.


38. As a method of introducing the racial discrimination for African Americans in Wisconsin, encourage students to review the poster on Wilbur and Ardie Halyard from Advocates for Change (classroom poster set), African Americans who had difficulty finding banks willing to lend money to African Americans for buying homes. They solved the problem by organizing Columbia Savings and Loan to lend money for African Americans to purchase homes, start businesses, and build churches. Discuss reasons for banks' refusal to lend money to African Americans.


39. Discuss with students why people already living in the U.S. did not want new immigrants or refugees immigrating into the U.S. (see pp. 28-29 in Do People Grow on Family Trees? Genealogy for Kids & Other Beginners).


40. Discuss with students how immigrants became U.S. citizens and the benefits and drawbacks of becoming U.S. citizens (see p. 125 in Do People Grow on Family Trees? Genealogy for Kids & Other Beginners).


41. Encourage students to write, draw, dramatize, or create music to illustrate their understanding of Wisconsin immigrant life. Include women's, men's, and children's activities.



Family Involvement Activities

1. Meet with each family prior to the unit offering either a meeting at school or a home visit to explain the unit, show some of the texts we will use, ask for the family's participation by serving as guest speakers, sending in family history photograph copies, artifacts or stories; helping with special class projects; or helping chaperone class field trips. Invite family members to give their questions and concerns related to the unit.


2. Send a letter to families explaining the unit, the family history activities, and ask for the family's participation by checking off one or more ways to contribute to the unit. Translate the letter for Hmong-speaking families.


3. Invite a Hmong textile artist to explain her sewing and the uses of her sewing.



Overall Assessment Strategies

1. The individual K-W-L chart students completed could serve as a summary of what students knew at the beginning of their family history study and what they had learned by the end of the unit. Analyze the individual charts for increased knowledge of their family history.


2. Individual K-W-L charts could also be used for the other main themes of the unit: ethnic group history; experiences of leaving one's homeland, traveling to the U.S., and entering the U.S.; and life as recent immigrants.


3. At the beginning of the unit, as a class, brainstorm what is important to learn from the unit, different ways students might express this knowledge, and criteria for evaluating the final product. For example, the students and teacher might agree everyone should learn at least two main ideas (not small facts) about each theme (family history; ethnic group history; experiences of leaving one's homeland, traveling to the U.S., and entering the U.S.; and life as recent immigrants) and could express these through writing an essay, drawing different scenes, creating a song, or developing a display to illustrate each theme. The students as well as the teacher evaluates the final product using the agreed-upon criteria.


4. Students should save all samples of their work from the unit and select those which illustrate significant ideas they learned for their portfolio.


5. Students might create quilt squares representing one main idea they learned from the unit. The students first use pencil to draw the idea on an 8-10 inch square of muslin. After they have a final drawing, they use fabric markers to make the drawing permanent. Recruit a family member with quilting expertise to put the squares together into a final quilt. For an example of a quilt created for the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial, see the web site “America Quilts: Quilts in the Classroom” at www.pbs.org/americaquilts/america.



Children's Books

Anderson, W. (1992). Laura Ingalls Wilder: A biography. New York: HarperCollins.

Avery, K. (1994). The crazy quilt. Glenview, IL: GoodYearBooks.

Bartone, E. (1996). American too. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard.

Bennett, P. (1995). What was it like before electricity? Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn.

Bartoletti, S. C. (2001). Black potatoes: The story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Berger, M. & Berger, G. (1993). Where did your family come from? A book about immigrants. Nashville, TN: Ideals Children's Books.

Bolton, J. (1993-94). My grandmother’s patchwork quilt: A book and pocketful of patchwork pieces. New York: Delacorte.

Bratvold, G. (1991). Wisconsin. Minneapolis: Lerner.

Bunting, E. (2000). Dreaming of America: An Ellis Island story. New York: BridgeWater Books.

Cech, J. (1991). My grandmother's journey. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Cha, D. (1996). Dia’s story cloth. New York: Lee & Low.

Cohen, B. (1983). Molly's pilgrim. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard.

Denenberg, B. (1997). So far from home: The diary of Mary Driscoll, an Irish mill girl. New York: Scholastic.

Eunson, D. (1970). The day they gave babies away. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Fair, S. (1982). The bedspread. New York: Morrow Junior Books.

Flourney, V. (1985). The patchwork quilt. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.

Freedman, R. (1980). Immigrant kids. New York: Puffin.

Giff, P. R. (1987). Laura Ingalls Wilder: Growing up in the little house. New York: Puffin.

Hankin, R. (1995). What was it like before television? Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn.

Hearne, B. (1997). Seven brave women. New York: Greenwillow.

Hest, A. (1997). When Jessie came across the sea. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.

Hoffman, M. (2002). The color of home. New York: Phyllis Fogelman Books.

Hudson, W. & Hudson, C. (1995). How sweet the sound: African American songs for children. New York: Scholastic.

Humphrey, P. (1995). In grandma's day. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn.

Humphrey, P. (1995). What was it like before the telephone? Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn.

Jacobs, W. J. (1990). Ellis Island: New hope in a new land. New York: Harcourt Brace.

Jacobson, G. (1986). Two for America: The true story of a Swiss immigrant. Blanchardville, WI: Ski Printers.

Johnson, D. (1993). Now let me fly: The story of a slave family. New York: Macmillan.

Johnson, J. W. (1993). Lift every voice and sing. New York: Walker.

Johnston, T. & dePaola, T. (1985). The quilt story. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Kalman, B. (1993). 19th century clothing. New York: Crabtree.

Kalman, B. (1993). The kitchen. New York: Crabtree.

Kalman, B. (1994). A one-room school. New York: Crabtree.

Kalman, B. (1995). Games from long ago. New York: Crabtree.

Kalman, B. (1997). The general store. New York: Crabtree.

Kalman, B. (1997). 19th century girls and women. New York: Crabtree.

Kalman, B. & Everts, T. (1994). A child's day. New York: Crabtree.

Knight, M. B. (1993). Who belongs here? An American story. Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House.

Kroll, S. (1995). Ellis Island: Doorway to freedom. New York: Holiday House.

Kurelek, W. (1985). They sought a new world: The story of European immigration to North America. Montreal: Tundra Books.

Lawrence, J. (1993). The great migration: An American story. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.

Leder, J. M. (1996). A Russian Jewish family. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner.

Lee, M. (2006). Landed. New York: Frances Foster Books.

Levine, E. (1989). I hate English! New York: Scholastic.

Levine, E. (1993). . . . If your name was changed at Ellis Island. New York: Scholastic.

Levinson, R. (1985). Watch the stars come out. New York: Dutton.

Maestro, B. (1996). Coming to America: The story of immigration. New York: Scholastic.

Malone, B. & Gray, J. J. (2001). Working with water: Wisconsin waterways. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Malone, M. (1996). A Guatemalan family. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner.

Mayerson, E. W. (1990). The cat who escaped from steerage. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

McDonough, Y. Z. (2014). Little author in the big woods: A biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder.             New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Meltzer, M. (2002). Bound for America: The story of European immigrants. New York: Benchmark.

Murphy, N. (1997). A Hmong family. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner.

O'Connor, K. (1996). A Kurdish family. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner.

O’Hara, M. (1998). General store: A village store in 1902. Mankato, MN: Blue Earth Books.

O’Hara M. (1998). Pioneer farm: Living on a farm in the 1880s. Mankato, MN: Blue Earth Books.

Orozco, J. L. (1994). De colores and other Latin American folk songs for children. New York: Dutton.

Paek, M. (1988). Aekyung's dream. San Francisco: Children's Book Press.

Park, F. & Park, G. (2002). Good-bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society.

Pellowski, A. (1982). First farm in the valley: Anna's story. New York: Philomel.

Pellowski, A. (1982). Winding valley farm: Annie’s story. Winona, MN: St. Mary’s Press.

Perez, A. I. (2002). My diary from here to there. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press.

Polacco, P. (1988). The keeping quilt. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Ringgold, F. (1991). Tar beach. New York: Crown.

Schimpky, D. & Kalman, B. (1995). Children's clothing of the 1800s. New York: Crabtree.

Schreck, K. H. (2001). Lucy’s family tree. Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House.

Shannon, G. (1997). This is the bird. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Shea, P. D. (1995). The whispering cloth: A refugee story. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills.

Shelby, A. (1995). Homeplace. New York: Orchard.

Stanley, L. (1994). Be a friend: The story of African American music in songs, words, and pictures. Middleton, WI: Zino Press. (Audio tape accompanies the book.)

Surat, M. M. (1983). Angel child, dragon child. New York: Scholastic.

Walker, B. M. (1989). The little house cookbook: Frontier foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's classic stories. New York: Harper Trophy.

Wilder, L. I. (1971). Farmer Boy. New York: Harper Trophy.

Wilder, L. I. (1971). Little house in the big woods. New York: Harper Trophy.

Wilder, L. I. (1994). My first little house books: Dance at grandpa’s. New York: HarperCollins.

Wilder, L. I. (1994). My first little house books: Winter days in the big woods. New York: HarperCollins.

Wilder, L. I. (1995). My first little house books: Christmas in the big woods. New York: HarperCollins.

Wilder, L. I. (1995). My first little house books: The deer in the wood. New York: HarperCollins.

Wilder, L. I. (1995). My first little house books: Going to town. New York: HarperCollins.

Wilder, L. I. (1995). My first little house books: Summertime in the big woods. New York: HarperCollins.

Wilder, L. I. (1997). My first little house books: A little house birthday. New York: HarperCollins.

Wilder, L. I. (1998). My first little house books: Sugar snow. New York: HarperCollins.

Wolf, B. (2003). Coming to America: A muslim family’s story. New York: Lee & Low.

Yang, B (2004). Hannah is my name. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.

Yee, S. & Kokin, L. (1977). Got me a story to tell, a multi-ethnic book: Five children tell about their lives. San Francisco: St. John's Educational Threshold Center.


Children's Periodicals

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (2006, February). Ellis Island: Gateway to America. Cobblestone, 27.

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (1995, May). Polish Americans. Cobblestone, 16.

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (2001, May). German Americans. Cobblestone, 22.

Corsey, M. (Ed.). (1982, December). American immigrants: Part I. Cobblestone, 3.

Corsey, M. (Ed.). (1983, January). American immigrants: Part II. Cobblestone, 4.

Kanetzke, H. (Ed.). (1973, November). Wisconsin folklore. Badger History, 25.

Kanetzke, H. (Ed.). (1974, January). The Finns in Wisconsin. Badger History, 27.

Kanetzke, H. (Ed.). (1974, March). Germans in Wisconsin. Badger History, 27.

Kanetzke, H. (Ed.). (1975, January). Norwegians in Wisconsin. Badger History, 28.

Kanetzke, H. (Ed.). (1976, September). French in Wisconsin. Badger History, 30.

Kanetzke, H. (Ed.). (1977, November). Tracing your roots. Badger History, 31.

Kanetzke, H. (Ed.). (1979, January). Poles in Wisconsin. Badger History, 32.

Kanetzke, H. (Ed.). (1978, March). Irish in Wisconsin. Badger History, 31.

Kanetzke, H. (Ed.). (1979, March). The Dutch in Wisconsin. Badger History, 22.

Kanetzke, H. (Ed.). (1980, January). Hispanics in Wisconsin. Badger History, 33.

Lake, A. M. B. (1986, February). Laura's homesites. Cobblestone, 7, 6-13.

Nankin, F. (Ed.). (1980, November). Genealogy: A personal history. Cobblestone, 1.

Platt, D. H. (1973, September). Rosaline Willard Peck, Madison's first homemaker. Badger History, 27, 54-59.

Yoder, C. P. (Ed.). (1989, April). Hispanic Americans. Cobblestone, 10.

Yoder, C. P. (Ed.). (1994, March). Irish Americans. Cobblestone, 15.


Professional Books

Alleman, J. & Brophy, J. (2001). Social studies excursions, K-3 book one: Powerful units on food, clothing, and shelter. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Blessing, M. (1999). Wisconsin history on stage: Scripts for grades 4 through 8. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Bletzinger, A. & Short, A. (Eds.). (1982). Wisconsin women, a gifted heritage. Madison, WI: The Wisconsin State Division AAUW.

Brown, V. (1975). Uncommon lives of common women: The missing half of Wisconsin history. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Feminists Project Fund.

Cooper, Z. (1977). Black settlers in rural Wisconsin. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Davies, P. G. (2006). Welsh in Wisconsin. Madison, WI: The Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Dunn, C. & Lewis, G. (Eds.). (1982). We were children then, volume II: Stories from the yarns of yesteryear project. Madison, WI: Stanton & Lee.

Gard, R. E., Lengveld, F. & Lefebvre, M. E. (Eds.). (1976). We were children then: Stories from the yarns of yesteryear project. Madison, WI: Stanton & Lee.

Fapso, R. J. (2001). Norwegians in Wisconsin (revised and expanded edition). Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Feiza, R. (1994). New faces: Immigration to Wisconsin 1970s to 1990s (Teacher's Guide). Milwaukee: Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Fraser, C. (2017). Prairie fires: The American dream of Laura Ingalls Wilder. New York: Metropolitan Books.

Hale, F. (2005). Danes in Wisconsin. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Hale, F. (2002). Swedes in Wisconsin. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Hale, F. (2007). Swiss in Wisconsin (revised and expanded edition). Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Holmes, D. G. (2004). Irish in Wisconsin. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Holmes, F. L. (1990). Old world Wisconsin: Around Europe in the badger state. Minocqua, WI: Heartland.

Kalman, B. (1982). The early family home. Toronto: Crabtree.

Knipping, M. (2008). Finns in Wisconsin (revised and expanded edition). Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Knowles, A. K. (1996). A proud heritage: History of Welsh settlement. Milwaukee, WI: Heart of the Dairyland, Wisconsin’s Ethnic Settlement Trail.

Krull, K. (1992). Gonna sing my head off! American folksongs for children. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Malone, B. (2000). Digging and discovery: Wisconsin archaeology, Teacher's guide and student materials. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Malone, B. & Fajardo, A. (1998). Learning from the land: Wisconsin land use teacher’s guide and student materials. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Mead, H., Dean, J. & Smith, S. (1971). Portrait of the past: A photographic journey through Wisconsin. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Tales and Trails.

Perl, L. (1989). The great ancestor hunt: The fun of finding out who you are. New York: Clarion.

Peters, H. B. (Ed.). (1977). Folksongs out of Wisconsin: An illustrated compendium of words and music. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Rucker, D. G. (1995). A proud heritage: History of Dutch settlements in the lower Fox River valley. Milwaukee, WI: Heart of the Dairyland, Wisconsin’s Ethnic Settlement Trail.

Shafer, M. A. (1993). Wisconsin: The way we were. Minocqua, WI: Heartland.

Taylor, M. A. (1999). Through the eyes of your ancestors: A step-by-step guide to uncovering your family’s history. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Weitzman, D. (1975). My backyard history book. Boston: Little, Brown.

Whipple, L. (Ed.). (1994). Celebrating America: A collection of poems and images of the American spirit. New York: Philomel.

Winston, L. (1997). Keepsakes: Using family stories in elementary classrooms. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Wolfman, I. (1991). Do people grow on family trees? Genealogy for kids and other beginners. New York: Workman.

Zeitlin, R. H. (2000). Germans in Wisconsin (revised and expanded edition). Madison, WI: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Zemelman, S., Bearden, P., Simmons, Y. & Leki, P. (2000). History comes home: Family stories across the curriculum. York, ME: Stenhouse.

Zipperer, S. (Ed.). (1994). New faces: Immigration to Wisconsin 1970s to 1990s. Milwaukee: Milwaukee Area Technical College.


Professional Periodicals

Rong, X. L. (1998). The new immigration: Challenges facing social studies professionals. The Social Studies, 62, 393-399.

Murphy, M., Singer, A., Miletta, M. M., & Singer, J. Y. (2000). The great Irish famine. Middle Level Supplement to Social Education, 9, M2-M15.

Murphy, M., Singer, A. (2001). The great Irish famine: Life and work in America. Middle Level Supplement to Social Education, 10, M10-M12.

VanFossen, P. J. (2003). Using literature circles to teach about immigration. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 15, 24-29.


Professional Curriculum Guides

Brown, H. & Office of School Services (2003). They came to Wisconsin teacher’s guide and student materials. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.


Fortier, J. D., Grady, S. M. & Prickette, K. R. (1999). Learning about Wisconsin: Activities, historical documents, and resources linked to Wisconsin’s model academic standards for social studies in grades 4-12. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.


Hackett, C. O. (1989). Little house in the classroom: A guide to using the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Carthage, IL: Good Apple.


Riley, J. (1990). Pioneer women's diaries: A resource guide. Madison, WI: Her Own Words.


Wisconsin Cartographers’ Guild & Malone, B. (2000). Mapping Wisconsin history: Teacher’s guide and student materials. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.


Audiovisual Materials

Hess, B. (Vocalist). (1995). Nun ade, du mein lieb' Heimatland. . . : Twelve German emigrant songs, fourteen German folk songs [Cassette Recording]. State College, PA: Sunrise Recording Studio. (Accompanying booklet has English translations and background information for the songs.)


Malone, B. (1998). Another look: Wisconsin photographs past and present. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.


Moran, P. (Director) and Cable Six Television, University of Wisconsin Whitewater (Producer). (1987). Life on a Wisconsin farm [Video]. (Available from 100% Production, 9320 Paddock Court, Orangevale, CA 95662).


Oberle, K. (Director). (2001). Cultural horizons of Wisconsin [CD-ROM]. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Educational Communications Board (Available from Educational Communications Board, 3319 West Beltline Highway, Madison, WI 53713-4296)


Oshkosh Public Museum. (1998). Pioneer home (1840s) educational kit. Contains candle mold, apple corer, lantern, snuffer, sander, quill pen, pig scraper, triangle, hoe, coffee mill, washboard, clay mug and jar. (Available for one-week check-out for classroom use, reserve by calling (920) 424-4750)


Riley, J. (Producer and Writer). (1986). Her own words: Pioneer women's diaries [Video]. (Available from Her Own Words, Box 5264, Madison, WI 53705)


State Historical Society of Wisconsin. (n.d.). Ethnic Groups in Wisconsin: Badger History Picture Supplement. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin. (Available in the Educational Materials Center of Polk Library, UW Oshkosh Campus).


State Historical Society of Wisconsin. (1976). 19th century skills and crafts. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.


State Historical Society of Wisconsin. (1976). New nation, new state. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.


State Historical Society of Wisconsin. (1996). Advocates for change: A Wisconsin classroom poster set. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.


Thomas, D., & Young, Shelly (Producers), & Thomas, D (Director). (1998). Investigating Wisconsin History [Video]. (Available from Wisconsin Public Television, Green Bay, WI or the Education Communication Board, Madison, WI)


Upper Midwest Videos. (Producer). (n.d.). The Germans of Wisconsin [Video]. (Available from Upper Midwest Videos, 1-800-848-4188)


Upper Midwest Videos. (Producer). (1995). Wisconsin Homesteads [Video]. (Available from Upper Midwest Videos, 1-800-848-4188)


Upper Midwest Videos. (Producer). (1994). Swedes of Wisconsin [Video]. (Available from Upper Midwest Videos, 1-800-848-4188)


35 West Productions (Producer). (1991). An apron full of stars: The story of the old Wade House [Video]. (Available from State Historical Society, Madison, WI)


Wisconsin Educational Communications Board and the Department of Public Instruction (Producers). (1996). Exploring Wisconsin our home [Video]. (Available from the Department of Public Instruction, Madison, WI)


Resource People

Bradley Company of the Fox. 4330 Highway 110 North, Oshkosh, Wisconsin. (920) 233-5332. (Source of 19th century foods: parched corn, pure maple sugar cakes, ‘real’ chocolate, gruel, brick tea, dipped and molded candles).

Calabria, Deb. West 10663 Highway 10, Fremont, Wisconsin 54940. (Provides spinning demonstration and source for artifacts on early immigrant life).

Fox Valley Spinning Guild. 1600 North Fairfield Court, Appleton, WI 54911 (Provides spinning demonstration, spinning wheels, carders, and looms).

Jungwirth, Clarence. Oshkosh historian. Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Pfister, Emily. Emily Pfister Antiques. Neenah, Wisconsin (920) 725-6522. (Source for artifacts on early immigrant life).


Field Trips

Heritage Hill Living History Museum, 2640 South Webster, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Phone (800) 721-5150 or (920) 448-5150.

Old World Wisconsin, S103 W37890 Highway 67, Eagle, Wisconsin, (262) 594-6300 or contact: owwvisit@idcnet.com or http://oww.shsw.wisc.edu/. (School tours are scheduled from May 1 to October 31, different tour choices are available, 2002 cost is $4.55 per student, 1 free adult with every 10 students.)

State Historical Museum, 30 North Carroll Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53703-2707, (608) 264-6557. (Museum guided programs must be scheduled one month in advance, are available Wednesdays or Fridays from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m., each program lasts one hour, docent-led programs include a fee of $2.00 per child.)


Electronic Resources

N.A. (n.d.). America quilts: Quilts in the classroom [on-line]. Available: http://www.pbs.org/americaquilts/classroom

Silvernell, D. M. (n.d.). Virtual Ellis Island tour [on-line]. Available: http://www.capital.net/~alta/index.html.

Gunleik Asmundson Bondal Collection, State Historical Society of Wisconsin Archives. (1854). An “American letter” by Norwegian Immigrants. Wisconsin Stories: Documents & Teaching Tools. Available: www.shsw.wisc.edu/wisconsinstories/documents/norweigians/an.htm



Wisconsin History Units

Teaching Social Studies