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Photographs from Ellis Island

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Social Studies +4 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old)

This is a collection of five photographs taken in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as a handout to be used with the photos. Use the collection as a warm up or prompt for further research about the experience of immigrants to America. Teachers could assign different photographs to small groups so that students can share ideas and questions as they closely examine each one, focusing on differences between what is clearly evident in each photo as well as what can be inferred or hypothesized.

What can we learn about the experience of immigrants at Ellis Island from photographs? What emotions are expressed in these images? Challenge students to consider the photographers process and perspective: Are these images staged or candid? What kind of statement do you think the photographer might be making about immigration at this time?

More teaching ideas are include in the "Notes to Other Users" section.