Library of Congress

Teachers

The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Lesson Plans > Westward Expansion

Back to Lesson Plans

Bird's eye view, Placerville, Cal

[Detail] Bird's eye view, Placerville, Cal

Lesson Procedure

  1. Demonstrate the basic search features of American Memory. Show students the differences between a keyword, subject, and title search in order to maximize their results. Show students how to compile a "bookmark" or "favorites" file to collect and organize their research results.

    Note:  The search will generate a temporary URL. The Bookmarking/Linking section of the American Memory FAQs explains how to link and bookmark American Memory items.
  2. Students will search California As I Saw It, 1849-1900 for at least four documents depicting the motivations, expectations, fears, and realizations of settlers who immigrated to California between 1849 and 1900.
  3. After selecting four documents from California As I Saw It, 1849-1900 collections for related pictures, movies, maps, and sound recordings to illustrate their script.
  4. By searching American Memory, students can find the following items for linking to in their finished hyperscript:
    • Four references from personal narratives in California As I Saw It, 1849-1900 demonstrating the four themes (motivations, expectations, fears, and realizations);
    • Four related images from American Memory; and
    • Two related motion pictures or sound recordings from American Memory.
  5. Direct students to the Student Page and the Sample Script and explain the homework assignment, writing the script.

Homework: Writing the Script

After searching the collections and locating relevant documents in California As I Saw It, 1849-1900, students write their scripts. Students should keep in mind the texts, images, motion pictures, and sound recordings that they have selected from American Memory and indicate the points in the text where these items will be linked.

Using the Sample Script as a guide, students construct a dramatic scene that includes the following elements:

  1. Scene Description
    Students should include the scene's time period and geographic location, a description of what is visible on stage, and a physical description of the characters and their clothing. This component should contain at least one link to an illustrative photograph or print from American Memory.
  2. Characters
    Students should include at least two characters in the dialogue.
  3. Author's Note
    Students should write a paragraph at the end of their dialogue to explain how the links they have selected illustrate the motivations, expectations, fears, and realizations of settlers in California during the time 1849-1900 period.

Students create the following links within their script:

Four links, relevantly placed, connecting their script to textual documents found in California As I Saw It, 1849-1900. Each of the four links should provide an example of one of the four themes identified in the answers to the questions:

  1. Why did people leave their homes to come to California?
  2. What did they expect to find in California? How did they expect resettlement to change their lives?
  3. What fears did they have about the journey and their lives once they got there?
  4. Was their experience what they had expected? If not, how was it different?
  5. Links to at least four images found in American Memory that relate to the subject matter of their script.
  6. Links to at least two sound recordings or motion pictures found in American Memory that relate to the subject matter of their script.
  7. Links from the thumbnail images that they have used in their script to a larger version of the same image.
  8. Links from the captions of the images that they have used in their script to the image's bibliographic record.

Extension

The lesson may be extended by performing the students' scripts. In addition, students may research and create printed materials for distribution to the audience that provide further historical background and details.

Why Immigrate to California? (1 class period)

Lesson Preparation

Select excerpts of personal narratives describing the experience of modern immigrants to California. These narratives can be drawn from a variety of historical and contemporary sources:

  • Stories of Asian immigration to the San Francisco Bay Area (such as those found in Elaine Kim's East to America: Korean American Life Stories);
  • Accounts of migration to the Bay Area in the 1960s by people seeking political and cultural freedom (examples may be found in Irwin Unger's The Times Were a Changin': The Sixties Reader);
  • Recent accounts of people coming to Silicon Valley as part of the new "digital gold rush" found in contemporary news sources.

Print out copies of the four selections for distribution.

Classroom Activity

  1. Explain that the class will be reading accounts of personal experiences of contemporary immigrants to California.
  2. Explain to the students that in reading these personal accounts, they will be seeking answers to the following questions, which are applicable to emigrants during the Gold Rush, the 1960s, and the recent "digital gold rush." These questions relate to four "themes": the immigrants' motivations, expectations, fears, and realizations:
    1. Why did people leave their homes to come to California?
    2. What did they expect to find in California? How did they expect resettlement to change their lives?
    3. What fears did they have about the journey and their lives once they got there?
    4. Was their experience what they had expected? If not, how was it different?
  3. As a class, brainstorm keywords/adjectives that demonstrate the four themes identified in these questions. Have one student record the results of the brainstorming session.
  4. Provide students with copies of excerpts from the contemporary narratives.
  5. Students will spend the remainder of the period reading the excerpts from the narratives to answer the questions and identify the four themes. For each of these themes, students will highlight one piece of evidence found in the text.
  6. Using the questions provided above, the students will explain in a journal entry how the evidence they have discovered in the text reveals the immigrants' motivations, expectations, fears, and realizations. (This assignment may be completed as homework.)

Top