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Immigration - Student Activities

Be a Historian!


You have been asked to assist the staff at the Grout Museum of History & Science in Waterloo, Iowa in developing a display called Immigration to America: The Iowa Experience.

Your job will be to tell the story of immigration to America, to Iowa and specifically to Waterloo as the city was developing in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Immigrants at Ellis Island in New York. Image from: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

To begin your research, follow these steps:

Step 1 - Key Thinking Questions

Start by considering Key Thinking Questions which will guide you as you begin your research on immigration.

What was the ethnic origin of immigrants? Where did they come from?  Why did they come? Where did they work? Where did they live?  What aspects of their culture did they bring with them?

Step 2 – Get the Facts

Get the facts about immigration to America, Iowa and Waterloo.

Step 3 – Primary Sources

Find out what is a primary source.

Some of the primary sources you will work with during your research include:

  • Interview recordings
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Photographs
  • Advertisements

These raw historical materials will help you discover the experience of people who came to live and work in America.

Step 4 - Research Activities

Complete the following research activities to learn about the experiences of immigrants to America.


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