Immigration and the Industrial Movement


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The Basics


Subject Area and/or Course Title:



Targeted Grade Level:



Time Required:

 3 periods


Related Standards:

Standard 4: Understanding the Cultural Dimensions and Contributions of the Arts Students will develop an understanding of the personal and cultural forces that shape artistic communication and how the arts in turn shape the diverse cultures of past and present society.



Josh Gilgoff


The Lesson

Introductory Narrative to Lesson:

America is a country built by immigrants who had deep hope for prosperity.  The 19th century saw three huge waves of immigration driven by the industrial movement:
              1815- 1860 : 5 million
              1865-1890  : 10 million
              1890- 1914 : 15 million  (Prof Sandage 7/7/15)
In this unit we will analyze songs from different immigrant groups to discern the quintessential immigrant transitional experience from foreigner to citizen.

Instructional Goals or Objectives:

SWBAT analyze music and extract themes of immigration

Procedures/Lesson Activities:

“Those in power write the history while those who suffer write the songs.” Frank Harte (Far From the Shamrock Shore). Use this quote to get into the mind frame of analyzing songs for themes of immigration that you are studying in 8th grade US History.  Contemplate how songwriting could help suffering people cope with a life of hardship.  Think about what side of this coin you are on and what feeling you would use to express this position in song lyrics.

“...a country’s music is born of its earth and partakes of the character of its inhabitants--although precisely how can be far from obvious.  Like dialects, it’s a vessel into which people pour their most unguarded emotions, a first means of expression that, at its most basic level, isn’t studied so much as absorbed from the earliest age.”  -Stomp and Swerve (Wondrich, David pg 9)

“The songs of the working people have always been their sharpest statement and the one statement which cannot be destroyed.  You can burn books, buy newspapers, you can guard against handbills and pamphlets, but you cannot prevent singing” -John Steinbeck foreword to Hard Hit Songs for Hard-Hit People 


Assessment and Evaluation:

(3 column Graphic organizer hear/know/want to know)

Large group: Share out



The root word of Immigration is migration.  "A measure" of music documents and records rhythmic/harmonic movement.  When we describe Symphonies we do so with the word "movement."  What else migrates?



“Immigrant Song” Led Zeppelin

music & lyrics:

“Eighteen Hundred and Ninety One” Blind Blake (Blake Alphonso Higgs)

Paterson, Massie. Calypso Folk Sing. NY, NY: Ludlow Music Inc. 1963. Pg30

“Hard Times Come Again No More” and “Old Folks at Home” Stephen Foster

Earhart, Will and Birge, Edward. Songs of Stephen Foster. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1947. Print: Pages 40 & 43

“Irish Need not Apply” Irish Traditional

“Lullaby,” “The Coal Miner’s Song in Kyushu” Japanese Traditional


Copyright 2011-2016 Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh Library System