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Naturalization of a Citizen: Home

Naturalization of a Citizen: Lesson Plan


Naturalization of a Citizen

Standards:           CCSS. ELA-Literacy.R.H.9-10.7

                                   Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g. charts,

                                   research data) with qualitative analysis in print or

                                   digital text.


Objective:                  The students will be able to trace the various steps of an

                                   immigrant on his pathway to citizenship during various

                                   historical time periods. The students will be able to identify

                                   broad chronological immigration patterns by examining primary source materials.


Evidence:                   IRAD naturalization records:

                                   [*special note: all the materials are included and are loaded into Flicker and Lib Guides but

                                   their citations are still in question and will be added]


Time Frame:              This lesson should take one to two days.


Essential Question:    What are some of the reasons that a person would move from one place to another?


Vocabulary:                 Push factors of immigration

                                    Pull factors of immigration


Set Induction:             The students will view photographs of people seeking citizenship.  The photographs will

                                    be from three distinct eras, the 1870s, the 1930s, and the 1980s.  The students will

                                    formulate written questions about the images and they will pose them to the class in an

                                    initial class discussion.


1.                         2.                            3..


1.    Jacob and Maria Magdalena Berschauer were among the immigrants from Kratzke, Russia, who sailed aboard the Frisia in 1876

2.    German Jews, seeking to emigrate, wait in the office of the Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden (Relief Organization of German Jews). On the wall is a map of South America and a sign about emigration to Palestine. Berlin, Germany, 1935

3.     Until 1960, the U.S. Census Bureau did not record the number of immigrants from Guatemala, but it is known that from 1967 to 1980 close to 109,000 Guatemalans immigrated to the United States, due largely to political conflict and a devastating earthquake in 1976. The number has remained steadily around 40,000 in subsequent years. In 1992, Sam and Elida Mejia, featured in Sin País, left Guatemala during a civil war and illegally immigrated to California with their 1-year-old son, Gilbert.






Table of Contents

Download Lesson Plan

Historical Background

Activity 1

Activity 2

Activity 3

Group A

Group B

Group C



Flickr - Documents and Image Set

Historical Background

Historical Background:

When individuals decide to become citizens of the United States, they undergo a multi-step process called naturalization.  The Illinois Regional Archives Depository at the Regional History Center houses naturalization records for eighteen counties in Northern Illinois. The records are dated from as early as the 1840s to as late as the 1980s.   These records show the changes not only in naturalization practices over time but they also show a change in the demographics of new citizen populations.  Reviewing these records can help students to discover significant and measurable historical trends over time.

Activity 1

Activity 1:

The students will do background reading in order to understand some of the factors that drive migration.  This site discusses economic, environmental and cultural factors that push or pull a person from one location to another.  After their reading, the students will pair off with a partner and they will identify one push or pull factor that might conceivably motivate a migration.  With their partners, the students will write them on the board and discuss their findings with the rest of the class in a brain storming session:


Activity 2

Activity 2:

A. All of the students will read the Digital History article, “Immigration Restriction” pp 1-4, regarding the enforcement of U.S. immigration law over the past 150 years. Found here:

The students will also examine the following immigration timeline:


Activity 3

Activity 3:                              

The students will divide into three groups to examine and analyze primary and secondary source materials for three respective time periods, the 1870s, the 1930s, and the 1980s.


Part A:                   The students will read the following secondary sources for background information on

                                immigration for their respective time periods and they will complete a secondary source

                                worksheet to use for their final assignment:


                                Secondary Sources and secondary source worksheet:



                                Groups A:

                                1870s: Changes in immigration in the 19th century:

                                National Geographic map showing immigration trends in the late 19th century:


                                 PBS Documentary information:



                                 Group B:

                                 1930s: Changes in immigration laws in the early 20th century:

                                 Ellis Island Photograph Gallery of Immigrants from the early 20th century:


                                 Overview of changes in immigration issues in the US between 1870 and 1930.  



                                Group C:

                                1980s: Changes in immigration in the later half of the 20th century:

                                An overview of immigration in America since 1965:


                                An article on immigration from Asia in the 1980s:





Part B:                    The students will examine three sets of primary source materials from the Illinois Regional

                                Archives Depository.


                                Primary Source Analysis Worksheet:




                                Primary Sources:

                                Group A: 1870s Naturalization papers of  Felix Laumiller,

                                Ludwick Ruthhart, Martin Scheick, Ola Elfson, Peder G. Christenson.


                                Group B: 1930s Naturalization papers of Anna Wachtler, Bernard Tegtmeier,

                                Frances Ebitsch, Jan Van der Pal, and  Willam Woolf.


                                Group C: 1980s Naturalization papers of  Abraham  Scaria Narikkatta, Gidardo Reyes,

                                Jose Luis Hernandez, . Manoj Khandheria, and  Victoria Rantisi.



Assignment:          Within their groups, the students will pair off.  Each pair will choose one individual from the

                               naturalization records to focus upon.  The pair will then compose an imaginary interview

                               based upon their primary source materials.  The students will take special care to draw from

                               their secondary source materials on migration pushes and pulls in their individuals time frame

                               as well. The students will compose at least six thoughtful questions for their interviewee to

                               answer.  They will also compose their subject’s respective answers and have them ready to

                               present to the class. 





The students will conduct their interviews in front of the rest of the class and conclude them with a question and answer session.




Informal and formative: Class discussion, primary and secondary source analysis worksheets.

Formal and summative: Partner interview