Angel Island Immigrant Journeys
Young historians study the Angel Island Immigration Station with activities examining primary and secondary source materials, maps, and websites. The unit begins with individuals creating a map of Angel Island, labeling sites on the island used as a detention facility for Pacific Rim immigrants. They then examine the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first restriction on the United States immigration based on race and nationality, and watch Carved In Silence, a film that uses actual footage to tell the facility's story. Simulations allow class members to experience some of what immigrants went through during their long ocean journey and interrogations at the station. Scholars also gain insight into how historians record events by engaging in an oral history project. Working individually or as part of a group, pupils examine Angel Island immigrants' oral histories, a case file to understand the life histories and different experiences of the internees, and then analyze primary source images. Using insight they have gained into detainees' experiences by reading poems carved on the walls, young poets create their own free verse poems that they feel capture what it may have felt like to be an immigrant interned on the island. The unit study of Angel Island Immigration Station concludes with scholars using information from the previous lessons to craft a news story about the Angel Island program.