Immigration

The Legacies of the Orphan Train Riders | West by Orphan Train

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By the 1870s the Orphan trains of the Children’s Aid Society were rolling into towns in more than 30 states. An average of over three thousand children a year were taken out of orphanages and placed with families. It is estimated that there are now over two million descendants of Orphan Train riders. This segment from the West by Orphan Train documentary includes archival photographs and an interview with Amanda Wahlmeier, former Curator at the National Orphan Train Complex.

Timespan Museum: Helmsdale, Scotland | Manitoba Shorts

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Learn about the Timespan Museum in Helmsdale, which tells the history of the Scottish highlands, in this video from Prairie Public's Manitoba Shorts series. Many clans lived among the hills but were evicted to make room for sheep over 200 years ago. The foundations of their homes can still be seen today.

It's All Earth and Sky | Religious Traditions

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The preservation of religious traditions is discussed, including a unique hail avoidance measure. Arthur Flegel believes that religion is the mainstay of society.

It's All Earth and Sky | Agriculture and Traditions

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Arthur Flegel tells of turkey red wheat, which created the Bread Basket of the World in the upper Plains, even with dry land farming. The homestead living arrangement versus the European village with outlying fields system was a difficult adjustment.

 

An Orphan Train Rider Tells His Story | West by Orphan Train

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In this segment from the West by Orphan Train documentary, Orphan Train rider Stanley Cornell recounts the story of he and his brother’s experiences living in an orphanage and their eventual trip on an Orphan Train in the early 1900s. After being placed in six different homes, they were placed with a family in Texas who raised them.

The Pilgrims: Mayflower Descendants

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Learn about John Howland, a Mayflower passenger and indentured servant, whose numerous descendants include Ralph Waldo Emerson and both George Bushes, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Pilgrims. During the Mayflower’s Atlantic crossing, Howland was thrown overboard in a storm. He managed to grab hold of a line and was rescued by the crew. Although he nearly died that day, he would later thrive in New England. He married Elizabeth Tilley, and together they had 10 children. More than two million Americans would descend from them, among them U.S. presidents and Hollywood actors.

Click on the links below to download a customizable student handout and a video transcript.

Student HandoutTranscript

See Support Materials for Teaching Tips and links to related materials. This resource is part of the American Experience: The Pilgrims collection.

Fort Buford: Splendid Isolation | Part 2

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The U.S. Army hired single women to become “laundresses” at the military forts in the West. These women were considered part of the army and lived on the fort. Soldiers would court laundresses and together they would have social events.  Officers’ wives and children could also live at the fort.

It's All Earth and Sky | Success of the Second and Third Generations

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The culmination of assimilation has led to careers outside of agriculture and hometowns for these successful descendants of Germans from Russia immigrants. 

 

Splitting up Siblings on the Orphan Trains | West by Orphan Train

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Since many families did not want to take more than one child, some brothers and sisters riding on the Orphan Trains during the late 1800s and early 1900s had to be separated. When this happened, the organizations placing the children tried to keep siblings in the same area. This segment from the West by Orphan Train documentary includes archival photographs, historical re-enactments, a first-person account from Orphan Train rider Stanley Cornell, and an interview with Amanda Wahlmeier, former Curator at the National Orphan Train Complex.

Mills 50: Tien Hung Market l Vietnamese Orlando

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In the heart of Central Orlando is the Vietnamese Business District at Mills 50. One of the cornerstones is the Tien Hung Market, run by three generations of the Phan family. Explore how cultural traditions bind this community since fleeing Vietnam.  

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