HS – The Immigrant Experience During World War I: Enemy Aliens

Christine Gauvreau, Project Coordinator, Connecticut Digital Newspaper Project
Connecticut State Library


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Immigration, World War I
Theme
Cultural Diversity and an American National Identity
Town
Bridgeport, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Immigrants, Enemy Aliens, First World War, World War I Home Front, German Americans, Hungarian Americans, Slovak Americans, Internment, World War One, The Great War
Social Studies Frameworks
High School – United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

How did the government effort to mobilize and monitor the Connecticut home front during World War I affect the immigrant experience and conceptions of national identity?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • How did the government define an “enemy alien” during the First World War?
  • What were some of the steps taken in Connecticut to regulate the activity of “enemy aliens”?
  • How did immigrants from Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire who were living in Connecticut react to the WWI-era mobilization efforts?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

Thousands Likely to Be Evicted in “Restricted Zone"
Detail from the article “Thousands Likely to Be Evicted in ‘Restricted Zone,’” Bridgeport Evening Farmer, April 14, 1917. Click on the image to read the entire article – Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress
image Download an image of the article “Thousands Likely to Be Evicted in ‘Restricted Zone,'” Bridgeport Evening Farmer, April 14, 1917, or click on the image above to link to the article.
page Download a pdf of the entire page including the article, “Thousands Likely to Be Evicted in ‘Restricted Zone,'” Bridgeport Evening Farmer, April 14, 1917, or click on the image above to link to the article.

 

Sign Tells Enemy Aliens That They Must Watch Their Step
“Sign Tells Enemy Aliens That They Must Watch Their Step,” Bridgeport Evening Farmer, December 11, 1917 – Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
image Download an image of the photo “Sign Tells Enemy Aliens That They Must Watch Their Step,” Bridgeport Evening Farmer, December 11, 1917, or click on the image above to link to the newspaper.
page Download a pdf of the entire page including the photo, “Sign Tells Enemy Aliens That They Must Watch Their Step,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, April 23, 1918, or click on the image above to link to the article.
“Brothers Face Interment as Enemy Aliens,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, May 14, 1918.
“Brothers Face Interment as Enemy Aliens,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, May 14, 1918 – Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
image Download an image of the article “Brothers Face Interment as Enemy Aliens,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, May 14, 1918, or click on the image above to link to the article.
page Download a pdf of the entire page including the article, “Brothers Face Interment as Enemy Aliens,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, May 14, 1918, or click on the image above to link to the article.
Detail of the article “Local Residents of Teuton Birth Loyal to Nation,” Bridgeport Evening Farmer, February 5, 1917. Click on the image to read the entire article. - Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
Detail of the article “Local Residents of Teuton Birth Loyal to Nation,” Bridgeport Evening Farmer, February 5, 1917. Click on the image to read the entire article. – Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
image Download an image of the article “Local Residents of Teuton Birth Loyal to Nation,” Bridgeport Evening Farmer, February 5, 1917, or click on the image above to link to the article.
Download a pdf of the entire page including the article, “Local Residents of Teuton Birth Loyal to Nation,” Bridgeport Evening Farmer, February 5, 1917, or click on the image above to link to the article.
detailmutual_aid_soc_targeted_p1_btef_19180104
Detail of the article “Members of Workers’ ‘Sick Benefit Society’ Pledged to Resistance,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, January 4, 1918. Click on the image to read the entire article. – Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
image Download an image of page 1 of the article “Members of Workers’ ‘Sick Benefit Society’ Pledged to Resistance,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, January 4, 1918, or click on the image above to link to the article.
image Download an image of page 2 of the article “Members of Workers’ ‘Sick Benefit Society’ Pledged to Resistance,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, January 4, 1918, or click on the image above to link to the article.
page Download a pdf of the entire page including the article, “Members of Workers’ ‘Sick Benefit Society’ Pledged to Resistance,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, January 4, 1918, or click on the image above to link to the article.
Detail of the article “Connecticut Military Census Proves Its Value to the Nation,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, January 30, 1918. Click on the image to read the entire article. – Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
image Download an image of the article “Connecticut Military Census Proves Its Value to the Nation,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, January 30, 1918, or click on the image above to link to the article.
Download a pdf of the entire page including the article, “Connecticut Military Census Proves Its Value to the Nation,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, January 30, 1918, or click on the image above to link to the article.

World War I was a watershed experience for immigrants who arrived at the turn of the twentieth century. Though the majority supported their new country, those suspected of harboring sympathies for their homeland—if the United States was at war with that homeland—were restricted in movement and sometimes interned in camps.

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

1. Divide students into groups and assign one or more of the selected articles to each group.

2. Have the students look for and write down clues about the immigrant experience and conceptions of national identity that they have gleaned from their articles. You may use some of these supporting questions to help guide these investigations:

  • How did the government define an “enemy alien” during the First World War?
  • What were some of the steps taken in Connecticut to regulate the activity of “enemy aliens.”
  • How did immigrants from Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire living in Connecticut react to the WWI-era mobilization efforts?

3. Have students list questions that are posed–but not answered–by the articles. Ask them to think about what kind of sources, especially primary sources from the time, might help them answer these questions.

4. As a follow-up, students can use the Chronicling America database at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov to find editorials or letters to the editor in Connecticut newspapers that present contrasting viewpoints regarding the enemy alien program.

Different newspapers printed their editorial and opinion pieces on different pages.

To search for editorials or other opinion pieces in the Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer:

  1. Click on the “advanced search” tab and select this title from the drop down menu named “Select title.”
  2.  “Limit search” to Page 6.
  3.  Put “enemy alien” in the search box labeled “with the phrase.”

To search for editorials in the Norwich Bulletin:

  1. Click on the “advanced search” tab and select this title from the drop down menu named “Select title.”
  2. “Limit search” to Page 4.
  3. Put “enemy alien” in the search box labeled “with the phrase.”
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

Based on what they have learned so far, students will imagine they were a resident in the state during World War I and write their own letter to the editor in response to one of the historic articles on the enemy alien program.

Students will use contemporary newspapers to investigate immigration issues today and will create a graphic organizer illustrating similarities and differences between issues today and those during WWI. These may include the cultural/racial/religious background of immigrants in question, language/words used in newspaper coverage, proposed “solutions,” etc.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT
Articles to READ