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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Sara Galner: An Immigrant Story

Sara Galner: An Immigrant Story

Grade level: fourth


This slideshow, illustrating the true story of a young immigrant, will personalize the immigrant experience. It will offer a name and a true story. Sara Galner of Boston's story. My immigration unit is grouped into four parts: what is an immigrant, reasons why immigrants leave their homes to come to America, what life was like once here, and how citizenship is attained. This slideshow will be implemented during the third part: what life was like once here.

Take away points — Life as an immigrant was hard. More important than education was the need for survival. Children needed to work to help the family. America, especially Boston during the Arts and Crafts movement, was taking responsibility for these immigrants.


4.15 Describe the diverse nature of the American people by identifying the distinctive contributions to American culture of:
major European immigrant groups who have come to America, locating their countries of origin and where they tended to settle in large numbers (e.g., English, Germans, Italians, Scots, Irish, Jews, Poles, and Scandinavians).

4.16 Identify major immigrant groups that live in Massachusetts and where they now live in large numbers (e.g., English, Irish, Italians, French Canadians, Armenians, Greeks, Portuguese, Haitians, and Vietnamese). (H, G)

Using the MFA's Educators Online Resource:

This slideshow consists of both photographs and artwork. It shares the story of Sara Galner's immigrant experience. This lesson will be a balance of storytelling and interaction; I will tell her story using Nonie Gadsden's Art and Reform: Sara Galner, the Saturday Evening Girls, and the Paul Revere Pottery as students use clues in the photos and artwork to infer what life was like for the young immigrant in the early 1900s.

What can we learn from artifacts from history, whether it be photos, furniture, paintings, pottery, jewelry — what do they reveal about daily life, attitudes, ideals?

Were newcomers treated well?

Were they encouraged to celebrate their native heritage, or were they urged to assimilate to the American way? Is that still true today?

Created By

Lauren Troy