Irish Immigration will be used to learn about immigration (1840s to early 1900s) through the lens of political cartoons as well as through illustrations and photographs of the time period. I am creating this unit with the Arts Magnet School (a student population who major in dance, visual arts, theater, creative writing or music) in mind. It could be used at any high school with a Graphics Lab, Visual Arts Department and Wacom Tablets. This unit will focus on how artists used political cartoons and other types of visual imagery to influence popular opinion of the Irish immigrants and other immigrant groups. Students will develop a better understanding of why the Irish left Ireland, and about how the Irish were often viewed as being less than human, even simian, not only by the British, but also here in America. The unit will cover what life was like, both in terms of living and working conditions as well as education levels, when they reached America.
The swift upward mobility (both socially and economically) of the Irish immigrants will also be discussed. This type of success would not have been possible in Ireland. Immigration to the United States presented the Irish with many new opportunities such as employment, education and, eventually, success. We will also cover the problem of discrimination against the Irish. Which was caused in part by their willingness to accept jobs for little pay, just to get by. The sheer volume of Irish immigrants at the time made them a target for this type of treatment. This unit will also cover how some of the discrimination from their homeland followed them here.
This will give students an understanding of why the political cartoon would have been so effective in its ability to convey political opinions and cultural/social biases in the form of visual information. The unit will combine Visual Arts, History, Literature and Technology. The materials to be used are: Wacom Tablets (electronic drawing tablets), computers, scanners, Photoshop and traditional drawing (pencil and paper) methods will be used for creating visual images.