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Colonization and Emigration
Studying the Colonization and Emigration Migration Lesson Plan
This lesson is designed for use with the narrative Colonization and Emigration. This lesson will ask students to read about emigrants deciding to leave the United States to make their home in another country. Students will learn about why the emigrants wanted to leave, where they went, and the outcome of their journey. Students will be asked to make a timeline of relevant migrations of emigrants to countries such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Haiti from the late Eighteenth century into the Twentieth century.
Grade Levels:Middle and high school, grades 9-12
For use with:Colonization and Emigration
Concentration Area:History
National Curriculum Standards met by this lesson
The following standards have been taken from the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) standards.
Students will understand

  • Influences on urban life in the early and late 19th century (e.g., how rapid urbanization, immigration, and industrialization affected the social fabric of cities; individuals who contributed to the development of free black communities in the cities; the rise of racial hostility).
  • How international migrations are shaped by push and pull factors (e.g., political and economic incentives, religious values, family ties).
Time required
From two traditional class periods to two weeks, depending on depth and breadth of student research
Materials needed
Anticipatory Set

  1. Write the word "emigration" on the board or overhead. Ask students what the difference is between an emigrant and an immigrant. If students do not know the difference, ask them what an immigrant is (a person that comes to one country to live from another country). Follow up with this question: So then, what would an emigrant be (a person that moves to another country after immigrating)?
  2. Ask students why they think someone would choose to move to another country after immigrating. Then, have students list some of these reasons for emigrating in a journal entry.

  1. Have the map of the migration on the overhead projector or on students' computer screens. (link to map of this migration)
  2. Hand out copies of the narrative; or, if students are online, they can read it on their screens. If the reading level of the class is low, you may opt to read and stop at intervals to check for understanding.
  3. Once the students have read through the narrative, have them start filling in any information that they can based on the following series of springboard questions:

    1. What are the dates, from beginning to end, that frame this migration. Where is the point (or where are the points) of origin of the people?
    2. What was their existing circumstance in that location? How did conditions differ from the city to country plantations and estates?
    3. Why did they leave?
    4. How many left?
    5. Where did they go?
    6. How did they choose their destination(s)? Were the destinations chosen before they embarked upon their journeys, or were they arbitrary in nature?
    7. What event or circumstance ended this migration?
    8. What is the legacy today of this migration in both the points of origin and destination?
    9. What hardships, if any, did they endure because of their migration?
    10. How does this emigration fit in with the other migrations (can only be done if studying a group of migrations)? Are there any connections between migrations?
  4. For any unanswered questions, direct students to other resources, such as the gateway, other areas of the site, or library resources.
  5. Next, have students go back through the narrative with a highlighter or pencil to mark all of the noted migrations, the dates they occurred, and a sentence or two describing it. These will be notes for the students to use in making a timeline of migrations from the late Eighteenth century into the Twentieth century.
  6. Have students use poster board to make their timelines of migrations. Timelines should include at least eight of the migrations listed and be presented in the correct sequential order, and have an adequate but brief description of each one.

Grade students based the following rubric. With a total of 28 points possible, figure a letter grade from the number of points each students earns.

Grading Criteria/Scoring Total Possible Points
1 point for each entry on the timeline 8
1 point for each description of an entry 8
1 point each for having the entries in the correct sequential order 8
4 points for neatness and legibility (deduct as you see fit) 4

Related Works

  • The Schomburg Center also has numerous links to sites related to the experiences of African-American colonists in Africa at:
  • The Library of Congress has an online African-American Mosaic exhibit, which has additional information and images associated with colonization, such as a map for prospective immigrants, guidelines for prospective immigrants, ACS documents, a treaty between the ACS and African Kings, and illustrations of colonial era Liberia at:
Interdisciplinary Links

  • Contemporary Issues: Ask students to examine the current government, economy, religious background, ethnic background, and development issues facing Liberia. Online, the Central Intelligence Agency has its World Factbook with the most current information about a nation that has been subject to many changes in recent decades; it also has an image of the flag of Liberia. The web site is:
  • Language Arts: The experiences of immigrants to Liberia lend themselves to creative writing activities. Collaborate with the English teachers so students may use historical information to write narratives, poems, or illustrated children's stories about the experience of a particular immigrant or immigrant family. Students could write about these topics: the decision to migrate, the difficulties of the sea voyage, the challenges of starting a new home and community from scratch, and interactions with the Africans of Liberia.
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