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Copy of 6_Sante Fe Railroad track layers
4_Armenians picking grapes, circa 1895.j
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8_Elderly Monache couple, AW Peters #441

In this unit students will learn about the various reasons people migrated to California during and post the Great Depression. Classes will gain an understanding of the effects of mass migrations on not only those migrating but the people who already inhabit the area. Students will also grasp how migration affects the economy.

Each of the lessons in this unit are designed to be cohesive.  Together they flesh out why various demographics chose to migrate to California and what the effect of that migration was on the state, the economy, the people who migrated, and the effect migration had on the peoples already living in California. Teachers should take liberty to integrate these lessons in their overarching discussion of immigration and migration. Students will be able to connect how all of these migration stories have diversified California and made it the demographic “melting pot” that it is. 


This first lesson is designed to allow students to utilize and enhance their research skills through providing them with some primary and secondary sources while encouraging them to flesh out the subject and connections to the present. Students will also show what they know by teaching what they have learned in an innovative and creative presentation. In this lesson students will be separated into four demographic groups: Native American, African American, Asian, and Caucasain. Each group will be provided some primary and secondary sources as a starting point but should also do their own research to develop a thoughtful, creative, and educational presentation about the knowledge they gain to their peers.

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Citizens of Millerton, Fresno County. Fresno County Historical Society Archives.


Why We're Great >

This lesson plan will allow students to connect to the stories and lives of people who made the choice or were forced to come to California. This lesson is designed as a supplement to foundational lessons about the westward migration during the 19th century. This lesson focuses on linking J.L. Edmonds and his Los Angeles Liberator newspaper with the colonization efforts of Colonel Allensworth and residents of Fresno County’s Boles (Fowler) African American community pictured in the Hutchinson Collection in connection to the recent exhibit at the California African American Museum, California Bound: Slavery on the New Frontier. 

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African American family photograph from Hutchinson collection, Fresno County Historical Society Archive. 


This lesson is designed to encourage students to dive deeper into understanding of why various demographics migrated to California by learning about the Armenian and Sikh communities. Each of these groups were able to migrate and plant roots in California after facing genocide (Armenian Genocide) and severe religious persecution (Sikh). In this lesson students will teach each other about these communities and their reasons for migration, how they were treated/received once in California, and their communities integration to date.

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Seropian Brothers Packing House interior, 1897.  Fresno County Historical Society Archives 

Cotton Pickers near Fresno, California O

California Cotton Pickers near Fresno, California Odessy Archive.

Students will learn and teach each other about the Dust Bowl Migration during the Depression and afterwards. Students will understand how the large influx of people into California affected many Mexican Americans leading to the Mexican repatriation. Students will be able to connect the Japanese internment during WWI and WWII with the economic struggle and mass migration during this period. Students will be able to contemplate and extract the differences between migration, repatriation, internment, resettlement, and deportation. This lesson will help students gain a better understanding of the various legally sanctioned forced relocations in our nation’s history. This lesson will also help students understand how a certain demographic may be scapegoated during times of economic downturn or crises and how there continues to be an ongoing link between immigration policies and economic trends.


In this lesson students will further their understanding of historiography by writing a detailed expository paper on refugees and resettlement post Vietnam War. The focus of this historiography will be on the people of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Students will utilize the sources provided but should also be encouraged to research their own sources as well. This lesson will challenge students to critically think, research, and write a historiographic expository essay about refugees and resettlement. This essay should convey their knowledge of the subject and should clearly communicate that understanding through their research and written composition.

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Members of the Hmong Voice Culture & Traditions group preformed during a parade to start the 2013 Hmong New Year at Fresno Fairgrounds. Craig Kohlruss, The Fresno Bee.

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