Teach PA History
"The Scientist and The Prince: Two Interesting Early Pennsylvania Immigrants
Equipment & Supplies
  • Pennsylvania Map or Atlas
  • Two shoe boxes
  • Marker (for labeling shoe boxes)
  • Scissors (for cutting primary resources to size)
  • Primary Sources placed in the shoe boxes

Day One

Pre-class preparation: Before your class begins print out Student Handout 1-Materials for The Mysterious Shoebox of (Prince G.-F. Smith), cut out each primary document or image (15 objects), and place them in a shoe box. Label the shoe box "Prince G.-F. Smith". Set the "Prince G.-F. Smith" shoe box aside. Now repeat the process and create a second shoe box using the primary sources in Student Handout 2-Materials for The Mysterious Shoebox of J. Priest and label the shoe box "J. Priest."

1. Introduction: Explain to students that the number of immigrants that came into our country was significant in our new nation. Many factors fueled this immigration, including the religious and political freedom that the United States offered, especially in Pennsylvania. We welcomed expatriates from all over Europe because of the political freedom that was perceived to be here. There were many interesting people that came into the keystone state. Today we will learn about two of them: Prince Demetrius Gallitzin and Joseph Priestley.

2. Digging Phase: First divide the class in half, breaking them into two groups. Pass out Student Worksheet 1-The Mysterious Shoebox (Prince G-F. Smith) to each person in Group 1 and Student Worksheet 2-The Mysterious Shoebox of J. Priest to each person in Group 2.

In addition to their worksheets, give Group 1 a shoe box with "Prince G.-F. Smith" scrawled on the outside of it. The students given this box will be faced with the challenge of identifying attributes of a person whom they only know by the information provided on and in the shoe box. Inside the shoe box there are various primary and secondary sources about Prince Gallitzin's life that they must try to identify. The next step is for them to play detective and decide who this Prince G.-F. Smith really was using the worksheet provided. (Allot 10 minutes for this activity) After finishing the worksheet, give the students Teacher Guide to Student Worksheet 1- The Mysterious Shoebox (Prince G-F. Smith). This includes an identification key for the items in the shoe box. Have students check their work.

The second group will do the same activity as above, but with a shoe box upon which the words "J. Priest." appear. Inside the box are primary sources which include pictures of Priestley, his house, some of his scientific experiments and discoveries, and a political cartoon. After 10 minutes, give students Teacher Guide to Student Worksheet 2- The Mysterious Shoebox of J. Priest so that they can identify the primary sources and self check their worksheet.

3. Knowledge Phase: Allow a few minutes for feedback from the class. Ask them:

  • How difficult did they find this activity?

  • What objects were harder than others to identify?

  • What additional information would they like to know about the person represented in their box?

Next give each student in Group 1 Student Handout 3-A Biographical Sketch of the Prince and Student Worksheet 3-Questions on Biographical Sketch of the Prince. Individuals in Group 2 should receive Student Handout 4-Biographical Sketch of Joseph Priestley and Student Worksheet 4-Questions on the Biographical Sketch of Priestley. Both groups will read the biographical sketches and answer the questions on their related worksheets. The sketches outline the remarkable lives of these two men. Some of the questions are basic knowledge while others are more probing and analytical. (Allow 15 minutes for this activity.) Students will need to hold on to their worksheets until the second day. To aid with assessment of these biographical sketch worksheets, see Teacher Guide to Student Worksheet 3-Questions on Biographical Sketch of the Prince and Teacher Guide to Student Worksheet 4-Questions on Biographical Sketch of Priestley.

4. Analysis Phase: After students have completed their worksheets, test their critical thinking skills in this analysis phase. Disseminate Student Worksheet 5- The Prince Analysis and Essay Assignment to students in Group 1. They will have to answer the following question: If they were given the same choice as Gallitzin, of being a Prince or a Priest, which would they choose and why? Would they live a life of relative ease and wealth, or sacrifice it all to be a servant of mankind in a harsh wilderness? After discussing the answer within their groups, each student will write a 5-paragraph essay incorporating specific, supportive reasons and information they have gained from learning about Gallitzin's life to complete this section. They can begin outlining their essay now, and complete this assignment for homework and/or on the second day.

Hand out Student Worksheet 6- Priestley Analysis and Essay Assignment to students in Group 2. They will be writing their position about the following scenario: In 1799 Secretary of State Thomas Pickering, a staunch Federalist, wanted to deport the noted British scientist Joseph Priestley who had immigrated to Pennsylvania to escape the political and religious persecution of England. Mr. Pickering would like your students to examine the evidence and come up with a recommendation on whether Mr. Priestley should be deported or remain in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. At the completion of this activity, have the students take a vote as to which ones would allow him to stay and which would have him deported. They will then be required to write an essay on their position and why they voted the way they did. Students can begin their essay and work on it until the end of class. Student can work on this for homework as well.

Day 2

1. Permit time in class for students to complete their essays. (Allow 25 minutes)

2. Sharing information: Students will now have the opportunity to share some things that they have learned. Ask students from each group to share what they have learned about the person represented in their shoe box. To guide discussion you can solicit some responses their completed worksheets from yesterday: Student Worksheet 3-Questions on Biographical Sketch of the Prince and Student Worksheet 4-Questions on the Biographical Sketch of Priestley. Then have the class compare the two men and consider the following questions:

  • What is similar about the two stories of Prince Gallitzin and Joseph Priestley?
    Here are some suggested responses:
    Both had influential figures in their lives which led them to America.
    They were both immigrants to America in the 1790s.
    They both held strong religious convictions.
    They both exhibited courage in moving to America and settling here.
    Both used their resources to support their callings.
    Both contributed writings in religious scholarship which remain today.

  • How are they different?
    Here are some suggested responses:
    They were different ages when coming here-Priestley being much older than Gallitzin.
    They settled in different areas in Pennsylvania.
    Their religious beliefs were not the same.
    Priestley had a family (children), and Gallitzin did not.
    Priestley was more active in the sciences and politics than Gallitzin.
    Gallitzin was the wealthier of the two.

  • Which person had the most positive influence on the infant United States, and why?

Accept reasonable responses.
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