Teach PA History
"No Roasted Pigeons Are Going to Fly into Their Mouths": Evaluating Two Perspectives on Immigration and Work in 18th Century Pennsylvania.
What to Know
Teaching Time
2 50-minute sessions
Grade Level
Elementary School
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
  • Geography
  • History
Historical Period
  • Colonization and Settlement - 1601-1760
Lesson Introduction: Pennsylvania has long been the destination of choice for immigrants from around the world. During the first half of the eighteenth century, a great wave of European immigrants-primarily of English, Irish, Ulster Scots, and German origin-made Pennsylvania their new home. As thousands of immigrants flooded into Pennsylvania, relatives and friends back in Europe were naturally curious to know both how immigrants fared and whether or not they should join them in the New World. To answer these questions, several immigrants and notable American colonists published works describing life in Pennsylvania. Among these are the writings by German immigrant Gottlieb Mittelberger and American founding father Benjamin Franklin that are excerpted in this lesson. As students will learn in this lesson, both of these men arrive at opposite conclusions regarding whether or not prospective immigrants should travel to Pennsylvania. Students will draw conclusions about factors that shaped each man's perspective. Additionally, they will compare and contrast the writings, then evaluate each writer's arguments based on the examples he cites, his personal experiences, and his credibility. After this, students will take on the persona of a mid-eighteenth century German immigrant who works as an indentured servant in Pennsylvania. From this imaginary perspective, students will write a letter to a cousin in Germany explaining which author is more convincing.


Students will be able to:

  1. Identify how hard work was a central part of immigrants' experiences in 18th century Pennsylvania.

  2. Compare and contrast Mittelberger's and Franklin's perspectives on immigrants' prospects at upward mobility.

  3. Analyze a painting portraying "Lubberland," a place referenced in both primary sources.

  4. Describe each author's point of view, purpose in writing, and biases.

  5. Evaluate the arguments made by both authors based on their reasoning, examples, and credibility.

Standards Alignment

  • Arts and Humanities

    9.2.5. B. Relate works in the arts chronologically to historical events (e.g., 10,000 B.C. to present).
    9.2.5. D. Analyze a work of art from its historical and cultural perspective.
    9.2.5. D. Analyze a work of art from its historical and cultural perspective.

  • Geography

    7.1.5.B. Describe and locate places and regions as defined by physical and human features.

  • History

    8.1.3. C. Understand fundamentals of historical interpretation.
    8.1.3 B. Develop an understanding of historical sources.
    8.2.3. A. Understand the political and cultural contributions of individuals and groups to Pennsylvania.
    8.2.3. B. Identify and describe primary documents, material artifacts and historic sites important in Pennsylvania history.

  • Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

    1.1.5. A. Establish the purpose for reading a type of text (literature, information) before reading.
    1.1.5. D. Identify the basic ideas and facts in text using strategies.
    1.2.5. A. Read and understand essential content of informational texts and documents in all academic areas.
    1.2.5. C. Produce work in a literary genre that follows the conventions of the genre
    1.2.5. D. Make inferences about similar concepts in multiple texts and draw conclusions, citing evidence from the text to support answers.
    1.2.5. E. Read, understand, and respond to essential content of text and documents in all academic areas.
    1.4.5. C. Write persuasive pieces with a clearly stated position or opinion and supporting detail, citing sources when needed.
    1.5.5. A. Write with a sharp, distinct focus identifying topic, task and audience
    1.5.5. B. Write using well-developed content appropriate for the topic.
    1.5.5. C. Organize writing in logical order. Use appropriate transitions within sentences and between paragraphs. Include an identifiable introduction, body, and conclusion.
    1.5.5. D. Write with an understanding of style, using a variety of sentence structures and descriptive word choices (e.g., adjectives, nouns, adverbs, verbs) to create voice. Include specific details that convey meaning and set a tone.
    1.5.5. E. Revise writing to improve organization and word choice: check the logic, order of ideas, and precision of vocabulary.

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