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Voyage Across the Atlantic

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Late 19th Century US Immigration

The Voyage Across the Atlantic

The Journey continues as the family endures medical exams to gain passage onto the German steamship, HAPAG. Once on board, they are directed to the steerage compartment of the ship. In order to help the students understand the crowded, uncomfortable living conditions, they are instructed to lay out their bunks (which will not fit) and to arrange themselves so that they are completely in the small designated area of the “ship.” The journey continues as the family endures medical exams to gain passage onto the German steamship, HAPAG. Once on board, they are directed to the steerage compartment of the ship. In order to help the students understand the crowded, uncomfortable living conditions, they are instructed to lay out their bunks (which will not fit) and to arrange themselves so that they are completely in the small designated area of the “ship.”

The Voyage Across the Atlantic

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The constant rocking of the ship causes many passengers to suffer from seasickness throughout the voyage.

To simulate this experience, students are instructed to paint each others’ faces to create a sickly, pale look.

The parents are worried that their sick children will be turned away when they reach America. Hoping to nurse them back to health, Mother covers one of her sick children in a blanket and carries him above deck to for some fresh air.

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After 2 weeks on the ship the family is exhausted but on the mend. They see the large statue as they approach land. They have finally reached America. Now they must go through the dreaded processing of Ellis Island. If they can pass the mental and medical tests, they will be admitted into the US. If they don’t, they will be sent back from where they came.

Although they are exhausted from their long journey and weak from the voyage across the Atlantic, they are greeted by cold, business like officials who show them no kindness. Instead, they are herded like cattle around this large room filled with thousands of other immigrants.

Voyage Across The Atlantic 4

To simulate the chaos and confusion of this unforgiving place, students are directed to all stand in lines within a small area designated as The Grand Hall, as the teacher (acting as an official) pushes and shoves them into place.

Medical examinations are uncomfortable and scary.

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The dreaded eye examinations are the worst. Although there have been no cases of the blinding disease known as trachoma in the United States, officials fear that the newly arriving immigrants may carry this disease in with them. Consequently, every immigrant must undergo a painful eye test where a hook is used to pull back the eyelid in order to detect signs of the illness.

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Unfortunately, two of the children do not pass the exams. They are still too weak and sickly from the trip. Luckily, one of the doctors accepts a bribe to let the family pass through together. After their long, strenuous journey, the family passes through “The Golden Gates.”

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