Family and Immigrant History

Submitted by Ruthanne Weispfenning

Language: German
Unit Cultural Theme or
Academic Content Area:


Target Audience:

Traditional High School
Year of Instruction: 4

Proficiency Level:

Intermediate Mid



1.1, 1.2, 1.3




3.1, 3.2




Unit Timeframe:

23 - 50 minute class sessions

Unit Overview:

As a result of researching and charting their own and their family's history and conducting interviews to appreciate others' past the students will develop techniques for historical research. Then the students will study some of the causes of the immigration of German speakers to the US and how these causes affected their family history. They will keep notes in the form of journals, charts and timelines and use these to prepare an oral presentation of a famous German-speaking immigrant's life and immigration experience.


Students at this level will have completed 2 years of American History and at least one of early European history so they will have some background of major events in World History that did have an effect on immigration to the US.

In addition to some historical background the students will have completed at least 3 years of instruction in German.

General Unit References and Resources:

Americans from Germany by Gerard Wilk German Information Center NYC 1987
The German Americans in Minnesota complied by Concordia College Moorhead, MN 1981
Winona County Historical Archives – Walter Bennick
Winona County Historical Society’s Educator – Vicki Englisch
Winona Public Library
Minnesota Historical Society


Links or files for unit content:     A new window will open for each lesson.

Lesson 01 - How to construct and read a documented timeline
Lesson 02 - Construction of a personal timeline with proving documents
Lesson 03 - How to read and construct a family pedigree chart
Lesson 04 - Using Internet sources to find missing information on family pedigree chart 
Lesson 05 - How to conduct a personal history interview
Lesson 06 - Researching the life of a famous German immigrant
Unit Assessment