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Letters Home

Construction of the railroad attracted many different groups of people who were looking for employment. You had immigrants, such as the Chinese, Irish, Italian, and then you had the different types of people within a nationality, such as Mormons, and Civil War veterans. I read about this activity from the teacher’s guide at on its documentary “Transcontinental Railroad” by American Experience.

The students will write a letter home from the view-point of one of these groups of people. This will only work once you explain the differences and cultures of these different groups. Kids will describe work and camp conditions, any experiences they might have had, their interactions (or lack of) with other groups, what they miss from home, etc.

Share letters at the end of the activity.

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