Share the journey
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Share the journey of The New American, from the
turmoil of the old country, to the promise of
America. The immigrant journey includes the
steamship passage of 1910, the path through Ellis
Island, the sweatshops of the lower east side of
Manhattan. Learn what American liberty and
opportunity means to people around the world.
4th Grade through
US History (Ellis
(Effects of the
Theatre / Drama
Television - Film
The New American begins in rural Ireland where we meet Bridget Rose Fitzgerald, her
father and her brother, Denny. The year is 1912. The Fitzgeralds barely manage to hold
onto their farm in bad times. After Denny disappears in Dublin, Father is left with no choice
but to send Bridget to America in hopes she will be able to send back enough money to
save their home.
The program follows Bridget as she is placed in steerage on a steamship headed for New
York. On board she makes a new friend and learns to weather the storms at sea.
At Ellis Island, Bridget is tagged and numbered. Thousands of immigrants are crammed into
a huge, noisy facility. After a barrage of tests (including a painful eye examination) and a
long list of confusing and embarrassing questions, Bridget is passed through and taken to
In New York Bridget is tricked
by an unscrupulous relative and is expected to clean a tenement for no pay. After a few
weeks she finds refuge with an immigrant aid society and begins work at a sweatshop
called The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Bridget makes friends with an English girl at the
factory and begins sending money home.
Bridget loses her friend when the factory burns down. She becomes a maid for a wealthy
Irish American family and is able to continue to send back enough money to help her
father. When he gives the farm to another cousin she is presented with the option to stay
and become an American citizen.
After studying and passing the citizenship exam, and with her family obligations fulfilled,
Bridget fully embraces her new home. . America.
Written by Rachel Atkins