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Interpreting the Evidence

New York State Migrant Education Children's Census, 1976-1996

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Contemporary United States (1965 - present)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load New York State Migrant Education Children's Census, 1976-1996 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Chart showing number of migrant children being educated in New York counties each year from 1976 to 1996.
Historical Context
New York State has had a need for seasonal farm workers ever since World War II. With an exodus from rural communities and family farms since the 1960s to the present, the need for agricultural and seasonal workers has increased. Because the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) expanded its presence in the southwestern states, more Mexican and Central American migrant workers made their way up the East Coast of the United States during the 1990s. Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans worked in upstate New York harvesting cabbage, cherries, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, apples, strawberries, and other fruits and vegetables.      

The children of these workers needed to attend school, but many times their education suffered due to the fact that they moved from place to place.  This document charts migrant children in New York by county over the two decades from 1976–1996.
Essential Question
How do migrant populations impact schools and local communities?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the key ideas of this chart and explain the impact of migrant populations on schools and local communities,
Historical Challenges
Research the New York State Migrant Tutorial Education Outreach. Use the photos of Dorothea Lange as a way to highlight the plight of farm workers.
Select five counties in the document that have a high number of migrant children. Find out what crops are grown. Research news articles on migrant workers in that area. Create a poster.
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Read a book dealing with migrant workers. Some possibilities are a biography of Cesar Chavez or a classic novel such as The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
Math: Find your county on the chart and create a bar graph using the information provided on migrant children. If your county is not listed, pick one close to you.