Emma Lazarus Project: Curriculum

Emma Lazarus Curriculum

Pull a Lesson from the Shelf to get started!

Possible Pathways

Possible Pathways

This curriculum gives teachers agency to make choices about what fits into their curriculum and time constraints, as well as subject area it best integrates (e.g. social studies, English language arts, or thnic studies). 
There are four steps to getting started with the curriculum: 
Step One: pick your entry point
Step Two: Choose your content from the archive
Step Three: Connect Emma's experience to your students' lives
Step Four: Enter the poetry contest 
Step One

Pick Your Entry Point

Emma's life helps us to understand a variety of important ideas. Which topics do you want to use Emma's story to bring to life for students in your classroom? 

American Identity Arts & Letters Immigration Inequality
Jewish Identity Antisemitism Statue of Liberty Freedom of Religion


Step Two

Choose Content from the Archive

  • Start with Emma. Review the digital storybook to see how her life gives important context to your selected entry point
  • Select primary sources from the curriculum archive to investigate with your students
  • Review the media collection and determine if there are any additional resources you would like to utilize to enhance your lesson
Step Three

Connect Emma's Experience to Your Students' Lives

Coming soon! This section is currently under construction. Please email cbracci@ajhs.org for more information. 

Step Four

Enter The Poetry Contest

AJHS has created a national poetry contest that asks students "If you could write a poem for the Statue of Liberty today, what would you say?" Visit our poetry contest page to learn more about how to submit your students original work to the poetry contest. 

Digital Storybook

Digital Storybook

This section is currently under construction! Email cbracci@ajhs.org for more information. 
Growing Up Emma
Emma's World
Emma's Jewish Identity
Emma's Activism
From the AJHS Archives

From the AJHS Archives

The American Jewish Historical Society is the oldest ethnic, cultural archive in the United States. The AJHS has an unparalleled collection on the Lazarus family, as well as material on immigration, anti-Semitism and freedom of religion. The American Jewish Historical Society, steward of the Emma Lazarus papers, has now digitized her work and made it available to the public. 
In an era that can sometimes flatten history, our collections allow us to show that history is complicated, people waver over ideas and convictions, and students have a place in that interpretation. 
Sources For Students

This printable packet includes scaffolded primary sources from the American Jewish Historical Society’s archives.

Download the packet

Teacher’s Guides

This printable packet includes primary sources from the American Jewish Historical Society’s archives and features additional contextualizing information for teachers.

Download the From the AJHS Archives Teacher's Guides


This presentation explores the American Jewish Historical Society’s archives and accompanies the printable sources for students.

Download the From the AJHS Archives Presentation

Digitized Collections

Teachers can explore The American Jewish Historical Society’s digitized collections online, including the Emma Lazarus papers.

Visit AJHS's Digitized Collections

Visit Emma’s Sitting Room

Visit Emma’s Sitting Room

From Sitting Room to Soapbox is an interactive exhibit that situates the genesis of “The New Colossus” in a brownstone sitting room. This exhibit recreates the room where the author, Emma Lazarus, immersed herself in the debates and literature of the day. Students will have the chance to read and discuss Emma’s words and immerse themselves in the issues of the time. AJHS has developed two fieldtrips that are grounded in the curriculum and include a guided tour of the exhibit. These fieldtrips invite students to explore the history of Union Square and go behind the scenes of the archives.  

Teacher’s Guide

This Teacher’s Guide provides an overview and step by step suggestions for how to engage your students before and after their visit to the American Jewish Historical Society.

Download the Visit Emma's Sitting Room Teacher's Guide.

Student Materials

These printable worksheets accompany our pre & post visit lessons Teacher’s guide.

Download the Visit Emma's Sitting Room Student Materials


This presentation explores the context in which “The New Colossus” was written and is designed to accompany our pre & post visit lessons.

Download the Visit Emma's Sitting Room Presentation

Request a Visit

AJHS has developed two field trips that complement the classroom-based curriculum.

Archive Tour: Students are invited to go behind the scenes into the archives in order to piece together the story of Emma Lazarus' life and explroe the world she lived in.

Walking Tour: Students explore the history of Union Square, the famous figures who stood atop soapboxes, and explore how even in complicated times people can engage civilly. 

To learn more or schedule a field trip, email cbracci@ajhs.org or call (212) 294-6164.

Digital Media Collection

Digital Media Collection

Explore the multi-media resources available to augment your classroom experience. From a 13 minute film that traces Emma Lazarus' life story and explore the context in which she came to write "The New Colossus," to recordings of contemporary poets responding to Emma's words with their own original poems; this collection of media can be used to enhance your lesson.

Digital Storybook

This interactive digital storybook bring's AJHS' archives and Emma Lazarus' story to life. 

Access the Digital Storybook

Poetry Contest Gallery

Coming soon! After the winners of the 2020 Poetry Contest are announced, we will begin growing a gallery of original student works. 

Submit your poem here

92 St Y’s “A New Colossus”

In July 2017, 92nd Street Y paid tribute to Lazarus’s iconic poem by hosting a week-long online festival using the hashtag #ANewColossus. Nineteen of the nation’s best emerging poets wrote poems that explored both the stories Lazarus’s poem invites, and those to which it may have blinded us.

Visit the 92nd St Y's A New Colossus

Watch the Film

Teacher's Guide 

Bring the story of Emma Lazarus to your classroom. Most famous for writing The New Colossus, Emma’s life and legacy 
will inspire your students to participate in the ongoing conversation of what it means to be an American.


Who is this for?
  • Educators looking for resources to teach social studies, American history, American-Jewish history, civic engagement, English language arts, or poetry and to build skills like inquiry, historical analysis, writing, and creativity
  • Ideal for middle and high school students, but can be adapted to inspire all ages
What will my students do?
  • Examine and interpret primary sources
  • Make connections between the past and present - Emma’s life and theirs today
  • Use their voice to engage in the issues that matter to them
  • Write a poem that expresses what it means for them to be American
How can I use this?
  • Pull a folder from the shelf to get started with the materials. The curriculum is flexibly designed so that you make choices to best meet your needs and goals - whether you are looking to enhance one lesson or build an entire
  • Materials are tagged to help you find what you are looking for and make connections across the resources. Tags include: Statue of Liberty, inequality, immigration, antisemitism, freedom of religion, arts and letters, Jewish identity, American identity 
What’s included?  
  • Digital story book that tells the story of Emma’s life and her most famous poem
  • Primary source collection which turns your students into historians
  • Activities that give your students a pedestal from which to share their thoughts
What’s this about a contest?
  • Just as Emma responded to issues by writing a poem that addressed American identity, we are inviting middle and high school students to write their own poem that speaks to their vision of America 
  • Entries can be submitted until May 1, 2020
  • Winners will be announced at a event in June of 2020 at the American Jewish Historical Society
Where should I start?
  • Watch this 13-minute video for an overview of Emma’s story and to see how her work can inspire your students to contribute their ideas to American identity

The Covenant Foundation

This curriculum was made possible (in part) by funds granted by The Covenant Foundation. The statements made and views expressed, however, are solely the responsibility of the author(s).

Re-imagining Mibration

Re-imagining Migration was created to foster understanding and the successful inclusion of migrant youth across the globe. Re-imagining Migration equips teachers to engage the children of migration and their peers to learn from one another in reflective learning environments.

Facing History and Ourselves Facing History and Ourselves is a nonprofit international educational and professional development organization. FHAO equips teachers with strategies that help young people wrestle with current events and difficult issues through the lens of history.