History KS3 / GCSE: Jewish migration to Manchester in the late 1800s

In this short film for secondary schools historian David Olusoga visits Manchester which, along with the other industrial manufacturing towns surrounding it, acted as a magnet for waves of economic migrants from all over the world.

In the late 1800's and early 1900’s, 30,000 Jewish migrants from Russia and Eastern Europe settled in Manchester.

David Olusoga meets Janice Haber and her family, the descendents of Jewish migrants, and talks to historian Ruth Percy who describes how Conservative politicians and right wing newspapers of the time exploited economic concerns associated with the new migrants, stoking up racist xenophobia against migrants like the Jews, which would become familiar throughout the 1900’s.

The arrival of the Jews and other migrants led to changes in the law, and to the emergence of modern immigration legislation – laws that persist to this day.

This short film is from the BBC series, Migration.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 3

This short film has as its heart a strong family story with an element of luck.

Janice’s ancestors made it because of a helpful Jewish solicitor in Grimsby: if they were asylum seekers today, would they be admitted?

The great great granddaughter is asked how she feels about her ancestry - a good starting point for discussion about the value of family history, and for students to investigate their own.

The reference to the Holocaust could be a starting point for an enquiry into the history of Jewish migration and anti-Semitism in England, as a contextual prelude to study of the Holocaust.

Key Stage 4

This short film illustrates through one family’s story key themes in the 20th and 21st century history of migration:

  • Firstly, people coming as refugees seeking safety and finding success and opportunity, often in business, so that they have a marked impact on the country: individual success stories in business, the arts and sciences could be researched.
  • Secondly, pressures from poverty and overcrowding led to resentment against immigrants: there are links back, for example, to 19th century Irish immigrants, and forward to the present.
  • Thirdly, increasing immigration controls fuelled by xenophobia, often stirred up in the media: students could compare the British Brothers League poster with current anti-immigration headlines.

Students could create a poster with Janice Haber’s family (or another from another period), at the centre and arrows pointing out to all the key themes that the family story links to.

Towards the end Janice reveals that a relative died in the Holocaust, prompting a ‘what if?’ question which could be applied to many migrations - Huguenot, East African, Asian, etc.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching history at KS3 and KS4/GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Fourth Level and National 4 and 5 in Scotland.

More from Migration:

The story of Black migrants in England in Tudor times
The story of the Palatines who migrated to Britain in the 1700s
Black people in Britain during the Atlantic slave trade era
The story of British indentured workers emigrating to America
How British migrants made fortunes working for the East India Company
The Irish migrants who moved to Liverpool during the Industrial Revolution