PBS Learning Media

Videos and Lesson Plans Tied to State and National Classroom Standards

K-12 educators are invited to use video excerpts from and peer-reviewed lesson plans about the documentary film, Arab Indianapolis: A Hidden History (2022), in their classrooms. All materials, including discussion questions, sample assignments, and teaching tips, are available for free from PBS Learning Media.

Students learn about the origins of the Arab American community and its contributions to U.S. society and culture. Uncovering the “hidden history” of Arabs in one city, they utilize video and supporting materials to understand the overall impact of Arab Americans on U.S. civil society, the military, politics, and food from 1880 until present. Units include:

Arab American Food Traditions

Imagine yourself cooking alongside three Arab Americans as you learn about the diverse contributions of Arab people to American cuisine. Study the role of immigration, transportation, and agriculture in the making of the food, and how food sustains ethnic identity. Link here.

Arab American Immigration, 1880-World War I

Learn when, how, and why Arab Americans first arrived in the United States, where they settled in Indianapolis, and about social life and labor in the first Arabic-speaking neighborhood in the city. Link here.

Anti-Immigrant Discrimination in the Early 1900s

Understand the attempts of Arab immigrants to achieve financial and social success in the United States and the discrimination they faced. Investigate the role of the KKK and immigration policy in shaping immigrant life. Link here.

The Founding of St. George Syrian Orthodox Church

Learn about the founding of Arab American Christian churches. Discover why it was important to the first Arabic-speaking immigrants to establish religious congregations and the role these congregations played in their cultural and social lives. Link here.

Arab American Military Service in World War II

Watch the dramatic story of Raphael George, who was shot down over Europe and became a prisoner of war (POW) in Germany. Understand how thousands of Arab Americans served in the military, why they did so, and how we remember them. Link here.

Helen Corey: Arab American Political Pioneer in the 1960s

Learn about Helen Corey, who received over 1.1 million votes in 1964 to become Indiana’s first statewide Arab American office holder. Using video and student discussion, students also explore the role of gender in political and public life during the 1960s. Link here.

The Long History of Arab American Physicians

Learn about the contributions of Arab immigrants to health care since the 1920s and their accomplishments with the IU School of Medicine’s Dr. Shadia Jalal, esophageal cancer specialist, and Dr. Mohammad Al-Haddad, gastroenterologist. Link here.

Contemporary Anti-Arab Prejudice and Discrimination

Learn how Arab Americans have become central to immigration debates and white nationalist movements in the twenty-first century. Using the video and discussion questions, students can also discover how xenophobia is rooted in the past. Link here.

These lesson plans were written by Edward Curtis and have been peer reviewed by curriculum designers Susan Douglass, Georgetown University; Abeer Shinnawi, Reimagining Migration; and Lindsey Beckley, Indiana Historical Bureau. Carly Weidman of WFYI-Indianapolis was the project’s coordinator, preparing the materials for the PBS Learning Media environment. Support for this project was provided by the William M. and Gail M. Plater Chair of the Liberal Arts at IU Indianapolis and the donors of the Arab Indianapolis Foundation, Inc. Video content is produced by Fisher Productions in association with Indiana University.

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