New York City History

A Union of Hope: Celebrate Black History Month with Joseph and Rachel Moore at the Tenement Museum

Union of Hope; Moore Parlor


This Black History Month (and throughout the year!) the Tenement Museum welcomes visitors to immerse themselves in the story of Joseph and Rachel Moore, Black New Yorkers who made their home in Lower Manhattan’s tenements after the Civil War.

The Tenement Museum preserves and interprets the history of real immigrant and migrant families. In our new exhibit, A Union of Hope: 1869, we shine light on the Moore family and their life in the Eighth Ward — modern-day SoHo — the little-known center of Manhattan’s Black community in the 1860s.

The Story of Joseph and Rachel Moore

Joseph Moore migrated to Lower Manhattan from the small town of Belvidere, New Jersey, while Rachel journeyed from a rural area of the Hudson Valley to establish roots in the Eighth Ward tenements. They were both born free, in the era when slavery was still legal in the United States. They arrived in the city at a time when Black New Yorkers had already established the largest free Black community in the North, with churches, newspapers, and community organizations; yet questions about safety and health in the city still prevailed.

Tenements like the one where the Moores lived were often overcrowded and too expensive, and together, Joseph and Rachel navigated a city and neighborhood that presented both challenges and possibilities. They shared their tenement apartment with Rachel’s step-daughter Jane, and two boarders (roommates), Irish immigrant Rose Brown and Rose’s 14-year old biracial son, Louis Munday. “A Union of Hope: 1869” shows how inextricably the Moore family’s story is interwoven with the stories of their Irish neighbors.

The story of Joseph and Rachel Moore also illuminates Black experiences during a transformative era in American history. In the years during and after the Civil War, Black Americans and their allies pushed for what became the most dramatic political change in the nation: the Reconstruction Amendments, which abolished slavery, instated birthright citizenship, and granted the right to vote for Black men. How did the 8th Ward celebrate and move forward from these changes, and how do their conversations help us understand conversations about race, identity, and history today?

The Making of "A Union of Hope: 1869" Exhibit

Watch our behind-the-scenes videos on the Moores — including a special look at our research for the new tour and our in-depth 20-minute short film, A Tale of Two Joseph Moores.

Plan Your Visit: What to Expect

On A Union of Hope: 1869, you’ll step back in time to the years immediately following the Civil War—a pivotal period that saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. An Educator will lead your tour, sharing artifacts, personal documents, and evocative visuals that bring the Moores’ to life in an immersive, recreated tenement apartment.

A Union of Hope: 1869 celebrates the resilience and aspirations of Black New Yorkers, and gives you the opportunity to actively participate in the preservation and sharing of a critical and inclusive historical narrative.

New Exhibit!
Plan Your Visit to A Union of Hope: 1869 Now!
Immerse yourself in the history of Joseph and Rachel Moore, celebrate Black History Month, and reflect on the shared hopes that shape our collective story.

Word on the Street

Check out what everyone has to say about the exhibit: