Virtual Tenement Talk

Virtual Tenement Talk – Three Historians Walk Into A Saloon: 1870


When: Thursday, October 26, 2023, 6:30 - 7:30 pm ET

Event Location: YouTube Live

Cost: Suggested Donation

Coinciding with the opening of our Joseph and Rachel Moore apartment, Professor Ngai welcomes Eric Foner and Leslie Harris on October 26 to discuss the Fifteenth Amendment’s ratification in 1870. This amendment was the third in a trio of Civil War amendments to the Constitution which freed the enslaved, granted citizenship, and guaranteed the right to vote. The conversation, streamed to YouTube Live from our recreated 19th-century lager beer saloon, addresses their national significance and also examines the reaction to the amendment as experienced in the 8th ward, a Black and Irish tenement working-class district. New York City newspapers describe banners—”Out of Egypt Have I Brought My Children,” and “Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land”—that Black New Yorkers hung from their tenements. Join us for a fascinating conversation about American identity, race and belonging.

Three Historians Walk Into a Saloon is a three-part virtual Tenement Talk Series. Set in our 19th-century recreated lager beer saloon, where people gathered to read newspapers and debate the headlines, this series features today’s leading historians reliving some of the topics discussed long ago and delving into important turning points in our country’s history.

What are the different ways amendments and laws changed ideas of what it meant to be American? Who was included and who was excluded? Whether discussing the 15th Amendment, the Chinese Exclusion Act, or the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act, we’ll examine the laws’ impacts on the nation, and also how they were received by the Irish, Black, Italian, Jewish, German, Italian, Chinese and Puerto Rican residents of our NYC tenements.

Award-winning historian Mae Ngai, Professor of History and Asian American Studies at Columbia University, hosts a rotating set of colleagues for rousing conversations. While the conversations focus on different moments in the past, they are animated by present-day questions. In a recent Atlantic article, Professor Ngai observed: “Americans are still struggling over competing versions of what this country should be.” This series looks at past debates, analyzing past struggles to gain insight on today’s questions. We look forward to addressing your comments and questions as well!


This event has passed.

This program is supported, in part, with public funds from the National Park Service and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by Con Edison. It is also sponsored by a Humanities New York Action Grant.

Couldn’t make it? This program will continue to be available on our YouTube channel following the LIVE screening.

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