Virtual Tenement Talk

Virtual Tenement Talk – Three Historians Walk Into A Saloon: 1882


When: Thursday, November 9, 2023, 6:30 - 7:30 pm ET

Event Location: YouTube Live

Cost: Suggested Donation

Join us on November 9 on YouTube Live for a discussion on the rising anti-immigrant sentiment of the 19th century. In 1855, New York City became a majority-immigrant city for the first time, with Irish and German immigrants making up the most populous of the city’s newcomers. Though immigration and the growth of the economy propelled New York into a metropolis, and the fourth largest city in the world, not everyone welcomed the immigrants. The Know Nothing Party, for example, feared Catholicism and proposed a 25-year wait time before immigrants could become citizens. The Republicans passed temperance laws that threatened lager beer saloons, striking at the heart of German economic, social and political life. By the 1880s, nativists directed their venom at Chinese immigrants, resulting in the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Historian Tyler Anbinder, author of City of Dreams, joins Professor Ngai, author of The Chinese Question, and Tenement Museum President Annie Polland in a conversation on exclusion and inclusion, discrimination and prejudice, and how it impacted immigrants and migrants in similar and different ways.

While this program is free, you can donate to support future programming from the Tenement Museum here

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!

Let us know you plan to attend! 

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.

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

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