Public History Postdoctoral Fellow




Position Term: July 1, 2022- December 31, 2023

Position Description

The Tenement Museum seeks applicants for an 18-month exhibit development and public history postdoctoral fellowship, to contribute significant research to the Museum’s next major permanent exhibit, interpreting the story of Joseph and Rachel Moore, a Black family living in a New York City tenement during the mid-19th century. This exhibit represents a crucial new chapter for the Tenement Museum interpreting the stories of migration alongside stories of immigration. For about five years, the Museum has invited and explored stories of Black Americans and stories of migration through our Your Story, Our Story online exhibit, our Tenement Talk public conversation series, and our walking tour Reclaiming Black Spaces. With this exhibit, we’ll be interpreting a story of a Black New York family within a recreated tenement apartment exhibit for the first time. New public programming will tell the Moore’s story in a recreated tenement apartment, and also connect their story to that of an Irish immigrant family sharing the same name. When complete, this exhibit will be the first time the stories of Black communities in Lower Manhattan’s tenements are interpreted in a house museum, and will help reframe national narratives about who lived in tenements and the connections between internal migration and international immigration. 

The Tenement Museum is a known leader in researching and presenting stories of immigration and migration. We are known for our exceptional programming, and are frequently covered in national media. This exhibit will represent a high-profile opportunity to shape stories of Black experience in the 1800s. The Fellow will be a fundamental member of the exhibit’s project team, helping shape the Museum’s interpretation about race, migration, and American Identity. 

The Fellow will participate in the collaborative exhibit development process, including interpretive planning, consultations with scholars, descendants and communities, staff training, and leading tours. They will undertake archival and secondary source research to help the Museum better understand the lives of Black New Yorkers living in tenements, and the day-to-day interactions between Black and Irish New Yorkers during the 1860s. The Fellow will also research for existing tours as part of an ongoing initiative to strengthen the Museum’s interpretation.

The Fellow will gain experience across the Museum’s programs and public history practice. The organization is highly collaborative, and the Fellow will work closely with colleagues in the education, curatorial, marketing, and development departments. The Fellow will employ a broad set of skills in project management for both museum and academic settings. 

The position is funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation.

About the Museum: Founded in 1988, the Tenement Museum teaches U.S. history through the stories of the im/migrants who built lives on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. We are widely recognized as a model for narrative history, storytelling, and visitor engagement. The Museum is housed in two historic buildings located on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Daily Museum Educator-led tours of family homes, walking tours of the neighborhood, school programs, special events and other experiences share former tenement residents’ stories. 

Race and Equity Statement:

The Tenement Museum is committed to diversifying our stories and our staff, and working towards accessibility, inclusion, and equity in our work. This position is an opportunity to join a team working towards and committed to better representation, strengthening community relationships, and improving staff support. 

Here are a few examples of our equity work:

  • We have an IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and access) Council with a model of all-staff involvement in bi-monthly all-staff meetings. The Council has four committees working on public programs, equity in hiring and retention, museum language, and community relationships. 
  • Staff across the institution offer feedback and ideas on content, interpretation, and programming through working groups and individual reflection opportunities.
  • A People of Color Employee Resource Group has been recently reconstituted, continuing the tradition of a highly engaged POC caucus that lost members due to pandemic-related staff reductions. 
  • We have recently moved an apartment exhibit into the Manny Cantor Center, a community organization in the Lower East Side, to offer programming embedded within the neighborhood.

Qualifications: By the start of the fellowship, the Fellow must hold a PhD in History, American Studies, African American Studies, or a related field. Demonstrated interest in publicly-engaged research and/or public history is essential, as is the ability to communicate complex ideas in plain writing. Experience in public history and/or research of African-American history strongly preferred. We encourage applicants from historically under-represented identities and communities. 

The Fellow must be in residency and able to work on site at least four days per week. This position requires proof of full Covid-19 vaccination and booster (no exceptions) and adherence to all onsite COVID-19 safety measures.  Candidates must be authorized to work in the US.  

Salary: $70,000 per year, plus health insurance and other benefits (Vacation, Sick, Personal Days, Matching Pension Contribution, EAP, Transit Checks).

How to Apply: Candidates must submit their cover letter and CV via the Museum’s career portal.   Applications received by June 1, 2022 will be given full consideration.