How To Be American

At every point in American history, immigrants, migrants and refugees have arrived here searching for a sense of belonging. In cities, towns and in rural areas alike, they’ve asked themselves an incredibly complex and ever-changing question: “How can I fit in to America?”

Listen to the podcast trailer below and/or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or anywhere else you listen to podcasts! We are planning two six-episode series each year, so make sure you check back here regularly for new episodes, updates and exclusive content!

Meet the New Host

Hi, I’m Amanda Adler Brennan! As a New York native, and descendant of late 19th century Lower East Side Immigrants, I was excited when I first joined the Museum back in 2010. After a brief relocation to Miami, I have now happily returned to New York and to the Tenement Museum. With former host Brendan Murphy’s departure, I have had the good fortune to step in as the new host of the How To Be American podcast (HTBA), and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Brendan and I had a great time when we sat down recently to reflect on the last season, and talk about all of the exciting things to come. We’ve put together a little bit of bonus content from our conversation which I hope you’ll enjoy. And don’t forget to stay tuned for an all new season of How To Be American, coming soon! In the meantime, for an inside look at what we’re working on,  follow my podcast journey on Twitter @amandalistens

Season 1

Illustration of young Latinx in front of the Statue of Liberty.

Episode 1: I Would Cross a Million Borders

Join our host Brendan Murphy as he explores how two women, one during 20s and one just a few years ago, navigated the American immigration system and all its pitfalls.

Exterior image of Scarr's Pizza on the Lower East Side

Episode 2: Flat Dough With Stuff on Top

Ever wonder how pizza became New York City’s quintessential street food? Get ready to find out as we unveil pizza’s very own immigration story.

Episode 3: She Galvanized a Movement

In this episode we explored how immigrant women fought to gain the right to vote and are still fighting to get seats at the table.

Episode 4: Sing Like An American

Hundreds of sewing machines rattle and hiss—explore the industrial soundscape that shaped the American identities of young factory workers in 1911 with composer Julia Wolfe.

Episode 5: Why Can’t I Be Both?

Explore the idea of the “immigrant monolith” and uncover the diversity that exists within two distinct immigrant communities on the Lower East Side.

Episode 6: The Avatar for America

Dive deep with host Brendan Murphy into the history of comic books! Not only do we explore the origin story of the medium, we also talk about what superheroes can teach us about American society. We speak with historian Jonathan Gray and freelance writer Alex Simmons, as well as Kevin Wong, a former resident of 103 Orchard for whom comics were an incredibly formative part of his childhood.

Series Description

On the Tenement Museum’s first ever podcast series — “How to Be American” — the Tenement Museum explores how the notion of “being American” has evolved, in leaps and bounds and glacially-slow shifts, over the course of our nation’s history. We’ll dig deep into the past to learn about the struggles, triumphs and oft-colliding cultures of immigrants to New York City’s fabled Lower East Side, and chat with preeminent historians, chefs and more to help connect the dots to the present day.

For some of us, asking how we fit in to America is part of a daily struggle to survive. For others, it’s a nearly non-existent question. But no matter whether your family has lived in America for six generations or six weeks, “How to be American” will make you reconsider what it means to be American.

Podcast Merch

Support the podcast by purchasing our new “How To Be American” mug!