Shared Journeys

Newcomers to America share many common experiences, present and past. The Shared Journeys program is a series of eleven educational workshops for Adult ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes that provides a unique context for English language learning, helps students place their own immigration experience within a broader historical and political framework, and promotes critical engagement with civic issues. Each workshop includes a tour of a restored tenement apartment at 97 or 103 Orchard Street, and discussion about the connections between immigrant experiences, past and present. Thanks to our supporters, Shared Journeys is offered on a cost-free basis to participants and groups.

As an addition to a Shared Journeys workshop, we invite classes to share stories of their own and become part of the museum by participating in Your Story, Our Story.

You can participate in one, all, or a combination of the workshop topics, in any order. Most workshops are appropriate for intermediate to advanced ESOL students; some can be adapted to beginner-level students.

Booking and Reservations

Reservations are required for all Shared Journeys groups and must be made at least 4 weeks in advance. Available slots fill up quickly, so please call as far in advance as possible and have alternate dates available. To make reservations, please complete an inquiry form or call 646-518-3064

Group Size

There is no minimum group size. The maximum group size is 15 people. Groups larger than 15 people may book two simultaneous workshops, working with our staff to rotate through all experiences.

Special Needs

Please let us know of any special needs your group has at the time you book. The Museum offers assistive listening devices and large print materials. Please see our Accessibility Page for details on building access, and discuss your needs with our reservation managers.


Tenement Museum offers Shared Journeys workshops to ESOL classes free of charge. Shared Journeys is made possible through generous support from the National Park Service and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Space is limited and groups are served on a first-come, first served-basis.

Shared Journeys for Adults

Coming to the United States

Rosaria and Adolpho Baldizzi came to the United States as the first widespread restrictions on immigration were enforced. Participants will visit their 1935 apartment and compare their own immigration experience with that of the Baldizzis, discussing the negotiation of policies and regulations and what it means to be “American.” *Can be adapted for Beginner Level ESL students.

Making a Living

In 1897, the Levine family ran a small garment factory in their home. Factories like this one sparked a national debate about acceptable working conditions. Participants will learn about how past immigrants made a living and organized for better working conditions, and make comparisons to working conditions today.  *Can be adapted for Beginner Level ESL students.

Our Immigration Histories

In this workshop, participants meet a costumed interpreter playing 14-year-old Victoria Confino, who lived at 97 Orchard Street in 1916. Victoria tells participants about her culture, her decision to leave her home country, and the challenges of being an immigrant in 1916. Then, participants work in small groups to tell stories of their own immigration experiences.

Housing, Then and Now

What are acceptable housing conditions? In this workshop, participants take on the role of housing inspectors in the early 1900s and “inspect” the tenement building at 97 Orchard Street. In discussions afterward, participants learn how immigrants helped shape ideas about housing standards between 1863 and 1935, learn about current housing laws and discuss today’s standards for acceptable housing, and how to improve housing conditions today.

Immigrants and Social Welfare

Visit the apartment of Nathalie Gumpertz, who raised her three daughters on her own after her husband mysteriously disappeared in 1874. Participants use this story to discuss the challenges of making a living and raising a family in the United States today.

Health Issues in our Communities

Visit the 1869 apartment of the Moore family, whose youngest child died of malnutrition. Participants explore the Moores’ story and discuss issues related to immigrant health, including the barriers immigrants may face when trying to access health care.

Business & Family

Visit the lager beer saloon of John and Caroline Schneider in 1871. Participants learn how this family’s business served as a both restaurant and community center for the residents of Kleindeutschland, a German community on the Lower East Side. Discover how residents worked toward the American Dream, blending old customs and traditions with new American ways.

Immigrant Entrepreneurship

Explore the storefront stories of immigrant entrepreneurs that who set up businesses in the basement of 97 Orchard Street. In an interactive digital experience, learn about the Lustgartens’ Kosher butcher shop in the 1890s; Max Marcus’ general merchandise store in the 1930s; and the Meda family’s underwear store in the 1970s, as well as contemporary immigrant entrepreneurs who do business In the neighborhood today. *Recommended for advanced level students.

Preserving Traditions

Families learning English together can visit the home of the Rogarshevskys, set in the year 1915. This workshop gets both adults and children talking about  the decisions families make when preserving customs and traditions. Families alternate between recreated apartments and hands-on activities like baking together in our modern kitchens or oral history interviewing in our classrooms. *Can be adapted to Family Literacy groups.

Balancing Work and Family

Explore a recreated 1980s Chinatown Garment factory featuring the story of the Wong family. The Wongs immigrated to the United States following the Hart-Celler immigration act, which ended harsh restrictions on immigration from Asia. Participants can engage independently with interactive technology while learning about work/family struggles and how people find community in their work places. *Recommended for Advanced learners.

Making a New Home

Visit the recreated 1960s apartment of the Saez-Velez family, who migrated from Puerto Rico to the Lower East Side. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the ways in which the Saez-Velez family preserved and adapted their culture and make connections to their own immigration or migration experience.

Protection in the United States

Visit the 1950s apartment of Regina and Kalman Epstein, who came to the United States as Holocaust refugees following WWII. Participants learn about the struggles that have existed for people coming to this country and make connections with their own immigration or migration experience.

Shared Journeys for High School

English Language Learners in 9th-12th Grades in New York City Public High Schools can participate in Shared Journeys, a workshop series specially designed for transitional bilingual education, dual language, and ELL classes. In each of the workshops, students tour the museum’s historic tenement building, learn new English vocabulary words, and participate in discussion activities about how their own immigrant experiences compare to those of immigrants past. Learn about Shared Journeys for High School Groups below:

Meet Victoria

In this living history program, students meet an actress playing the role of Victoria Confino, a 14-year-old Sephardic Jewish immigrant in 1916.

Hard Times

Visit the apartments of Nathalie Gumpertz, a German single mother of four from the 1870s, and the Baldizzis, an Italian family living during the Great Depression.

Sweatshop Workers

Visit the apartments of the Levines, a Jewish family running a home-based garment shop in the 1890s, and the Rogarshevskys, a Jewish family of eight with working teenagers in the 1910s.

Irish Outsiders

Visit the apartment of the Moore family, an Irish Catholic family who lived at 97 Orchard Street in 1869. Students will explore representations of immigrants in mass media.

Shared Journeys for Middle School

English Language Learners in 6th-8th Grade in New York Public High Schools can explore the recreated apartments of immigrant families while strengthening their conversation and listening skills. In our recreated apartments, students learn about past immigrant families’ decisions, struggles, and sacrifices, and compare them to their own experiences. Each workshop also includes a classroom component, in which students interview each other on their own experiences of cultural adaptation and boost their home and family vocabulary through descriptions of the apartments in 97 Orchard Street.

Hard Times

Visit the apartments of Natalie Gumpertz, a German single mother of four from the 1870s, and the Baldizzis, an Italian family living during the Great Depression.

Sweatshop Workers

Visit the apartments of the Levines, a Jewish family running a garment shop from their home in the 1890s, and the Rogarshevskys, a Jewish family of eight with working teenagers in the 1910s.

Victoria Confino

Students meet an actor playing the role of Victoria Confino, a 14-year-old immigrant living in 97 Orchard Street in 1916.