Our Stories Need You
We hope you and those close to you are healthy and staying safe in this difficult time. Please know we are thinking of you, our Tenement Museum teacher and parents. We greatly admire the incredible work you are doing to continue our young people’s learning right now.
We want to share a few Tenement Museum resources that may offer inspiration and spark curiosity while students are learning outside the classroom.
While the Tenement Museum is closed to the public, we will do what we can to support learning and help students draw inspiration and comfort from the distant and recent past. Our stories of newcomers facing great uncertainty and hardship offer lessons on community, family, and navigating challenges together.
Virtual Field Trips
We offer private field trips, appropriate for grades 2 and up, to explore the stories of the families who once lived on Orchard Street. A Tenement Museum educator will guide you through primary sources, objects, oral histories, and more, drawing lessons suited to your curriculum. We also have field trips available for adult and senior groups!
Online Exhibit Exploration Guides
We’ve created guided explorations of our Under One Roof Online Exhibit.
Census Remote Teaching Lessons
This week was Census Day, and completing the census is a way for us all to get involved in shaping the future of our communities. Use our lesson on examining a census record from 1910 and ask students to find 10 facts and make 2 inferences about the people listed on the record.
Reading and Writing
Read the stories of a real im/migrant family that made their lives on the Lower East Side of New York City from the 1860’s through the 1970’s. Access photographs, videos, oral histories that bring their stories to life
In this time where we need each other more than ever, read the story of the Saez Velez family from the 1960’s about the challenges they overcame and the community they build to consider how immigrant and migrant families’ efforts to improve their own lives end up helping all people.
*Includes videos and images!
As we look to a multitude of systems to support each other and ourselves, read the story of the Gumpertz family to learn where they turned for help during the Panic of 1873. Natalie Gumpertz was a German single mother who raised her three daughters in the Lower East Side in the 1870s. Students explore the community of the Little Germany neighborhood and learn how Natalie supported her family during an economic and family crisis with the help of her community.
Each of the family stories has writing activities in the Teacher Guide. Have students read the story of the Rogarshevsky family from the 1910’s. Bessie Rogarshevsky, a teenager, has a difficult decision to make when stakes are high. Students take on her role and weigh their options.
*Includes primary source documents and images!
Watching and Listening
You can find a great number of oral histories and video interviews of our families on our website. Each source has an associated lesson plan with engagement activity.
As an adult, Josephine Baldizzi reflects on her childhood in a tenement apartment in the 1930’s during the Great Depression in this oral history. Hear about the way she slept, played, and helped her neighbors through the airshaft window. Use the guidance in the lesson, “Listen Closely to an Oral History”, to have students draw images from the oral history. You can provide more information about the Baldizzi family and their perseverance by reading their story.
It’s the hard work of millions of individuals that make a society run during good times and bad. Watch a video of footage from Chinatown Garment factories in the 1980’s that include an interview with Mrs. Wong who says “everyone sewed garments like their lives depended on it.” Guidance for investigating that statement and information on how workers improved their lives through community action can be found in the lesson “View 1980’s Garment Factory Footage.” You can provide more information about the Wong Family by reading their story.
In the 1860’s, 17-year old Bridget Moore left her home in Ireland during the potato famine knowing that her life would never be the same. In this video, a Tenement Museum costumed interpreter plays Bridget Moore and gives us a tour of her apartment to show us the ways she finds comfort through connection to her family and culture. Students can watch and identify all the ways Bridget keeps her homeland alive. You can provide more information about the Moore family by reading their story.
In this Interactive Flash game, students help 14-year-old Victoria Confino navigate moving to a new place in 1916. Learn more about Victoria by reading the Confino Family Story.
*Must have Flash to use
Inspired by Victoria Confino’s story and the Tenement Museum, our friends at PBS LearningMedia created a Mission US game where students help a young immigrant navigate New York City at the turn of the Twentieth Century, work to help support her family, and witness changes in factories.
Exploring and Collecting Stories of Comfort
In our new collection on Your Story, Our Story, we’re curating stories about objects that bring us comfort. In this difficult moment, share a story with students of objects that bring strength, connection, and warm memories. Consider asking them to free write or share about an object that brings them comfort.
The Silver Rosary
“Every time I stare at that rosary I seem to have all my family from Mexico right by my side, taking it off my neck and holding it in my palms feeling everyone’s presence as if every being of my family was there, holding my hand.” –Jaime
Collections to Explore
Our Tenement Women: Agents of Change digital exhibit has images, sources, and stories of strong women through Lower East Side history in celebration of Women’s History Month.
The Tenement Museum online photo archive contains thousands of images for teaching and exploring: trying searching terms like “Lower East Side” or “Street Scene” or click “Random Images” for a surprise assortment.
The Your Story, Our Story Collection holds stories from contributors across the country—curated collections explore Community Resilience and Health, Medicine, and Comfort, among others.
Add a virtual background to your family video calls during the holidays!
Zoom into the Past
As a way to bring elements of the Tenement experience to you, we have made available images from our historic apartments for you to use as a background on your video calls! Families can download images of our tenement apartments along with fast-facts about the families who lived there. Place yourself in the middle of the Italian Baldizzi family kitchen in the 1920s or the Irish Moore family living room in the 1860s! Join us to #zoomintothepast.
With Tenement Museum resources, students become historians. Using our teacher-tested lesson plans, students engage in inquiry and learn to use critical thinking to interpret objects, oral histories, and primary sources. These materials can enrich a visit to the Museum, or support classroom activities.
We will soon be hosting virtual workshops for teacher professional development that will help you gain content knowledge and strategies that will enrich your classroom practice. Discover innovative ways to introduce students to the topics of immigration and migration throughout U.S. history. Dates coming soon.