Theme: Culture and Identity | Grades 6 – 8

Culture and Identity     Students learn about how families and groups express culture and that individuals have identities, or understandings of themselves, that are influenced by language, religion, geography, and other personal factors.

1910’s Rogarshevsky Family

The Rogarshevsky Family story features a Jewish American family and their 1911 tenement home. Students will learn about the push and pull factors of Eastern European immigration, their journey through Ellis Island, and their work in the garment industry at a time of industrialization. Through an interactive exploration of the family’s recreated apartment, historical photographs, and the 1900 census, students analyze how the family balanced work and tradition. Students will discuss the difficulties of factory work while learning about labor unions and working conditions through the actual experiences of Bessie Rogarshevsky, a teenage daughter in the family. Students will hypothesize about her potential involvement in the Shirtwaist Strike of 1909 and how the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire affected the family, neighborhood, and country at large.

Themes: Culture and Identity, Industrialization and Labor, Movements for Change

Topics: European Immigration

Duration: 60 minutes

Connections to our Curriculum:

 


1916 Meet Victoria

Meet Victoria is a costumed interpretation program. Students will be transported back in time to 1916 to learn from and interact with an actor playing Victoria Confino, an actual 14-year-old girl who immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island in 1913.  Victoria will show students her home and daily life, tell stories based on her life experiences, and share how her family keeps their culture alive through food, language, holiday celebrations, and more. Students will learn about the push and pull factors bringing immigrants to the US at the time as well as cultural adaptation to a new home.   Throughout the program,  students engage with Victoria by asking her questions and making connections.

Themes: Complicating Stereotypes, Culture and Identity

Topics: European Immigration

Duration: 60 minutes

Connections to our Curriculum:

 


1950’s Epstein Family

The Epstein Family story features a Jewish American family and their 1950’s tenement home.  Rivka and Kalman Epstein were Holocaust survivors and students will learn about their journey from Europe to find protection and safety in the United States.  By exploring their recreated home and the objects in it, students uncover how the family revived traditions from their home and also started new ones. Through oral histories and videos with the daughter in the family, Bella Epstein, students learn how she found support, friendship, and discovery in an increasingly diverse Lower East Side neighborhood. Students will consider how they themselves form their own senses of identity and belonging.

Themes: Complicating Stereotypes, Culture and Identity, Push and Pull Factors

Topics: European Immigration

Duration: 60 minutes 

Connections to our Curriculum: 

 


1960s Saez Velez

The Saez Velez Family story features Puerto family and their 1968 tenement home. With the help of Puerto Rican migration scholars, students learn about the history of Puerto Rico, how Puerto Ricans became US citizens, and the Saez Velez’ journey to New York City as migrants. Through exploration of the recreated apartment, video interviews, family and neighborhood photos, and other primary source documents, students will examine the ways the Saez Velez family established themselves in the culturally and racially diverse Lower East Side of the 1960’s. Against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War, they will examine how different generations of the family exercised citizenship at home, school, work, and beyond. Students will discuss how the family’s efforts made a difference on a larger scale and reflect on their understandings of citizenship.

Themes: Industrialization and Labor, Culture and Identity, Movements for Change

Topics: Puerto Rican Migration

Duration: 60 minutes

Connections to our Curriculum:

 


1970’s Wong Family   

The Wong family story features a Chinese American family and their 1970’s tenement home. With the help of immigration scholars, students learn about the push and pull factors of their immigration and its relation to the Chinese Exclusion Act and subsequent immigration laws. Through exploration of a recreated apartment and garment shop, students will explore how the Wongs made a home in the neighborhood and how their experiences reflect the growth of Chinese communities and the garment industry in New York. Video interviews and family and neighborhood photographs will allow students to examine how different generations of the family navigate language, schooling, media, and work, leading students to discuss how they themselves form their own senses of identity and belonging.

 Themes: Complicating Stereotypes, Culture and Identity, Industrialization and Labor

Topics: Asian Immigration    

Duration: 60 minutes 

Connections to our Curriculum: 

 


Reclaiming Black Spaces  

In the Tenement Museum’s newest program, Reclaiming Black Spaces, students examine how Black and African Americans shaped Lower Manhattan as they made homes, businesses, and communities here over the centuries. Facilitated discussion will allow students to consider questions like: What drew Black New Yorkers to Lower Manhattan, and how were their experiences shaped by that migration? How did those communities create a sense of home, and how did they resist the racism they faced? From the story of  Sebastiaen de Britto, one of the first Black residents of the area in the 1640s, to Studio We, a musician’s collective in the 1970s, students will look through windows into the past that expands the history of today’s Lower East Side. Students will explore primary source documents, photographs, and music.  

Topics and Themes:  Complicating Stereotypes, Culture and Identity, Movements for Change   

Duration: 60 minutes 

Connections to our Curriculum: 

 

Teaching Resources

We offer teacher-designed, teacher-tested lesson plans where students learn to interpret objects, oral histories, and primary sources while making modern connections. Find unit plans, lesson plans, primary sources, and non-fiction family stories, made for flexible use in your classroom.

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