Theme: Culture and Identity | Grades 9 – 12

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 economic and political conditions that prompted the Rogarshevsky’s to move from the Russian Empire and the immigration policies that impacted immigration at this time. Through an interactive exploration of the family’s recreated apartment, historical photographs, and the 1900 census, students will investigate how the family balanced work and tradition. Students will analyze the efforts to improve working conditions through labor unions with the actual experiences of Bessie Rogarshevksy, a teenage daughter in the family. Students will debate her involvement in the Shirtwaist Strike of 1909 and understand how the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire affected the family, neighborhood, and country at large. Students will debate how the movements of the turn of the last century connect to movements today.

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 engage 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 about her lived experiences, and share how her family keeps their Sephardic culture alive through food, language, holiday celebrations, and more.  Students will discuss cultural adaptation alongside examining immigration patterns and the economic needs of an immigrant household in 1916.  Throughout the program, students will engage Victoria with questions and 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 survived the Holocaust and entered the country as refugees. Students learn about their journey from Europe to find protection and safety in the United States and the challenges presented by restrictive immigration laws and attitudes towards newcomers. By exploring their recreated home and hearing the perspective of immigration scholars, students contemplate how and why the family revived some traditions and also started new ones. Through oral histories and videos with the daughter in the family, Bella Epstein, students discover how she found support, friendship, and a sense of herself 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, Immigration Policy

Topics: European Immigration

Duration: 60 minutes 

Connections to our Curriculum: 

 


1960s Saez Velez

The Saez Velez Family story features Puerto Rican family and their 1968 Tenement home. With the help of Puerto Rican migration scholars, students learn about the history of Puerto Rico, its relationship to the United States, and how it affected the Saez Velez’ journey to New York City as American citizens. 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 1960s. Against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam war, students 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: Culture and Identity, Immigration Policy, Movements for Change, Industrialization and Labor

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 Chinese immigration and its relation to the Chinese Exclusion Act and subsequent immigration laws. Through exploration of a recreated apartment and garment shop, students will examine 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 consider how different generations of the family navigate language, schooling, media, and work. Students will discuss how they themselves form their own senses of identity and belonging and evaluate roles of government, schools, and other institutions to ensure openness and acceptance of many.

 Themes: Complicating Stereotypes, Immigration Policy, 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 will learn about how Black and African Americans shaped Lower Manhattan as they made homes, businesses, and communities there 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, we’ll 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 and discuss the need to reclaim historical identities and stories that have been left out of traditional narratives.

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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