Monday, October 27, 2008

Made in L.A.

Filmmaker Almudena Carracedo has won an Emmy for Made in L.A., a documentary that shadows three women fighting for better working conditions in Los Angeles sweatshops.


Tenement Talks hosted Almudena earlier this year for a screening of the film, which mirrors themes in the Museum’s Piecing It Together tour. Not only does this documentary open your eyes to the workplace discrimination taking place in our own country, Made in L.A. also provides a unique window into the lives of three very different women, who ultimately take very different paths.


We can’t help but note that the Tenement Museum also has a role in the film; as Almudena writes on the Latina Lista blog:

The United States is a country that’s been, in part, built by waves of immigrants, and yet — and this continues to amaze me — immigrants remain the focus of hatred and resentment here, too. There’s a scene in Made in L.A. where Lupe, one of the main characters and an immigrant from Mexico City, visits the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and Ellis Island, the gateway for millions of immigrants coming to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Lupe sees pictures of the immigrants who came to New York more than 100 years ago and sees how they lived, how hard they worked, and how they fought for their rights. In a moment of epiphany, both saddened and empowered, she concludes “It’s just like today!” That was a revelatory moment for me as well. She is so right, and it brings me great sadness that so many people have yet to connect these most recent waves of immigration to the greater U.S. narrative: it’s just the same struggle, the same hopes and dreams for a better life, both for themselves and for their children.

Both Lupe and Almudena understood the fundamental idea behind the Tenement Museum, and we’re so happy to be part of this fantastic film! Read the rest of Almudena’s post. Note that she’s looking to host more screenings in the future, so contact her if you have an interest.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Danny Cassidy

At Tenement Talks, we like to think of all of the authors who have passed through our doors as members of the Tenement family. You’re our friends, people we admire, people we look up to, good writers, fantastic historians, great wordsmiths, wonderful speakers.

So we’re very saddened to hear of the death of Danny Cassidy, author of How the Irish Invented Slang, earlier this week. Danny came to do a talk with us last March, along with Peter Quinn and Mick Moloney, and shared his wit and wisdom on the Irish language and American culture. We know even in his absence that his scholarship will continue to influence future historians, linguists, writers, and every day folk like us.

Two of his friends share their memories:

The Museum's website also features podcasts of Danny Cassidy talking about the Irish roots of "dude" and "the yellow kid":


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Welcome to Our Blog

The Tenement Museum shares stories of immigrant families who once lived at 97 Orchard Street, a tenement on the Lower East Side on Manhattan. We believe these stories are as vital to America's history as the stories of presidents, industrialists, railroad men, shipping magnates, politicians, or the scores of others whose histories are taught every day in schools across the nation. We salute our nation's immigrants as urban pioneers, who helped to create the New York City we known today.

We believe that history is a valuable resource for understanding contemporary issues. Historical perspective can shed new light on what's going on in our world today. In our programming, we aim to talk about the present as well as the past.

In this blog you'll find lots of historical information about New York, the Lower East Side, and 97 Orchard Street. We'll post about new research we've done on families who lived in our building, photographs of objects we've collected, and reviews of new history books we've read. We'll also keep you updated on contemporary immigrant issues, as they relate to the themes and stories that come up on our tours. And we'll provide updates on the wonderful Tenement Talks that we host weekly in our bookshop.

I hope you'll hang in there as we get a feel for this blogging thing, and I hope you'll email us with suggestions or questions for what you'd like to see or read about.