Friday, June 25, 2010

Visitor of the Week: Thomas Killeen

Over the summer, look out for this new feature - Visitor of the Week! Each week we'll profile a different person who's been to the Tenement Museum. If you're coming to visit and would like to be profiled on the blog, send us an email.

Here is Thomas Killeen, a recent visitor of the Tenement Museum. He is pictured here with his son, eight year old Connor, who really enjoyed coming to the Museum. Thomas lives with his family in Severna Park, Maryland where he works as a union sheet metal worker. When we interviewed him he was on vacation with his family here in New York City.

When asked why he came to the Tenement Museum, Thomas replied, “I have always wanted to see the Museum. I’m very much interested in genealogy.”

Thomas, whose background is mostly Irish, has been researching his own family’s genealogy. He discovered he has New York City ties, as his grandmother was born on the Upper East Side. He was also able to trace back to when the first member of the Killeens came to the United States (1855 ), and he found the first mention of his great-great grandparent in an 1868 city directory of Troy, New York.

After taking the Moores Tour, Thomas was really taken aback by how difficult it must have been to cook in the late nineteenth century.

“The cooking conditions must have been awful,” he said. “There was very little light to see what you were doing. And imagine on a hot August day, having to cook with coal.”

(The tenement dwellers used coal stoves because that was what was available. Cooking with coal inside a tiny tenement kitchen was less than ideal because it made the walls and floors constantly dirty with soot. The heat would also be pretty unbearable in the summertime, as there was ineffective ventilation in the window-less kitchen and of course no fans or air conditioning.) [Read more.]

-posted by Devin

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