These American stories are not in your standard history book. History tends to be reduced to key moments and celebrated names, and what’s often overlooked are the stories of the ordinary people, both past and present, who have lived through journeys of immigration and migration...the people who have shaped what it means to be and to become American. How To Be American is a podcast by the Tenement Museum where from New York’s Lower East Side, we explore the history of immigration and migration in America. We share the stories of migrants and refugees, and everyone in-between. And we examine why so many important events in our history have unfolded around issues of immigration and national identity. This is the past, present, and future of becoming American.
59:27Communities don’t always have all the facts they need to reconstruct past realities, nor do institutions sometimes have all the histories to preserve the past. We'll talk to Lauren O’Brien, a Lead Project Scholar at the Tenement Museum, about a new tour, coming to the Museum, that will help us reconstruct the forgotten histories of Black migrants in Lower Manhattan. We begin our story in a Black-owned Tavern, Uncle Pete Almack’s Cellar, in the notorious Five Points neighborhood, a cultural hot-spot for the intermingling of African American and Irish residents. What does this hot-spot tell us about Black culture and placemaking before the infamous Draft Riots of 1863? And what happened to the 10,300 Black residents who all but vanished from the Five Points after the riots? We’ll turn to Lauren O’Brien to uncover a Pre-Harlem World that’s been buried for more than 156 years, and meet with Derrick L. Head, National Park Service Ranger and Historian, at the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan for a deeper look at New York City’s Black History.
Relics Left Behind
39:50Imagine that someone came to your house 150 years later: what would they find, what would those found objects say about you; about your way of life? Sometimes it’s the every-day things you leave behind that tell stories about your past. On this episode, we talk to our resident expert of Tenement Curiosities about some of the strangest objects found in 97 and 103 Orchard. What are these objects and why aren’t they on display to visitors of the Tenement Museum? What do mummified bagels and rusted-curry-cans tell us about mass-consumerism, immigrant food trends, and the process of ‘becoming American?’ We’ll begin our story with a visit to the Museum’s permanent collection.
38:12Baseball has always had a special place in our nation’s history. It’s a common symbol of America’s values, identity, and rural past--you might even say it’s as American as apple pie. But did you know that beyond the ballpark there is a grittier version of the game, played mostly in immigrant neighborhoods in cities big and small? In the first episode of season 2 of How To Be American, host Amanda Adler Brennan talks with baseball historians and stickball players about the significance for city kids in being able to turn city streets and the sides of buildings into their very own ‘field of dreams’.
Introducing How To Be American Season 2
4:16How To Be American is the Tenement Museum’s podcast series. In its second season, eight new episodes will tell eight new stories that dig deeper into the tapestry of American immigration, stories of people who shaped American identity by doing everything from creating street games to traveling to outer space. Listen to the season 2 trailer now.
BONUS: A New Voice
10:21How To Be American has some exciting news! Host Brendan takes a stroll down memory lane for season 1 and introduces who will continue the journey moving forward... Want to follow our new host? Find her on Twitter: @AmandaListens.
The Avatar for America
28:01There’s nothing more American than Coca-Cola, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and comic books. In the final episode of season 1 of How To Be American, we’ll uncover the history of diversity and representation in the panels, and discuss what comics tell us about our shared American identity since the dawn of Marvel, DC, and other comic book creators.
BONUS: A truly American art form
0:59Listen to the teaser for our sixth and final episode of the first season of How To Be American—all about comics! Whose your favorite superhero? And why are comics considered a truly American art form?
Why Can't I Be Both?
33:06Take a look inside the complicated diversity within the heart of two immigrant communities. We’ll begin with Kleindeutschland in the mid-19th century, and then head to Brooklyn, where we’ll get an inside look at Flatbush and an organization called CaribBeing with its founder, Shelley Worrell.
BONUS: A walking tour of Flatbush
2:07In this teaser, host Brendan Murphy visits Flatbush, Brooklyn, to explore its Caribbean immigrant culture for How To Be American's fifth episode, all about how immigrant groups have carved out communities for themselves throughout U.S. history.
'Sing Like An American'
39:38Hundreds of sewing machines rattle and hiss—explore the industrial soundscape that shaped the American identities of young factory workers in 1911 with composer Julia Wolfe.