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Tenement Education

Shared Journeys

Shared Journeys is a series of six educational workshops for Adult ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes. Each workshop includes a tour of a restored apartment in the historic tenement at 97 Orchard Street and a discussion about the connections between immigrant experiences past and present. The program provides a unique context for English language learning, helps students place their own immigration experience within a broader historical and political framework, and promotes critical engagement with civic issues.


Workshop descriptions

Our Immigration Histories: Telling Our Stories

In this workshop, participants meet a costumed interpreter playing 14-year-old Victoria Confino, who lived in the tenement in 1916. Victoria tells participants about her culture, and discusses with them the challenges of being an immigrant in 1916. After meeting Victoria, participants work in small groups to discuss their own immigration experiences. Can be adapted for beginner level ESOL students

Immigrants and Social Welfare

Visit the apartment of Nathalie Gumpertz, who raised her three daughters on her own after her husband mysteriously disappeared in 1874. Participants use this story to discuss the challenges of making a living and raising a family in the United States today.

Making a Living

Visit the 1897 home of the Levine family, who ran a small garment factory in their home. Conditions in factories such as this sparked a national debate about what constitutes acceptable working conditions. Participants will discuss and learn about how immi­grants organized for better working conditions in the past, the challenges of making a living, and working conditions today.

Health Issues In Our Communities

Visit the 1869 apartment of the Moore family, whose youngest child died of marasmus, known today as malnutrition. Participants use the Moore story to discuss issues related to immigrant health and the barriers immigrants may face when trying to access health care.

Coming to the United States

Visit the 1935 apartment of Rosaria and Adolpho Baldizzi, who came to the United States during the height of the first immigration restrictions. Participants compare their own immigration experience with that of the Baldizzis, and discuss what it means to be “American.”

Housing, Then and Now

In this workshop, participants discuss the question: What are acceptable housing conditions? They learn how immigrants helped shape ideas about housing standards between 1863 and 1935 and the steps they can take to improve housing conditions today. Participants take on the role of housing inspectors in the early 1900s and, using the 1901 Tenement House Act, “inspect” the tenement building at 97 Orchard Street. They are then given information about current housing laws and consider whether their own homes meet today’s standards of acceptable housing.

Business & Family

Visit the re-created saloon of John and Caroline Schneider. Set in the year 1871, the students will get to learn how this family operates a lager beer saloon that also served as a restaurant for the community of Kleindeutschland. This German community on the Lower East Side tried to achieve the American Dream while blending their old customs and traditions with the new American ways.

Immigrant Entrepreneurship

Visit our newest addition to the Museum, our interactive table we call “Potion”. In this workshop the students can explore on their own the stories of different immigrant entrepreneurs that tried to achieve their American Dream in the basement of 97 Orchard Street. They get to learn about the Lustgardens, who ran a Kosher butcher shop in the 1890s. Another story is of Max Marcus, who runs a general merchandise store in the 1930s. They also hear the story of the Meda family who ran an underwear store in the 1970s. They will also get to learn about contempo­rary immigrant entrepreneurs who currently do business on the Lowe East Side. (This is recommended for advanced level students.)

High School Shared Journeys

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is pleased to present High School Shared Journeys, a workshop series specially designed for transitional bilingual education, dual language, and ELL classes. In each of the workshops, students tour the museum's historic tenement building, learn new English vocabulary words, and participate in discussion activities about how their own immigrant experiences compare to those of immigrants past.

Our Immigrant Histories: Telling Our Stories

Students take on the role of a newly arrived immigrant family in the year 1916 and interact with a costumed interpreter playing the role of 14-year-old Victoria Confino, former resident of 97 Orchard Street. They discuss issues such as the challenges of adjusting to a new culture, retaining one’s cultural heritage, and making a home in a new country. After meeting Victoria, students break into small groups to discuss the connections they see between immigrant experiences in 1916 and their own experiences immigrating to the United States.

Learning about Discrimination

Students visit the apartment of the Sicilian Baldizzi family, who immigrated to the United States in the early 1920s, when there was a great deal of discrimina­tion against Italians. Students discuss the causes of anti-immigrant sentiment and participate in small group discussion activities about discrimination against immigrants today.

Making a Difference: Immigrants and Social Change

Students visit the re-created apartments of a family that worked in the garment industry at the turn of the last century and learn about the efforts of reformers, workers, and others to improve working conditions in garment shops and factories. Students then learn about people who are taking action to improve the lives of immigrant workers today, and about steps they can take to make a difference.

Preserving Traditions

Families learning English together can visit the home of the Rogarshevsky family, set in the year 1915. This workshop gets the adults and children thinking of the decisions families make when preserving customs or traditions. The families will use this apartment and our interactive classrooms for a series of visits; by breaking up into a series of visits we can accommodate large families. They will alternate between the re-created spaces and hands-on activities like baking together in our other, modern building. (This can be adapted for adult classes as well.)

Program Availability

Monday- Friday, 9-11 am and 6-8 pm.

note: If your class is late, your workshop may be shortened or cancelled.


Phone: 646-795-4748
TTY: 221.431.0714
Fax: 212-388-0297

Reservations are required for all groups and must be made at least 4 weeks in advance. To make a reservation, please call, or send an e-mail to The available slots fill up quickly, so please call as far in advance as possible and have alternate dates available.

Group Size

There is no minimum group size. The maximum group size is 15 people.
If your class is larger than 15 people, you will need to book two simultaneous workshops.

Please let us know of any special needs your group has. The Museum offers assistive listening devices and large print materials. 97 Orchard Street is not wheelchair accessible, but programs are available in our accessible Visitors Center at 108 Orchard Street. Please inquire.


The Tenement Museum offers Shared Journeys workshops to ESOL classes free of charge. Space is limited, so please call today to book your free workshops! For more information call 646-795-4748

Shared Journeys is made possible through generous support from the MetLife Foundation. Additional funding has been provided by The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, The William and Mary Greve Foundation, the Kettering Family Foundation, the National Park Service, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


A group of new citizens were naturalized in a ceremony at the Tenement Museum on September 20, 2011

The Tenement Museum is proud to support immigrants on their path to citizenship. The Museum is a participating venue for Citizenship Now!, a City University of New York program providing free, high quality, and confidential immigration law services for individuals and families. Citizenship Now! offers weekly one-on-one consultation sessions by appointment with attorneys and paralegals for immigrants in the process of becoming citizens. Services are available in Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese.

More information about the program is available online here. To make an appointment, contact Senior Education Associate Pedro Garcia at or 212-431-0233 x224.


"Many immigrants think they are the first ones to have experienced what they are living. This program gives them the sense of the greater experience."

"It brought topics to the surface that can be hard for a[non-immigrant] teacher to bring up, and it gave us a chance to discuss them all."

"I learned a lot of history about people who emigrated from different parts of the world and [it] is interesting because sometimes I see myself reflected."

"It makes me feel I'm part of the American history but in a new way ."

"I like the tenement tour, I think the people who lived there, and they were workers just like me. It feels familiar because the way they were living…it was like they struggled a lot."

Together-Book Talk for Kids and Parents Program: (with the New York Council for the Humanities)

Each of the six 90-minute Together sessions is co-facilitated by a librarian and a humanities scholar from the local community. The sessions alternate between picture books and novels, all of which explore key themes in American life such as courage, freedom, and being American. The Museum will combine a visit to our tenement with these readings.

Contact Senior Education Associate for ESOL Pedro Garcia
Phone:    212.431.0233, ext. 224

Free Materials

New Land, New Language
By Museum educators specifically for English-language learners.

This book is good post-visit material. At the moment it is only available for groups that visit the Tenement Museum. If you would like to inquire more about it, please
Contact Pedro Garcia.

Play The Be an Immigrant Game

Quick links
Our Immigration Histories: Telling Our Stories

Immigrants and Social Welfare

Making a Living

Health Issues In Our Communities

Coming to the United States

Housing, Then and Now