18 episodes

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.

How To Be American: The History of Immigration and Migration The Tenement Museum

    • History
    • 3.7 • 356 Ratings

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.

    Burial Grounds

    Burial Grounds

    Communities 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.  

    • 59 min
    Relics Left Behind

    Relics Left Behind

    Imagine 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.

    • 39 min
    Our Game

    Our Game

    Baseball 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’.  

    • 38 min
    Introducing How To Be American Season 2

    Introducing How To Be American Season 2

    How 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.

    • 4 min
    A New Voice

    A New Voice

    How 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. 

    • 10 min
    The Avatar of America

    The Avatar of America

    There’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. 

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5
356 Ratings

356 Ratings

Bataan Marcher ,

How to be American

The struggle of the immigrant to be American is enlightening. But the struggle to be American should be hard for everyone, native born included. Everyone should find a way to serve this country
Service before Self.

@billgoat66 ,

Response to “ How to be American”

And answer here , would be and surely will be quite different from each one who responds! Myself .... I almost recent the topic being brought up and the question asked ! Why ? Why now? The intro .... doesn’t ask but more clearly suggests strongly that as an American notibly those who were born here ..... need to look at what they need to do for the Country. One cannot immediately lean towards the Government when considering this proposal ! I’m saddened by where they leads me today ..... lin the fourth grade on Thursday at noon ... my teacher be sure to turn on a weekly broadcast where President Kennedy would educate our class and all others across the nation on Civics and the way the Gov. works! At that young age .... I believed ..... naturally assumed that the President of the United States of America ....... must have to be the Smartest Person alive in our country to be allowed this JOB ! Well ...... I was a little nieve wasn’t I ? Do you put forwards this directive to ... as an American ... do whats needed for the Country ! Where have you been ? Where were you over the last 60 plus years .... Ehen that was proposed in historical Verbage so powerful and profound that you could take every President since then .... sit them in a think tank and they would not come close to it! How dare you .... insult me as And American and do want my fathers ... plural achievements in the building of America ...... and what effect that had on me to answer your question ? Do you ! Are you human enough? Are you asmerican enough ...... my suspicion is I’ll not even get a reply

EatThisNY ,

Fascinating and Addicting - especially during the pandemic

I have been loving this series. I’m a huge fan of the Tenement Museum and since I have not even been able to visit their gift shop during this pandemic, this brings me close to their excellent storytelling and oral history. The host is a great storyteller. I recommend checking this out if you are interested in a part of American history that is not told as often as it should be.

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