NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY TO HELP LEGAL IMMIGRANTS PREPARE
FOR AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP WITH NEW MUSEUM-WIDE INITIATIVE
The Citizenship Project Offers Free Resources―from Workshops to Online Resources―
to Help Green Card Holders Pass the Naturalization Exam
New York, NY – April 17, 2017 – In an effort to help the more than one million legal immigrants in the New York region become American citizens, the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library has partnered with CUNY’s Citizenship Now! to launch The Citizenship Project, a major new initiative offering free civics and American history workshops and other educational and digital tools to prepare green card holders to succeed on the naturalization test. More broadly, The Citizenship Project also aims to examine the basic principles of our American Constitution and democratic institutions through an engaging and instructive museum guide which addresses questions and topics taken directly from the 100-question naturalization test using artifacts, documents, and art from New-York Historical’s permanent collections.
“No less a figure than American founder Alexander Hamilton was pilloried in his day on account of his Caribbean birth,” comments Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “The question of what it means to be an American, central at our nation’s inception, continues to give rise to discussions and debates about immigration today. At New-York Historical, we believe in an inclusive ‘We the People,’ welcoming immigrants as well as those born in the United States to a nation whose motto is, after all, E pluribus unum—out of many, one. With our vast collections and a talented team of educators already serving more than 200,000 New York City public school children annually, we are uniquely positioned to help immigrants learn and understand the requirements and responsibilities of American citizenship.”
Free Workshops for Green Card Holders
Beginning summer 2017, free civics and history workshops will prepare green card holders for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization exam. The nine sessions will take place on-site at New-York Historical at three different times and intensities (weekend immersion, evening program, and weekday program) so that individuals can choose the class structure that best suits their work and home life. Through these courses, made possible by a generous grant from the Ford Foundation, participants will learn about pivotal moments in U.S. history as they examine treasures from New-York Historical’s collections. Online educational materials will also be available.
Scavenger Hunts and Naturalization Q&A Displays
Visitors will have the opportunity to walk through Museum galleries guided by an engaging scavenger hunt that tests knowledge of American history and civics, exploring objects from America’s past and learning about the subjects tested on the naturalization exam. Test questions and answers will be displayed on a wide, digital screen at the Museum’s entrance and on an interactive tablet, as well as on nyhistory.org.
Additional Museum Offerings: Exhibitions, Talks, Free Digital Resources
Exhibitions at New-York Historical regularly focus on the topics and chronology included on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization exam. On view through July 16, Thomas Jefferson: The Private Man, From the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society features 36 unique documents including a copy of the Declaration of Independence in Jefferson’s handwriting. In the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library in the coming months, visitors can read the personal stories of immigrants in the 18th and 19th centuries, such as the Emmet family and Albert Gallatin and lesser known figures such Helen Schechter at the turn of the 20th century; the oath of allegiance to George II signed by a group of Sephardic Jews in the mid-18th century; immigrant guide books and handbooks; qualifications for citizenship in the 19th century; Castle Garden, the main point of entry for all immigrants arriving in New York by ship; and photographs of immigrants and immigrant groups in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Additionally, throughout the year, live public programs will feature historians and experts in discussions about what it means to be an American. On May 23, historian Carol Berkin and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gordon S. Wood will discuss how the fragile republic faced danger of collapse following the ratification of the Constitution. On May 25, experts will discuss the future of the Supreme Court. For a full list of public programs and speakers, visit www.nyhistory.org/programs.
Free digital resources covering a wide range of U.S. policy subjects and the functions of government are available online to help prepare for the naturalization exam nationwide. Select audio and video from New-York Historical’s archive of public programs—including a recent program on immigration and voting rights and how America protects the civil and political rights of newcomers—can be accessed at www.nyhistory.org/programs/audio-video.
Interactive activities during the April school break (April 8–18) offer families an inspiring way to learn together what it means to be an American. Children can create and post responses to complete the sentence “We the people…” as they view contemporary artist Nari Ward’s monumental art installation spelling out the first three words of the Constitution with shoelaces donated by school children and Museum visitors.
On April 29, Spanish-speaking families can participate in New-York Historical’s monthly Hablemos program and explore New York history through gallery conversations and studio art projects in Spanish. In May, families can become History Detectives and discover immigration history through games, sketching, and activities with specially designed suitcases housing “detective supplies.” On May 6 and 7, young visitors can meet and chat with reenactors portraying the 69th Regiment of Irish-American soldiers. On the 4th of July, New-York Historical will celebrate American Independence by exploring the founding of the United States through the eyes and lives of our Founding Era’s diverse citizens. Throughout the spring, our History Detectives blog will recommend books that highlight immigrant stories for young and middle readers.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.
About the Dimenna Children’s History Museum
The DiMenna Children’s History Museum is a museum-within-a-museum that explores New York and American history through the eyes of children of the past. Occupying the New-York Historical Society’s entire lower level, it includes character-based pavilions, the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library, interactive exhibits, and games. The DiMenna Children’s History Museum encourages children to identify with the people whose enterprise and creativity changed the course of our history. It also hosts a series of family programs, from Sunday story hours to arts and crafts. All ages can enjoy and learn in the DiMenna Children’s History Museum, but the exhibits are targeted at age 8–13.
New-York Historical Society
(212) 873-3400 ext 326