Stimulating Conversation on Immigration and Related Issues
This network of immigration history museums across the United States and Europe came together in August 2008 to foster a new national and international conversation on immigration. Today the Network also includes cultural history museums and sites that remember the history of the American Civil Rights movement.
Network members are committed to use historical perspective in order to stimulate on-going local and national conversations on immigration and its related issues, promote humanitarian and democratic values, and treat all audiences as stakeholders in the immigration dialogue.
Network members are developing new public dialogues on community immigration issues at each of their sites and conducting training in contemporary immigration issues and dialogue programs.
Read about the latest activities of this and other networks here.
Located in San Francisco’s North Bay, Angel Island State Park is home to a number of historical sites. From 1910 to 1940, the island processed hundreds of thousands of immigrants, the majority from China. Because of the laws restricting immigration at the time, immigrants at Angel Island were process within hours, or kept weeks, months or even years. Because of the long stays, numerous carvings and writings in several languages have been found on the barracks walls, including over 130 poems written in Chinese. During World War II, the site was used to hold prisoners of war and as a temporary deportation center for Japanese nationals returning to Japan.
The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF), in partnership with California State Parks and the National Park Service, promotes a greater understanding of Pacific Coast immigration and its role in shaping America’s past, present and future. Educational programs will focus on themes of inclusion, exclusion, and the American immigrant identity.
The first museum in the world devoted to Arab American history, the Arab American National Museum brings the voices and faces of Arab Americans to mainstream audiences and dispels misconceptions about Arab Americans and other minorities. The Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, brings to light the shared experiences of immigrants and ethnic groups, paying tribute to the diversity of the United States.
Arizona State Museum
Contact: Beth Grindell
The University of Arizona
P.O. Box 210026
Tucson, AZ 85721
Atlanta History Center
130 West Paces Ferry Road NW
Atlanta, GA 30305-1366
In 1926, fourteen civic-minded Atlantans chartered the Atlanta Historical Society to help preserve the city’s history. These founding members met at each other’s homes, collected early manuscripts and photographs, and published research bulletins – all “to arouse in the citizens and friends of Atlanta an interest in its history.” Over the past 82 years, the organization has grown substantially in both scope and size, and in 1990, the Atlanta Historical Society and all of its holdings officially became the Atlanta History Center. Now located on 33 acres in historic Buckhead, the Atlanta History Center strives to connect people, history, and culture through one of the country’s premier History Centers.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Contact: Priscilla Cooper, Vice President of Institutional Programs
520 Sixteenth Street North
Birmingham, AL 35203
Tel: (205) 328-9696 x 203
The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in downtown Austin, Texas, tells the “Story of Texas” with three floors of interactive exhibits. A 35-foot-tall bronze Lone Star sculpture greets visitors in front of the Museum, and a colorful terrazzo floor in the Museum’s rotunda features a campfire scene with enduring themes from Texas’ past. The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum engages the broadest possible audience to interpret the continually unfolding Story of Texas through meaningful educational experiences.
Brown V. Board of Education National Historic Site
1515 SE Monroe Street
Topeka, Kansas 66612
The story of Brown v. Board of Education, which ended legal segregation in public schools, is one of hope and courage. In December 1952, the United States Supreme Court had on its docket five cases that challenged the constitutionality of racial segregation in public schools. The Court had consolidated these five cases under one name, Oliver Brown et al. v. the Board of Education of Topeka.When the people agreed to be plaintiffs in the case, they never knew they would change history. They were teachers, secretaries, welders, ministers and students who simply wanted to be treated equally.
Brown v. Board of Education NHS is located in the former Monroe Elementary School, one of four African American elementary schools. The school has recently been rehabilitated to its 1954 appearance.
On August 8th, 1956, a fire spread through the Bois du Cazier coal mine in Marcinelle, claiming the lives of 262 men of 12 different nationalities. The disaster was the largest industrial fire of its kind in Belgian history, leaving in its wake hundreds of widows and orphans. More than half of the 262 victims were immigrants from Italy, who filled the need for laborers in Belgium’s former economic heartland. The tragedy put an end to a treaty Belgium and Italy had signed in 1946 to encourage Italian workers to come to Belgium to work in the mines and led to stricter safety regulations for coal miners across the nation. A visit to the Bois du Cazier encourages visitors to question the costs and benefits of industrialization and consider issues of workplace safety. It also offers visitors the opportunity to reflect on the lives and past contributions of immigrants in Belgium and the factors influencing immigration policy today.
Le Bois du Cazier looks forward to working with other European museums interested in exploring immigration through their programs and histories.
Cambodian American Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial
Contact: Charles Daas, Museum Director
2831 West Lawrence
Chicago, IL 60625
Cambodian American Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial is one of the Chicago Cultural Alliance (see below) core members working with the Immigration Sites of Conscience Network. The museum raises awareness of the Cambodian genocide and celebrates the renewal of Cambodian community and culture here in the United State, featuring revolving exhibits that explore the history of Cambodia, the Killing Fields genocide and the journey of Cambodian-Americans.
Incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) organization in 2006, the Chicago Cultural Alliance is a consortium of Chicago-area ethnic museums and cultural centers whose mission is to effect social change and public understanding of cultural diversity through first voice perspective. The Alliance increases the visibility and impact of Chicago’s ethnic assets by leveraging partnerships between member organizations and major institutions. The Alliance assures the long-term efficacy of its public education, marketing, preservation, and social service programs by providing organizational development assistance to its core members.
The CCA works closely with The Field Museum’s division of Environment, Culture, and Conservation (ECCo).The division of Environment, Culture, and Conservation (ECCo) fulfills the museum’s pledge to sustain wild landscapes and cultural vitality. ECCo translates biodiversity science into conservation action, while identifying and catalyzing intrinsic capacities of human communities for social change. ECCo has demonstrated concrete results by focusing on the assets — both cultural and biological — that work in diversity’s favor.
Cultural Alliance of the South
Contact: Turry Flucker
P.O. Box 2448
New Orleans, La. 70176
Tel: (337) 349-9114
The Cultural Alliance of the South (CAS) is a non-profit organization that services Louisiana and Mississippi CAS works to provide technical assistance to small museums, cultural institutions and public/private collectors whose missions are dedicated to education, civil rights and social justice. CAS provides its members with strategic planning workshops, project management, and assistance with interpretation and collections development. CAS also seeks to aggressively connect its members with various local, state, national and international communities and organizations. Its ambition is to build mutually resourceful collaborative partnerships while promoting civic dialogue and advocacy for current “real life” civil rights issues.
Environment, Culture, and Conservation (ECCo) at The Field Museum
Contact: Rosa Cabrera, Public Involvement Manager, Sr. Urban Anthropologist
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605-2496
Tel: (312) 665-7470
International Civil Rights Center & Museum
Contact: Bamidele Demerson
134 South Elm Street #303
Greensboro, NC 27401
The International Civil Rights Center and Museum (ICRCM) in Greensboro, North Carolina, is a historic landmark, an exhibiting and collecting institution, and an educational service organization. ICRCM occupies the former F.W. Woolworth department store building, the site where four black teenagers—freshmen at the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina (now North Carolina A&T State University) – initiated a successful 1960 sit-in protest at the segregated “whites only” lunch counter. Their actions, inspiring others to do the same across the South, reignited the Civil Rights movement. Through exhibitions, education programs, and public events, ICRCM promotes an understanding and appreciation of struggles for equality, social justice, and freedom in the United States and the world.
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
Contact: Lisa Yun Lee, Director
The University of Illinois at Chicago
800 South Halsted Street, MC/051
Chicago, IL 60607
Tel: (312) 413.5358
The Jane Addams Hull-House serves as a dynamic memorial to social reformer and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jane Addams (1860-1935) and other resident social reformers whose work influenced the lives of their immigrant neighbors as well as national and international public policy. The Museum and its programs make connections between the work of Hull-House residents and important contemporary social issues. The Museum preserves and develops the original Hull-House site for the interpretation and continuation of the historic settlement house vision, linking research, education, and social engagement.
The Japanese American National Museum is the only museum in the United States dedicated to promoting understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by preserving, interpreting and sharing the experiences of Japanese Americans. The Museums’ latest addition, the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, is an educational institution that partners with educators and community-based mentors to inspire youth to become active, informed participants in shaping democracy in America.
Jewish Museum of New Jersey
Congregation Ahavas Sholom
145 Broadway, Newark, NJ 07104
Almost one-half million people in New Jersey are Jewish, making it the 4th largest jewish community in the country. The Museum will have an important impact on the Jewish residents throughout New Jersey: it will be the first centralized location with permanent, rotating, and traveling installations for the research, preservation, and exhibition of more than 400 years of Jewish history in New Jersey. In addition, children and adults, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, will benefit from the Museum’s projects and presentations on tolerance and diversity, historical tours of “old Jewish Newark,” and inter-faith programs with local churches and mosques.
The Levine Museum of the New South is an interactive history museum that provides the nation with the most comprehensive interpretation of post-Civil War southern society featuring men, women and children, black and white, rich and poor, long-time residents and newcomers who have shaped the South since the Civil War. The Museum presents opportunities for life-long learning about this history for the benefit, enjoyment and education of children and adults, and provides historical context for contemporary issues and a community forum for thoughtful discussion. In response to a 600% growth in Latino immigration over the last decade, the Museum is developing a major exhibit on immigration and seeks to create a space for all sectors of the city to come together and come to terms with their new social landscape and the issues it raises.
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
2120 Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive
Little Rock, AR 72202
On September 4, 1957, nine African-American students were forcibly barred from entering a recently de-segregated public high school on the orders of their Governor. By the end of the month, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had intervened, calling on the U.S. Army to escort the students into Little Rock Central High School, where they faced verbal and physical assaults because of their race. These nine students’ struggle to attain equal opportunities and a quality education have inspired generations of Americans. Central High School was established as a National Historic Site in 1998 and now presents interactive exhibits and oral histories on the complex history of the “Little Rock Nine” and the Civil Rights Movement in America.
The heart of the Tenement Museum is its landmark tenement building, home to 7,000 people from over 20 nations from 1863 to 1935. Located in a neighborhood that is still home to many new immigrants, the Museum’s mission is “to promote tolerance and historical perspective through the presentation and interpretation of the variety of immigrant and migrant experiences on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a gateway to America.” The Museum’s public tours, dialogue programs and English for second language learners programs engage new immigrants and longer-rooted Americans alike in discussions of immigration issues today.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site
Contact: Judy Forte, Site Superintendent
450 Auburn Avenue, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30312
Mu.MA – Instituzione Musei del Mare Galata
Contact: Anna Dentoni, Project Manager
Calata de Mari 1
Tel: +39 010 2514760
Fax: +39 010 2543908
This maritime museum explores the history of Genoa’s waterfront: its shipping, trade, and boat-building industries, and how they have affected the city and Italy. A new section of the museum also explores the great migration of people out of Italy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as they left to find employment in America and elsewhere. The museum takes a cue from its past to explore how immigration is affecting Italy today by offering dialogue programs for teens and other community groups.
Florence Dibell Bartlett founded the world’s first international folk art Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As a witness to two world wars, Florence Bartlett believed that encouraging people to interact with folk art and with one another would help promote cultural understanding.
The West Bartlett gallery became the Gallery of Conscience in 2010. Dr. Marsha Bol, Director of the Museum of International Folk Art explains the concept of a gallery of conscience “”As the largest folk art museum in the world, there is a responsibility to create a forum to discuss current issues that folk artists are facing around the world. This Gallery of Conscience will be devoted to the examination of issues that threaten the survival of the traditional arts, bringing them to the attention of our visitors.
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Contact: Doug Shipman, Executive Director
50 Hurt Plaza Grand Lobby
Atlanta, GA 30303
Tel:(404) 658-1877 x245
National Civil Rights Museum
Contact: Barbara Andrews, Director of Education and Interpretation
450 Mulberry Street
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
Tel: (901) 521-9699
National Hispanic Cultural Center
1701 4th St. SW
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102
Tel: (505) 246-2261
New Mexico History Museum
113 Lincoln Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Tel: (505) 476-5200
University of Texas El Paso (UTEP)
500 West University, Burges Hall – Room 415
El Paso, Texas 79968-0532
Tel: (915) 747-5238
Pauli Murray Project at The Duke Human Rights Center
Contact: Barbara Lau, Director
John Hope Franklin Center
2204 Erwin Road
Room 235 Box 90403
Durham, NC 27708
President Lincoln’s Cottage
Upshur St. & Rock Creek Church Rd., NW
Washington, DC 20011
In 1862, Abraham Lincoln and his family were invited to stay in a Gothic-Revival “cottage” on the grounds of the Soldier’s Home. Located in Washington, D.C., the federal government purchased the estate in 1851 to found a home for retired and disabled veterans. The Cottage served as Lincoln’s family residence for a quarter of his presidency during the summers of 1862, 1863 and 1864, and it is where he was living when he developed his Emancipation Proclamation. The historic significance of the Soldiers’ Home was officially recognized in 1974, when four buildings built before the Civil War, along with six surrounding acres of land, were designated a National Historic Landmark.
Between 1873 and 1934, the legendary Red Star Line transported more than two million European passengers to America. At the port in Antwerp, Belgium, emigrants in steerage class underwent disinfection and medical examinations while clerks scrutinized their documents. Today three warehouses stand as a testament to this emigrant experience. In 2012, Red Star Line / People on the Move will open a new museum at this historic location. It will be a place of remembrance, experience, debate and research into international mobility, both past and present.
Skirball Cultural Center
Contact: Sheri Bernstein, Director of Education
2701 North Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Tel: (310) 440-4500
The Skirball Cultural Center, which opened to the public in 1996, is dedicated to exploring connections between four thousand years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of democratic American ideals. The Skirball welcomes and seeks to inspire people of every ethnic and cultural identity. Guided by our memories and experiences, the Skirball aspires to build a society in which all can feel at home.
The Cultural Center advances its mission through:
The museum’s core exhibition, Visions and Values: Jewish Life from Antiquity to America, includes multimedia installations, rare artifacts, photographs, interactive computer stations, and sound recordings that lead visitors on the Jewish people’s journey through history, culminating with the experiences of Jews in the United States. Changing exhibitions always relate to the mission of the Skirball and often support the notion that American identity has been strengthened by the contributions of immigrants and their descendants, and by the values and ideals of justice, liberty, and freedom.
Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island
Contact: Danelle Simonelli, Park Ranger, Education and Interpretation Division
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty National Monument
Liberty Island, New York, NY 10004
Tel: (212) 363-3206
Opened on January 1, 1892, Ellis Island became the nation’s premier federal immigration station. In operation until 1954, the station processed some 12 million immigrant steamship passengers. The island’s Main Building was restored after 30 years of abandonment and opened as a museum in 1990, operated by the National Park Service. Today, more than 40 percent of America’s population can trace their ancestry through Ellis Island.
The mission of Save Ellis Island, Inc., the official fundraising partner of the National Park Service, is to raise the private funding necessary to rehabilitate, restore, and put to beneficial reuse the currently deteriorated and unused buildings of Ellis Island. In cooperation with the National Park Service, Save Ellis Island will develop the un-restored buildings on the island’s south side as the Ellis Island Institute and Conference Center.
The Wing Luke Asian Museum is the only pan-Asian Pacific American museum in the United States, and the first Smithsonian Institution affiliate in the Pacific Northwest. It has redefined the role of museums by pioneering a model of community-based service that embraces the stories of immigration populations that have enriched and strengthened the American experience.
Become part of a growing worldwide network of organizations and individuals dedicated to helping historic sites inspire social consciousness and action.