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Tenement Toil and Exhaustion

Thursday Lecture Series, Exhaustion

dateFebruary 12, 2015 timeThursday, 12:15pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
B&W photo of Orchard Street from 1898

When reformers visited the Lower East Side at the turn of the twentieth century, they noted the ever-present whir of the sewing machine. Early in the morning til late at night, tenement dwellers sewed clothes, carried buckets of drinking water up multiple flights of stairs, battled contagious diseases, and struggled to sound out new languages. Even the Sabbath, the supposed day of rest, required hours of preparatory labor. Dr. Annie Polland, Senior Vice President for Programs & Education at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, discusses the toll that tenement life took on immigrant families, as well as the challenges of conveying that exhaustion to modern-day students and tourists.