Hands-On Archives: The Confino Family
The National Archives at New York City and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum offer a curriculum-based student field trip for schools, camps, and others to learn about our past.
Victoria Confino was only a youth when she emigrated from Kastoria, Greece, to the Lower East Side. As part of a family of eight, the Confinos began their American journey in a cramped fifth-floor tenement apartment at 97 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side.
In the Hands-On Archives: The Confino Family program, participants start their journey at the National Archives at New York City facility and discover the past of the Confino family through an exploration of primary sources. Through the passenger arrival records and census records of the Confino family, students investigate the past and gain essential historical skills. Participants in this research experience will also receive a tour and overview of other important historical documents held by the National Archives.
Participants then travel on their own to the Tenement Museum to "meet" Victoria Confino herself. On the hour-long tour of her 1916 tenement apartment, participants will learn Victoria's personal story as an illustration of the immigrant experience. Taking on the role of recent immigrants, students will interact with the 14-year-old Victoria and ask her questions about adjusting to life in the Lower East Side. Witness the actual physical conditions of a tenement, handle household objects, and listen to music on an authentic wind-up Victrola. Armed with historical understanding from their archival research, participants will be able to create thought-provoking questions for Victoria and gain a deep understanding of turn-of-the-century immigration in New York City.
Reserving a Tour
To experience the complete Hands-On Archives: The Confino Family program, visit the Tenement Museum's website or call 866-606-7232. Select up to three dates and book the tour through the Tenement Museum. To reserve this dual program, you will need to indicate the program while booking. If booking online, put Hands On Archives-NARA in the "Other Comments or Questions" section. The Tenement Museum will coordinate the available tour date between the requester and the National Archives at New York City.
Note: This program runs on the same day for both sites. Please plan about 3-4 hours for the entire program. Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to both facilities. Travel time between facilities is approximately 30 minutes. National Archives reservations are free; however, the Tenement Museum is fee-based. Consult the Tenement Museum for specific prices.
Hands-On Archives: The Confino Family
Pre-visit Activities & Requirements
We are delighted that you are interested in bringing your students to participate in the Hands-On Archives: The Confino Family at the National Archives at New York City and the Tenement Museum.
Before you contact the National Archives at New York City and the Tenement Museum, please read the following:
The Hands-On Archives: The Confino Family works best when your students come prepared.
- Vocabulary Lists: Be familiar with certain vocabulary words related to immigration and archives.
- Discussing Immigration: After discussing immigration in general, ask your class if any students were immigrants themselves. If willing,
ask them to share their experience of immigrating to the country. Questions could include:
- Why did their family decide to leave their native country?
- What did their family bring with them from their native country? (This could include both physical and intangibles)
After this discussion (or if there are no children that have experienced immigration in the class), ask the entire class to make a list of what they would bring with them if they were going to live in another country. After student begin designing their lists, tell students that they could only bring what they can physically carry to help them prioritize and limit their lists. After this activity, discuss the different lists and have students explain their reasoning behind their choices. Follow-up with questions such as:
- Do you think it was hard to limit the items you brought? Why or why not?
- If you could only bring one item to the new country, what would it be? Why?