New York Tenement Museum Founder Ruth Abram to Visit TCC

October 28, 2015


Historian, writer and speaker Ruth J. Abram, who founded the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York, comes to Tulsa in November to present “Dislocation, Relocation, Reinvention” as part of the Tulsa Community College Metro Campus Lecture Series. The discussion, led by Abram, will examine the issue of immigration, from both a historic and contemporary perspective, as well as its impact on individuals and cultures. The event begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5 in the Thomas K. McKeon Center for Creativity and is free and open to the public.  Abram’s visit is made possible by the Julian Rothbaum Distinguished Lectureship in Public Affairs.

Abram helped establish the Tenement Museum in New York in 1992. The Museum shares the stories of immigrant families such as John and Caroline Schneider, the Levine family and the German-Jewish Gumpertz family, who lived in the tenement building at 97 Orchard Street. Built on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1863, this apartment building was home to nearly 7,000 working class immigrants. The museum recreates immigrant life in the 19th and 20th centuries through the personal stories and experiences of real families.

She is also the founder of International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, the National Women’s Agenda and Coalition, the Institute on Women’s History, and the traveling exhibition and book “Send Us a Lady Physician: Women Doctors in America, 1835 - 1920.”  In 2014, she founded Behold! New Lebanon, the nation’s first living museum of contemporary rural American life. Harnessing the skills and ingenuity of local people who serve as educators, the museum draws an intimate portrait of small town life and makes it accessible to visitors.

A popular speaker, she has appeared before audiences from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to the Conference Board, Family Service Association of America and numerous museum conventions.  Her numerous media appearances include “World News Tonight,” “The Today Show,” and National Public Radio. She has consulted on historic interpretation for museums around the world including the National Park Service, the National Public Housing Museum, several Shaker Museums, Lincoln’s Cottage, Weeksville, the Gulag Museum in Russia, the Liberation War Museum in Bangladesh, and the English Workhouse Museum. Her writing has been published by a wide range of publications including The Midwest Poetry Review, The New York Times Book Review, History News, The Washington Post, The Public Historian, and The Guardian.

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College with a Master’s in Social Work from Brandeis University’s Florence Heller School, Abram has a Master of Arts in American History from New York University, where she was a Kennan Fellow. Her work has been recognized by awards from The Aspen Institute, New York University, Sarah Lawrence College, Russell Sage College, Muhlenberg College and Hebrew Union College.  In 1975, she was appointed Commissioner of International Women’s Year in 1975 by President Jimmy Carter.