A History Lesson at the Baltimore Immigration Museum – March 2017
Earlier today, over 30 Yale alumni gathered at the Baltimore Immigration Museum, cofounded by Yale alumnus Nick Fessenden. The museum is housed in what use to be an immigrant house, a place for people from many countries and many walks of life to stay while they oriented themselves in a new land. From the 1830s until World Ware I, Baltimore was the third-largest city in the United States, largely due to the Great Wave of immigration. During that period, the immigrants to Baltimore were mostly German, although later ships brought Polish, Czech, Lithuanian, and Italian immigrants; those Italian immigrants then settled our beloved Little Italy that lives on today. The BIM showcases the general history of immigration and also dives into the history of immigrant groups who built cultural neighborhoods throughout the city.
It can be easy to forget our tumultuous immigration history. As a country, we have imposed quotas and restrictions on immigrants in the past. At other times, though, we have let our doors wide open and allowed immigration to our country without restriction, both to grow our population in this new land and to help us fight our wars. Given our current political climate, Nick Fessenden’s history lesson was a timely reminder of what has happened before, giving context to what we see unfolding today.
Apologies to those who couldn’t get a ticket to this event! The BIM is a small space and we were certainly at capacity this weekend. If you want to explore the museum on your own, it is open on weekends and by appointment during the week. If you’d like to learn more about Baltimore’s immigration history, you can also sign up for the museum’s quarterly newsletter and/or visit one of the other immigration museums in Baltimore (e.g. the Irish Railroad Workers Museum).