Eight-week Program “Becoming American” to Encourage Informed Discussion of Immigration Issues Against Backdrop of History
Mystic, Conn. (September 20, 2018) — Mystic Seaport Museum will host “Becoming American: A Documentary Film and Discussion Series on Our Immigration Experience,” an eight-week public program featuring documentary film screenings, scholar-led discussions, and related activities designed to encourage an informed discussion of immigration issues against the backdrop of our immigration history. The series begins October 4 and is free and open to the public.
“Becoming American” is designed to engage and enlighten audiences by screening documentary films that represent a selection of diverse immigration experiences drawn from both the past and the present.
Mystic Seaport Museum was selected as one of 32 sites nationwide to host this program series, which is a project of City Lore in collaboration with the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. “Becoming American” was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.
The following topics will be discussed in the eight-week series:
- October 4: “The Century of Immigration: 1820-1934” chronicles the period when 40 million immigrants were added to the population of the United States and in the process made immigration a major and defining aspect of American life. Films: New York: A Documentary Film Episode 4, The Power and the People by Ric Burns and The Jewish Americans Episode 2, A World of Their Own by David Grubin.
- October 18: “Promise and Prejudice” explores the tension – historic and current – between Americans’ acceptance of immigrants, including the celebration of their own immigrant heritage, versus the periodic backlash prompted by concern about the economic and cultural effects of newcomers. Film: Welcome to Shelbyville by Kim A. Snyder.
- November 1: “Between Two Worlds: Identity and Acculturation” looks at how immigrants react and adjust to living in a new country and culture, and how they bridge the divide between the traditions and values of their native countries. Film: The New Americans Episode 1: The Nigerians by Steve James.
- November 15: “Help Wanted? Immigration and Work” looks at the economic side of immigration, chronicling the essential part immigrant labor has played in building America, as well as the conflicted relationship American workers have had with immigrants. Film: Destination America by Donna Gabaccia and Janet Nolan.
- November 29: “Family and Community” explores how family ties and community institutions have played an essential role in successful migration and adaptation to American life. Film: My American Girls.
- December 13: “Immigration and Popular Culture” looks at the ways the media and popular culture have historically taught newcomers how to “be American,” and how the rich contributions of different immigrant groups have transformed American culture and art. Film: The Search for General Tso.
The film screenings and discussions will be held in the Museum’s Masin Room in the Thompson Exhibition Building from 7 to 9 p.m.
In addition to the film series, the Museum has added two other programs:
- October 25: guided tours of the Museum’s Collections Research Center, home to more than 1 million artifacts. The tours will focus on those connected to stories of immigration. Tours begin at 1 and 2:30 p.m.
- November 8: “The Stonington Fishing Oral History Project,” a talk by Museum curator Fred Calabretta. The talk begins at 4 p.m. in the Masin Room.
The series is free and open to the public. Advance registration is encouraged by calling 860.572.5331.
About Mystic Seaport Museum
Mystic Seaport Museum, founded in 1929, is the nation’s leading maritime museum. In addition to providing a multitude of immersive experiences, the Museum also houses a collection of more than two million artifacts that include more than 500 historic vessels and one of the largest collections of maritime photography. The iconic Thompson Exhibition Building is a state-of-the-art gallery that is hosting The Vikings Begin: Treasures from Uppsala University, Sweden through September 30, 2018. Mystic Seaport Museum is located one mile south of Exit 90 off I-95 in Mystic, CT. For more information, please visit https://mysticseaport.wpengine.com/ and follow Mystic Seaport Museum on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.