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Herb - social history for every classroom

menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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Many visitors—journalists, reformers, middle-class tourists hoping to brush up against the masses—traveled through the Five Points neighborhood in Manhattan in the nineteenth century. They left these observations.

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This print, by an unknown illustrator, is based on an earlier oil painting by the artist George Catlin (who later become famous for his portraits of Native Americans in the West). Like the original, the print depicts a street view of “Paradise…

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This print showing a view of one of New York City's more notorious poor neighborhoods offers a variety of picturesque and sensational incidents, including an assault in broad daylight. It also indicates that African Americans worked and resided in a…

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During the 1840s and 1850s, anti-immigrant feelings grew among many native-born whites. Nativists argued that immigrants caused many of the nation’s ills by rejecting “American” work habits, culture, and religion. Nativists and and their reformer…

The archeological excavation of the Foley Square Courthouse at 500 Pearl Street, located near the former intersection that once comprised the Five Points neighborhood, yielded over 850,000 artifacts, some of which are depicted below. The artifacts…

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Uncovered during an archaeological dig of the former Five Points neighborhood, this teacup depicts the Irish temperance reformer Father Theobold Mathew, who during the late 1830s and 1840s convinced Irish on both sides of the Atlantic to embrace…

The Five Points House of Industry was organized by the Methodist minister Lewis M. Pease and headquartered in a notorious former slum building known as the Old Brewery. It was the first missionary effort in the neighborhood to offer vocational…

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This tea set, manufactured in England, was uncovered during an archaeological dig of the former Five Points neighborhood, at the site of a former tenement building at 472 Pearl Street. While the neighborhood was known for its poverty and vice, this…

This page from the 1855 census for New York City's Sixth Ward, the home of the Five Points neighborhood, includes residents of two buildings. The notorious Five Points, formed by the intersections of Mulberry, Orange, Anthony, Cross, and Little Water…

This letter to the New-York Daily Times, published on June 14, 1854, attempts to explain the high rate of criminality among Irish immigrants in terms of environment rather than temperment. The Irish-surnamed writer argues that the Irish are not…
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