If You Can Make It Here: Becoming American through the Homestead Act | Notes From The Tenement

The Homestead Act was an important move west for those born on our shores and for those born abroad. The Act made the land available to anyone who was a United States citizen or who aimed to be. This legislative loophole allowed mostly European  immigrants to come to the United States with the express purpose of settling land in the west. Scholars believe that legislators aimed to build the country as an agricultural power with farm labor lured from overseas. While we think of the Homestead Act as partly responsible for “making America” it is also responsible for making any number of Americans.

Hanukkah’s History? Perhaps Not What You Thought | Notes From The @TenementMuseum

According to National Public Radio,  Reform Jewish Rabbis in Cincinnati in the second half of the 19th century were the first to realize the potential of this new winter holiday for Jews. Finding that the children of their congregations didn’t have much interaction with the synagogue, these Rabbis introduced Hanukkah as primarily a child’s festival.  The same NPR story also suggests that enthusiasm for the new Jewish festival increased again with the influx of Eastern European Jews to America after 1880. These Jews were often fleeing religious persecution and happily took this new opportunity to celebrate their religion without backlash.