Black History Health and Living Museums

The Moores: A Black Family in 1860s New York

Tom visits the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side to walk through the reconstructed two-room apartment of an African-American couple, Joseph and Rachel Moore, who lived in 1870 on Laurens Street in today’s Soho neighborhood.

Both Joseph and Rachel moved to New York when they were about 20 years old, in the late 1840s and 1850s. They married, worked, raised a family – and they shared their small apartment with another family to help cover costs. 

Their home has been recreated in the Tenement Museum’s newest exhibit, “A Union of Hope: 1869.” The exhibit recreates what their apartment may have looked like – and it also explores life in the 8th Ward of Manhattan, and, specifically, within the black community of the turbulent and dangerous decades of the 1850s and 60s.

This is the first time the museum has recreated the apartment of a black family – although, as you’ll hear, the museum’s founders had long planned for it. And the exhibit is also the first time the museum has recreated an apartment that wasn’t housed in one of their buildings on the Lower East Side, but in another neighborhood. 

So, just who were Joseph and Rachel Moore? And how and why did the Tenement Museum choose to put them at the center of their new exhibit?



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