Innovators Network

Ruth J. Abram - President, Lower East Side Tenement Museum

In 1988, Abram founded the Tenement Museum, whose mission is “to promote tolerance and historical perspective through the presentation and interpretation of the variety of immigrant and migrant experiences on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a gateway to America. Its National Historic Landmark at 97 Orchard Street is the first homestead of urban, working class and poor immigrant people to be preserved and interpreted in the United States.” Using the building and its Lower East Side neighborhood, the Museum has pioneered the interpretation of the home and community life and it has set precedent in using history as a tool for addressing contemporary social issues.

From its founding in 1988, the Museum grew from a storefront operation with a volunteer staff of two and opening balance of $75,000 to an important New York cultural and educational institution with staff, consultants and volunteers numbering over 100 and an annual budget of over $5 million.

Abram’s writings have appeared in many publications. She is the author of a book, Send Us a Lady Physician (W.W.Norton). A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College with an MSW from the Florence Heller School at Brandeis University, Abram has an MA in American History from New York University, where she was a Kennan Fellow.

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