Browse Exhibits (29 total)

Abolaji Amosu


Born in Lagos Nigeria in 2000, Abolaji Amosu grew up in an upper-middle-class family of six. After her father convinced her mother to experience a new life in the United States, the family arrived in Philadelphia in 2006. Forced to repeat the third grade, Amosu pushed herself to defy stereotypes associated with Africans and excelled in her studies. In her interview, Amosu describes growing up in America as a Nigerian immigrant, how she struggled with her cultural identity, and how both impacted her studies and social life.  

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Algassimu Bah


Algassimu Bah (b.1986) was a young child when his family fled the violent civil war that broke out in Liberia in 1989. Bah's family moved to Senegal and then Gambia before his father, who had worked for the American embassy, was able to move the family to the United States when Bah was eleven years old. When they were about to leave, people were really nice to them, because they wanted them not to forget about them when they arrived. After a brief stay in Philadelphia with relatives, the family moved to Detroit, Michigan.

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Ana Maria Roldan


When Ana Maria Roldan was fourteen years old she came to the United States from Puerto Rico, because her parents wanted to protect her from an older suitor and to provide a better life for her and her siblings. After finishing high school in Boston, she married and had two children, whom she then raised as a single mother, and came out as gay. After her kids became adults, Ana moved to Philadelphia with her life partner. There, she found her home away from home. 

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Anna Lavin

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Anna Lavin came with her family from Russia to Philadelphia in 1896 aboard the S.S. Penland. Growing up in a poor neighborhood in South Philadelphia where death and disease were common, she lost two of her brothers to Scarlet Fever and her mother to malnutrition.  Starting work at the age of 12, Lavin spent for 53 years in the garment industry, and enjoyed a life in which she always "had enough."

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Antony Catalano


Antony Catalano (b. 1910), the son of a hat maker, grew up in South Philadelphia. Like his father, Catalano worked at John B. Stetson Company and Stylepark Hats. In his 1982 interview, Catalano talked about his life in Philadelphia, his time at The John B. Stetson Company, and the hard lives of hat makers in the early 20th century.

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Armand Di Stefano

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Armand Di Stefano (1912-1987), the son of Italian immigrants, grew up in a small row house in South Philadelphia. There his father instilled in him the value of hard work and a love of opera.  In his 1984 interview, Di Stefano shared the story of how his father opened a record stop in 1917 and then converted it to a restaurant during the Great Depression. Today, The Victor Cafe still operates at 1303 Dickinson Street, and the wait staff still sings opera to dining patrons.

Bangde "Annie" Fu


Bangde “Annie” Fu (b. 1998) grew up in a small town in Guangxi, China. In search of a better life, Fu moved with her mother to the United States to join her father. Once in Philadelphia, Annie was immersed in a whole new world, which she welcomed with open arms. In this interview Fu discusses how she overcame many obstacles, including language barriers, new forms of education, life amongst people who were very different from people back home, and the everyday struggles of growing up.

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Bertha Gruenberg


Born in Austria, Bertha (Sanford) Gruenberg (1888-1987) moved with her family to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1893 and then to Philadelphia in 1910. There, she and her husband volunteered at two settlement houses, joined the Philadelphia Ethical Society, and became involved in the women's suffrage movement. In her 1982 interview, Gruenberg shared her observations of Philadelphians, both rich and poor, and told about her participation in the suffrage movement and how in 1916 she helped stage the first Women’s Birth Control League meeting in Philadelphia. 

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Catherine Ehrmann


Catherine Ehrmann came with her family from Hungary to Philadelphia in 1904, when she was two years old. She grew up right around the corner from the Stetson Hat Company in the Kensington neighborhood. In 1916, at the age of 14, she began to work at Stetson, and stopped working there when she married at the age of 21. In her July 1982 interview Ehrmann talked about her time as a Stetson employee and how she married against her Old World father's wishes.

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David Kaplan


David Kaplan (born c. 1889) was born in a Russian village to a Jewish family. With his father in America, Kaplan had to work as a child to support his family. Fearing military conscription he fled Russia in 1911 and immigrated to Philadelphia. In 1946, after decades of financial struggle. Kaplan found a steady job in the clothing industry and retired with a pension at the age of 77.