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Migrations: The Making of America

In 2019, Carnegie Hall presented Migrations: The Making of America, its largest citywide festival to date. Running from late February through May 2019, Carnegie Hall collaborated with 81 partner organizations—many of them for the first time—to create the festival schedule, which featured more than 150 concerts, films, panel discussions, exhibitions, and more across the five boroughs of New York City. Three migrations were explored through programming at Carnegie Hall: the crossings from Scotland and Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries, the immigration of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe between 1881 and the National Origins Act of 1924, and the Great Migration—the exodus of African Americans from the South to the industrialized cities of the Northeast, Midwest, and West from 1917 into the 1970s.

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At Carnegie Hall, we examined the musical legacies of three migrations: the crossings from Scotland and Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries, the immigration of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe between 1881 and the National Origins Act of 1924, and the Great Migration—the exodus of African Americans from the South to the industrialized cities of the Northeast, Midwest, and West from 1917 into the 1970s. With performances of bluegrass, old-time, klezmer, Yiddish musical theater, blues, jazz, and more, Carnegie Hall celebrates the American musical traditions that flourished as a result of these migrations.

Beyond Carnegie Hall, public programming, performances, exhibitions, and events at festival partner organizations—leading cultural and academic institutions in New York City and beyond—highlighted other aspects of these and the many other migrations, including those from Italy, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia, as well as the internal migration of Native Americans, that have contributed to American culture today. Our music—and our history—is enriched by the diversity of cultures, traditions, and people of this nation. Come hear what defines us all.

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The Migrations Festival Experience

Exciting events took place at Carnegie Hall and partner venues across the city. Check out some sights and sounds of the festival in this image gallery.

Uncover Your Family History

Learning more about your family’s history can bring joy, inspiration, and a deeper understanding of yourself—it’s also fun! Here’s a “how-to” guide from our festival partner, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.

Migrations: The Making of America

We, the American people, each have our own migration story. Carnegie Hall’s festival Migrations: The Making of America is a celebration of these journeys and what it means to be American.

Festival Partners

Academy of American Poets
American Indian Community House
American Irish Historical Society
American Jewish Historical Society
American-Scottish Foundation
Americas Society
Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University
Association for Cultural Equity
Association for the Study of African American Life and History
Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law
Center for Jewish History
Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, New York University
Centro Primo Levi
China Institute
Cinema Tropical
The Cupping Room Café
El Museo del Barrio
Fiona Ritchie Productions/The Thistle & Shamrock, National Public Radio
Flushing Town Hall
The Forward
Gagosian Gallery
Glucksman Ireland House/The Center for Irish Studies, New York University
Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History, New York University
The Graduate Center, CUNY
Harlem One Stop/Harlem Cultural Collaborative
Harlem Stage
Immigration and Ethnic History Society
Indo-American Arts Council
Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies, Columbia University
Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Columbia University
Institute of Irish Studies, Fordham University
Irish Arts Center
Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, Columbia University
Italian Cultural Institute
Japan Society
Jazzmobile
Jazz at Lincoln Center
The Jewish Museum
Jim Kempner Fine Art
The John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College, CUNY
Keyes Art Projects

Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Center for Arts and Culture, and the DREAMers Club at Hostos Community College, CUNY
Mark Borghi Fine Art
The Marshall Project
Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
Museum of Chinese in America
The Museum of Modern Art
Museum of the City of New York
National Black Theatre, Inc.
National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene
New York Academy of Medicine
New York Caledonian Club
New York City Municipal Archives
NYC Tartan Week
New York Genealogical and Biographical Society
New-York Historical Society
The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Northern Ireland Bureau
Orchestra of St. Luke's
Origin Theatre Company
Oxford Cultural Collective
Read650
Saint Andrew’s Society of the State of New York
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Scotch-Irish Society of the United States of America
Scottish Government
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Statue of Liberty National Monument & Ellis Island
Studs Terkel Radio Archive
Sundaram Tagore Gallery
Tenement Museum
Ulster Historical Foundation
Ulster Scots Agency
Vietnam Heritage Center
Wellcome
WFMT Radio Network
What Moves You?
World Council of Peoples for the United Nations
Yiddish Book Center
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Ford Foundation

Lead support for Migrations: The Making of America is provided by the Ford Foundation, The Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund, and Igor Tulchinsky.

Howard Gilman Foundation

Additional support is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation.

National Endowment for the Arts: arts.gov

Public support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Support for the Russian and Eastern European Jewish Migration series of the Migrations festival is provided by The Polonsky Foundation, Igor Tulchinsky, and Anonymous (2).

Additional support is provided by Dr. Lynne Harrison.

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