Boston's Untold Story
Tufts history professor Reed Ueda recently chaired a team of local
historians who consulted on a new multimedia museum on the history
The Dreams of Freedom Immigration Museum, which opened this past
July, is located in downtown Boston at 1 Milk Street, the home of
the International Institute of Boston and the site where Benjamin
Franklin was born.
Boston, which is known worldwide for its colonial history, is often
overlooked as a major port of immigration, says Ueda. "Everyone
knows about Ellis Island, but not everyone knows that Boston was
right behind," he says. "One out of two Americans has an ancestor
who came to America through the Massachusetts Bay."
Ueda, who teaches American history, specializes in social history
of urban and industrial America, and immigration and ethnic relations.
He has written numerous texts on immigration and was a research
editor for the Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. He
was more than happy to serve as chief consulting historian for the
"I knew it would offer a rare opportunity to disseminate to a
popular audience what I have been researching and teaching in the
halls of academia-that the immigrant experience is a civic and historical
legacy that has profoundly shaped the American identity."
The museum offers a variety of opportunities for visitors to learn
about the immigrant experience. Using a "passport" that can be stamped
at different stations, visitors can listen to "virtual immigrants"-Lilliputian-sized
mannequins with computerized faces-tell the story of an individual's
journey to America.
Visitors also can walk across floorboards that mimic those of a
passenger ship, view trunks from around the world that hold the
precious few items an immigrant was able to bring on his or her
journey, and watch a multimedia show hosted by a holographic image