The New-York Historical Society is partnering with CUNY’s Citizenship Now! program to provide free civics and American history courses, among other educational tools, to help immigrants prepare for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization exam. Called The Citizen Project, the museum-wide initiative will formally launch in the summer of this year.
One of the tentpoles of the initiative will be a free nine-session class held at the museum that will use the the historical society’s collections to instruct on pivotal moments of United States history. The free class, made possible through a partnership with the Ford Foundation, will be offered in three different intensities, three times a week—weekdays, weekends, or evenings—allowing participants to choose which best accommodates their schedule.
The initiative will also be present in the museum’s exhibit halls, where scavenger hunts designed to test participants’ knowledge of American history and civics through naturalization test questions and answers that will be displayed on a screen at the Museum’s entrance and on an interactive tablet.
“At New-York Historical, we believe in an inclusive ‘We the People,’ welcoming immigrants as well as those born in the United States to a nation whose motto is, after all, E pluribus unum—out of many, one,” Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, said in a statement announcing the initiative.
According to a 2013 report by the Department of Planning, more than 37 percent of New York City residents are foreign born (that figure includes naturalized citizens). “The question of what it means to be an American, central at our nation’s inception, continues to give rise to discussions and debates about immigration today,” Mirrer says. “No less a figure than American founder Alexander Hamilton was pilloried in his day on account of his Caribbean birth.”
Additional information about the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization exam, including study resources, can be found here.