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A Plate at the Potluck: Sharing Food and Immigrant Stories

Project Thesis by Brandi Mason

Immigration has played a critical role in the history of the United States from the nation’s founding to current debates of border politics, making it a critical topic for history museums to discuss, Community engagement serves as an effective way for those museums to accurately depict the realities of immigration and food—a topic that is universal to all—acts as an excellent starting point for museums to engage with new communities. This project utilized oral histories gathered from local immigrants to create a food-focused traveling exhibit for the Renton History Museum. Project work involved connecting and collaborating with immigrant communities in Renton, Washington to build a food-focused oral history archive. Content from these oral histories was then paired with historical research to create a traveling exhibit of banners. This effort enabled the museum an opportunity to broaden their relationships with local communities of color, and serves as an example for how small history museums can build meaningful, sustainable relationships with local communities.


Mason, B. (2020). A Plate at the Potluck: Sharing Food and Immigrant Stories. [Unpublished master’s thesis project]. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.


project, immigration, community engagement, food, oral history, exhibit, small museums, history museums