Photo of the Week: Manhattan Furrier

Manhattan Furrier, 2006, 2009.004.15; James and Karla Murray Counter Culture exhibition photographs, 2009.004; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Manhattan Furrier, 2006, 2009.004.15; James and Karla Murray Counter Culture exhibition photographs, 2009.004; Brooklyn Historical Society.

This photograph shows the exterior of Manhattan Furrier, once located at 685 Manhattan Avenue in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint. A family owned and operated business since 1916, it unfortunately shuttered its doors in 2011, much to the dismay of their long-time customers. In NYC, the furrier trade reached its peak in the 1960s and 70s as fur coats were quite fashionable and all the craze. The 1990s gave way to a slow but steady decline in sales forcing many shops to close. Only a handful of family owned and operated furrier storefronts remain active in NYC today.

This photograph is part of an ongoing project by photographers James and Karla Murray to document storefronts in Brooklyn and New York City.  For further information on this collection please visit James and Karla Murray Counter Culture exhibition photographs. You may also view more images from this collection by checking out this gallery. Aside from their published works, James and Karla Murray continue to photograph the storefronts of New York City on Instagram which you can check out here.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org

Posted in Brooklyn Past & Present, Library & Archives | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Flatbush + Main Episode 32: Muslims in Brooklyn

In Episode 32 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia examine the history of Muslims in Brooklyn, drawing on BHS’s groundbreaking public and oral history project that launched in 2018.

Index
02:04 Histories and Ideas
16:34 Into the Archives
27:35 Voices of Brooklyn

For complete show notes, go to brooklynhistory.org/flatbush-main.

We hope you’re enjoying our podcast! Please subscribe, rate, and review us at brooklynhistory.org/fm-apple. And share the news of Flatbush + Main far and wide using the hashtag #FlatbushandMain.

Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

In this segment, Julie and Zaheer talk about the Muslims in Brooklyn project, and the project’s goals to convey the long, diverse, and dynamic histories of Muslims in Brooklyn and New York City. For well over a century, Muslims have lived, worked, and prayed in Brooklyn, making it a major center of Muslim life not just in New York City, but the nation. They provide an overview of the histories of Muslims in New York City, and some of the themes that have informed those histories, including physical and spiritual migrations, community formations, neighborhood change, civic engagement, and the arts. They also reflect on the import of the project at a time when anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise.

Segment 2: Into the Archives

Julie and Zaheer analyze a marketing brochure for the Al-Karim school, an Afrocentric school that opened in Crown Heights in the early 1970s, and tease out the cultural influences of Islam on this school and other aspects of Brooklyn culture.

IMG_2324

IMG_2325

IMG_2326

The document is from the Eastern Parkway Coalition records (2007.016); you can explore the finding aid here.

As Zaheer mentions in the segment, you can learn more by listening to the oral histories of one of the founders of the Al-Karim school, Ora Clark, and her son Karim Camara, who attended the school.

Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn

In this segment, Julie and Zaheer listen to clips from the oral history of Brooklyn artists Mohammed Fayaz and Alsarah Abunama-Elgadi. You can hear their full interviews, as well as others that are part of the Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories collection on our Oral History portal.

Segment 4: Endorsements

Zaheer endorsed “Beauty, Media, Money and More: A Conversation with Tressie McMillan Cottom,” a public program on Monday, February 25, 2010 at 6:30pm. In her new book Thick and Other Essays, Cottom — award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed — opens up about her role as a scholar and public figure. She is joined in conversation by Harlem-based writer, Morgan Jerkins, author of the New York Times bestseller This Will Be My Undoing. Tickets are $10 and $5 for members; reserve them here.

Julie endorsed a book talk given by Kellie Carter Jackson about her new book, Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence, on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 6:30pm. Jackson, assistant professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College (and former Columbia colleague of Julie and Zaheer!), examines the political and social tensions preceding the American Civil War and the conditions that led some black abolitionists to believe that slavery might only be abolished by violence. Tickets are $5 and free for members; reserve them here.

Posted in Flatbush + Main Podcast | Leave a comment

Photo of the Week: Juxtaposition

Sunrise on Brighton Beach, 2010.008.2; Jacob Mann photographs, 2010.008; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Sunrise on Brighton Beach, 2010.008.2; Jacob Mann photographs, 2010.008; Brooklyn Historical Society.

At Brooklyn Historical Society, we strive to collect photographs that document a moment in the history of the borough while also conveying a particular aesthetic that appeals to our aspirations to exhibit beautiful works of art. This photograph is one of those successful juxtapositions that tell us something about the built environment of Brooklyn in 2010 that is also a beautiful execution of the art form.

Of his photographs, Jacob Mann says “My photography is a study of ‘geometry’ in life around us, finding images where visual composition adds its own content to the subject matter . . . I find my subjects on the streets of New York – New York landmarks, museums and ordinary places like playgrounds and amusement parks. In my playground pictures I see the playgrounds as places from fairy tales within a dark and preoccupied adult world, places full of beauty surrounded by urban grit.”

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org

Posted in Brooklyn Past & Present, Library & Archives | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Photo of the Week: Flatbush Avenue

612 Flatbush Avenue, 1971, V1973.5.1486; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

612 Flatbush Avenue, 1971, V1973.5.1486; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

This week’s photograph highlights the quotidien caught on the streets of Brooklyn. Flatbush Avenue runs from Downtown Brooklyn through several neighborhoods and over Jamaica Bay into Queens. Driving a portion of it is a tumultuous journey through cultures that demonstrate the variety of Brooklyn life and culture. On the block in this photograph, you could grab a Schaefer beer, buy your favorite lipstick, and head upstairs to your great Aunt’s apartment within steps of each other. Or, in the case of the woman pictured, take in the street life on a mild day.

This photograph comes from the Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection which contains approximately 7,000 items dating from the early- to mid-20th century. To view more photographs from this collection, check out this gallery.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org

 

Posted in Brooklyn Past & Present, Library & Archives | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Increasing Access to Vertical Files

Over the past several months, we’ve been hard at work in the Othmer Library to improve access to our vertical files. This collection was assembled over the past century by library staff to provide quick reference on a wide variety of topics relevant to Brooklyn and Brooklynites. A vertical file is often comprised of pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and other published materials, arranged in a filing cabinet. This system of organization was created by Melvil Dewey, the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, and was so acclaimed that it won a gold prize in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair! [1]

“The Good News,” May 1977; Brooklyn Historical Society vertical files collection, ARC.315, Drawer 5, Folder Neighborhoods -- Prospect Lefferts Garden; Brooklyn Historical Society.

“The Good News,” May 1977; Brooklyn Historical Society vertical files collection, ARC.315, Drawer 5, Folder Neighborhoods — Prospect Lefferts Garden; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Our vertical file collection is a rich source of information on topics that might not otherwise be well-represented in our collections, including smaller Brooklyn neighborhoods, lesser known institutions and organizations, and immigrant communities. These files also provide an eclectic source of information on popular topics, such as prominent buildings and notable individuals. Previously, researchers could access information about our vertical files through a PDF inventory, available in our reading room and through a hard-to-find link on our website. This project created a finding aid for our vertical files, making these materials discoverable through our search portal alongside our traditional archival collections.

This project also provided an opportunity to address an additional issue: the existence of 25 boxes of assorted archival material in our collections storage area. These boxes were created in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the BHS Pierrepont location was closed for renovations, and our library and archival collections were in storage. The boxes consisted of materials that had been out on loan when the building was packed up, were pulled for temporary exhibitions, or were donated during the time that the building was closed. Our amazing library volunteer Lena Evers-Hillstrom carefully went through each box, placing materials in appropriate vertical file folders and re-incorporating materials back into their original archival collections. Additionally, new folders were created for subjects that previously had not been represented at all in the vertical files, such as the LGBT community and DUMBO.

“Brooklyn Queens Expressway,” 1952; Brooklyn Historical Society vertical files collection, ARC.315, Drawer 7, Folder Transportation-General; Brooklyn Historical Society.

“Brooklyn Queens Expressway,” 1952; Brooklyn Historical Society vertical files collection, ARC.315, Drawer 7, Folder Transportation-General; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The result is a vastly expanded vertical files collection, stored in four brand new filing cabinets, updates to over twenty-five archival collections, and a number of items returned or refiled with to their original archival collections! You do not need an appointment to view materials held in the vertical files. Please come into the Othmer Library during our open hours (Wednesdays through Saturdays, 1-5pm) and check out this expanded resource!

By Maggie Schreiner and Lena Evers-Hillstrom

[1] Levy, David M., Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age. Arcade, 2001. P 68-69.

Posted in Brooklyn Past & Present, Hidden Collections, Library & Archives | Leave a comment