Photo of the Week: Memorial Day Parade

[Emmanuel House Club 2nd and 3rd marching line in parade], circa 1910, V1981.284.6, Emmanuel House lantern slide collection, V1981.284; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Emmanuel House Club 2nd and 3rd marching line in parade], circa 1910, V1981.284.6, Emmanuel House lantern slide collection, V1981.284; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Brooklyn has been honoring those who have died while serving in the United States military with an annual Memorial Day parade since 1867. The parade, which begins at 78th Street and Third Avenue, marks its 149th anniversary this year and is known as the longest-running Memorial Day parade in the country. This tradition began shortly after the Civil War, a conflict that killed approximately 650,000 people in the northern and southern United States. It is still considered one of the most traumatic events in the country’s history, and was central to the history and genesis of Memorial Day. Along with the barbecues, beaches, sales, and a much-needed day off, we hope you take a moment on Monday to remember those who have died in military service.

With that in mind, the photo of the week depicts a parade (possibly a Memorial Day parade) around 1910 in Brooklyn. The Emmanuel House Club—a religious and community center located at 131 Steuben Street in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn—is pictured marching in the second and third lines. They offered Sunday school and recreational classes to children of the church and neighborhood. This photograph comes from the Emmanuel House lantern slide collection which contains 87 slides from 1900 to 1914 that depict the Emmanuel House, activities, and exterior and interior views of the building. To see 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, Hidden Collections, Library & Archives | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flatbush + Main Episode 02: Brooklyn’s Working Waterfront

In the past several years, Brooklyn’s waterfront has transformed into a high-value, celebrated space lined with bucolic parks and new developments. In Episode 02 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia travel back in time to a different waterfront: a 19th- and 20th-century site of production, storage, and back-breaking labor for millions of Brooklynites who lived and toiled along its industrial shores. Through stories of people, goods, and work, Julie and Zaheer discuss how Brooklyn’s waterfront was a crucible of American capitalism and labor.

Julie and Zaheer vividly describe the rise of the commercial waterfront in the early 19th century, back when Brooklyn was dubbed “the Walled City” because of its miles of fortress-like brick warehouses. They sit down with BHS Assistant Public Historian Katy Lasdow to learn how Katy pieced together the story of one dockworker who lived and died at Brooklyn’s Empire Stores warehouse. Zaheer and Brett Dion, BHS Oral History Archivist, discuss a clip from BHS’s Puerto Rican Oral History Project. Finally, listeners hear from BHS Director of Education Emily Potter-Ndiaye and Teen Council Member Sam Pepere on the amazing work that teens have been doing at BHS this Spring.

Many of the stories on this episode will be part of a major exhibition, “Waterfront,” that will occupy Brooklyn Historical Society’s new satellite museum opening in the Empire Stores in 2017. Read more about Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO here.

Got a great idea for an upcoming Flatbush + Main episode? Email us at flatbushandmain@brooklynhistory.org or leave a comment on this post. And don’t forget to subscribe to Flatbush + Main and to rate us on iTunes, Stitcher, or whatever platform you use to listen to podcasts.

Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

In 2014, for example, BHS partnered with Brooklyn Bridge Park to reveal the diverse histories that are located underfoot in the area now occupied by the park. The partnership resulted in 20 historical markers throughout Brooklyn Bridge Park, and an accompanying content-rich website, brooklynwaterfronthistory.org.

Segment 2: Into the Archives

Here are some of the documents that Katy Lasdow used to piece together the life of Michael Harkins and his family.

Take a look at the March 23, 1873 New York Times death notice that introduced us to Michael Harkins here.

Harkins, Mary. Transfer Signature and Test Books, Emigrant Savings Bank, New York, NY, March 29, 1870.

Harkins, Mary. Transfer Signature and Test Books, Emigrant Savings Bank, New York, NY, March 29, 1870.

Harkins, Michael. 1860 Federal Census, Brooklyn, Ward 2.

Harkins, Michael. 1860 Federal Census, Brooklyn, Ward 2.

And here is Brooklyn Daily Eagle coverage of a murder that took place at 129 Plymouth Street when the Harkins family was living there.

Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn

Below is the full oral history of Francisco Pratts, part of BHS’s 1976 Puerto Rican Oral History Project, the first major oral history project undertaken by BHS – and one of the first archival collections related to Puerto Ricans in the United States.

This week’s bonus Voice of Brooklyn was that of Sam Pepere, a member of Brooklyn Historical Society’s 2016 Teen Council. This past Saturday, May 21, the Teen Council held a day-long, for-teens-by-teens event called “Street: A Day of Art, Performance, History, and Film.” Learn more about BHS’s many after school and collaborative programs here.

Segment 4: At Brooklyn Historical Society

Zaheer endorsed “Call and Response: Black Power 50 Years Later,” at BHS on June 14, 2016 at 6:30 pm. The panel includes activists from across generations, including Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry, Basir Mchawi, Farah Tanis, DeRay Mckesson, and Dante Barry. Professor Robyn Spencer moderates.

Julie endorsed “Race and History: An Evening with Lonnie Bunch,” at BHS on June 16, 2016 at 6:30 pm. Bunch is the founding Director of the soon-to-open National Museum of African American History and Culture.

BHS Programs and Communication Coordinator KT Williams endorsed “Refined and Redesigned: Defying Gender Norms in Fashion,” at BHS on June 23, 2016 at 6:30 pm. The panel is moderated by Anita Dolce Vita, editor and chief of the website DapperQ.

Posted in Flatbush + Main Podcast | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photo of the Week: Idle

Idle, circa 1887, V1972.1.1253; Early Brooklyn and Long Island photograph collection, ARC.201; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Idle, circa 1887, V1972.1.1253; Early Brooklyn and Long Island photograph collection, ARC.201; Brooklyn Historical Society.

I couldn’t help but chuckle when a colleague pointed out this photograph from our collections. I had so many questions. Who is this young woman? Why is she strumming a broom like a banjo? And why did the photographer title this work “Idle”? That’s the fun part about working in a historical archive—stumbling upon something surprising from the past and trying to make sense of it today. Whoever this person was, it’s fun to see a bit of humor among the many serious portraits during the late 1880s. How do you react to this photograph?

This photograph by amateur photographer Walter H. Nelson was taken around 1887 and comes from the Early Brooklyn and Long Island photograph collection. This collection is comprised of roughly 1,400 black-and-white photographs taken by various (mostly amateur) photographers between 1860 and 1920. That majority of the photographs depicts view of Brooklyn and Suffolk County, including many photographs of Coney Island and Prospect Park. 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, Hidden Collections, Library & Archives | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photo of the week: Cherry Blossoms

[Blossoms], circa 1975, V1990.2.219; Donald L. Nowlan Brooklyn collection, ARC.120; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Blossoms], circa 1975, V1990.2.219; Donald L. Nowlan Brooklyn collection, ARC.120; Brooklyn Historical Society.

If you missed the annual Sakura Matsuri, Brooklyn Botantic Garden’s cherry blossom festival, it’s not too late to experience the last of the blooming cherry blossoms in Brooklyn. According to the BBG website, the cherry blossoms bloom from late March or early April until mid-May. There are 26 different species of flowering cherries at the park, and there is no time where they all bloom at once. Instead, they all flower at different times and bloom for no longer than a week at a time. To learn more about the cherry blossoms at BBG or to plan a visit, check out their website here.

The photo of the week depicts a view of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Cherry Esplanade in full bloom, sometime around 1975. This photograph comes from the Donald L. Nowlan Brooklyn collection that comprises 122 color photographic prints, 165 color slides, and three black-and-white photographic prints that document locations in Brooklyn during the 1960s and 1970s. Subjects include Coney Island, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park, and a Reenactment of Brooklyn in Prospect Park (circa 1979). 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, Hidden Collections, Library & Archives | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Refugees: In their own words

Our Lives scrapbook, 1947-1948; E.S. 80 Night School scrapbooks, 2008.020

Our Lives scrapbook, 1947-1948; E.S. 80 Night School scrapbooks, 2008.020, Box 1; Brooklyn Historical Society

On Wednesday, May 11, BHS will be hosting a program titled Refugee Brooklyn: Stories from Brooklyn’s Refugee Communities. Hosted by Jarrett Murphy, Executive Publisher of City Limits, the program is focused on the experiences of refugees as they adapt to life here in Brooklyn. Panelist include Eileen Reilly, Director for Refugee Services and Workforce Development at CAMBA, Zeinab Eyega, Founder and Executive Director of Sauti Yetu, an advocacy organization for African women and families in NYC, Ninaj Raoul of Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, and Alec Brook-Krasny, founding Executive Director of The Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations (COJECO).

The other day, when reading the program announcement, I was immediately reminded of a collection that we have here in the BHS archives. While the lives of refugees are sadly underrepresented in our holdings, we are in possession of two scrapbooks from E.S. 80, an evening school for adults that was located in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn, dating from 1947 to 1948.

Our Lives scrapbook index, 1947-1948; E.S. 80 Night School scrapbooks, 2008.020

Our Lives scrapbook index, 1947-1948; E.S. 80 Night School scrapbooks, 2008.020, Box 1; Brooklyn Historical Society

The classes were made up entirely of immigrants who arrived in Brooklyn starting in the early 1920s through the 1940s, the vast majority of which seemed to have been displaced by war. Most were from Southern and Eastern Europe, although I did come across some non-Europeans, such as a Puerto Rican and a Palestinian Jew. Brooklyn had already been well established as a home for Jewish immigrants, and there was an active Jewish community in Coney Island at the time. For more information on our collections relating to the Jewish community in Brooklyn, please see this subject guide.

"My Background" by Regina Markowitz, 1947-1948; E.S. 80 Night School scrapbooks, 2008.020

“My Background” by Regina Markowitz, 1947-1948; E.S. 80 Night School scrapbooks, 2008.020, Box 1; Brooklyn Historical Society

The scrapbooks contain a variety of writing assignments, most of which outline their lives prior to immigration, their experiences in America, and their views on World War II and other current events. Some speak lovingly of their childhood experiences, while others depict the harsh reality of poverty during the interwar period of Europe. War experiences loom large throughout the scrapbooks. In one harrowing passage, a student bluntly describes being sent to a concentration camp.

"The Destroyed City" by Rose Leibowitz, 1947-1948; E.S. 80 Night School scrapbooks, 2008.020

“The Destroyed City” by Rose Leibowitz, 1947-1948; E.S. 80 Night School scrapbooks, 2008.020, Box 1; Brooklyn Historical Society

Along with war, the other major theme of the scrapbooks is hope. The ideology of the American Dream was alive and well among many of the students, and there seems to be a genuine sense that their lives had improved once arriving in this country. Compared to the horrors of war-torn Europe, it’s not hard to see why life here was depicted so positively. Still, the students still faced the very real threats of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in the United States – something they might have been reluctant to discuss in these school assignments.

"My Impressions of America" by Rachel Silverman, 1947-1948; E.S. 80 Night School scrapbooks, 2008.020

“My Impressions of America” by Rachel Silverman, 1947-1948; E.S. 80 Night School scrapbooks, 2008.020, Box 1; Brooklyn Historical Society

The scrapbooks are open and available to the public in BHS’s Othmer Library. To see the scrapbooks please make an appointment with our reference librarian (library@brooklynhistory.org). Our library is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.

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