Photo of the Week: Paerdegaat Basin

Paerdegaat [Basin], ca 1910, v1981.15.144; Ralph Irving Lloyd lantern slides,v1981.15; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Paerdegaat [Basin], ca 1910, v1981.15.144; Ralph Irving Lloyd lantern slides,v1981.15; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The photo of the week depicts Paerdegaat Basin around 1910 in the Canarsie neighborhood of Brooklyn. The 1.25 mile long channel connects to Jamaica Bay in the south, and is named for the Dutch word “horse gate.” The surrounding wetland area includes groves of trees and a habitat for many bird and animal species. I love the soft tree reflections in the water and the small tent visible in the background. Did the artist camp here for the night?

This photograph comes from the Ralph Irving Lloyd lantern slides collection that comprises roughly 400 black-and-white lantern slides, created by Lloyd between 1890 and 1920. Lloyd as a Brooklyn ophthalmologist and amateur photographer, who photographed primarily streets scenes and historic homes in Brooklyn. To view more photographs from this collection, check out the online image gallery 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

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Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral history open to researchers in January, 2017!

Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) and Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) partnered on the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation Oral History project in 2007-2008 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Restoration’s founding as the first community development corporation (CDC) in the United States. Fifty-six interviews were conducted with founding board members, supporters, activists, artists, tenants, and other community members. Audio clips from these oral history interviews were included in the exhibition Reflections on Community Development: Stories from Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (BHS 2008, Restoration 2009). Having completed the processing of this collection in early 2017, Restoration’s 50th anniversary year, BHS is pleased to share these interviews with improved access.

Access to Brooklyn Historical Society’s oral history collections is now made possible through a generous grant by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for Voices of Generations: Investigating Brooklyn’s Cultural Identity, a project to digitize, process, catalog, and make accessible nearly 500 interviews from BHS’s earliest oral history collections that document the histories of Brooklyn’s diverse ethnic and cultural communities. With a goal of improved accessibility via thorough description, Oral History Project Archivist Brett Dion assists and supervises an intern team processing the collections, with project management by Oral Historian Zaheer Ali and Managing Director of the Library and Archives Julie I. May. Today we hand over oral history blogging duty to our dedicated, long-time intern Maria Santiago. Take it away, Maria!

As a whole, the oral history collection records voices, stories, and reflections from across Restoration’s historic organization, and chart its many eras, beginning prior to its founding and up to 2008.

In this three-minute clip, urban planner Ron Shiffman describes the legendary 1966 walking tour through the economically struggling Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn taken by United States Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY). Other local luminaries joined them; including Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council (CBCC) co-founder Elsie Richardson and U.S. Senator Jacob Javits (R-NY). The walk, arranged by the CBCC, aimed at garnering Kennedy’s support for what would become the nation’s first-ever community development corporation, the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. The informed, guided tour revealed the strengths of Bed-Stuy for Kennedy. In listening to this clip, it’s easy to understand why he green-lit the CBCC’s long-pitched plans.

This clip is a small segment of Shiffman’s uncut 2-hour interview, of interest to local historians and community activists — and a tiny fraction of the extensive collection of interviews. Other noted narrators of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation Oral History Project include Elsie Richardson, co-founder of the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Committee (CBCC); the educator Dr. Regent Adelaide Sanford; Franklin Thomas, Restoration’s first president and later president of the Ford Foundation; Dr. Josephine English, social activist and one of New York’s first female African American doctors; New York City Assemblyman and Councilman Al Vann; Colvin Grannum, former president of Restoration; Jazz Master Randy Weston; actor Ralph Carter; artist Che Baraka; educator and Associate Commissioner of the New York State Education Department Dr. Lester Young, Jr., and Peggy Alston, director of Restoration’s Youth Arts Academy.

This month, BHS will launch the Oral History Portal, an online access website that combines the detailed interview descriptions and the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer player to seamlessly intertwine a descriptive index with the listening experience.  The portal was funded by the New York Community Trust.  For an overview of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral history and descriptions of narrators and interview content, please see our guide, available online via our finding aid portal in later January. You can also visit the Othmer Library to listen to oral history interviews during research hours Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org. I encourage you to visit!

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Photo of the Week: Ektachrome Film Returns

[Brooklyn Bridge], 1964, v1988.1.181; A. Edna Glyde Photograph Collection, v1988.1; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Brooklyn Bridge], 1964, v1988.1.181; A. Edna Glyde Photograph Collection, v1988.1; Brooklyn Historical Society.

A few months ago, I featured a photograph taken with ektachrome film, which has been out of production since 2012. Last Thursday, Kodak announced that they are bringing back their iconic Kodak Ektachrome film later this year. They stated, “The film, known for its extremely fine grain, clean colors, great tones and contrast, became iconic in no small part due to the extensive use of slide film by the National Geographic Magazine over several decades.” Film lovers rejoice!

With that in mind, the photo of the week is an ektachrome slide depicting the Brooklyn Bridge in August, 1964. This photograph is from the A. Edna Glyde photograph collection that comprises color slides, negatives, contact sheets, and black-and-white prints by photographer and Brooklyn Heights resident, Edna Glyde. Many of her photographs depict cityscapes and weather conditions in Brooklyn from 1940-1967. Her photographs are not digitized, but we would love for you to visit the Othmer Library to see more of them in person, as well as other beloved and not-so-beloved film types that are still extinct today (Kodachrome, 620 format, nitrate, and more!).

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

 

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Puerto Rican Oral History Project records now open to researchers

This collection includes recordings and transcripts of oral histories narrated by those in the Puerto Rican community of Brooklyn who arrived between 1917 and 1940. The Long Island Historical Society (now Brooklyn Historical Society) initiated the Puerto Rican Oral History Project in 1973, conducting over eighty interviews between 1973 and 1975. The oral histories often contain descriptions of immigration, living arrangements, neighborhood ethnicities, discrimination, employment, community development, and political leadership. Since their creation in the 1970s, the recordings had not been fully processed and have been inaccessible to researchers until now.

Program cover for "¿Por Que Brooklyn?" The Puerto Rican Oral History Project was a source for this 1991-92 exhibition. Illustration by David Diaz.

Program cover for “¿Por Que Brooklyn?” The Puerto Rican Oral History Project was a source for this 1991-92 exhibition. Illustration by David Diaz.

Access to Brooklyn Historical Society’s oral history collections is now made possible through a generous grant by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for Voices of Generations: Investigating Brooklyn’s Cultural Identity, a project to digitize, process, catalog, and make accessible nearly 500 interviews from BHS’s earliest oral history collections that document the histories of Brooklyn’s diverse ethnic and cultural communities. With a goal of improved accessibility via thorough description, Oral History Project Archivist Brett Dion assists and supervises an intern team processing the collections, with project management by Oral Historian Zaheer Ali and Managing Director of the Library and Archives Julie I. May.

The Puerto Rican Oral History Project began with grant funding from the New York State Council on the Arts. Sixty-nine individuals were interviewed as part of the original scope of the project. The number of participants later expanded due to the continued interest of project interviewer John D. Vazquez. Interviews were conducted in Spanish, English, or both.

Winter of 2017 brings a momentous, yet fraught, centennial anniversary for the United States government and the island territory of Puerto Rico. It was March 2, 1917 when President Wilson signed the Jones Act; a piece of legislation applying to the U.S.’s obligation to Puerto Rico (and vice-versa) and U.S. citizenship for the island’s inhabitants. I say fraught because, in comparison to statehood vs. independence for Puerto Rico, the Jones Act introduced half-measures of autonomy, thereby ushering in decades of political frustration and economic challenges (some of which persist a century later).

In broad strokes, some of this frustration is addressed by Brooklyn political leader and Puerto Rican migrant Ramón Colón towards the end of his multifaceted, two-hour oral history recorded in 1973. As a teenager, Colón had arrived in Brooklyn by steamship in 1918 and went on to work in New York State’s Division of Human Rights and with the Republican Party of Kings County. A short time after this interview, Colón authored two books related to the Puerto Rican experience in urban America. Here, Colón laments the U.S. congressional pull on Puerto Rico’s government, but urges the second-generation of Puerto Rican-American citizens to sort out the 1970s-era morass with greater representation and legislation by and for the Puerto Rican community.

This month, BHS will launch the Oral History Portal, an online access website that combines the detailed interview descriptions and the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer player to seamlessly intertwine a descriptive index with the listening experience.  The portal was funded by the New York Community Trust.  For an overview of the Puerto Rican Oral History Project records and descriptions of narrators and oral history content, please see our guide which is available online via our finding aid portal. You can also visit the Othmer Library to listen to oral history interviews during research hours Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org.

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Photo of the Week: Second Avenue Subway

[Subway passengers], ca 1985, v2008.013.87; Lucille Fornasieri Gold photographs, 20087.013; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Subway passengers], ca 1985, v2008.013.87; Lucille Fornasieri Gold photographs, 20087.013; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Over the weekend, the Second Avenue Subway opened after almost a century of planning. The station extends the Q line to three new stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th streets in Manhattan. Did you ride the new subway line over opening weekend?

This photograph is one of my favorite images of the NYC subway in our collection. Taken by photographer Lucille Fornasieri Gold, it depicts subway passengers on an unknown line, around 1985. I love the varied facial expressions on all of the passengers in this photographs. This photograph is from the Lucille Fornasieri Gold photographs collection that comprises 93 black-and-white and color photographs taken by Gold, a street photographer, between 1968 and 2008. This collection is fully digitized and available online 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

 

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