Fred Snitzer collection of Kings County postal ephemera now open to the public

Steeplechase Park postcard, circa 1960

Steeplechase Park postcard, circa 1960. Fred Snitzer collection of Kings County postal ephemera, 2013.003, Box 4, Folder 6; Brooklyn Historical Society.

In 2013, Brooklyn Historical Society acquired a massive collection of postal ephemera (postcards, envelopes, and related items) which belonged to Fred Snitzer. Snitzer was born around 1929 to Jewish immigrant parents, and was a life-long resident of Brooklyn. He was an investment counselor by trade, but had many other passions, including playing chess (he was an expert rated player), travelling the world, and collecting all things related to the postal system in Brooklyn. When I say “all things,” I truly mean it. The collection spans 44 boxes (totaling 22 linear feet), and includes postcards (depicting every aspect of Brooklyn from the late 19th century through the 1960s), envelopes and letters which were sent through the Brooklyn postal system (the earliest dating back to 1814), business and trade advertisements, and other miscellaneous materials (including a 1717 deed for property which belonged to the Van Brunt family in New Utrecht). The collection also includes reference materials which were used to identify and collect mail which was sent through the Kings County postal system (such as Donald S. Patton’s The Local Posts in Brooklyn, N.Y., 1844-1882, and John M. Price’s Street Car R.P.O. Service in Brooklyn and New York City). The collection most likely represents the single largest collection of Kings County postal ephemera, and wonderfully complements our robust collection of Brooklyn postcards.

Snitzer collection - before and after

Left: Binders which originally housed the Snitzer collection; Right: the collection has been rehoused in archival folders and boxes. The original order of the collection has been retained.

Originally stored in over two hundred 3-ring binders, the collection has been transferred to archival folders and boxes for preservation purposes. Despite this rehousing, we have maintained Snitzer’s original order of arrangement, which was meticulous and included cross-references between the many categories he developed over the years.

The collection is of interest to those studying the postal system of 19th and 20th century Kings County. Additionally, the collection is a tremendous visual resource; while it contains images of Brooklyn’s many iconic landmarks (such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Prospect Park, and Coney Island), it also documents Brooklyn’s businesses, schools, churches, municipal buildings, theaters, and subway stations.

You can view a guide to the collection at: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/bhs/arms_2013_003_snitzer_postal/index.html

The collection is open to researchers by appointment in the Othmer Library at BHS. For information on visiting the library and making an appointment, please see: http://www.brooklynhistory.org/library/visit.html

 

About John Zarrillo

I am an archivist at Brooklyn Historical Society. My job is to make the historical records of Brooklyn openly available to students, scholars, and anyone else interested in the borough's past!
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