Photo of the Week: Bernard Gotfryd photographs

[East New York courtyard.], 1970 ca, v1987.3.6; Bernard Gotfryd color slides and photographs, v1987.3; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[East New York courtyard.], 1970 ca, v1987.3.6; Bernard Gotfryd color slides and photographs, v1987.3; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The Bernard Gotfryd color slides and photographs is one of my favorite collections at Brooklyn Historical Society. Gotfryd’s photographs capture Brooklyn street scenes with children playing, people sitting on stoops, and sidewalk activity from 1965 to 1983. The photo of the week is an image from this collection that depicts people cleaning up a courtyard in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. Gotfryd was a photojournalist, trained to tell stories through photographs. This photograph stands out to me for many reasons: the composition, the charming detail of the kids in the window, but also the powerful story it tells about East New York. This Brooklyn neighborhood was hit hard by 20th century urban decline, segregation, and deindustrialization and this photograph depicts one example of the grassroots efforts by the community to clean up the neighborhood.

Bernard Gotfryd was a professional photographer and staff photojournalist at Newsweek for over 30 years. He was born in Poland in 1924 and entered a photography apprenticeship at the start of WWII. He became involved with the Polish resistance and was later imprisoned for his involvement. By the end of the war, he had survived imprisonment in six different concentration camps. In 1945, he immigrated to the United States and continued his photography pursuit while serving in the U.S. Army. Gotfryd traveled all over the world while working at Newsweek, documenting people, places, and events. We were sad to hear that Gotfryd passed away last summer at age 92. At Brooklyn Historical Society, we have 174 photographs by Gotfryd. This collection is not digitized, but we would love for you to visit the Othmer Library and view this collection in person.

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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Photo of the Week: Smith-9th Street Station

[View of portion of Smith-9th Street Station (IND).], 1958, v1974.4.1131; John D. Morrell photographs, v1974.4; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[View of portion of Smith-9th Street Station (IND).], 1958, v1974.4.1131; John D. Morrell photographs, v1974.4; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Do you live off the Smith-9th Street station? The photo of the week depicts the snow-covered station located in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, in December 1958. The station opened in 1933 and closed for two years during massive renovations between 2011 and 2013. The elevated station is 87.5 feet high and is considered the highest above-ground subway station in the world.

This photograph comes from the John D. Morrell photographs collection comprised of roughly 2,000 black and white and color negative prints and photographs. John D. Morrell was an assistant librarian at Long Island Historical Society (now Brooklyn Historical Society) for many years and documented nearly ever Brooklyn neighborhood between 1957 and 1974. Lucky for us, Morrell provided descriptions of each photograph, and now the photographs are fully digitized and available online. If you’re interested in Brooklyn housing and building research, be sure to check out this rich collection.

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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Flatbush + Main Episode 11: W.E.B. Du Bois in Brooklyn

In Episode 11 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia explore the last decade of the life of iconic Civil Rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois, when he called Brooklyn home.

Index

03:33 – Histories and Ideas: Interview with David Levering Lewis
22:43 – Voices of Brooklyn: Esther Cooper Jackson
32:45 – Into the Archives: William Howard Melish’s Eulogy for W.E.B. Du Bois

Du Bois lived at 31 Grace Court in Brooklyn Heights from 1951 until 1961, when he left the United States for Ghana. He died in Accra on August 27, 1963, the night before the March on Washington.

31 Grace Court

Zaheer and Julie chat with eminent historian and Du Bois biographer David Levering Lewis about Du Bois’ life in Brooklyn, and place Du Bois’ Brooklyn years in the context of the Cold War and American politics and culture in the 1950s. They feature clips from an oral history with Civil Rights activist Esther Cooper Jackson about her collaborations with Du Bois. And they examine Du Bois’ intellectual legacy while listening to a eulogy for Du Bois given by Brooklyn pastor William Howard Melish.

Du Bois was one of America’s most enduring and influential intellectuals. Do you have a favorite Du Bois quote or contribution? Share it using the hashtag #flatbushandmain.

For complete show notes, go to www.brooklynhistory.org/flatbush-main. Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review Flatbush + Main on iTunes at brooklynhistory.org/fm-itunes.

Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

David Levering Lewis is the Julius Silver University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at New York University.
He is the author of a masterful two-volume biography of Du Bois. Both W.E.B. Du Bois, 1868-1919: Biography of a Race and W.E.B. Du Bois, 1919-1963: The Fight for Equality and the American Century won numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize.

While it’s not about Brooklyn, you should also read Professor Lewis’s When Harlem Was In Vogue, a remarkable examination of the Harlem Renaissance.

To see the David Attie photographs of Du Bois in his home that Professor Lewis mentioned, come visit Brooklyn Historical Society and check out the exhibition Truman Capote’s Brooklyn: The Lost Photographs of David Attie.

Segment 2: Voices of Brooklyn

Esther Cooper Jackson is an civil rights activist and community organizer, who worked as an activist and board member on the Committee to Defend Negro Leadership–an organization that came to the aid of African Americans who were being targeted by the McCarthyism of the Cold War era. In 1961, she co-founded Freedomways magazine in 1961 with W.E.B. Du Bois and Shirley Graham Du Bois, among others, and would continue to edit the magazine for the twenty-four years of its existence. At the time of the interview, she was ninety-two years old. The interview is being made available, thanks to a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Segment 3: Into the Archives

Both the audio recording and transcripts of William Howard Melish’s eulogy for Du Bois can be found in the John Howard and William Howard Melish Collection (ARC.050). Peruse the finding aid here.

Segment 4: Endorsements

Zaheer endorsed the Voices of Crown Heights public program, “Community Classroom: Ideas, Innovation, and Education Equity,” hosted by our project partner Weeksville Heritage Center, on Saturday, March 11, 2017, 1pm – 2:30pm. The event is free, but RSVP is requested here.

Julie endorsed “The Legacy of Jane Jacobs,” taking place Thursday, March 16, 2017, 6:30pm. The event is $5 for members/$10 for non-members, and you can get tickets here.

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Photo of the Week: Family Research

[Man with child], 1909 ca, v1981.283.3.103; Burton family papers and photographs, ARC.217; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Man with child], ca. 1909, v1981.283.3.103; Burton family papers and photographs, ARC.217; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The photo of the week is from around 1909 and depicts a man holding a baby outside a Brooklyn home. This photograph comes from the Burton family papers and photographs collection which contains personal documents and photographs from the Burton family. To me, family photographs can convey genuine, intimate interactions and evoke feelings of affection and comfort that resound in loving families. I admire how this photograph captures a tender moment between the man and baby—a moment that, perhaps, only a loving family member could fully appreciate.

Material in the Burton family papers and photographs collection dates from 1870 to 1949 and includes 189 photographs of the Burton family. The photographs include William W. Burton, his wife Virginia Baptist Burton, their son and daughter-in-law Percival Burton and Josie E. Newcombe Burton, and the Newcombe family. Many of the photographs in this collection are contained in two albums. In addition to photographs, this collection includes manuscript materials including deeds, titles, mortgages, bonds, and family correspondence. To see more photographs from this collection, check out this gallery.

Family and genealogy research is one of the most popular research topics at Brooklyn Historical Society. If you’re interested in diving into your own family research, check out our Family Research Guide.

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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Photo of the Week: Hunterfly Road Houses

[Hunterfly Road Houses], 1922, v1987.11.2; Eugene L. Armbruster photograph and scrapbook collection, v1987.011; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Hunterfly Road Houses], 1922, v1987.11.2; Eugene L. Armbruster photograph and scrapbook collection, v1987.011; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The photo of the week depicts Hunterfly Road Houses in 1922, the last remaining structures of the Weeksville community, part of the present-day Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Weeksville was founded in 1838, and named after James Weeks, a former slave from Virginia, who was an early investor and resident of the community.  It quickly became a thriving community of black landowners, reaching 521 residents in 1855. Land ownership was particularly important to black New Yorkers because at the time, New York State’s constitution required men of color to own $250 worth of property to be able to vote. No property requirements existed for white New Yorkers.

After they were rediscovered in the 1960s, the Hunterfly Road Houses were designated New York City landmarks in 1970. To learn more about this history, you can visit the Weeksville Heritage Center which just opened a new exhibition titled Weeksville: Transforming Community/In Pursuit of Freedom, part of a public history project in partnership with Brooklyn Historical Society and Irondale Ensemble Project that explores the heroes of Brooklyn’s abolitionist movement. You can also visit Brooklyn Historical Society’s sister exhibition, Brooklyn Abolitionsists/In Pursuit of Freedom  on display through 2018.

The photo of the week is from the Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbook collection that comprises seven scrapbooks and several hundred photographs taken by Armbruster during late 19th century and early 20th century Brooklyn. Armbruster was an amateur photographer and historian, who was interested in historic infrastructure; particularly those he believed were at risk of being destroyed. Thanks to a generous grant from Gerry Charitable Trust, Brooklyn Historical Society is digitizing and cataloging all seven scrapbooks from this collection. To see more photographs form 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

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