Public Programs

Brooklyn Historical Society offers a wide array of public programming that celebrates the diversity of Brooklyn's past and present and takes a close look at where the borough is headed. With panel discussions with Brooklyn luminaries, screenings of classic and groundbreaking films, thought-provoking talks on Brooklyn's history from new perspectives, family art and dance activities, and more, BHS has something for everyone.

Recently at BHS

On September 9th, BHS archivist John Zarrillo gave us a second look at the stories he has uncovered while processing the Brooklyn Corporation Counsel Records in Tales from the Vault: 19th Century Brooklyn, Snapshots of Change Part 2.

For more BHS public programs you can watch from home, browse our Vimeo page.

Calendar of Programs



Jonathan Lethem in Conversation

Jonathan LethemThu, Oct 23, 6:30pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
Reserve tickets>>
With the new musical adaptation of The Fortress of Solitude, award-winning author Jonathan Lethem and writer Brian Berger will take a look back at one of the novel's central characters: the dynamic, racially-charged and rapidly-changing streets of 1970s Brooklyn. Andy Newman of The New York Times will moderate.
Photo by John Lucas

Book Talk: Sam Roberts, A History of New York in 101 Objects

A History of New YorkTue, Oct 28, 6:30pm
$5 General Admission / Free for BHS and G-W Members
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Host of the NY1 program "The New York Times Close Up," Sam Roberts, comes to BHS to explore the variety of iconic and surprising items featured in his new book, A History of New York in 101 Objects. Discover all 101 objects, from an artichoke to Madonna, and even make a case for an essential item you think should be in volumn 2!

Brooklyn's On Fire: Meet the Firehouse Chefs!

Firehouse ChefsThu, Oct 30, 6:30pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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We've all seen firemen in our local supermarkets pushing overloaded shopping carts to the checkout, but what happens when they get back to the station? Brooklyn Magazine food editor Sarah Zorn answers that question through a panel discussion and chili cook-off with three local firehouse chefs. kicks off the evening with complementary tastings of four-alarm cocktails!

Part of a four-part thematic series on Brooklyn and fire, presented with Green-Wood Cemetery.


Told It First Hand: Screening and Discussion of Nas: Time is Illmatic

Mon, Nov 3, 6:30pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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After screening the critically acclaimed film, Nas: Time is Illmatic, Wes Jackson, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, sits down with the film's directors, One-9 and Erik Parker, to learn more about the process that produced this intimate and thrilling look at Nas' upbringing in the Queensbridge Houses and his evolution into a visionary MC.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Five Centuries of African American History

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.*TO BE RESCHEDULED*
$20 General Admission / $15 for BHS and G-W Members

Noted Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the complex history of African Americans, highlighting the vast social, political, and cultural legacies that have emerged from this complicated chapter in American history. Professor Gates' appearance serves as an introduction to the upcoming series of screenings and talkbacks from his Peabody Award-winning PBS series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Brooklyn's On Fire: Bushwick is Burning

 Mon, Nov 17, 6:30pm

Bushwick is Burning_Meisler
    Image: Last Wall, June 1982, by Meryl Meisler ( 

$5 General Admission / Free for BHS and G-W Members
Reserve tickets>>
Jonathan Mahler, New York Times media reporter and author of the critically acclaimed Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning, moderates this panel exploring Bushwick's 1970s nadir. Photographer Meryl Meisler, a tenant lawyer, an FDNY fire marshal, a Community Board manager, and a displaced resident will discuss their experiences on the frontlines of urban neglect.

A Conversation About Conversations About Race with Baratunde Thurston, Tanner Colby and Raquel Cepeda

Thurston, Colby & Cepeda
    Left: Photo by Bill Wadman

Wed, Nov 19, 6:30pm
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Authors Baratunde Thurston (How to Be Black), Tanner Colby (Some of My Best Friends Are Black) and Raquel Cepeda (Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina) host an interracial conversation to discuss our never-ending, circular, and stagnant "National Conversation About Race" in this pre-post-yet-still-very-racial America. 

The Impressionist in the Boathouse:
How Artist Mary Rogers Williams Vanished from Art History Until 2014 

Mary Rogers WilliamsFri, Nov 21, 6:30pm
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Mary Rogers Williams bicycled and hiked across Europe, trained with Whistler, ran Smith College's art department, exhibited her pastel landscapes and oil portraits from Paris to Manhattan, drew crowds when she sketched in European town squares, and then ended up utterly forgotten. Eve Kahn, the Antiques columnist for The New York Times, will explain how she stumbled upon the painter's work and archive in a Connecticut outbuilding.

A reception with food and wine will follow the presentation.

Brooklyn's On Fire: After The Fire

Brooklyn Theater FireA Green-Wood Cemetery Partner Program
Sat, Nov 22, 1pm - 3pm
Talk: Free
Trolley Tour: $20 General Admission / $15 for BHS and G-W Members
Reserve tickets>>
In 1876, a conflagration ripped through a packed Brooklyn theater, leaving hundreds dead in its wake. Known as the Brooklyn Theater Fire, the loss of life was so great that a mass grave was donated in Green-Wood, and a monument erected at the site to commemorate the tragedy. At this talk and tour of Green-Wood's historic chapel, learn how fires like this shaped a growing metropolis. A trolley tour to Green-Wood's related sites follows. Reserve your spot through the Green-Wood website.


My Name is New York: 

Ramblin' Around Woody Guthrie's Town with Nora Guthrie

Woody GuthrieMon, Dec 1, 6:30pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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Although Woody Guthrie hails from Okemah, OK, his travels took him right across the country: from California to the New York Island! Nora Guthrie, Woody Guthrie's daughter and President of Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc., provides a glimpse into the many places Guthrie called home through a multi-media presentation that uses archival photographs, historic audio, and rare film footage to recreate his life in 1940s through 1960's New York City.

Invisible Child: One Year Later

Thu, Dec 4, 6:30pmAndrea Elliott & Andrea Bernstein
$5 General Admission / Free for BHS and G-W Members
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In December 2013, New York Times reporter Andrea Elliott's powerful five-part series Invisible Child introduced us to 11-year-old Dasani and exposed the harsh realities of childhood poverty in NYC. One year later,
Andrea Bernstein
, WNYC News Senior Editor for Politics and Policy, moderates as Elliot, joined by one of Dasani's teachers, takes a hard look back at what has, or hasn't, happened in the intervening year.

Screening and Discussion: The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. Talkback with Professor Christopher Brown

Christopher BrownTue, Dec 9, 6:30pm
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We kick off our three-part series featuring PBS's The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with a screening of Episode One: The Black Atlantic (1500-1800), which explores the experiences of the earliest Africans, both slaves and free, who made the journey across the Atlantic. Join Columbia University professor Christopher Brown, who specializes in the comparative history of slavery and abolition, for a discussion following the viewing.

What's Nu: The State of Brooklyn's Jewish Delis

Brooklyn DeliThu, Dec 11, 6:30pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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While there are no longer Jewish delis on every Brooklyn street corner, some local icons continue to thrive. Deli historian Ted Merwin discusses the glories, challenges, and traditions of serving up corned beef with the owners of three delis: a populist (Junior's), a traditionalist (Jay and Lloyd's Kosher Deli), and a newcomer (Mile End).

Photo courtesy of Brian Merlis/

The Moth

Mon, Dec 22, 7pm
$8 General Admission / $5 for BHS Members
*Members receive advance registration privilege in early December via a special BHS eblast!
General Admission tickets to be made available via Moth and BHS eblasts (sign up for BHS eblast here)
The Moth StorySLAM returns to BHS! In honor of the street scenes in the exhibit, She said, She said, the theme will be "Streets!" What better inspiration for storytelling than the eclectic mix of raw emotion and impromptu interaction on urban streets?

BHS Family Programs

Sing Back, Brooklyn! With Lloyd H. Miller

1st Saturday of the month, 11am-12pm
October through May 
Ages 5-10, Free, BHS Great Hall
Click here to reserve tickets for November 1st!

A monthly sing-a-long event for the whole family featuring songs, stories, skits, movies, and more. Join Lloyd H. Miller in singing and dancing about Brooklyn's fun and sometimes quirky history!

Handmade History!

2nd & 3rd Saturday of the month, 11am-12pm
October through May

Ages 5-10, Free, BHS Classroom
Click here to reserve tickets for November 8th!
Click here to reserve tickets for November 15th!

Get inspired! After visiting one of BHS' galleries, participants can let their creativity run wild with a fun art making project that they can take home with them!

Brooklyn Family Boogie 
with Together in Dance

4th Saturday of the month, 11am-12pm
October through May

Ages 5-10, Free, BHS  Great Hall
Click here to reserve tickets for October 25th!

Now the whole family can move and groove in tune with Brooklyn history! This unique workshop will use our borough's diverse past to inspire creative movement in children and parents alike.

Together in Dance