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 the eve of their (coincidentally) concurrent retirements in June 2015, Karen Brooks Hopkins and Arnold Lehman sat down with BHS President Deborah Schwartz to reflect on their years of leading the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Brooklyn Museum, respectively.

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

Calendar of Programs

MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUGUST | FAMILY PROGRAMS | PARTNER SERIES

May

Down at Steeplechase ParkBrooklyn Collecting Brooklyn: Coney Island! Part 2

Wed, May 20, 6:30pm
Please note that this program takes place at Brooklyn Public Library Central Library at Grand Army Plaza
Free
Reserve Tickets>>
You saw Brooklyn Historical Society’s prized Coney Island collections on May 13th, so join us this time at the Brooklyn Public Library to uncover some of the gems in the BPL archival collection of everyone’s favorite Brooklyn summer destination. From wax replicas of Nat King Cole's head and hands to vintage photographs of Coney Island's nighttime Mardi Gras parade, there is much to learn of the what, who, when, and how these seemingly obscure items were acquired.

Image credit: Brooklyn Public Library -- Brooklyn Collection




Henry George and the Crisis of InequalityBook Talk: Edward T. O'Donnell, Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality

Tue, May 26, 6:30pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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Join Edward T. O’Donnell, associate professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross and author of Ship Ablaze: The Tragedy of the Steamboat General Slocum, for a discussion of his most recent book about the great social reformer, Brooklyn resident Henry George. George’s activism inspired a vibrant working class movement and helped to shape 20th century progressive thinking.






Brooklyn's Promised Land
Book Talk: Judith Wellman, Brooklyn's Promised Land: The Free Black Community of Weeksville, New York

Thu, May 28, 6:30pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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In this meticulously researched book, historian Judith Wellman shines a spotlight on the founding, growth, disappearance, and rediscovery of Brooklyn’s Weeksville, one of the largest free black communities in 19th century America. Hear how this remarkable history was all but lost until 1966, when a group of students and local citizens rediscovered four frame houses on Hunterfly Road. Wellman, Professor Emerita from the State University of NY at Oswego, animates Weeksville’s citizenry, and its invaluable role as a place of physical safety, economic prosperity, education and political power for Brooklyn’s free blacks.

June

Sebastian JungerScreening and Discussion: Sebastian Junger and The Last Patrol

Tue, Jun 2, 6:30 pm
Free
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Going to war is confusing, but it’s nothing compared to trying to come home again. Writer and filmmaker Sebastian Junger of The Perfect Storm, Restrepo, and many more books and films, explores soldiers, combat and how to bring our veterans home in this latest film. Join him for a talkback following the screening.

Photo by Tim Hetherington



Pamela Newkirk
Book Talk: Pamela Newkirk, 
Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga

Thu, Jun 4, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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Award-winning journalist Pamela Newkirk shares the shocking story of Ota Benga, an African man who was used as a zoo exhibit in NYC in 1906, and explores the evolution of science and race relations in the early 20th century.



Lacey Schwartz, Lise Funderburg4th Annual "What Are You?" with Lacey Schwartz's Little White Lie

Mon, Jun 8, 6:30 pm
Free
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On the week of Loving Day 2015, filmmaker Lacey Schwartz comes to BHS to presents her provocative documentary about being a biracial woman who grew up believing she was white, Little White Lie, as part of our 4th Annual What Are You? program looking at mixed heritage and identity. Lise Funderburg, the author of the ground-breaking book on multiracial identity, Black, White, Other leads Schwartz in a post-screening talkback.

A BHS “Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations” program.

Top: Lacey Schwartz, photo by Michael Hill; Bottom: Lise Funderburg, photo by Tigist Tsegie



Timothy Dwyer, Marc PeyserBook Talk: Timothy Dwyer and Marc Peyser, Hissing Cousins

Wed, Jun 10, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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Authors Timothy Dwyer and Marc Peyser shine a light on the infamous rivalry between politically-adverse first cousins Eleanor Roosevelt, a liberal icon and champion of human rights, and Alice Roosevelt Longworth, a stalwart Republican and sharp-tongued critic of FDR’s administration in their book Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Join us for an evening of discovery, followed by a book signing.                                                  Photo by Michael Lionstar


The MessengerComing Home: Screening and Discussion of The Messenger

Mon, Jun 15, 6:30 pm
Free
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Join us for a series of screenings and discussions that focus on the experiences of U.S. veterans returning home from foreign wars. We kick off with the 2009 film The Messenger, starring Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Steve Buscemi, Jena Malone, and Samantha Morton, which takes us on the journey of two soldiers, one just home from the war in Iraq, who have the difficult task of notifying the families of fallen soldiers. David LaRocca, film scholar and editor of The Philosophy of War Films, is joined by Edward Walsh, Captain, US Marine Corps, 2002-2006, for the talk-back.



Diversity Explosion, William FreyBook Talk: William Frey, Diversity Explosion

Wed, Jun 17, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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Multiracial marriages and internal migration patterns are dramatically changing our country’s demographics. Internationally recognized demographer and Brookings Institute Senior Fellow William Frey delves into the fascinating data captured in his book Diversity Explosion.



Tales from the VaultTales from the Vault: Personal Archives How-To Workshop

Thu, Jun 18, 6:30 pm
$20/$15 for BHS & G-W Members
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Interested in preserving your family’s history for future generations? Join archivist John Zarrillo to learn how to properly store and handle your family’s papers, photographs, and memorabilia. Hear about preservation practices, environmental controls, and how to mitigate future damage to your historic papers.


Good EggsHidden Brooklyn: Good Eggs

Sat, Jun 20, 10 am
$15/$10 for BHS & G-W Members
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Good Eggs, Brooklyn’s beloved home delivery grocery service, is redefining how local foods travel from the farm to your kitchen. Come tour their Bushwick foodhub, enjoy a local snack, and maybe discover a new favorite New York producer. 

*Please note that this is an off-site tour. Exact meeting location for the tour is included in the confirmation email upon purchasing tickets to this event. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets will not be sold at the door.*


Kurt AndersenPerson, Place, Thing with Randy Cohen and Kurt Andersen

Wed, Jun 24, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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Radio interviews radio in this installment of Person, Place, Thing. Randy Cohen records his broadcast program with Kurt Andersen, the host of Peabody Award-winning Studio 360, the go-to public radio show on American art and culture.

Boundless Brooklyn Water Tower

Tag-A-Water-Tower (of Your Very Own!)

Sat, Jun 27, 4:30pm
$15/$10 for BHS & G-W members (water towers not included)
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What Brooklyn symbol is more iconic than a water tower tagged with graffiti? Create a personalized tower by customizing a Boundless Brooklyn water tower in this ‘drink and draw’ class led by artist Robert Plater. (Towers are available for purchase in two sizes at the BHS Gift Shop.)



July

Grey GardensMovie Mondays: Making Waves in Film, Then and Now with Grey Gardens

Mon, Jul 6, 6:30 pm
Free
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This screening and discussion connects Brooklyn filmmakers today with innovators of the past. Grey Gardens reveals a different side of the Hamptons through the lives of a reclusive mother and daughter. Join us as we pair this cult-classic with a recent Brooklyn-made short by Nathan Fitch of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective. His The Darker Side of Dreamland shows the effects of Superstorm Sandy on the residents of Coney Island.

Grey Gardens is courtesy of Janus Films.


Firefight BookBook Talk: Ginger Adams Otis, Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York's Bravest

Tue, Jul 7, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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In 1919, Wesley Williams became the third black male to join the ranks of New York’s Bravest. Despite severe discrimination he rose to Battalion Chief. Almost a century later, the FDNY remains predominately white. NY Daily News reporter Ginger Adams Otis is joined by members of the Vulcan Society, an organization of black firefighters, to talk about the ongoing struggle to diversify the FDNY.


Hidden Brooklyn: Fort Hamilton

Thu, Jul 9, 6:30 pm
$15/$10 for BHS & G-W Members
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Explore the Harbor Defense Museum and historic Fort Hamilton as we travel to the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge for an evening of viewing exhibits and taking in the views! Tour goers are invited to stay on and purchase dinner at the Ft. Hamilton Community Club with its stunning view of the East River.

*Please note that this is an off-site tour. Exact meeting location for the tour is included in the confirmation email upon purchasing tickets to this event. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets will not be sold at the door.*

A Biography of East New York

Tue, Jul 14, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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East New York is where NYC's future is going to happen, where City Hall plans affordable and inclusive housing, with residents and industry existing side by side. But East New York is by geography, class and race a far distance from the city's centers of power and influence. To understand what it might become, hear from a panel of residents, advocates and experts on how the neighborhood got to where it is now.


One Righteous ManBook Talk: Arthur Browne, One Righteous Man: Samuel Battle and the Shattering of the Color Line in New York

Thu, Jul 16, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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As NYC’s first African American cop, Samuel Battle feared his racist colleagues as much as the criminals he policed. Upon retirement he was decorated and revered, with a biography by Langston Hughes in the works. Arthur Browne, New York Daily News editorial page editor, has taken Hughes’ unpublished manuscript and, with his own archival research, written a fascinating narrative of an unheralded figure.






ReturnComing Home Screening and Discussion: Return

Mon, Jul 20, 6:30 pm
Free
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The second in our series of screenings and discussions about U.S. soldiers returning home, the quietly powerful 2011 film, Return, finds a mother and wife struggling to adjust to everyday life after a tour of duty in the Middle East. David LaRocca, editor of The Philosophy of War Films, is joined Edward Walsh, Captain, US Marine Corps, 2002-2006, for the talk-back.


Molly HaskellPerson, Place, Thing with Randy Cohen and Molly Haskell

Wed, Jul 22, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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Emmy Award-winning writer Randy Cohen returns to BHS to record his radio show that uncovers surprising stories from great talkers. This time he is joined by feminist film critic and author, Molly Haskell. Haskell served as film critic for The Village Voice, New York Magazine and Vogue, and has written numerous books, including From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movie, Holding My Own in No Man’s Land: Women and Men and Film and Feminists, and Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited.




Bryan Stevenson by Nina SubinAn Evening with Bryan Stevenson

Tue, Jul 28, 6:30 pm
$15/$10 for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, and MacArthur Award winner, Bryan Stevenson is leading the movement against the death penalty, mass incarceration and racial discrimination in our justice system. Archbishop Desmond Tutu described him as “America’s young Nelson Mandela.” Join us for this inspiring evening.

Photo by Nina Subin






Writing War

Thu, Jul 30, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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After more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, an impressive cadre of writers has emerged from the ranks of America’s military to put stories of war and homecoming on paper. BHS welcomes National Book Award winner Philip Klay (Redeployment), former U.S. Army Captain Matt Gallagher (Kaboom), NY Times Editors’ Choice author Artis Henderson, and poet and playwright Maurice Decaul for a discussion moderated by Brandon Willitts, Executive Director of Words After War.

August

The Spirit of the BeehiveMovie Mondays: Making Waves in Film, Then and Now with The Spirit of the Beehive

Mon, Aug 3, 6:30 pm
Free
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This screening and discussion connects Brooklyn filmmakers today with innovators of the past. The line between reality and fantasy is blurred in both Marina Fernandez Ferri’s short Temblor, which explores the complex feelings of an outsider in a foreign land (in this case, a Spaniard in New York), and The Spirit of the Beehive, the 1973 masterpiece by Spanish director Victor Erice that draws us into the mischievous and sometimes dangerous world of a child’s imagination.

The Spirit of the Beehive courtesy of Janus Films.


Stone CarvingHidden Brooklyn: Stone Carving

Tue, Aug 4, 6:30 pm
$15/$10 for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
Trained as a stone carver at St. John the Divine, Chris Pellettieri now carves private commissions and his own art in his Greenpoint studio. Take a tour, see a masonry demonstration, and hear about the next generation of this special art.

*Please note that this is an off-site tour. Exact meeting location for the tour is included in the confirmation email upon purchasing tickets to this event. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets will not be sold at the door.*






Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice CreamWhat’s the Scoop? The Story of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

Thu, Aug 6, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
Cool off with us and hear the whimsical story behind one of Brooklyn’s most delicious local businesses. Laura O'Neill, Benjamin Van Leeuwen and Peter Van Leeuwen share some of the secrets behind their unique recipes and read from their new book Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream. Samples will be provided!


Little Dieter Needs to FlyComing Home: Screening and Discussion of Little Dieter Needs to Fly

Mon, Aug 17, 6:30 pm
Free
Reserve Tickets>>
We conclude our series of screenings and discussion on U.S. veterans returning home from foreign wars with Werner Herzog’s documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly. David LaRocca, film scholar and editor of The Philosophy of War Films, is joined by Edward Walsh, Captain, US Marine Corps, 2002-2006, for the talk-back.

(c)Werner Herzog Film GmbH


Partner Series

BLAST! from the PastBLAST! from the Past: A Dinner Party Series

Apr 16, Jun 25, Aug 20, Oct 15
LOCATION:

Humboldt & Jackson
434 Humboldt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
$65 for each program (including tax, gratuity and all beverages)
Join Brooklyn Brewery and BHS in New York City’s first culinary time machine at Humboldt & Jackson as we journey back through great eras in New York’s culinary history. We’ll be visiting four unique periods, bringing you beer-centric meals inspired by each evening’s place in history. This is BLAST! from the Past: A Brooklyn Brewery Dinner Party Series.

Dinner Party No. 2: The Restaurant is Born
Jun 25, 6:30 pm
We find ourselves in 1820s New York, where oysters are king. The most recent wave of immigration has brought with it a rash of aspiring entrepreneurs setting up shops, stands, and even the very first restaurant. Dine at the intersection of high and low culture with outsized shellfish, peanuts, and French-style cuisine.

Dinner Party No. 3: Flappers, Fringes and Fast Cars
Aug 20, 6:30 pm
We touch down in the 1920s, with the pesky Volstead Act and Prohibition getting in the way of everyone’s fun. Luckily, true New Yorkers have figured out inventive measures for getting around the law. In the right circles, decadence is the name of the game and what should be scarce is more than abundant.

Dinner Party No. 4: Windows on the World
Oct 15, 6:30 pm
We’re going back to Back to the Future to visit New York City in the 1980s. This wild decade included not only the founding of the Brooklyn Brewery, but co-founder Steve Hindy hosting his first-ever beer dinner at Windows on the World. That menu will be brought back to light just in time for our trip.



PUBLIC PROGRAM REFUND POLICY

Brooklyn Historical Society requires 24 hours notice before the date of the event to refund a ticket. No refunds are provided after that point. This means no refunds are provided on the day of the event and all subsequent days.

Bank of AmericaPublic Programs are made possible, in part, by a generous grant from Bank of America. 



Additonal funding provided by The Agnes Varis Trust.


Family Programs


BHS Family Programs are taking a break for the summer! Check back soon for next year's schedule.



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