Photo of the Week: Juxtaposition

Sunrise on Brighton Beach, 2010.008.2; Jacob Mann photographs, 2010.008; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Sunrise on Brighton Beach, 2010.008.2; Jacob Mann photographs, 2010.008; Brooklyn Historical Society.

At Brooklyn Historical Society, we strive to collect photographs that document a moment in the history of the borough while also conveying a particular aesthetic that appeals to our aspirations to exhibit beautiful works of art. This photograph is one of those successful juxtapositions that tell us something about the built environment of Brooklyn in 2010 that is also a beautiful execution of the art form.

Of his photographs, Jacob Mann says “My photography is a study of ‘geometry’ in life around us, finding images where visual composition adds its own content to the subject matter . . . I find my subjects on the streets of New York – New York landmarks, museums and ordinary places like playgrounds and amusement parks. In my playground pictures I see the playgrounds as places from fairy tales within a dark and preoccupied adult world, places full of beauty surrounded by urban grit.”

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: Flatbush Avenue

612 Flatbush Avenue, 1971, V1973.5.1486; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

612 Flatbush Avenue, 1971, V1973.5.1486; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

This week’s photograph highlights the quotidien caught on the streets of Brooklyn. Flatbush Avenue runs from Downtown Brooklyn through several neighborhoods and over Jamaica Bay into Queens. Driving a portion of it is a tumultuous journey through cultures that demonstrate the variety of Brooklyn life and culture. On the block in this photograph, you could grab a Schaefer beer, buy your favorite lipstick, and head upstairs to your great Aunt’s apartment within steps of each other. Or, in the case of the woman pictured, take in the street life on a mild day.

This photograph comes from the Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection which contains approximately 7,000 items dating from the early- to mid-20th century. To view more photographs from 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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Increasing Access to Vertical Files

Over the past several months, we’ve been hard at work in the Othmer Library to improve access to our vertical files. This collection was assembled over the past century by library staff to provide quick reference on a wide variety of topics relevant to Brooklyn and Brooklynites. A vertical file is often comprised of pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and other published materials, arranged in a filing cabinet. This system of organization was created by Melvil Dewey, the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, and was so acclaimed that it won a gold prize in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair! [1]

“The Good News,” May 1977; Brooklyn Historical Society vertical files collection, ARC.315, Drawer 5, Folder Neighborhoods -- Prospect Lefferts Garden; Brooklyn Historical Society.

“The Good News,” May 1977; Brooklyn Historical Society vertical files collection, ARC.315, Drawer 5, Folder Neighborhoods — Prospect Lefferts Garden; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Our vertical file collection is a rich source of information on topics that might not otherwise be well-represented in our collections, including smaller Brooklyn neighborhoods, lesser known institutions and organizations, and immigrant communities. These files also provide an eclectic source of information on popular topics, such as prominent buildings and notable individuals. Previously, researchers could access information about our vertical files through a PDF inventory, available in our reading room and through a hard-to-find link on our website. This project created a finding aid for our vertical files, making these materials discoverable through our search portal alongside our traditional archival collections.

This project also provided an opportunity to address an additional issue: the existence of 25 boxes of assorted archival material in our collections storage area. These boxes were created in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the BHS Pierrepont location was closed for renovations, and our library and archival collections were in storage. The boxes consisted of materials that had been out on loan when the building was packed up, were pulled for temporary exhibitions, or were donated during the time that the building was closed. Our amazing library volunteer Lena Evers-Hillstrom carefully went through each box, placing materials in appropriate vertical file folders and re-incorporating materials back into their original archival collections. Additionally, new folders were created for subjects that previously had not been represented at all in the vertical files, such as the LGBT community and DUMBO.

“Brooklyn Queens Expressway,” 1952; Brooklyn Historical Society vertical files collection, ARC.315, Drawer 7, Folder Transportation-General; Brooklyn Historical Society.

“Brooklyn Queens Expressway,” 1952; Brooklyn Historical Society vertical files collection, ARC.315, Drawer 7, Folder Transportation-General; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The result is a vastly expanded vertical files collection, stored in four brand new filing cabinets, updates to over twenty-five archival collections, and a number of items returned or refiled with to their original archival collections! You do not need an appointment to view materials held in the vertical files. Please come into the Othmer Library during our open hours (Wednesdays through Saturdays, 1-5pm) and check out this expanded resource!

By Maggie Schreiner and Lena Evers-Hillstrom

[1] Levy, David M., Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age. Arcade, 2001. P 68-69.

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Photo of the Week: High Hopes for Snow!

From My Office, V1974.7.81; Adrian Vanderveer Martense collection, ARC.191; Brooklyn Historical Society.

From My Office, 1881; V1974.7.81; Adrian Vanderveer Martense collection, ARC.191; Brooklyn Historical Society.

I hate to be repetitive, but with this week’s forecast seems both promising and a little harrowing. We may avoid the arctic tundra that the northern Midwest will experience, but may encounter the usual “wintry mix.” As seasoned Brooklynites know, this could mean anything from skating rinks for sidewalks to pellet-rain that permeates the thickest of puffy coats. Or no precipitation WHAT. SO. EVER. Nevertheless, I’m hoping to wake up to that elusive and calming blanket of snow one morning before spring arrives.

This photograph comes from the Adrian Vanderveer Martense collection. This collection contains lantern slides and glass plate negatives taken by Martense in the late 19th century in Brooklyn. Martense was a descendent of early Dutch settlers in Brooklyn. The Martense family were longtime residents of Flatbush, until their home was sold in 1889. To view more photographs from 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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Flatbush + Main Episode 31: The Blackout of 1977

In Episode 31 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia discuss the infamous Blackout of 1977, the economic and social context that led up to the event, its impact on many Brooklyn neighborhoods, and its enduring legacy.

Index
Index
02:15 Histories and Ideas
20:58 Into the Archives
30:42 Voices of Brooklyn

For complete show notes, go to brooklynhistory.org/flatbush-main.

We hope you’re enjoying our podcast! Please subscribe, rate, and review us at brooklynhistory.org/fm-apple. And share the news of Flatbush + Main far and wide using the hashtag #FlatbushandMain.

Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

Zaheer and Julie lay out the chronology of the blackout, which took place from July 13 to July 14, 1977. They contextualize the event in the context of 1970s New York City – deindustrialization, the financial crisis, white flight, red lining, declining city services, and the crowding and segregation present in many of the borough’s neighborhoods. They also discuss the loaded and racialized language used around the blackout – and how its use endures today.

For a great read on New York in the 1970s, check out Kim Phillips-Fein’s Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics.

Segment 2: Into the Archives

Julie and Zaheer examine evocative slides capturing the aftermath of the blackout – including the destruction of houses and widespread fires – in the 1977 Blackout Slide Collection (2007.042). Explore the finding aid here. You can find images from the collection online here.

Extinguishing a fire in the Ruth & Sam Book Shop building, 1977; v2007.042.56; BHS.

Extinguishing a fire in the Ruth & Sam Book Shop building, 1977; v2007.042.56; BHS.

Destroyed building next to Ruth & Sam Book Shop, 1977; v2007.042.33; BHS.

Destroyed building next to Ruth & Sam Book Shop, 1977; v2007.042.33; BHS.

Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn

In this segment, Julie and Zaheer listen to the experiences of Rudy Suggs during the 1977 Blackout. You can access his full interview on BHS’s Oral History portal here.

Segment 4: Endorsements

Julie and Zaheer did a joint endorsement of “Black-Owned Businesses: A History of Enterprise and Community in Brooklyn,” an event on Monday, February 11. Explore the rich history and social impact of businesses owned by and serving black communities in Brooklyn. Historian Jason Bartlett is joined by Cynthia Gordy Giwa, editor-in-chief of the online publication Black-Owned Brooklyn, and Jyll Hubbard-Salk, founder of Crown Heights yoga studio Urban Asanas, to discuss the challenges and triumphs of the network of black business owners then and now, and how growing economic empowerment has tied directly to the struggle for equality. Moderated by Digital Editor at Black Enterprise and host of What’s Eating Harlem?, Selena Hill. The event starts at 6:30 and there’s a public reception beforehand, provided by TD Bank, that starts at 5:15. Tickets are $5 and free for members; buy them here.

Flatbush + Main tackled this very topic last year – check out the episode here!

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