Brooklyn Navy Yard Oral Histories

USS New York leaving the ways; Image courtesy of BNYDC Flickr

USS New York leaving the ways; Image courtesy of BNYDC Flickr

Since 2007, BHS and the Brooklyn Navy Yard have collaborated on an oral history project interviewing people who worked in the Navy Yard during WWII.  BHS also interviewed WWII Navy Yard workers in 1987 – 1989 and we have digitized those cassette tapes to make the interviews accessible.  BHS is a leader among archives who give researchers access to the actual audio/video of the interview rather than just the transcript.  It’s one of the ways BHS furthers the mission to “make the vibrant history of Brooklyn tangible, relevant, and meaningful” today.

Here are a few clips from the Brooklyn Navy Yard Oral History Project:

Carmela Celardo Zuza (b 1924) worked as a welder in the Navy Yard during WWII. This clip is from an interview conducted in 2008:

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Lucille Gerwitz Kolkin (1919 – 1997) worked as a shipfitter in the Navy Yard during WWII. This clip is from an interview conducted in 1989:

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Ida Pollack (b 1922) and Sylvia Honigman Everitt (b 1921) both worked as welders during WWII. In this clip, from an interview conducted in 2008, they remember the strong language heard in the Navy Yard:

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These, and over 40 more, interviews from the Brooklyn Navy Yard Oral History Project will soon be available for listening in the Othmer Library.

Sady Sullivan

About Sady Sullivan

Sady Sullivan is Director of Oral History at the Brooklyn Historical Society.
This entry was posted in Brooklyn Past & Present, Oral History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Brooklyn Navy Yard Oral Histories

  1. Jo Ciliano says:

    The lady named Carmela is Aunt Millie to her adoring family. To add to her incredible story of working on the Missouri is the irony that her future husband had been on the ship while he was in the Navy. After they met, he was in the Marines. What a patriot! As a child, I was impressed by his uniform and Millie for her waiting for him to come home on leave.

  2. Pingback: Explore a bit of history at the Brooklyn Navy Yard « The BK Buzz

  3. joseph stanaitis says:

    my dad, born in w’burgh in 1916 started working at the navy yard early in the 40s as an A1 welder and tin knocker. he tried to enlist in all the services but because he had a bad ticker, he was rejected by the navy, the coast guard, the marines. the army was going to take him until they found out what his job was at the navy yard and told him he could do a better job for the war effort as a A1 welder and tin knocker.his most memorable claim to history was putting together the front gun turret on the uss missouri. in early 44, his dad died suddenly. his work record had been exemplary and he requested time off to attend to the funeral. it was refused, he took the day anyway and was fired inmmediately after several years of loyal service. times became very tough because no other company would hire him for quite awhile. the front gun turret on the uss missouri still works today over 50 years after he worked on it. he passed in 1952

  4. Denise Fama Davies says:

    I really enjoyed listening to the oral history accounts of life in the Navy Yard District back during WWII. My dad, who was born in the Brooklyn Navy Yard District in 1926, was raised on Taaffe Place. He still tells my kids wonderful stories about his childhood, in spite of being quite poor, as his father died when he was only 7 years old. My dad joined the U.S. Navy and served proudly for four years.

    I feel my dad could offer some great impressions and details of that time when the Navy Yard was a bustling place. He did not actually work there, but he lived right there and did serve in the Navy.

    Please let me know if you think my dad’s stories could be helpful to your project.

    Thank you.
    Sincerely,

    Denise Fama Davies

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