Photo of the Week: The Michael Shellens family collection

[Shellens family portrait], circa 1912, V1988.468.61; Michael Shellens family collection, ARC,094; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Shellens family portrait], circa 1912, V1988.468.61; Michael Shellens family collection, ARC,094; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The photo of the week depicts the Shellens family around 1912 in front of their home in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. Michael Shellens (pictured back left) was born in Belgium in 1854 and moved to the United States at a young age. He became a ship’s cabin boy in his teen years and worked his way to captain, taking several voyages across the globe until his retirement in 1898. He later became a successful real estate businessman in Brooklyn.

Shellens married Ella Mabel Collamore (pictured back right) in Brooklyn in 1899. Their three children Hazel, Ruth, and Marshall are pictured above with their parents. In 1905, Shellens purchased a block of 25 lots in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. The family resided at 371 73rd Street where the family lived for almost a century. Shellens died on April 22, 1944 and left his estate to his daughter Ruth, where she lived until her passing in 1987. Ruth Shellens bequeathed her father’s personal and business papers and a substantial monetary sum to Brooklyn Historical Society which went toward the renovation of the first floor gallery at the Pierrepont headquarters. The space is thus named the Shellens Gallery in honor of the Shellen’s family.

The photograph is from the Michael Shellens family collection comprised of personal and business correspondence, business and financial records, books, photographs, and ephemera related to Michael Shellens (1854-1944) and his family. The materials date from 1865 to 1984 and are principally about Shellens’s life and career as a mariner and businessman.

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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2 Responses to Photo of the Week: The Michael Shellens family collection

  1. Awesome posts! I really love reading all your posts! I learned a lot.

  2. Shellens died on April 22, 1944 and left his estate to his daughter Ruth, where she lived until her passing in 1987….

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