Brooklyn Historical Society received a generous grant from Gerry Charitable Trust in 2015 to digitize and catalog seven scrapbooks from the Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks [Arc.308]. Eugene Armbruster was an amateur photographer and historian during the late 19th century and early 20th century in Brooklyn. Following retirement from The H. Henkel Cigar Box Manufacturing Company, he became interested in local history and took thousands of photographs depicting buildings and street scenes throughout Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and neighboring states. His scrapbooks are organized by subject and include a combination of photographs, clippings, hand-drawn maps, drawings, and writings. With the help of project cataloger Regina Carra, we are working to get all seven scrapbooks published online.
This post is to announce that this project has hit a milestone! “Bushwick and her Neighbors, Volume 1-3” are digitized, cataloged, and available on our online gallery. In general, the three Bushwick volumes are fairly large compared to the rest of Armbruster’s scrapbook collection. Volumes 1 and 2, in particular, are about 250 pages each! Volume 3 is considerably smaller at 88 pages. Armbruster was very interested in historic infrastructure, and you can clearly see his fascination in all three scrapbooks. All heavily feature images and information about businesses, churches, famous houses, and cultural sites in Brooklyn, as well as Queens.
While there are many similarities, each volume does have its own unique characteristics.
Here are some highlights:
Of all the volumes, Volume 1 is the most diverse in terms of sources. In this scrapbook, you will find photographs, text, drawings, hand drawn maps, postcards, and clippings from newspapers and magazine. Each page looks very different. The focus of this scrapbook is somewhat specific. Its subject is primarily 17th and 18th century Brooklyn, specifically the formation of neighborhoods like Bushwick and Williamsburgh. It was compiled in 1907.
Volume 2 (1909):
Volume 2, compiled in 1909, is especially full of text excerpts from 19th century history books. This scrapbook gives us a great glimpse into what kinds of texts early 20th century NYC historians were reading. The subject matter is wide-ranging and includes more Brooklyn neighborhoods, as well as information on Queens. Also, Volume 2 has some of the most spectacular hand drawn maps of the Bushwick series!
Volume 3 is comprised almost entirely of newspaper and magazine clippings, and postcards. Like Volume 2 its subject matter is wide-ranging and also includes some images about Queens county. Compared to volume 1 and 2, Volume 3 is an outlier. It was compiled at least 15 years later than the first two volumes (circa 1925). This may explain why the scrapbook is considerably smaller. In 1912, Armbruster published his book “The Eastern District of Brooklyn.” It is likely that Volumes 1 and 2 were used to collect sources for this book in particular. Volume 3 might have been made to supplement the earlier volumes with newer images.
You can stay up to date with our project via Instagram and the hashtag #armbruster or searching our online image gallery for more frequent additions here. Our library is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. To make an appointment to view the collection, please contact us at: [email protected].