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Class Portraits from Clinton Hill

By Cecily Dyer

Posted on May 21, 2020

Group portrait of Miss Stanton and girls
Group portrait of Miss Stanton and girls Group Portrait of woman (Miss Stanton) and young girls from the Emmanuel House, circa 1910. V1981.284.28; Emmanuel House lantern slide collection, V1981.284; Brooklyn Historical Society.

This week we honor Brooklyn’s teachers. To all the educators who have rapidly adapted to a remote learning environment, thank you for continuing to provide educational opportunities and a crucial sense of routine to our children.

Children in 19th and early 20th century school photographs often look stiff and expressionless—an image of childhood that feels unfamiliar.  The many poses and personalities among these students at Emmanuel House in Clinton Hill, by contrast, give these charming photographs a sense of relatability even one hundred years later. Here, some girls in teacher Rachel A. Stanton’s class smile, some suppress their giggles, others look skeptical, and at least one is just not having it.

Group portrait of gym class at Emmanuel House

Group portrait of gym class at Emmanuel House

Boys Gym Class [written on recto]. Group portrait at Emmanuel house, circa 1910, V1981.284; Emmanuel House lantern slide collection, V1981.284; Brooklyn Historical Society.

In a second photograph from this collection, there is a bubbling energy amongst a group of boys from an Emmanuel House gym class. The group squirms and struggles to sit still for the camera, while the teachers who flank them look a bit weary. It’s a reminder that being a teacher—and being a student—can be challenging even in ordinary times.

These images come from our Emmanuel House lantern slide collection, which contains 87 glass slides dated circa 1900 to 1914. The Young Men’s League of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Clinton Hill created Emmanuel House in the late 19th century as a civic center and place of outreach for children and mothers in the church and neighborhood. Located at 131 Steuben Street between Myrtle and Willoughby Avenues, Emmanuel House offered Sunday school, free kindergarten, sports, hikes and field trips, and classes in cooking, sewing and stenography.

When Emmanuel House was demolished in the mid 20th century during an expansion of the neighboring Pratt Institute, outreach and recreational activities were resumed at the Emmanuel Baptist Church on the corner of Lafayette Avenue and St. James Place.  While the block of Steuben Street where Emmanuel House stood no longer exists, the church, designed by Montauk Club architect Francis H. Kimball, has continued operations to this day.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. We look forward inviting you back to BHS in the future to research in our entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections. In the meantime, you can use our Remote Research Guide to get started. Our reference staff are still available to help with your research! You can reach us at [email protected]

Emmanuel House

Emmanuel House

Emmanuel House building at 131 Steuben St., V1981.284.11; Emmanuel House lantern slide collection, V1981.284; Brooklyn Historical Society.

When Emmanuel House was demolished in the mid 20th century during an expansion of the neighboring Pratt Institute, outreach and recreational activities were resumed at the Emmanuel Baptist Church on the corner of Lafayette Avenue and St. James Place.  While the block of Steuben Street where Emmanuel House stood no longer exists, the church, designed by Montauk Club architect Francis H. Kimball, has continued operations to this day.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. We look forward inviting you back to BHS in the future to research in our entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections. In the meantime, you can use our Remote Research Guide to get started. Our reference staff are still available to help with your research! You can reach us at [email protected]

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