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Flatbush + Main Episode 08: Brooklyn’s Veterans

By Julie Golia

Posted on November 22, 2016

In Episode 08 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia explore the legacy of veterans from Brooklyn and beyond, and consider the ways that historians have analyzed the often fraught history of American veterans. In the first segment, Julie and Zaheer sit down with historian Phil Napoli to discuss the the historical meanings of the American veteran throughout history. Phil also discusses his work interviewing New York City’s Vietnam Vets, and the essential role that oral histories can play in the preservation of veterans’ experiences. Our hosts head into the archives with BHS Assistant Curator Erin Wuebker to learn the stories embedded in one Civil War-era surgeon’s kit. in “Voices of Brooklyn,” they listen to and honor the experiences of Second Lieutenant Joan Furey, a Brooklynite who served in Vietnam. Following endorsements, Zaheer and Julie offer their thoughts on the recent presidential election and the importance of historical thinking in this unprecedented political age.

For complete show notes, go to


03:10 – Histories and Ideas: Interview Philip F. Napoli
19:12 – Into the Archives: With Erin Wuebker
29:47 – Voices of Brooklyn: Veteran Joan Furey
38:31 – Reflections on the Presidential Election

Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

Our first guest, Philip F. Napoli, is Associate Professor of Social and Public History at Brooklyn College and the author of Bringing It All Back Home: An Oral History of New York City’s Vietnam Veterans. He was also the co-curator of a celebrated 2007 BHS exhibition, In Our Own Words: Portraits of Brooklyn’s Vietnam Veterans. Learn more about Phil’s work on his website.

Segment 2: Into the Archives

Here are a few pictures of the Civil War-era surgeon’s kit we discussed:




A terrific book on the cultural history of Civil War amputees is Megan Kate Nelson’s Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War. A good overview of medicine during the Civil War is Frank Freemon’s Gangrene and Glory: Medical Care During the Civil War.

BHS has incredibly rich resources on the Civil War in the archives. A great place to start is our Civil War Subject Guide.

Our guest for this segment, Erin Wuebker, is a scholar of American history and public health. At BHS, she’s Assistant Curator on our new public history project, Sick: Four Hundred Years of Illness and Health in Brooklyn. Check out one of Erin’s earlier public history projects, The Venereal Disease Visual History Archive.

Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn

In this segment, we listen to Joan Furey reflect on her experiences as a nurse in Vietnam. Joan was born in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1946 and grew up in Terryville, Long Island. After receiving her nursing degree, she was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Nurse Corps, and volunteered for duty in Vietnam, where she was deployed in January 1969. She later worked for the Department of Veteran Affairs for over 30 years, advocating for improved health care, PTSD support, and gender equity.

Here’s a picture of Joan just before her return home from Vietnam. She had just been awarded a Bronze Star.


Segment 4: Endorsements

Julie endorsed “Steven Hahn and Eric Foner on A Nation Without Borders: The United States and Its World in an Age of Civil Wars, 1830-1910.” The event is Monday, November 28, 2016 at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $10 ($5 for members) and can be purchased here.

Zaheer endorsed “Stop and Frisk: An In-Depth Look at a Contentious Policing Tactic,” featuring author Michael White. The event is Tuesday, December 14, 2016 at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $10 ($5 for members) and can be purchased here.

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