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Flatbush + Main Episode 21: Doing History

By Julie Golia

Posted on January 4, 2018

In Episode 21 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia dig into what we do at Brooklyn Historical Society: engaging our many visitors and constituents in the process of doing history.


02:58 – Histories and Ideas
18:03 – Into the Archives
39:22 – Voices of Brooklyn

For complete show notes, go to

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Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

Zaheer and Julie sit down with their colleague, BHS Director of Education Emily Potter-Ndiaye, to talk about the ways that BHS’s education team models the practices of historical analysis for K-12 students. They discuss the preconceptions that most students hold about the field of history, and the political implications of teaching students how to analyze, debate, and even disagree with the historical record.

Segment 2: Into the Archives

Julie and Zaheer chat about another venue in which BHS staff model historical analysis: exhibitions. Using one installation from BHS’s upcoming exhibition, WATERFRONT, they analyze a late 18th-century auction inventory and the story it reveals about one enslaved woman named Bet. Zaheer and Julie then discuss the benefits and challenges of featuring manuscript documents like this one in exhibitions, and how curators can help visitors “unlock” documents and locate new and important stories like Bet’s.

Here are some pictures of the inventory:

And here’s a link to the finding aid for the inventory.

Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn

In segment 1, guest Emily Potter-Ndiaye describes a remarkable selection from the oral history of Brooklynite Mary DeSaussure Sobers, and the way that students use this primary source to better understand the experience of segregation in Brooklyn and nature of grassroots leadership. We want our listeners to hear the segment that has inspired so many of our young scholars.

You can listen to the full interview on BHS’s Oral History Portal here.

Segment 4: Endorsements

Our guest Emily Potter-Ndiaye endorsed BHS’s upcoming NEH Summer Institute for School Teachers, “Freedom For One, Freedom for All?: Abolition and Woman Suffrage, 1830s-1920s,” offered jointly with the Museum of the City of New York. This week-long immersive teaching institute allows a select cohort of teachers to unpack the intertwined histories of abolition and woman suffrage at two of New York City’s premiere cultural institutions with a roster of celebrated scholars. Applications are now being accepted – teachers can apply here.

In honor of the January 20 opening of the exhibition, WATERFRONT, Julie endorsed the public program “Current / Bodies: Art and Action on the Waterfront,” offered jointly with Underwater New York. On Tuesday, January 23, 2018, six New York artists and writers – photographer Chester Higgins, visual artists Barry Rosenthal, Nancy Nowacek, and Francis Estrada, and poets Cynthia Manick and Wo Chan consider New York’s waterfront as a site of continuity and a threshold for political, social, and environmental change. The event will be held at our Pierrepont location and starts at 6:30pm. Tickets are $5/free for members. Sign up here.

Zaheer endorsed the public program, “45 Years after Roe v Wade,” which takes place at BHS’s Pierrepont location on Tuesday, January 16 at 6:30pm. Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Rebecca Traister, writer-at-large for New York magazine, and Katha Pollitt, author of Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, discuss the legacy and future of this landmark case on the occasion of its forty-fifth anniversary. Tickets are $10/5 for members. Sign up here.

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1 comment

  • Eddie Gandy

    Posted on December 5, 2018

    Thank you for your job! I enjoy your podcast Keep on doing what you are doing!

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