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Workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, circa 1942, V1988.21.49. Frank J. Trezza Seatrain Shipbuilding Collection, V1988.21, Brooklyn Historical Society.

This guide is intended as aid to researchers interested in the New York Naval Shipyard, which is more commonly known as the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Brooklyn Historical Society’s holdings include official publications and records, oral history interviews with former Navy Yard employees, collections of papers and items which belonged to former employees, photographic prints and negatives, Civil War era material, books, and maps.

Oral Histories

Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection, 1986 – 2010 (ARC.003)

Extent: 49 digital audio files

Link to oral history portal.

This collection includes oral histories conducted by the Brooklyn Historical Society from 1986 to 1989 as well as oral histories conducted in partnership with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation and Brooklyn Historical Society from 2006 to 2010. In 1987-1989, Brooklyn Historical Society interviewed 10 people who worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard during WWII. Interviews were conducted by Benjamin Filene and Diane Esses and focus on working conditions and the experiences of women doing nontraditional labor such as welding and shipfitting. These interviews were recorded on cassette tape and have been digitized to make them available for listening.

In partnership with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, Brooklyn Historical Society collected interviews from 2006 to 2010 with men and women who worked in or around the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Interviews were conducted by Jennifer Egan, Sady Sullivan, and Daniella Romano. The majority of the interviews are with people who worked in the Yard during WWII.  The narrators discuss growing up in New York, their work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, their relationships with others in the Yard, gender relations and transportation to and from work.  Many narrators bring up issues of ethnicity, race, and religion at the Yard or in their neighborhoods.  Several narrators describe the launching of the U.S.S. Missouri battleship and recall in detail their daily tasks at the Yard as welders, office workers, and ship fitters.  While interviews focus primarily on experiences in and around the Yard, many narrators also discuss their lives after the Navy Yard, relating stories about their careers, dating and marriage, children, social activities, living conditions, and changes in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Most oral histories can be accessed via our oral history portal or onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society’s Othmer Library. Restrictions vary according to narrator agreement. Permission to use the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of both Brooklyn Historical Society and the narrator. For assistance, please consult library staff at [email protected] Oral histories also available at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at Building 92.


Diagram of the Wallabout Bay &c. from 1776 to 1783. (B A-1776-1783 (18–?).Fl)

Valuable property in Brooklyn, lots on Clinton Avenue, 1833 (B P-[1833]c.Fl)

Map of U.S. Wallabout property : surveyed for Washington Avenue extension, Dec. 1859 (B P-1859.Fl)

Survey of lands directed to be sold to the City of Brooklyn, 1892-1894. [Part of the Brooklyn, N.Y., Department of Law, Corporation Counsel records, 1843 – 1920 (2013.015); box 237]

Wallabout Channel, New York Harbor, surveyed in pursuance of joint resolution of Congress approved June 16, 1898 (B A-1898a.Fl)

Map of the United States Naval Property, Brooklyn, N.Y., 19–? (B P-1849 (19–?).R)

[Map of Wallabout Bay and the Brooklyn Navy Yard], 19–? (B A-1810 (19–?).Fl Non-circulating)

Brooklyn-Queens connecting highway : Hamilton Avenue to Navy Street, 1943 (B C-1943.Fl)

Brooklyn-Queens connecting highway : Hamilton Avenue to Kent Avenue, 1949 (B C-1949.Fl)

County of Kings, Borough of Brooklyn, 14th Congressional District, 1962 (B A-1962a.Fl)


M1993.15.1 – M1993.15.15 (Passes, identification card, traffic regulation booklet, and telephone directory)


A letter to the Right Honourable Lord Viscount H-e on his naval conduct in the American war.., 1779. (Special Collections E271 .G17 1779)

Case of the Somers’ mutiny : defence of Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, Commander of the U.S. brig Somers, before the court martial held at the Navy Yard, Brooklyn, 1843. (Main Collection CT275.M353 M33 1843)

Report of the Special Committee on Wallabout Lands, September 26, 1853. (Main Collection VA70.B7 B75 1853)

Catalogue of the library of the U.S. Naval lyceum, at the Navy yard, Brooklyn, 1872. (Closed Stacks Z881 .U542 1872)

Report of the Special Committee on the removal of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Adopted June 1, 1882. (Main Collection XN VA70.B7 A2 1882)

The New York Navy Yard. Munsey’s magazine. 1898. (Main Collection F127.L8 S54)

Speeches of Hon. John J. Fitzgerald of New York in the House of Representatives, February 5, 7, and 15, 1907. (Main Collection VA70.B7 F58 1907)

Battle-ship construction : one should be built this year at the Brooklyn Navy-Yard : speech of Hon. William M. Calder of New York in the House of Representatives, April 15, 1908. (Main Collection V815.3 .C35 1908)

Naval appropriation bill : speeches of Hon. William M. Calder of New York in the House of Representatives on the Eight-hour Amendment and building a battle ship in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Friday, April 8, 1910 and Friday, June 10, 1910. (Main Collection HD5111.6.U54 C35 1910)

Naval appropriation bill : in favor of two battleships and navy yard construction : speech of Hon. William M. Calder of New York in the House of Representatives, May 5, 1914. (Main Collection V815.3 .C353 1914)

A record of war activities. 1918. (Main Collection TH451 .T8 1918)

Radio address on the subject of the navy in New York : typescript : WNYC – New York City, 24 March, 1932, 8:45 p.m. (Reference VA70.B7 B35 1932)

Launching of U.S.S. Brooklyn : light cruiser no. CL40, U.S. Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y. 1936. (Main Collection V820.3 .L38 1936)

Launching of U.S.S. Honolulu : light cruiser no. CL48, U.S. Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y. 1937? (Main Collection V820.3 .L383 1937)

A short history of the New York Navy Yard : February 23, 1941. (Reference Desk VA70.B7 S56 1941)

Brooklyn Navy Yard : it builds and keeps fit a wartime fleet. Life (magazine). 1942. (Main Collection VA70.B7 B76 1942)

Dry dock construction, Norfolk, Va., Philadelphia, Pa. 1943. (Main Collection TC361 .U54 1943 c.2)

USS Constellation (CVA-64) : commissioning ceremony, October 27, 1961 : New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn, New York. (Main Collection V874.3 .U54 1961)

T.T. Brooklyn, June 30, 1973. Seatrain Shipbuilding Corp. (Main Collection VM455 .S43 1973)

Level II HABS documentation for : Admirals Row/Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn, Kings County, 03PR05477, 2005. (Reference Desk F129.B78 A2 2005)

Brooklyn steel-blood tenacity. 2007. (Main Collection CT275.T74 A3 2007)