I honestly don’t know where to begin with this week’s post. I came upon these photographs in our catalog and I had never seen them before. I could start with the color shift in the prints from the mid-20th century that is personally pleasantly nostalgic and professionally unfortunate. Or perhaps I could describe the album they likely come from and will forever be stuck to (remember those adhesive pages with the film that would go over each photo?). And then there are the hairstyles, the clothes, and the eyeglasses . . . but there’s more to it than that.
The finding aid for the Cresco Club scrapbook and photograph album (ARC.238) indicates the club was founded as a women’s discussion group in 1899 in the Dyker Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Their mission was to provide a forum to “improve in culture, to keep in touch with events of the day, to be helpful to each other and to society” and met on a bi-weekly basis. The Cresco Club was formed when middle-class women were likely spending the majority of their time housekeeping and childrearing. Perhaps the presentations and discussions, which ranged from literature and music to politics and social issues, offered them intellectual stimulation and camaraderie. These photographs come from a scrapbook that documents their meetings, gatherings, and presentations which took place in restaurants or members’ homes in or around Brooklyn and Long Island.
The group disbanded in the 1980s due to an inability to entice new and younger members. By that time, women were attending colleges and taking full-time work in larger numbers. This is just one example of the collections we have documenting women’s groups and associations in Brooklyn. For others, search our finding aid portal.
Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our new website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Fri, 1:00-5:00 p.m.