About the Archival Collections
The Archives and Manuscripts Collection at the Brooklyn Historical Society document the history of Brooklyn and Long Island from European settlement in the 1600s through the present day. These materials include, but are not limited to, personal and family papers; municipal records from the towns and villages that eventually consolidated to become modern Brooklyn; administrative records of businesses, churches, schools, and community organizations; as well as ephemera, photographs, architectural drawings and other primarily visual media. For more information on using the archives and manuscript collections, please visit our Archives and Manuscripts Information Page.
Oral History Collection
Begun in 1973, the BHS Oral History Collection currently contains interviews with over 300 narrators and it continues to grow.
The collection consists of both legacy projects conducted between 1973 - 1998, and new projects undertaken by the BHS Oral History Program instituted in 2006. The majority of interviews in the collection were conducted as part of projects centered around a specific theme, such as the Neighborhood of Crown Heights, Puerto Rican Community, Brooklyn Navy Yard Workers, or the Williamsburg Giglio Festival. There are also a significant number of individual interviews with Brooklynites that are not associated with a larger project. Whenever possible, BHS gives researchers access to the audio/video of the interview, not just the transcript, because voice contains so much information that cannot be translated into text. This is just one of the ways BHS furthers our mission to make the vibrant history of Brooklyn tangible, relevant, and meaningful for today's diverse communities, and for generations to come.
Highlights from our Oral History Collection are available on our blog.
The Photography Collection at BHS is an extensive collection of material ranging in format from early daguerreotypes and stereoscopic cards, to 35mm slide and even born-digital files. A particularly strong subject component of the photography collection is found in our architectural photographs that depict the history of Brooklyn buildings, homes, and neighborhoods by the likes of George Brainerd form the 1870s, Eugene Armbruster from the 1920s, Edna Huntington from the 1940s, and John D. Morrell from the 1950s to 1960s. For more information on viewing and using the Photography collection, please visit our Photography Information Page.
Moving Image Collection
The Brooklyn Historical Society has a small number of motion picture film, our largest collection coming from the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Services. We recently received a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to preserve, copy, and digitize the film "Heel and Toe Artists Hoof it to Coney Island." This film is viewable at the library. While BHS has future plans to process and make available the Moving Image Collection, it is not yet available for viewing or research. Inquiries about the collection are welcome, but staff does not have the resources to research the unprocessed collection, nor to make clips.
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