West Indian Carnival Documentation Project records, 1993-1996

Call number: 2010.019

Extent: 28.0 gigabytes in 288 files, total running time: 30 hr., 15 min., 57 sec.; 5.0 linear feet in 9 boxes

This collection includes research materials, oral histories, and photographs collected through the West Indian Carnival Documentation Project, undertaken by Brooklyn Historical Society in the mid-1990s. The project attempted to supplement existing scholarship with oral histories done with members of the West Indian community and Carnival participants.

The West Indian Carnival tradition in New York City stems from private gatherings and parties held in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan in the 1920s, typically in February. In the 1940s, an outdoor street festival began taking place on 7th Avenue in Harlem, organized by Trinidadian Jessie Wattle. In 1967, the Carnival was moved to Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn following a disturbance that led to its street permit being revoked in Manhattan. At this same time, the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) was founded. The Association was run by Trinidadian Carlos Lezama from 1967 until 2001, and was later headed by his daughter, Yolanda Lezama-Clark. With Thomas Bailey serving as President since 2012, the West Indian Carnival in Brooklyn is now one of the largest outdoor street festivals in North America.

Carnival activities begin on the Thursday before Labor Day and continue through Monday, concluding with the parade itself. Other events and activities include a steel band competition and a Kiddie Carnival. The parade itself takes months of preparation from each masquerade camp or “mas,” which designs its own elaborate and colorful costumes around a central theme and competes for prizes with the other camps. Parade participants are accompanied by various musical groups and styles, as well as food vendors, brought together to celebrate pan-Caribbean culture.

The Brooklyn Historical Society launched The West Indian Carnival Documentation Project in 1994 in cooperation with the West Indian American Day Carnival Association and the Brooklyn Museum with a goal of supplementing existing photographs and histories of the event with personal narratives and life histories of Carnival participants. Those involved with the project attempted to get different viewpoints within the hierarchy of Carnival organization and participation. The oral histories, photographs and resources that make up this collection were compiled by a team including two community researchers, photographers from local Caribbean publications, graduate student assistants, scholarly advisors and a community advisory committee primarily made up of WIADCA members. Staff for this project included Dwandalyn Reece King (Chief Curator), Michael Roberts (Interviewer), Joyce Quamina (Research Assistant), Megan McShea (Project Assistant), Maureen Mahon (Project Fieldworker) and Kristen Elmquist (Project Fieldworker).

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Names:

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.).
  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association.

Places:

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • London (England)
  • Trinidad

Subjects:

  • African Americans — New York (State) — New York
  • Caribbean Americans
  • Caribbean Americans — New York (State) — New York
  • Caribbean Americans — New York (State) — New York -x History -y 20th century
  • Caribbean Americans — New York (State) — New York -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans — New York (State) — New York -x Social life and customs
  • Parades — New York (State) — New York
  • West Indian Americans

Types of materials:

  • Articles
  • Oral histories (document genres)
  • Photographs
  • Records (documents)

 

Crown Heights History Project collection, 1993-1994

Call number: 1994.006

Extent: 76.31 gigabytes in 247 files, total running time: 38 hr., 7 min., 56 sec.; 3.31 linear feet in 1 record box, 3 document boxes, 2 flat boxes

Oral Histories include recordings collected through the Crown Heights History Project, undertaken by a partnership of cultural institutions led by Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) in 1993. The recordings contain over forty voices with perspectives on the racial tensions and discrimination that preceded three days of violence and unrest in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1991, the actions of the police, city government and mass media during the crisis, and the forms of reconciliation in the succeeding months. Among the narrators are Jamaican Americans, Guyanese Americans, Lubavitcher Jewish Americans, Reformed Jewish Americans, descendants of European and Russian Jews, and African Americans with roots in the Southern United States.

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Names:

  • Cato, Gavin
  • Congregation Lubavitch (Crown Heights, New York, N.Y.).
  • Rosenbaum, Yankel
  • Schneerson, Menachem Mendel, 1902-1994

Places:

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Subjects:

  • African American neighborhoods — New York (State) — Kings County
  • African Americans — Relations with Jews
  • Caribbean Americans
  • Ethnic neighborhoods — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Home ownership -x Social aspects — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Immigrants — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Jewish neighborhoods — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Judaism — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Race identity
  • Race relations — United States
  • Riots — New York (State) — Kings County

Types of materials:

  • Exhibition records
  • Interviews (sound recordings)
  • Oral histories (document genres)
  • Transcripts

AIDS/Brookyn Oral History Project collection, 1988-1993

Call number: 1993.001

Extent: 46.79 gigabytes in 133 files; 2.5 linear feet in 6 boxes

This collection includes oral histories collected for the AIDS/Brooklyn exhibition, undertaken by the Brooklyn Historical Society in the early 1990s. The project attempted to document the impact of the AIDS epidemic on Brooklyn communities.

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Names:

  • ACT UP New York (Organization).
  • Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Inc.

Places:

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs

Subjects:

  • AIDS (Disease) — New York (State) — New York
  • AIDS activists — United States
  • Family life — New York (State) — Kings County
  • HIV infections — New York (State) — New York
  • HIV-positive persons — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Hospitals — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Self-help groups — New York (State) — New York
  • Sexual health — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Social group work — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Stigma (Social psychology) — New York (State) — Kings County

Types of materials:

  • Exhibition records
  • Interviews (sound recordings)
  • Oral histories (document genres)
  • Transcripts

Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations oral history collection

Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations oral history collection, 2011 – 2014.

Call# 2011.019

Extent: 709.0 gigabytes of oral history interviews with 107 narrators. Collection includes transcripts, audio recordings, and photographs formatted as .wav, .mp3, .pdf, .jpg, and .png files, in addition to 3 linear feet of paper transcripts.  

Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations (CBBG) was an oral history project and public programming series sponsored by Brooklyn Historical Society from 2011 to 2014. CBBG was designed to examine the history and experiences of mixed-heritage people and families in Brooklyn. The project also explored the broader themes of cultural hybridity, race, ethnicity, and identity formation in the United States. CBBG was created by Sady Sullivan, Director of Oral History at Brooklyn Historical Society from 2006-2014, and the project was funded with assistance from public and private grants. CBBG expanded upon Brooklyn Historical Society’s oral history collection, which was founded in 1973 and contains interviews with over 1200 narrators.

This collection contains materials from the CBBG oral history project. Included are transcripts and audio recordings of interviews conducted by 25 oral historians with 107 narrators. Also included are photographs of the narrators and their families. The oral histories were conducted as life history interviews; topics of discussion include self and identity; religion and tradition; laws and mores; food and celebration; love and marriage; parents and children; race and ethnicity; and cultural preservation.

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Oral histories can be accessed onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s Othmer Library and online at the Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations website: cbbg.brooklynhistory.org.

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. Restricted oral histories are clearly marked in the finding aid. For assistance, please consult library staff at library@brooklynhistory.org.

Document Type

  • Digital Photographs
  • Interviews (sound recordings)
  • Oral histories (document genres)
  • Transcripts

Subject Topics

  • Bullying in schools
  • Cultural diversity
  • Education
  • Gentrification
  • Interfaith families
  • Mixed heritage
  • Passing (Identity)
  • Privilege
  • Queer identity
  • Race identity
  • Racially mixed families
  • Racially mixed people
  • Racism
  • Religious identity

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Ebbets Field – Dodgers Oral History

Ebbets Field – Dodgers Oral History, 2010.

Extent: 34 digital audio recordings.

In 2010, students participating in Exhibition Laboratory (Ex-Lab), an after-school program in which students from Cobble Hill High School of American Studies, Brooklyn Technical High School, The Packer Collegiate Institute, and Saint Ann’s School learn the process of curating an exhibit from start to finish, conducted oral history interviews with 34 Dodgers fans who remembered Ebbets Field.

Students chose excerpts from these oral histories to include in their exhibit Home Base: Memories of the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field (2010 – 2012). The oral history montages from this exhibit are available for listening via Brooklyn Historical Society’s iTunes podcast.

Select oral histories can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society’s Othmer Library. Restrictions may apply. 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 library@brooklynhistory.org.

Coney Island Oral History

Coney Island Oral History, 1987 – present.

Extent: 4 audio cassettes and 3 digital audio files.

This ongoing oral history collection began in 1987 and features people talking about Coney Island, including:

Bernard Joseph “Barney” Illions (1901 – 1988)
Son of Coney Island carousel carver M.C. Illions (1872 – 1949)
Interview conducted 3/7/1988
Full interview available for listening here.

Matt Kennedy (1904 – 2006)
Born in Coney Island and at teh time of this interview he was President of the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce.
Interview conducted 8/7/1987

Lillian Santangello (1907 – )
Founder of the World of Wax Musee in Coney Island.
Interview conducted 1987
Full interview available for listening here.

Edward “Eak the Geek” Arrocha
Chronicles his fifteen tenure at the Coney Island sideshow with a vast array of stories describing Coney Island during the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Interview conducted 4/29/2009

Select oral histories can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society’s Othmer Library. Restrictions may apply. 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 library@brooklynhistory.org.

Brooklyn School of Inquiry Oral History

Brooklyn School of Inquiry Oral History, 2010 – present.

Extent: 400 digital audio files (and growing)

2011.009

Brooklyn School of Inquiry Oral History is an ongoing oral history collection featuring interviews with elementary-school age children who attend a new school in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.  In 2010, BHS partnered with Brooklyn School of Inquiry (PS/IS686), a public citywide Gifted and Talented school founded in 2009, to document its growth.

This collection currently contains over 400 interviews and each year, 140-200 more are added. BHS interviews every new First Grader and BHS has been following the first First Grade class longitudinally since 2010. All interviews are recorded in digital audio format and digital video format and archived at both institutions.

Read more about the project here: A School Grows in Brooklyn.

To protect the students’ privacy, the collection is closed to researchers until the students are 18 years old (2022 for the oldest class) and the students agree at that time to make their interviews publicly accessible.

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 library@brooklynhistory.org.

 

Brooklyn History Makers Oral History

Brooklyn History Makers Oral History, 2006 – present.

Call #: 2008.031

Extent: 87 digital audio files (and growing)

This ongoing oral history collection features a broad range of narrators: jazz musicians, business leaders, civil rights activists, authors, artists, sports players, and longtime neighborhood residents who describe the changes they have observed in their neighborhoods over decades.

Some narrators are well-known public figures such as Shelby White (b. 1938), Nelson George (b. 1957), Esther Cooper Jackson (b. 1917), and Ruth Gruber (b. 1911) and others are well-known in their communities such as Joe Holtz, a founding member of the Park Slope Food Coop; Sally Forbes, founder of the Penny Bridge Players; and John and James Caputo of Caputo’s bakery in Carroll Gardens. The oldest narrator in this collection was born in 1910.

This oral history collection focuses on Brooklyn history and the experiences of these narrators document national and international history as well. For example, Robert MacCrate was born in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 1921; a lawyer, he was a member of the civilian council investigating My Lai Massacre in Vietnam. Frank Paley (nee Palescandolo) was born in Brooklyn in 1917 and his book Rumble on the Docks inspired the 1956 movie. Dick Parsons (b. 1948) grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant and was CEO of Time Warner and later chairman of Citigroup and an economic advisor to President Barack Obama.

Select oral histories can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society’s Othmer Library. Restrictions may apply. 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 library@brooklynhistory.org.

AIDS Brooklyn Oral History

AIDS Brooklyn Oral History, 1992.

Call #: 1993.001 / ArMs 1994.006

Extent:  30 audio cassettes

In 1992, Brooklyn Historical Society collected oral history interviews with 27 people who were affected by HIV/AIDS, including HIV-positive people; family and friends of people living with HIV/AIDS; and one family of a woman who passed away due to HIV/AIDS.

This oral history project was conducted in the middle of the emerging public health crisis:

The first official reporting of deaths that would later become known as the AIDS epidemic was in 1981.

ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), an international direct action advocacy group working to bring about legislation, medical research and treatment, and policies, was founded in 1987.

In 1992, AIDS became the number one cause of death for U.S. men ages 25 to 44, (30 Years of HIV/AIDS Timeline via AIDS.gov).

Collection currently closed. For assistance, please consult library staff at library@brooklynhistory.org.

 

Puerto Rican Oral History Project records, 1960-1984

Call number: 1976.001

Extent: 42.2 gigabytes in 445 files, total running time: 45 hr., 14 min., 51 sec. (series 1); in five manuscript boxes and seven audio cassette tape boxes

This collection includes recordings and transcripts of oral histories narrated by those in the Puerto Rican community of Brooklyn who arrived between 1917 and 1940. The Long Island Historical Society initiated the Puerto Rican Oral History Project in 1973, conducting over eighty interviews between 1973 and 1975. The oral histories often contain descriptions of immigration, living arrangements, neighborhood ethnicities, discrimination, employment, community development, and political leadership. Also included are newspaper clippings, brochures, booklets about Brooklyn’s Puerto Rican community, and administrative information on how the project was developed, carried out, and evaluated.

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Names:

  • Acosta, Flora, 1894-1975
  • Colon, Jesus, 1901-1974
  • Cruz, Celia
  • Dennis, Antonia
  • Grevi, Santiago
  • Kelly, James
  • Weber, Louis
  • International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union
  • La Prensa
  • Long Island University
  • Museo del Barrio
  • New York City Public Schools
  • Pfizer Inc.
  • Puerto Rican Merchants Association
  • Puerto Rican Writers Association
  • Puerto Rico Winter League (Baseball league)
  • Universidad de Puerto Rico . Centro de Investigaciones
  • Acosta, Magda, 1905-
  • Acosta, Ramon, 1880-
  • Acosta, Rosenda, 1908-
  • Ally, Trina, 1921-
  • Armas, Encarnacion, 1910-
  • Arroyo, Angel M., 1912-
  • Arroyo, Carmen R., 1909-
  • Barreto, Jaime
  • Bermudez, Justina, 1921-
  • Bonilla, Carmelita, 1908-
  • Carrasquillo, Magdalena, 1910-
  • Carrero, Jean, 1914-
  • Colon, Ramon, 1900-
  • Correa, Elba
  • Cortes, Esther M., 1910-
  • Cortiella, Mayda
  • Cresente, Mercedes
  • Cresente, Pedro
  • De Jesus, Pastor, 1889-
  • Diaz, Mercedes
  • Estepa, Julio, 1918-
  • Ferrell, Julio, 1893-
  • Festa, Josephine, 1927-
  • Figueroa, Rosario, 1902-
  • Fontanez-Soto, Santiago, 1905-
  • Fortun, Maria, 1899-
  • Garden , Maximina, 1914-
  • Giboyeaux, Jose Ramon, 1901-
  • Gonzalez, Carmen, 1926-
  • Guanhill, Elizabeth, 1924-
  • Guanhill, Pedro, 1915-
  • Hernandez, Julio, 1925-
  • Hernandez, Luis, 1920-
  • Homar, Lorenzo
  • Hostalaza, Emilio, 1900-
  • Irizarry, Honorina Weber, 1906-
  • LaRosa, Ramon, 1898-
  • Larrequi, Dicky, 1927-
  • Loperena, Felix, 1906-
  • Maisonet, Jovita, 1904-
  • Malabe, Orlando, 1919-
  • Marinez, Gumercindo, 1935-
  • Marrero, Luis, 1901-
  • Marti, Anaberta, 1915-
  • Marti, Nereida, 1934-
  • Martinez, Gregorio, 1906-
  • Medina, Felipe, 1896-
  • Melendez, Angel, 1897-
  • Melendez, Filomena, 1885-
  • Mercado, Peter O., 1909-
  • Mongtignier, Gilbert, 1938-
  • Mulero, Mildred, 1928-
  • Negron, Sophie, 1891-
  • Oliveras, Edna Rosado, 1934
  • Padron, Lucila
  • Perez, Nick, 1905-
  • Plasencia, Gonzalo, 1909-
  • Pratts, Francisco, 1902-
  • Ramirez, Encarnation
  • Ramos, Juan, 1908-
  • Ramos, Maria C.
  • Rivera, Cecilia, 1903-
  • Rivera, Monte
  • Rivera, Pedro
  • Rivera, Tomas
  • Rodriquez, Juana Weber, 1897-
  • Rodriquez, Maria, 1911-
  • Rodriquez, Pedro, 1912-
  • Rodriquez, Ramon, 1902-
  • Rosado, Roberto
  • Ruiz
  • Santiago, Georgina, 1890-
  • Santos, William
  • Sepulveda, Ernesto, 1903-
  • Simmons, Rafaela, 1903-
  • Tapia, Carlos
  • Tejada, Gloria, 1925-
  • Torres, Clemente, 1905-
  • Torres
  • Torres, Olga, 1917-
  • Vazquez, John
  • Vazquez, Juan, 1912-
  • Velasquez, Carolina, 1911-
  • Vice, Celia M., 1913-
  • Villa, Betty, 1919-
  • Hunter College. Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos
  • New York City Community College. Puerto Rican and Latin Studies Program

Places:

  • Astoria (New York, N.Y.)
  • Bay Ridge (New York, N.Y)
  • Bronx (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Bushwick (New York, N.Y.)
  • Cobble Hill (New York, N.Y.)
  • Flatbush (New York, N.Y.)
  • Flushing (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
  • Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)
  • Ponce (P.R.)
  • Puerto Rico
  • Red Hook (New York, N.Y.)
  • San Juan (P.R)
  • San Lorenzo (P.R.)
  • San Tulce (P.R.)
  • South America
  • Staten Island (New York, N.Y.) — Maps
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States — Emigration and immigration
  • Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.)

Subjects:

  • El Diario La Prensa
  • Armed Forces
  • Citizenship — New York (State) — New York
  • Depressions — 1929
  • Factories — New York (State)
  • Korean War, 1950-1953
  • Local transit — New York (State) — New York
  • Parades — New York (State) — New York
  • Political clubs — New York (State) — New York
  • Puerto Rican families — New York (State) — New York
  • Puerto Rican poetry
  • Puerto Rican women
  • Puerto Rican women — Employment — New York (State) — New York
  • Puerto Rican women — Political activity — New York (State) — New York
  • Puerto Rican women — New York (State) — New York — Social conditions
  • Puerto Rican youth
  • Puerto Ricans
  • Puerto Ricans | z New York (State) — New York — Social condititions — 20th century
  • Puerto Ricans — Cultural assimilation — United States
  • Puerto Ricans — Education — New York (State) — New York
  • Puerto Ricans — Employment — New York (State) — New York
  • Puerto Ricans — Health and hygiene — New York (State) — New York
  • Puerto Ricans — Housing — New York (State) — New York
  • Puerto Ricans — Poetry
  • Puerto Ricans — Race identity
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York Region — Religion
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York — Interviews
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York — Newspapers
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York — Economic conditions
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York — Ethnic identity
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York — History — 20th century
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York — Intellectual life
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York — Language
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York — Music
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York — Politics and government — 20th century
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York — Social life and customs — 20th century
  • Puerto Ricans — New York (State) — New York — Societies, etc.
  • Race discrimination — New York (State) — New York
  • Race relations — United States
  • Racism — New York (State) — New York
  • Transportation
  • Wages — New York (State) — New York
  • Work environment — Puerto Rico
  • Work environment — United States
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • World War, 1939-1945