We began our oral history project in 2006 to collect important audio documents: primary sources about people, ideas, and events that make up the history of 21st century Brooklyn.
Listening to Women: Documenting Women's Lives Through Oral History is BHS' oral history seminar taught by staff oral historian Sady Sullivan. Click here for more information on past sessions of Listening to Women.
Through the run of the exhibition, BHS will continue to host a variety of programs including poetry readings, film series, and panel discussions. Past programs have included The Impact of Listening and Being Heard with curator and oral historian Philip Napoli; Vietnam: Lessons Learned and Forgotten with historian Marilyn Young; and The Shape of Public and Private Memory with oral historian Michael Frisch.
2007 marked the 40th anniversary of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the oldest community development corporation (CDC) in the United States, founded in 1967 through the efforts of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Jacob Javits. Founding Board members, supporters, activists, artists, tenants, and other community members, over 50 narrators total, were interviewed to document Restoration’s pioneering work.
Founded in Brooklyn in 1849, Pfizer is now one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. Over 20 past and current employees of the Brooklyn plant –where mass production of penicillin was first discovered were interviewed on the occasion of the closing of this historic manufacturing plant.
On June 12, 2008, Pfizer's Brooklyn plant was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the New York Section of the American Chemical Society for its breakthrough developments in Deep-Tank Fermentation that made the mass production of penicillin possible. And a traveling exhibit using clips from the Pfizer Brooklyn Oral History Project, Pfizer Heritage: Brooklyn and Beyond, premiered at the Brooklyn Pfizer plant.
INDEPENDENCE COMMUNITY BANK
An integral part of Brooklyn’s economic and social fabric for 155 years, Independence Community Bank contributed significantly to Brooklyn through its support of homeownership, local business, neighborhood improvement, cultural institutions and the establishment of the Independence Community Foundation.
Sixteen extended interviews were conducted with past and present employees of the Bank 2006 – 2007 and are archived in a uniquely searchable audio database created in collaboration with RandForce Associates.
In partnership with local author Jennifer Egan, and the newly established Brooklyn Navy Yard Historic Center, BHS is helping to capture the stories of women who filled trade positions at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II as well as other people who worked at the Yard during that time.
We are interviewing dancers in partnership with Brooklyn Arts Council’s Folk Feet, a program dedicated to supporting the work of traditional dancers in Brooklyn.
DIGITIZATION of the Puerto Rican Oral History Project
We are making digital audio copies of interviews (originally recorded on cassette tape) from this important oral history collection. Digitizing these cassettes is necessary for archival preservation and it also makes it easier for us to share the material. For instance, Elena Martinez, City Lore folklorist, uses clips from the collection in their interactive storytelling map: City Of Memory: Puerto Rican Steamship Migration.
We are digitizing our older oral history collections, which were recorded on cassette tape, in order to make them more accessible:
PUERTO RICAN Oral History Project (1973 – 1976)
BROOKLYN BUSINESS (Coney Island and Navy Yard 1974 - 1989)
BROWNSVILLE/WEEKSVILLE Oral History Project (1974 – 1989)
GIGLIO Oral History Project (1981 – 1983)
HISPANIC Oral History Project (1989)
CHINATOWN / 8TH AVENUE / SUNSET PARK Oral History Project
BROOKLYN AT WORK (circa 1990s)
AIDS BROOKLYN (circa 1990s)
CROWN HEIGHTS Oral History Project (circa 1990s)
BROOKLYN FIREFIGHTERS (1994)
In the years ahead, we will explore the voices of workers, artists, bankers, developers, politicians, religious leaders, war veterans, writers, and educators. We will capture the voices of Brooklyn's elders, as well as our youthful visionaries.
These resources will be available so that scholars and students of the future will be better able to reflect upon the past and better understand its impact on the future.
To share your story, please contact Sady Sullivan.
Our Oral History Program continues to grow in exciting new directions thanks to the generous support of The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Independence Community Foundation, Alan Fishman, The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp, Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, HBO, American Technology, and Tekserve.