Fascinating Brooklyn stories from our local history archivists.

Brooklyn Connections is the education outreach program in the Brooklyn Collection. It focuses on cultivating 21st Century learning skills in students and supporting teachers on the incorporation of archives materials into curricula. This blog post is part of a series from the Brooklyn Connections team, sharing skills and ideas for using archives primary source material in the classroom. Our big question is: How can we ask questions to help us with our research? Get Ready Asking good research questions is an important part of the research process. We love to explore how primary...

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Rambunctious Brooklyn boy falls for bridge

Posted in Brooklynology by Deborah Tint on May 3, 2018

Sunset behind the Brooklyn Bridge – Photo: Brooklyn Collection   Bill Powers - photographer, writer, theater director and filmmaker - has donated 125 of his photographs of the Brooklyn Bridge to the Brooklyn Collection chronicling his 47-year love affair with the iconic structure. To accompany those materials he also recorded an interview with BPL’s Our Streets, Our Stories oral history project about growing up in Brooklyn. His stories describe a Park Slope very different from its quiet gentility today. The Bridge as subject emerges Life Magazine, Jan. 30,...

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First Communion Pictures

Posted in Brooklynology by Guest post by Larry Racioppo on Apr 23, 2018

I’ve been photographing First Communions, one of the three Catholic Initiation Sacraments, since 1971. One of my first ‘serious’ photographs depicts my Aunt Millie and her son John standing in the rain outside our parish church. John has just made his First Communion and is proudly holding his little prayer book wide open for me. Over the years I often returned to photograph at this church St. Michael the Archangel in Sunset Park (where I had made my First Communion), and to St. John the Evangelist in South Brooklyn where I lived in the 1970’s and 80’s. Millie and John, Fourth Avenue,...

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Brooklyn Connections is the education outreach program in the Brooklyn Collection. It focuses on cultivating 21st Century learning skills in students and supporting teachers on the incorporation of archives materials into curricula. This blog post is part of a series from the Brooklyn Connections team, sharing skills and ideas for using archives primary source material in the classroom. We all spend more time online than we can probably add up (or would like to admit?!), but are we experts at finding primary sources online? Moreover, how do we teach our students to become pros at digging...

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An Ode to Brooklyn Poets

Posted in Brooklynology by Natiba Guy-Clement on Apr 4, 2018

  Array of noted literary talent (ca. 1960's)-Photo: Brooklyn Collection   Brooklyn has been the home (in some cases, adoptive or transitionary but still, home) to a myriad number of literary figures. Drawn to it by its vibrancy and multiculturalism, Brooklyn inspires most who visit, and encourages them to put down roots and become a part of its fabric. For poets it’s a natural fit, a place to spin a tale, where all you need is an imagination and a gift of prose. There are few literary figures that come to mind when you think of Brooklyn, and their...

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Brooklyn Connections is the education outreach program in the Brooklyn Collection. It focuses on cultivating 21st Century learning skills in students and supporting teachers on the incorporation of archives materials into curricula. This blog post is part of a series from the Brooklyn Connections team, sharing skills and ideas for using archives primary source material in the classroom. At Brooklyn Connections, we love to share ideas on how to develop skills for teaching and learning with primary sources. But let’s take a moment to step back and ask ourselves: what IS a primary source...

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Coney Island Season Is Here!

Posted in Brooklynology by Guest Blog: Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce on Mar 8, 2018

This guest post is in conjunction with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and their "Last Stop in Brooklyn" Contest. You can read the first post in the series here and enter to win a copy of "Last Stop in Brooklyn" here courtesy of Crown Publishing!   Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy   As you read Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy, you’ll get a beautiful vision of what Coney Island once looked like, yet a gloomy view into the late-1800s politics and social tensions. While you gear up for this summer’s adventures and the iconic Boardwalk,...

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The Eagle Above Our Doorway

Posted in Brooklynology by Diana Bowers-Smith on Feb 23, 2018

If you've been to BPL's Central Library, you may have noticed that there is a large eagle sculpture presiding over the inside of the front entrance, and if you've taken one of our building tours, you know that the sculpture came from the headquarters of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper. The records of the Eagle have been at BPL since 1957 and are still a large part of the Brooklyn Collection's holdings, so the eagle looms large here in more ways than one. There's been some debate about the eagle sculpture amongst our staff before. The questions center around a comparison of...

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Valentine's Day/Ash Wednesday: Musings & Photos

Posted in Brooklynology by Guest post by Larry Racioppo on Feb 13, 2018

Photographer Larry Racioppo is back with another guest post for Brooklynology, this one musing on this year's rare congruence of Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday. Today is the first time since 1945 that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day. This rare occurrence has made me think about the significance of each day and what they symbolize: Ash Wednesday – death, Valentine’s Day – romantic love. What I learned about Ash Wednesday in Catholic grammar school is summed up here: “…we use ashes made form the burned palm branches distributed on the Palm Sunday of the...

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Teaching with Primary Sources: Maps and Atlases

Posted in Brooklynology by Jen Hoyer on Feb 12, 2018

Brooklyn Connections is the education outreach program in the Brooklyn Collection. It focuses on cultivating 21st Century learning skills in students and supporting teachers on the incorporation of archives materials into curricula. This blog post is part of a series from the Brooklyn Connections team, sharing skills and ideas for using archives primary source material in the classroom. With Google Maps available at the touch of a finger, students are more familiar than ever with using maps to get around. Exploring the ways we can use maps as informational texts leads to great classroom...

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Welcome to Black History Month at the Brooklyn Collection! Last year our blog highlighted the good work of Hattie "The Tree Lady" Carthan. This year we want to share the story of another black woman pioneer – Susan Smith McKinney Steward who was Brooklyn's first black woman physician (who also happened to be the third black physician in the whole country.) Dr. Kinney Steward had a very successful practice with locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan but for her, medicine was more than just treatment. It was a means by which she could further elevate and impact the community she loved...

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Badges of Honor

Posted in Brooklynology by June on Jan 20, 2018

Most of the exhibitions we create here in the Brookyn Collection are comprised solely of material from our numerous holdings - historical photographs, letters, prints, maps,etc.  We took a slightly different approach with our curent exhibit, "Badges of Honor: Brooklyn's Protectors".  The result is an exciting collaboration, pairing the Brooklyn Collection's resources, with the unique Brooklyn badge collection on loan from Art Sinai. Brooklyn born Art Sinai started acquiring badges in 1978 when he worked for the Treasury Department.  His first badge was a gift from a...

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Brooklyn Connections is the education outreach program in the Brooklyn Collection. It focuses on cultivating 21st Century learning skills in students and supporting teachers on the incorporation of archives materials into curricula. This blog post is part of a series from the Brooklyn Connections team, sharing skills and ideas for using archives primary source material in the classroom. Archives are rich in primary sources that can be used for teaching valuable skills to our students. They key starting point to using primary sources in the classroom is teaching foundational skills of how...

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Brooklyn is home to some of the most iconic winter tableaus in the world. Whether it's the ski worthy snow-capped hills of Fort Greene Park, the odd beauty of fire escapes adorned in holiday lights, or the faces of the brave souls who wait bundled and stoic for the B26 bus; Brooklyn winter is a special kind of wonderful! To celebrate the holiday season we’re decking the blog with some of our favorite seasonal photos from the Brooklyn Collection. We dug deep to find images that celebrate the character and vivacity of Brooklyn landmarks and people. There are hilarious snapshots from the Our...

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NYC Trash: Past, Present and Future

Posted in Brooklynology by Guest Blogger-Larry Racioppo on Nov 9, 2017

In this post, guest blogger, photographer Larry Racioppo shares with us a glimpse of his work photographing "Trash" in Brooklyn and NYC. His photos will also be on exhibit at the City Reliquary in their show "NYC Trash: Past, Present and Future" and will "present the stories behind New York City’s solid waste, from “one man’s garbage is another man’s gold” to the inventive ways New Yorkers are reusing and recycling." To view more of Larry's portfolio and his photos of trash in Brooklyn, visit us at the Brooklyn Collection! Natiba Guy-Clement,...

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In a few days, Halloween will roll through the city, with the trick-or-treating gaggle of supermen, frankensteins, skeletons and witches roaming the streets. There will also be a fair amount of ghosts and ghouls among them. The gossamer-looking ghosts will be swaying by the front porches and windows even past October 31st, until the obligatory turkeys and pilgrims will replace them. Brooklyn loves a good ghost story and is protective of several such legends. All Brooklyn ghost hunters know of the haunted apartment on the corner of State and Clinton once occupied by none other than H.P...

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Discovering Gravesend

Posted in Brooklynology by Ivy Zeng on Sep 7, 2017

“Lady Moody Established Gravesend Town.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 11 June 1911, pp.17. “4 Here Made Trustees Of Gravesend Cemetery.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 20 February 1943, pp.2. Old burying ground. 1946. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection.   “50- Family Apartment House to Displace Old Van Sicklen Home, an Historic Landmark.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 13 September 1925, pp.15. Austin, Daniel Berry. Van Sicklen House. 190?. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection. Gravesend fire under the ‘L’. 1953. Brooklyn Public Library,...

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West Indian Immigration and Carnival: Coming to Brooklyn

Posted in Brooklynology by Emilia Boothe on Aug 31, 2017

In the summer of 2017, Brooklyn Connections was delighted to have two of our student alumni join us as interns. Over the course of seven weeks, these interns learned about archival research and chose a topic of their interest to dig into in the Brooklyn Collection. They assembled some of their findings, and we're excited to share them with you on the Brooklynology blog! This post is by Emilia Boothe. Caribbean immigrants have been coming to New York in small but significant numbers ever since the 1960s. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act (also known as the Hart-Celler Act) had a...

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Dog Days of Summer

Posted in Brooklynology by Deenah on Aug 11, 2017

Herzberg, Irving I. Elderly Woman Sitting on Boardwalk with Dog. 1974. The Brooklyn Collection, Brooklyn Public Library.   Thought you were the first and only Brooklynite to sweat so much you nearly transform into a salty pool on the asphalt below? Well, the dog days of summer have plagued our crowded city streets for decades and resouceful Brooklynites have had to turn to a number of different activities for respite, particularly when coasting from AC office to AC train to AC apartment just wasn't an option. We mined the Brooklyn Collection Historic Photographs to...

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Bridges are icons, creating unforgettable outlines across beloved skylines. The Kosciuszko Bridge may not often have been deemed postcard worthy, but the show-stopping cable-stayed design of its replacement (opened in April 2017) is drawing nostalgia over the soon-to-be-removed historic span. Taking a closer look at the Kosciuszko Bridge – and the many bridges that have stood in the same location through centuries past – paints a picture of a changing neighborhood in a changing city. Kosciuszko Bridge [picture]. Brooklyn Eagle. 4 August 1939. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn...

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