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After singer-songwriter John Prine died on April 7, 2020 from coronavirus complications, local radio stations and media outlets created playlists of his “essential songs”. Listening to WFUV-FM, I heard When I Get to Heaven for the first time. The song, from Tree of Forgiveness, his 18th and last studio album in 2018, begins humorously, but then turns serious. Some of Prine’s lyrics really struck home for me: “I wanna see all my mama’s sisters because that’s where all the love starts. I miss ‘em all like crazy, bless their little hearts.” My mother had three sisters and four...

4 women dressed in black standing next to each other.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle Saturday May 5, 1888   Moving. No one enjoys moving – lugging all your furniture into the van, heavy boxes full of books, exhausted family members, crying kids. It’s stressful and miserable moving at any time of the year.  But, I recently learned, it could be worse. Much worse. In fact, in Brooklyn from around the 1820’s to just after the start of World War II, Moving Day was the same for every single Brooklynite – May 1st of each year. Each May, leases ended and in a mass exodus the citizens of Brooklyn...


To all the teachers who are teaching online right now, the Brooklyn Connections team wants to say: thank you for everything you are doing! We recognize how exceptionally challenging, time consuming and emotionally and physically taxing this work is and we are here to offer support. Let us know if we can help in any of the following ways: Online Instruction: Let us take the mic for awhile! Brooklyn Connections educators are here to deliver live or asynchronous lessons of your choosing for grades 4 through 12.  What kind of lessons?  Online...

Photo of students with radio equipment

Looking for tips for digging into your Brooklyn history research online? Check out our new video tutorials for Brooklyn Newsstand and the Brooklyn Collection's Digital Collections.  Brooklyn Newsstand is a collection of digitized Brooklyn newspapers made available through a partnership with Newspapers.com. Right now, the full content of Brooklyn Newsstand is available for free from any location. The Digital Collections offer a selection of more than 20,000 historical photographs and maps from the Brooklyn Collection, and audio and video recordings created by the...

image shows screenshot of video tutorial

I’m restless. I’m 72 years old and have been “sheltering at home” since March 7th. I’m not sure which I miss more – seeing my grandchildren or exploring the outskirts of New York City. I’ve spent many quiet hours photographing its waterfront and abandoned interiors. Almost every day since the 7th, I’ve scanned panoramic and large format negatives or made pigmented inkjet prints, and I expect to continue this routine in the weeks and months ahead. I’m lucky to have the means and equipment to do so, but man do I miss being out photographing. I’m trying to internalize the advice of my...

Sunset Park Dock

It’s hard to know which of these things is more unexpected: that, in a time of health crisis and desperate need for accurate information, my first instinct is to read the newspaper from 100 years ago; or that said news coverage has proved oddly comforting. If either of these instincts resonates with you as well, check out what the Brooklyn Daily Eagle shared about the 1918 influenza pandemic. First of all: folks felt unsure about things. On September 18th, writing about “Influenza and Sports” (some things never change…), the Eagle reported that “Whether the influenza will flourish is a...


Beyond the stanchions, in the center of the Brooklyn Collection, sit two rows of cabinets. Clocking in at 110 drawers, they contain a collection of newspaper clippings that are finally getting some much-needed attention. The clippings files include folders with obscure labels such as "Local Color" and "Brooklyn Spirit", and the subjects they cover—the aforementioned included—are cataloged in a 447-page Word document. It is also one of our best-kept secrets. Though we use the clippings files to answer many reference questions, they are so sprawling and voluminous that even a...

Earth Day 1970 flyer

Three new buildings for Brooklyn … Harper’s Weekly, August 9, 1890, p. 616 Walking the urban landscape of New York, one comes upon buildings of different styles and periods—one of the great joys of living in an older city. Even in this wildly varied landscape the armories stand out. One can walk down a row of modest apartment houses and, turning the corner, confront one of these massive structures looming like an apparition from the middle ages. I had never seen an armory until I moved from the flat sprawl of my western city to Brooklyn, and at first had little sense of their...

print of 23rd regiment armory

  I'll write as I please and let the critics do the analyzing. — Asimov, 1973 Cover of First Edition of Nightfall and Other Stories by Issac Asimov By the time he died in 1992, Isaac Asimov had penned or edited over 500 books and hundreds of short stories over the course of his 72 years; a staggeringly prolific career. A giant amongst the hard science fiction genre, he was considered one of the “Big Three” along with Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. He not only won every science fiction award available he created canonical characters and stories. He coined...


When I was a boy growing up in South Brooklyn, no one was concerned about keeping Christ in Christmas. That was a given. Even my uncles who never set foot in church went to the standing room only midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Midnight Mass, St. Michael the Archangel on 4th Avenue. 1974 Only Easter Sunday rivaled Christmas in importance. Both were Holy Days of Obligation, which required attendance at mass, and each was good for a week off from Catholic school. But for me, and my 30 first cousins, it was no contest. The Easter Bunny was cool, and we liked the...

Photo of African American boy holding snow

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. Using primary sources in the classroom shows us that we can access history through many different formats as long as we are grounded in historical thinking. A History Mystery is a fun way to create an...

Newspaper clipping from 1859 about Peter Cooper's gelatine

On October 7th, I attended a convening of Brooklyn based cultural institutions, hosted by Brooklyn Museum in partnership with the Lenape Center. It was a 2-day workshop to discuss Living Land Acknowledgements and develop ongoing collaborative projects between Lenape-Delaware Nations and cultural institutions in Brooklyn. A Living Land Acknowledgment is a statement that recognizes the indigenous peoples who have been dispossessed from the homelands and territories upon which an institution was built and currently occupies and operates in. For Brooklyn, it was originally the “...

Bob Gore Collection:Image from the Gateway to Nations Pow Wow in Brooklyn on June 6, 2010

Brooklyn Connections is the education outreach program in the Brooklyn Collection, focused 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. As part of our work, we create freely available Primary Source Packets to help students and teachers access primary source material from the Brooklyn Collection about local history topics. Now that school...


As soon as I tell anyone I’m a librarian, inevitably one of the first questions people ask is, “Can you recommend a good book?!” The short answer is: Yes! S. R. Ranganathan created five principles of librarianship (and yes, this is the kind of thing you learn in library school). One of these principles is, “Every reader, their book” and “Every book, their reader.” Connecting patrons to books that match their interests and needs is one of my favorite parts of being a librarian. We in “the biz” refer to this as Readers’ Advisory. At Brooklyn Public Library, we’ve taken readers’ advisory to...

America Is Many People

Shipyards, dry docks, and machine shops. The place with the IKEA and the Fairway. Home of the fabled wild dogs on Beard St. and the abandoned grain elevator. Former home of the Dell's Maraschino Factory and the Snapple Factory. A Brooklyn neighborhood with a "small town" feel, cobbled streets, and limited public transit. It's possible that no other section of the borough has been so readily defined by single facets of its complex character. A waterfront community with deep maritime and industrial roots, Red Hook—like many neighborhoods in Brooklyn—is in flux. This is vividly borne out...

Aerial view of Red Hook with black line indicating planned site of Brooklyn-Battery Bridge

Brooklyn Connections is the education outreach program in the Brooklyn Collection, focused 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. As part of our work, we create freely available Primary Source Packets to help students and teachers access primary source material from the Brooklyn Collection about local history topics. Brooklynites love...

image of oyster workers

Brooklyn Connections is the education outreach program in the Brooklyn Collection, focused 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. As part of our work, we create freely available Primary Source Packets to help students and teachers access primary source material from the Brooklyn Collection about local history topics. As summer...


A visitor to the Brooklyn Collection archive this summer will notice an eye-catching display in our exhibition case. Stepping closer, they’ll learn about the Dreamland fire in Coney Island, read political cartoons about the Verrazzano Bridge, and even see a replica of the Farragut Houses public housing project. The visitor will more than likely learn something new about Brooklyn’s history from this exhibition by local researches. They may be surprised to learn that all of these researchers are students. Brooklyn Connections was awarded this year's Archival Innovator Award from The...


At Brooklyn Connections we are all about student research, and so we’re always excited to find historic examples of this in the Brooklyn Collection. One item in particular gives a glimpse into the impact student research has had on our borough. NYPIRG, the New York Public Interest Research Group, was founded in the 1970s as an issues-focused student activist group. Within seven years of its inception it was based on thirteen campuses across the state and counted over 100,000 dues-paying members. Students were able to receive academic credit for engaging in research on NYPIRG projects...


According to Wikipedia, Coney Island’s first Mermaid Parade took place in 1983, and it is now the largest art parade in the United States, attracting over 3,000 participants and hundreds of thousands of spectators. Hours before the Parade’s start, the audience begins lining up behind police barricades along Surf Avenue. Spectators and costumed participants ride the subway to the recently renovated Stillwell Avenue stop. Stillwell Avenue subway station, 2015 Mermaid on the subway, 2015 Coney Island USA, founded by Dick Zigun, sponsors the parade annually on or near...


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