Fascinating Brooklyn stories from our local history archivists.

That's A Wrap

Posted in Brooklynology by June on Jun 29, 2016

The school year has finally come to a close but, before students and teachers rejoice at the long summer days that lie ahead, they take the time to pause and partake in that time-honored celebration of achievement: the graduation ceremony. How have Brooklynites celebrated this singular milestone throughout the years?  We have numerous graduation programs in our collection, and by studying their content, as well as the physical program themselves, we see how the ceremonies were a reflection of their era, and how they changed with the times. The early commencement programs were...

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Children of the Dump

Posted in Brooklynology by Brendan on Jun 10, 2016

A few months back, the Brooklyn Collection provided some images and expertise to ABC News for a story about Brooklyn’s Dead Horse Bay. The story was most excellent – if you missed it you can check it out here. I used the video as a source for a note taking lesson and, during the lesson, my students kept peppering me with questions: What was life like for the people who lived and worked on the island? What was school like? How did the island's inhabitants navigate all that garbage?  I could only answer their questions in adjectives: smelly, exhausting, backbreaking, dangerous,...

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Goats Do Roam in Brooklyn

Posted in Brooklynology by alla on May 20, 2016

This spring, one of the most hotly anticipated arrivals to Brooklyn is a herd of eight goats. The animals are here on the loan from a Rhinebeck farm for the summer months during which they will help control invasive weeds in the Prospect Park. They will be deployed in the Vale of Cashmere (between Flatbush Ave and the East Drive) to graze on poison ivy and goutweed which have been taking over the area after Hurricane Sandy damaged it. The goats are already hugely popular; the park's free “Fun on the Farm” event this weekend – with a "bleet and greet" tour every 30 minutes – is booked to...

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Brooklyn's Paper Trail

Posted in Brooklynology by Diana on May 4, 2016

We are pleased to announce that we have completed a finding aid for our collection of Brooklyn letterhead stationery. The Brooklyn Letterhead Collection spans 200 years of business in our borough, from 1802 to 2002, with the bulk of the collection representing the 1850s to the 1960s. Several thousand different businesses, institutions, and organizations are represented in the collection, including carpenters, plumbers, painters, city agencies, religious institutions, and more. The finding aid includes a complete listing of the names, addresses, and dates from the letterhead collection,...

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The Story of the Little Brown Jug

Posted in Brooklynology by Joan Harrison on Apr 29, 2016

This week a guest blogger shares her story of how researching in our digital newspaper database, Brooklyn Newsstand, led her to a surprising discovery about her family history, and a new heirloom to boot! We librarians are always so happy to hear these kinds of stories, as we often don't get to learn where research in our collections leads after patrons exit our doors. Our guest blogger Joan Harrison is an artist and author. She is a Professor Emerita of Long Island University, where she taught for many years. One evening in early March as my husband was watching the PBS show "Finding Your...

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Sanders for (Student Body) President!

Posted in Brooklynology by Ivy on Apr 13, 2016

With the upcoming primary elections on April 19th, Brooklyn, all of New York City, and indeed all of New York State finds itself basking in the reflected glare of the white-hot spotlight that follows this season's presidential candidates. Trump, Cruz, Kasich, Clinton and Sanders are trotting all over the map this month, drumming up support for their causes and tasting some local delicacies along the way. Tomorrow Brooklyn's Navy Yard will host a debate between Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, drawing even more focus onto our patch of Long Island. As is widely...

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Our newest blogpost is written by a guest blogger Linda Granfield. It is published with her permission and that of the Guelph Historical Society (Guelph, Ontario, Canada). The article first appeared in Historic Guelph, vol. LIII. 2014-2015. Linda Granfield, a native of Melrose, Massachusetts, is the award-winning author of 30 history books for adults and young readers; John McCrae is the subject of two of those titles. She holds degrees from Northeastern University and the University of Toronto; Linda lives in Toronto, Canada. She invites anyone with further...

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Now Showing at the Fox...

Posted in Brooklynology by Brendan on Jan 4, 2016

This summer, I was digging in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle “morgue” for information on one of Brooklyn’s long lost movie palaces, the Fox Theater. The morgue can be overwhelming, with thousands upon thousands of tiny clippings in equally tiny envelopes housed in rows of rather ominous looking file cabinets. That said, the multitude of clippings is exactly what makes morgue exploration so exciting. While digging for one thing you, can’t help but stumble across thousands of other things you didn’t even know you were looking for.  Like this:  Brooklyn Daily Eagle 28 Feb 1930. I...

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Need Help With Your Holiday Shopping?

Posted in Brooklynology by Deenah on Dec 21, 2015

Well, the Brooklyn Collection has got you covered. All you have to do is suit up in your best hoop dress and top hat and get yourself to downtown Brooklyn, and we promise all your holiday gift-giving woes will melt away. Okay, hang on to your bonnets, here we go! First stop: Fulton Street!  “Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 22 December 1860.  You’ve just got to get back to W.H. Cornell for those fancy boxed prunes that were such a hit with Uncle Clarence last year. Everyone in your knitting circle surely needs a box! Next, you’ve got...

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Mary Sandsted, a "typically American girl"

Posted in Brooklynology by alla on Dec 18, 2015

As it often happens, one stumbles upon a story by chance. While going through a stack of old portraits of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle editorial staff, I happened upon a portrait of a young woman, Mary Sandsted Igoe, a society reporter for the newspaper. Encased in a passe-partout freckled with age, the portrait was remarkable in more than one way. To start with, it was the only portrait of a woman in the whole stack. Other images were studio portraits of venerable gentlemen in formal suits, with grave countenances and carefully groomed moustaches. Mary Sandsted Igoe seemed incapable of...

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Posted in Brooklynology by Diana on Dec 10, 2015

If you read about a “cyclorama” in downtown Brooklyn, maybe you would think it has something to do with bicycles. Actually, a cyclorama is a form of entertainment that was highly popular in the late-nineteenth century. The word refers both to large panoramic paintings and the circular or hexagonal buildings that were custom-built to house such paintings. In an era before movies, cycloramas were considered one of the most engaging amusements on offer, and they were extremely popular. Almost every major American and European city had a cyclorama building at one point, and Brooklyn was...

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The Our Streets, Our Stories introduction post found me preparing for my kick-off event at the Leonard library and putting finishing touches on the mobile digitization kit. Four months later I’m now preparing for my fifth community scanning event at the Clinton Hill library and working toward scheduling more spring events.  Our Streets, Our Stories has been well received by the library community and public interest is steadily growing. As we host more scanning events in different neighborhoods, I'm adjusting my outreach efforts to reflect what I've learned along the way...

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All of New York is buzzing about the Mets' impressive waltz into the World Series -- their first appearance in the championship since 2000 (their last World Series win was in 1986). If you're anything like us, your glee at their success is mediated by the pangs of loss still felt from when Brooklyn's beloved Dodgers decamped for Los Angeles. As it happens, October 4th was the 60th anniversary of the Dodger's World Series win against the Yankees in Game 7 -- the only championship the team won during its tenure in Brooklyn. If that paragraph got your heart beating a bit...

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What's wrong with your tongue?

Posted in Brooklynology by Brendan on Oct 8, 2015

Our colleague recently left for a new gig in Staten Island. We here at the Collection wanted to give her something to remember us by. We settled on a photo of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s eagle, the one who sat perched over the main entrance to the Eagle Building in Downtown Brooklyn from 1892 until the building was demolished in 1955.   Brooklyn Daily Eagle Building, 192-?.  The eagle is special partly because the bulk of the Brooklyn Collection is comprised of holdings from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper, which folded shortly before the building came down. What’s more...

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A Whale's Tale

Posted in Brooklynology by Brendan on Oct 2, 2015

Don’t you love a heartwarming animal story? You know, the ones where dogs and cats put aside their instinctual differences to find their way home or children risk it all to rescue baby pandas? Those are excellent stories. This is not one of those stories.  I found a photo of a large whale on a flatbed truck in a folder appropriately named “Animals.” The 1953 photo’s caption told of a seven year old, 75 foot, 70 ton fin whale named Mrs. Haroy. Naturally, I had some questions. "Where's Jonah?" Brooklyn Daily Eagle 30 Mar 1953. Print.  With a bit of research, I found...

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Brooklyn is in constant flux. Every day, it seems, someone comments that “the neighborhood is changing so quickly” or “five years ago none of this was here!” The Brooklyn Collection’s new exhibit, Preservation and Progress, explores those very statements.  Pacific and Atlantic Photos, Inc. Municipal Building Under Construction, 1925.  In conjunction with the Brooklyn Connections program, the exhibition looks at buildings that are long gone and buildings that have been landmarked by the Landmarks Preservation Commission; buildings that aren’t going anywhere anytime...

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A Civil War of Our Very Own

Posted in Brooklynology by Brendan on Aug 6, 2015

General Ulysses S. Grant is an American hero. He commanded the Union forces during the Civil War and is today lauded as a military genius. What's more, he served two terms as President of the United States - that’s quite a resume. (Yes, yes, he made some mistakes during his time in office, but show me a president who hasn’t.)  Grant died in 1885 and was buried in his tomb (the aptly named Grant’s Tomb) on Manhattan’s Riverside Drive. It's big.  Thomson, Edgar S. "Grant's Tomb." 1895. Print. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection.  Brooklyn didn't have a body...

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Leaving Brooklyn: Fuhgeddaboudit!

Posted in Brooklynology by Christine on Aug 3, 2015

It has been an amazing five years here at the Brooklyn Collection. I will miss my job as Project Manager of Brooklyn Connections and I will certainly miss the students and teachers I have worked with. But most of all, I will miss all the friends I have made here at the Brooklyn Public Library. 2015 Brooklyn Connections Convocation I have learned so much more from the Brooklyn Connections students and teachers than I could have ever taught them—and I doubt they even know it!  From our students I’ve learned to be patient (especially with our middle schoolers) and to...

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Crow Hill Castle

Posted in Brooklynology by Brendan on Jul 6, 2015

New York's prisons have been in the news a lot recently: tragic deaths, racial bias, the promise of sweeping prison reform, and the Shawshank Redemption-like escape of two convicts from an upstate prison. It got me thinking about Brooklyn's own prison history - specifically that of the Crow Hill Penitentiary, a long since demolished landmark of Brooklyn's past.  Thomson, Edgar S. Crow Hill Penitentiary. 1896. Print. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection. The Crow Hill Penitentiary, also known (and perhaps better known) as the Kings County Penitentiary, was an...

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The Giglio Feast

Posted in Brooklynology by SarahQ on Jun 30, 2015

Every July a few typically sleepy residential streets in Williamsburg erupt into a festival of lights, food, music, and parades.  This is, of course, the annual celebration sponsored by Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, also known as the Giglio Feast. Since so many of us have enjoyed the sights and sounds (and funnel cakes) of this week-long event, it is only prudent that we take a moment to look into the origin and history of this Italian-American tradition. The Giglio Feast celebrates a selfless act of bravery by Bishop Paolino, who lived in the small Italian...

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