Black History

Laura Fitzpatrick, Izzy, guy, Gloria Smith, 1939, digital image, FITZ_0013; Laura Fitzpatrick photograph collection, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History.


The Center for Brooklyn History provides this guide for researchers of Black history in Brooklyn, including slavery, abolitionism, social justice, civil rights movements, free Black communities (such as Weeksville), cultural celebrations representative of the wider African diaspora (such as the West Indian Day Parade), and more. Researchers are encouraged to browse the collections and research guides for additional resources that may be relevant to their work. The principal keyword to search is "African Americans." You can search on this heading alone or narrow your results by using sub-headings such as "biography," "history," "churches," "economic conditions," "social conditions," "civil rights," "Caribbean," etc. Among other related subject headings are "free African Americans," "enslaved people," "slavery," and "antislavery." To create an appointment or ask a question, please contact [email protected]

This guide includes only those materials that hold an explicit reference to Black people. Materials that do not have such a reference, even if they are associated with Black history, are not included in this guide (e.g. collections of Civil War papers that do not explicitly refer to Black soldiers). This guide focuses on text-based archival materials, but includes digital and photograph collections. Materials range from colonial settlement through the Civil War, to post-Civil War through the 20th  century. Most materials concern the four Long Island counties (Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk), but other New York areas are represented, as are other states. For the 19th century and earlier, documents commonly found in the guide are bills of sale, wills, and estate inventories that include mention of enslaved people; account books recording transactions with free Black people; and journals, correspondence, local historian notes, reminiscences, and the like with references to Black people. In the 20th century, collections of personal papers from Black Brooklynites, or organizations closely associated with Black American educational, political, cultural, religious, and social movements, can be found as well.  


Subject Headings:  

  • Account books -- New York (State) -- Kings County 
  • African Americans 
  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County 
  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Long Island 
  • Auctions -- New York (State) -- Kings County 
  • Bonds -- New York (State) -- Kings County 
  • Church anniversaries -- New York (State) -- Kings County 
  • Civil rights movements -- United States 
  • Congregational churches -- New York (State) -- Kings County -- Clergy 
  • Descendents' estates -- New York (State) -- Kings County 
  • Deeds 
  • Deeds -- New York (State) -- Kings County 
  • Enslaved people -- bills of sale 
  • Families -- New York (State) -- Kings County 
  • Genealogy 
  • Militia 
  • Race discrimination -- New York (State) -- Kings County 
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County 
  • Race relations -- United States 
  • Real property -- New York (State) -- Kings County 
  • Slavery -- New York (State) -- Kings County 
  • Slavery -- New York (State) -- Long Island 
  • Wills -- New York (State) -- Kings County 

In the catalog, you can also search by name of specific locations, either alone or with "African American" or other subject heading.

Examples of locations include: New York, Brooklyn, Weeksville, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Kings County, Suffolk County, and Long Island. You can also search by personal or corporate name. For example: Jackie Robinson, Bridge Street African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church (you do not need to search on an entire name to generate a result), and NAACP.

Barrett 09', 1909, photographic print, V1981.283.3.64; Burton family papers and photographs,
Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History.

The Center for Brooklyn History has several resources useful for many areas of research, including Black history. These include city directories*, historical newspapers*, US Census records*, Brooklyn city council records, atlases, maps, and almanacs. (Resources with an asterisk are on microfilm or fiche.) These resources include references to Black individuals, institutions, neighborhoods, businesses, etc. Just one example, an 1855 almanac, the Brooklyn City and Kings County Record, includes information about the city’s Colored Political Association, an organization formed to advocate for equal rights for Black Americans. 

The Slavery Pamphlet Collection is a set of microfiche held by the Center for Brooklyn History and other repositories. A section of this collection (section CW) is focused on Civil War and Slavery. A guide to the microfiche has been published: Henry Barnard, ed. Slavery, Part I: A Bibliography and Union List of the Microform Collection. (Sanford, NC: Microfilming Corporation of America) 1980. An inventory of the micofiche is available here. The print editions are listed in the Brooklyn Public Library catalog, and can be found collectively by searching the common call number root “PAMP."

From 1939-1942, 1961-1969, and 1973-1982, the Long Island Historical Society (the first iteration of the Center for Brooklyn History) published a periodic journal, called the Long Island Historical Society Quarterly in 1939-42 and, in the later years, The Journal of Long Island History. The journals include articles on historical topics concerning Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties. Some of these articles relate to Black history. A list in PDF form of the articles in the journals is available; use search term African-American in the document to find the relevant material. The journals themselves are available in the library.

Collections are presented in this guide in rough chronological order according to the earliest date of the relevant documents within the collection. The first section of the guide includes collections with material from the colonial period to the Civil War. The second section includes material from the Civil War period to the present. The third section includes a selection of both digital-first and digitized materials from our collection. For a complete list of digital resources, visit our guide to conducting remote research.

Each entry follows the format:

Collection name, date range of the collection
Call number
Extent in linear feet of collection
Link to finding aid (more information about collection)
Brief description of content in the collection relevant to Black history

Section 1: Colonial Period to Civil War (1600s to 1860)

Henry C. Murphy collection, circa 1700-1880
Call number: ARC.189
1.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Includes Murphy’s research notes and draft writings, with his translations, extracts, and transcriptions of historical sources concerning the European exploration and colonization of America.  These include a brief reference to trading enslaved people between Brazil, New Netherlands, Angola, and Amsterdam (in Murphy’s extracts of Dutch New Netherland and West India Company records, 1644-1664; see pages 4-5 of Volume 4 in box 3, folder 3) and the inclusion of “Francisco the Negro” on a list of Bushwick residents and, it appears, on a list of soldiers (in Murphy’s translation of Bushwick records, 1660-1664; see box 2, folder 8). 

Town of Gravesend record transcriptions (1646-1670), 1942
Call number: 1977.308
3 items.
Link to finding aid.

Transcriptions of early town records of Gravesend (1646-1670) and a 100-page historical sketch of the town, with reference to a sale of an enslaved person, prepared by Works Progress Administration researchers in 1942. 

Mid-Atlantic Early Manuscripts collection, 1648-1867
Call number:  1974.002
0.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Division of enslaved people in estate of John Park Custis of Virginia, 1796 (folder 10); bill of sale, Dutchess County, 1766 (folder 16); and will manumitting enslaved person, Oyster Bay, 1685 (folder 17). 

J.W. Huntting copy of records of the First Church of Christ, Southold, Long Island (1694-1853), 1853
Call number: 1973.182
0.10 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Copy of the records, 1694-1853, of the First Church of Christ in Southold, Suffolk County, with references to enslaved people and freemen (including communions, baptisms, marriages, and deaths; e.g. pages 185, 201, 235, 241, 265, 362). 

Henry Lloyd ledgers, 1703-1744
Call number: 1974.117
2.4 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Account books with references to Black people (Queens and Long Island). 

Henry Onderdonk papers, circa 1729-1895
Call number: ARC.045
10 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Henry Onderdonk was a 19th-century historian of Queens County, which included what is now Nassau County. Focused principally on Queens/Nassau, this collection includes Onderdonk’s manuscript writings; transcriptions and notes he took from private journals, church and local government records, and newspapers; correspondence regarding local history and genealogy; and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings. These materials refer at various points to Black people. Among the manuscripts (series 1) are: transcription of Quaker John Bowne’s account book with entries for the purchase and sale of enslaved people (e.g., pages 62, 88) and clothing for them (e.g., page 76); list of marriages and baptisms at Huntington and Hempstead that includes at least three Black couples (1820, 1821, 1822); “Supplement to Revolutionary Incidents of Suffolk and Kings County,” which includes notices of rewards for runaways and notices of sale of  enslaved people; a historical sketch of agriculture in Hempstead with references to enslaved people (pages 14, 29); “Long Island in Olden Times,” with index referring to “negroes” and “enslaved people.” The correspondence (series 2) includes references to slavery in letters from E.B. O’Callaghan (in set 2.1, bound correspondence, item numbers 63, 106), Rachel Hicks (in set 2.2), and William Potts (in set 2.3). The Miscellaneous series (series 3) includes a doctor’s daybook with entries for services rendered to Black people (1729-1731). All seven scrapbooks have some material related to Black people, but these are scattered throughout; among the items are runaway notices (Vol. 1), announcements of camp meetings (e.g., Vol. 4), annual beach parties (Vol. 6 and 7); various accounts of crimes, accidents, or deaths; and other material.  

Daniel M. Tredwell papers, 1876-1917
Call number: ARC.188
1.5 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Local historian’s manuscript concerning Long Island, including Brooklyn, with some references to free and enslaved Black people. 

Northrup collection on Brooklyn history, 1908-1955
Call number: 1986.008
0.20 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Includes a history of Newtown, with a list of local enslavers, published in a local newspaper. 

African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion Church Collection, 1849-1857
Call number: BCMS.0034
1.5 linear feet
Link to finding aid

A small but rich collection of papers documenting the financial and administrative affairs of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion Church, one of Brooklyn's oldest African American congregations, organized between 1827 and 1835.

B. H. Huntington manuscripts, 1856, 1864
Call number: 1973.097
0.02 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Journal of folklore concerning East Hampton, including narrative of a Black girl buried at the site of a church. 

Isaac Cortelyou family notebook, 1698-1824
Call number: 1974.137
1.1 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

In Dutch. Page [22v] includes the draft of a letter deposing of a "servant Neagro" "belonging to Jacques Cortelyou "if he Can gitt" another "Master." Page [53r] lists important events in the year 1708, including the murder of Willem Hallet, along with his wife and five children, by people they enslaved. Also, there is a list of births in 1796-1811 that, in its use of first names only, possibly refers to enslaved people. 

Hulst family papers, 1702-circa 1950
Call number: ARC.135
0.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Tax document listing enslaved people, New Utrecht, 1709; enslaved person bill of sale, Kings County, 1728. 

Lefferts family papers, circa 1650s-1970s
Call number: ARC.145
14.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Many items related to slavery; see box 1, folders 1, 7, 8, 9; box 2, folders 2, 4, 5; box 3, folder 9; box 4, folder 5; and box 5, folders 38, 40. Collection includes property lists that include enslaved people; letters concerning Black residents in Charleston (1820s); wills  transferring and manumitting enslaved people (1808 and others); bills of sale for enslaved people (either 1711 or 1751-1818); slavery-related newspaper articles (late 19th and early 20th centuries); account books and other financial records with transactions involving enslaved people (as well as payments to possibly free Black men for manual labor); and manuscript of Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt’s writings on early Flatbush: “The New York Riots of 1863,” “The Pancake Roof” (includes description of an enslaved woman, Diana), and “Slavery Among the Dutch”; manuscript “It Would be Difficult to Find…,” which describes a “shanty” in the author’s district where a Black woman and her aged mother lived, along with a mention of the New York City draft riots. 

Richard Lawrence estate inventory, 1717
Call number: 1974.206
0.08 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Inventory with reference to enslaved people, Suffolk County, 1717. 

Samuel Jackson will, 1728
Call number: 1977.548
0.01 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Will with reference to enslaved person, Hempstead, 1728. 

John Montgomerie broadside, circa 1730
Call number: 1977.129
0.01 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Proclamation calling for charitable aid in response to a house fire in which three enslaved people, among others, were killed, East Hampton, 1729-1730. 

Stoothoff family papers, circa 1642-1796
Call number: ARC.150
0.75 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Various papers of Flatlands family: 1782 bill of sale by Elias Hubbard to Peter W. Stoothoff (folder 17); Wilhelmus Stoothoff 1783 estate inventory including values of enslaved people (folder 25); Gerritt Stoothoff wills, 1728/9 and 1722, which include conveyances of enslaved people (folders 32, 33); Wilhelmus Stoothoff / B. Lefferts 1763 bill of sale for an enslaved person (folder 59); account book entries, 1731-32 (folder 95); and account book entries, 1676-1714 (folders 114, 115)

Newtown record extracts, 1734-1759
Call number: 1977.303
0.08 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Newspaper clippings of extracts from Newtown records 1734-1759, some with references to Black people. 

Harriet Stryker-Rodda typescript of Peter Wyckoff recollections, 1828-1958
Call number: 1973.258
0.02 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Typescript transcription of reminiscences of Peter Wyckoff of Bushwick (1828-1910) with references to enslaved people. 

Middagh family papers, 1654-circa 1840
Call number: 1974.179
0.17 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Bill of sale (Brooklyn, 1737) and a (draft?) will (Flatbush, 1727) referencing enslaved people. Also, an arrest warrant concerning the unlicensed sale of liquor and illegal sale to Black people (1751). 

Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt collection, 1737-1818
Call number: 1974.168
0.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Quit claim that includes deed for enslaved people, Flatbush, 1737 (folder 1); receipts referencing goods purchased for and by Black people on John Van der Bilt’s account, Flatbush, 1805-1818 (folder 4); estate appraisal with values of enslaved people, Brooklyn, 1792 (folder 5); and bills of sale for an enslaved person, New York, 1783 and 1816 (folders 6, 8). 

Andrew J. Provost collection of Bushwick, N.Y., family papers, 1709-1859
Call number: 1977.180
1.6 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Certified 1859 copy of a 1739 will (folder 1) and a 1767 will (folder 2), both referring to Black people in Bushwick. 

American colonies deeds collection, circa 1600-1700s
Call number: 1974.039
0.50 linear feet

The Virginia folder includes legal documents, 1746-1770, regarding complaints/suits about debts, inheritances, etc., involving land and/or enslaved people.   

Queens County, N.Y., enslaved people bills of sale, 1751-1793 
Call number: 1978.010
0.08 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Six bills of sale for enslaved people: New Lots, Newtown, Jamaica, New York. 

Martense family papers, 1675-circa 1944
Call number: ARC.285
0.33 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Eight bills of sale for enslaved people in folder 18 (1752-1812), principally Flatbush. Two letters relating, in part, to an incident concerning a Black person arrested for theft and his multiple escapes from custody, Flatbush (1838). 

Helen Zunser Wortis collection, 1600-1976
Call number: 1977.351
0.52 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Historian's notes and copies of documents concerning Long Island slavery. Includes copy of a 1755 census of enslaved people in various New York counties. 

Mrs. Milan Hulbert collection of colonial British America and early United States of America papers, 1698-1846
Call number: ARC.278
2.6 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Correspondence concerning delivery of an enslaved person from New York to Philadelphia, 1756. 

Long Island Early Manuscript collection, 1659-1861
Call number: 1974.003
0.25 linear feet
Link to finding aid.

Will (1789) and sale receipt (1758) in folder 12.

Brigantine Sivan bill of lading, 1759
Call number: 1977.447
0.05 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

A bill of lading for one enslaved person to be delivered to the Port of Monto Cristo by Captain John Waddell, Jr. leaving from New York.  

Stryker-Rodda Southern history collection, 1710-1865
Call number: 1985.076
0.80 linear feet

A bill of sale, two deeds, and a will from Georgia & Virginia in folders 2 and 5 (1761-1836).

Pelletreau family papers, circa 1662-1921
Call number: ARC.142
1.0 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Papers of Southampton, Long Island, family. Enslaved person bill of sale, 1767; wills; account book of Southampton silversmith, with references to Black people, 1766-1775. 

Hubbard family papers, 1770-1864
Call number: 1974.044
0.80 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Bills of sale of enslaved people (folders 6, 9, 11): Flatlands, 1811; New Utrecht, 1794; Somerset County, N.J., 1770; will granting enslaved people (folder 12): Flatlands (?), undated; will referring to manumission of enslaved people (folder 13): Monmouth County, N.J., 1840. 

Gamaliel King account book, 1775-1786
Call number: 1977.089
0.10 linear feet

Account book with references to Black people in Philadelphia. 

Charles A. Ditmas collection, 1687-circa 1935
Call number: ARC.196
0.42 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Local historian’s manuscript "Church and State in Flatlands, 1783-1843" with references to the extension and maintenance of an African burial ground, 1829-1836. 

Remsen and Schenk family papers, 1698-1837
Call number: 1985.017
0.30 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Three wills referring to enslaved people, Brooklyn, 1785 and 1794 (folder 1) and one unspecified (folder 2). 

Terhune and Wyckoff families papers, 1747-1932
Call number: ARC.279
0.8 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Bill of sale for an enslaved person, Flatlands/Gravesend, 1794, and receipt for sale, 1798 (folder 1); will, Gravesend, 1797 (folder 2); receipt for sale, New Utrecht, 1812 (folder 4). 

Conkling family papers, 1782-1798
Call number: ARC.284
0.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Account book with reference to Black people in Southold, Suffolk County (1784-1797). 

Kings County census of 1786
Call number: 1981.012
0.08 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Contains information regarding the number of families, men and women in various age groups, number of enslaved people by gender, and total number of white people and enslaved people in Kings County. The data is also broken down by township. Compiled by Peter Vandervoort, Sheriff. 

Peter Lowe correspondence, 1782-1818
Call number: 1974.008
0.20 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

This collection of correspondence of the pastor of the Dutch Church of Flatbush includes an unsent 1788 letter in which Lowe lays out the church members’ objection to admitting Black people and his answers to those objections (in folder “Unidentified”). 

Nicholas Cowenhoven papers, circa 1775-circa 1805
Call number: ARC.283
0.33 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Receipt for sale of an enslaved person, 1792 (unspecified place). 

Mixed manuscript collection, 1666-1889
Call number: 1974.037
0.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Bill of sale for an enslaved person, 1793. 

Teunis G. Bergen collection of Van Brunt family genealogy papers, 1716-1881
Call number: 1978.157
0.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Documentation of sales of enslaved people, New Utrecht, 1794-1819. 

Anita Lott Cruikshank collection of Kings County, N.Y., family papers, circa 1677-1892
Call number: ARC.281
2.4 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Estate sale of enslaved people (Jacobus Lott, 1759); two bills of sale for enslaved people: to Van Brunt Magaw of Gravesend (1796) and to Jeremiah Lott of Flatbush (1806); sale of land in Flatlands to a Black person (1827); correspondence from E. Croswell in Albany to John A. Lott concerning slavery in the territories (1849). 

Ditmas family papers, 1647-1900
Call number: 1986.054
1.34 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Bills of sale for enslaved people, Flatbush, 1798 and 1816. 

John R. Couwenhoven papers, 1783-1820
Call number: 1973.167
0.08 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

The papers include an account book listing monetary transactions for goods and services dated 1783 to 1789, which includes an entry crediting a Black person’s labor as settlement against goods bought. The account book and other papers also include the records of the sale of Couwenhoven''s estate, including the sale at auction of five enslaved people (Brooklyn, 1798). 

Augustus Griffin papers, 1792-1902
Call number: ARC.198
0.42 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Journal (1792-1843) of Southold, Suffolk County resident with references to Black people, including a free Black person’s purchase of a relative's freedom. 

Frederick and Hetty Marquand scrapbook, 1761-1882
Call number: 1977.219
0.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Scrapbook of Brooklyn residents with bill of sale for an enslaved person, Fairfield, Conn/Bergen County, 1799. 

Susannah Bassett Book of Common Prayer, circa 1800
Call number: 1974.108
0.30 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Family Book of Common Prayer, with record of births of five people born into slavery, 1799-1808. 

Queens County Court of General Sessions of the Peace record, 1799
Call number: 1977.106
0.10 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Decision concerning manumission of an enslaved person, North Hempstead. 

Conover and Cowenhoven family papers, 1801-1831
Call number: 1974.141
0.08 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Bond for sale of an enslaved person, 1801 or 1808; enslaved person bill of sale, 1826. 

Joseph Sprague papers, 1810-1842
Call number: ARC.099
0.02 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Bill of sale for an enslaved person, Bushwick/Brooklyn, 1802. 

Robert Doty deeds, 1803, 1805
Call number: ARC.221
0.03 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Three land deeds, dated 1803 and 1805, between Robert Doty, a Black person of Jericho in the town of Oyster Bay, Queens County, and George and Jeremiah Tappin, also of Oyster Bay. 

Nehemiah Denton papers, 1785-1844
Call number: 1977.171
0.5 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Bill of sale for an enslaved person, Brooklyn/Gowanus, 1808 (folder 7). 

Autograph manuscript collection, 1656-1868
Call number: ARC.206
0.30 linear feet
Link to finding aid.

Thomas Jefferson correspondence concerning imprisonment of an enslaver. 

Brower v. Miller court decision, 1811
Call number: 1977.617
0.06 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Court decision concerning daughter indentured by enslaved father, New York, 1811.

Bennet and Ryder families collection, 1670-2006
Call number: ARC.001
2.5 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Includes an 1812 indenture of a 10-year-old Black child in Brooklyn. 

William F. Wyckoff papers, circa 1735-1942
Call number: 1978.002
3.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Wills and estate inventories referring to Black people: Jamaica, Queens (circa 1770, 1809), including one granting freedom to the enslaved (1746), New Lotts (1782), and Flatbush (1814); sale of an enslaved person documents, Flatbush (1779, 1781, 1806, 1813, 1814); authorization for support payments to a free Black person, Flatbush (1807); invoice for doctor’s treatment of a Black person (1777) and other miscellaneous references (all in Eldert folder). 

Merchant account book, 1813-1815
Call number: 1973.300
0.08 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Unidentified merchant’s account book with some transactions with at least one Black person, Huntington, Long Island.  

Seaman family papers, 1752-1838
Call number: 1974.005
0.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

Bill of sale for an enslaved Black person and the agreement in which the owner set out his conditions for granting eventual manumission, New York, 1815.  

Rutgert A. Van Brunt estate papers, 1788-1830
Call number: 1978.156
0.1 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.

The documents include the probated last will and testament of Van Brunt (1818) and an inventory of the estate, which included enslaved people. 

Battle of Long Island, Maryland soldiers memorial collection, 1869-1957
Call number: 1973.232
0.04 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Correspondence of 1869 includes a recollection from childhood of a Black burial ground near Third Avenue, Brooklyn. 

John and Garret S. Baxter papers, 1790-1836
Call number: ARC.257
2.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Journals with references to slavery and Black people in Flatlands. (Access to the documents in this collection is restricted because they are in exceptionally fragile condition. Typescript transcriptions can be accessed in the library.) 

Brooklyn certificate collection, 1809-1962
Call number: 1977.307
3.31 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Sale of an enslaved person receipt from Virginia. 

John Ditmars and Jacob Duryee enslaved woman bill of sale, 1825 
Call number: 1977.583
0.01 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Bill of sale for Sine (b. 1817), an enslaved African American woman, from John Ditmars of the town of Flatlands, Kings County, to Jacob Duryee of the town of Flatbush, 1825. 

Flatlands Overseers of the Poor account book, 1807-1831
Call number: 2005.001
0.04 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Receipts and expenditures of poor fund, 1807-1831, includes some entries for payments on behalf of Black people, 1829-30. .

Art and Artifacts Collection
4 flat boxes of individual documents. Inventory of items available in library. 
Bill of sale for an enslaved person, Albany, 1763 (item M1975.1138). Anti-Andrew Jackson broadside, directed especially to Quakers, with reference to, among other things, Jackson as enslaver, Queens County. (item M1975.837). Playbill for a play based on the Battle of Long Island, with a Black servant among the cast (item M1975.1114). Runaway ad in newspaper The Corrector of Sag Harbor, 1825 (M1975.1391). Recruitment poster for 20th Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops (item M1975.387). 

St. Peter’s Church certificates of incorporation, 1832
Call number: 1974.150
0.08 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Articles of incorporation of a Black Episcopal church, Brooklyn, 1832. 

Gabriel Furman papers, 1725-1913
Call number: ARC.190
2.8 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Journals of a Brooklyn resident with references to free and enslaved Black people, slavery, and to Henry Ward Beecher’s sermons concerning abolition. Furman letter book includes reference to an African Society seeking a charter from the New York state legislature (1824).

John C. Bergen papers, 1827-1894
Call number: 1974.114
1 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Diary of farmer with references to a Black farmhand, Flatlands, circa 1840s-1850s.

Landon Family papers, 1665-1864
Call number: 1977.025
2.5 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
This collection includes the papers of two lawyers/ judges from Cutchogue (Southold, Suffolk County). References to Black people appear throughout the collection, including in account books, wills, estate debtor records, as members of Cutchogue’s religious society, and records of court cases. Included are articles of incorporation of the Suffolk County Anti-Slavery Society. 

Town of Southampton School District No. 11 proceedings and census records, 1819-1862
Call number: 1977.063
0.19 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Some of the periodic district censuses include reference to Black children. 

North Hempstead tax assessment roll, 1846
Call number: 1973.107
0.02 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
The roll includes lists of non-residents and resident Black people.

Colonization Society of the State of New-York membership certificate to A. Hamilton Bishop, 1849
Call number: 1985.029
1 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Certificate recognizing the donation and life membership of Rev. A. Hamilton Bishop of the Reformed Dutch Church, Astoria. 

Jack Harris letter to Robert Haviland, 1850
Call number: 1974.253
0.01 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Letter from enslaved person in Georgia to his owner in New York seeking to buy his freedom. 

Francis V. Morrell’s Recollections of Old Williamsburgh, 1915
Call number: 1973.084
0.10 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Recollections of circa 1850s Williamsburgh with reference to specific Black people. 

Brooklyn correspondence and miscellaneous documents collection, 1757-1968
Call number: 1977.321
0.35 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Pass from Brooklyn Navy Yard commandant for transport to a steamer in North Carolina that includes a Black person intended to be a servant to that steamer’s commander, 1862 (Dawson folder); correspondence from Newton, Mass., to Joseph Sprague, former mayor of Brooklyn, with political commentary, including on slavery, 1850 (Sprague folder). 

Brooklyn Brush Manufacturing Association articles of incorporation, 1855
Call number: 1978.191
0.08 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Rules for Association of Black-owned business, Brooklyn, 1855.

Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Henry Ward Beecher Collection, 1847-1980
Call number: ARC.212
28 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
The collection includes much material on Beecher, the abolitionist preacher, and his Brooklyn church, including hate mail directed at Beecher and documentation of his staged auction of Sally Maria Diggs (“Pinky,” who took the name Rose Ward, later Rose Ward Hunt). The collection has documentation of Hunt’s 1927 visit to Plymouth Church, including a brief audio cylinder recording of her greetings to the Plymouth congregation (the recording is accessible on site). Other items include an 1819 tax return of Charlotte Collins of Charleston, South Carolina, reporting enslaved people as taxable property and an 1895 reminiscence of Beecher from Irene H. Ovington referring to the Underground Railroad (series 1, section 10, box 14).  

Henry F. Minton scrapbook, 1847-1887
Call number: 1977.271
0.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Scrapbook concerning Henry Ward Beecher and Plymouth Church.

Joseph Arthur Burr, Jr. composition book, 1860-1866
Call number: 1973.108
0.08 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Composition book with brief reference to Black children attending a school event, Williamsburg, 1860. 

Henry J. Van Dyke sermon, 1860-1861
Call number: 2005.010
1 item.
Link to finding aid.
1860 pro-slavery sermon of Rev. Henry J. Van Dyke, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, entitled "The Character and Influence of Abolitionism." 

Henry Reed Stiles papers, circa 1855-1884
Call number: ARC.218
0.13 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Correspondence concerning "Public Schools for Colored Children" from William J. Wilson, principal of Brooklyn’s Colored School 1, to Stiles. 

Edwin Warriner papers and photographs, 1790-1958
Call number: 1977.255
6.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Late 19th-century researcher’s notes on Long Island’s Methodist churches and ministers, including those that were Black.  

Prints and Drawings
Call number: M1975.939
5 lithographic prints
[no finding aid available]
Lithographic prints made from pencil drawings by Valerio Villanueva depicting four women from the Weeksville community in the late 19th century. The drawings are based on photographs found during an excavation of a house in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, and was made in 1969. One drawing, also by Villanueva, depicts a row of houses, likely from the Weeksville community during the same era. 

Section 2: Civil War to Present

C.B. Nichols scrapbooks, circa 1860 to 1896 
Call number: 1974.134
2.4 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
The collection includes five scrapbooks of Civil War-era artifacts, including a "Colored men to arms!" recruitment handbill in volume 2. 

Union Army Light Artillery, 5th New York Independent Battery records, 1861-1865
Call number: 1978.008
3 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
The Union Army Light Artillery, 5th New York Independent Battery records consist mainly of muster rolls listing the names and activities of soldiers in the Battery from 1861 to 1865. The October 1863 muster documents the presence in camp of Black people as servants to the battery's officers. 

First Unitarian Congregational Society of Brooklyn records, 1790-1970s
Call number: ARC.109
50.5  linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Trustee minutes/reports of 1865-1966 refer to the congregation’s donations to the Freedmen’s Association. The collection also includes the records of Second Unitarian Church, which was led in the 1850s by anti-slavery minister Samuel Longfellow; the collection includes at least one of his anti-slavery sermons and correspondence from a congregant declining to renew his pew rental because of Longfellow’s stance. 

Secor, Flint, and Cousins families papers, 1840-1971
Call number: ARC.192
1 linear foot.
Link to finding aid.
Pass for a family, traveling with a Black person, to proceed from New Orleans to New York, 1862.

Lefferts family papers, circa 1650s-1970s
Call number: ARC.145
14.25 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Includes manuscript of Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt’s on “The New York Riots of 1863,” and “It Would be Difficult to Find…,” which describes a “shanty” in the author’s district where a Black woman and her aged mother lived, along with a mention of the draft riots. (This collection also includes many items related to slavery; see reference to the collection in Section 1 above.) 

Emancipation Proclamation, Leland-Boker Authorized Edition, 1864
Call number: M1986.257
1 item, available via object database in the library.
Folio broadside of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of State William H. Seward, and John G. Nicolay, Private Secretary to the President. One from an edition of 48, it was offered for sale as a souvenir at the Great Central Sanitary Fair in Philadelphia, June 1864. 

Collection of Brooklyn, N.Y., Civil War relief associations records, ephemera and other material, circa 1798 to 1964
Call number: ARC.245
4 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Series 5 of the collection includes information concerning the Brooklyn bureau of the American Freedmen's Friend Society, led by prominent Black citizens including James N. Gloucester and William J. Wilson. 

Civil War collection, 1804-1865
Call number: 1977.200
0.63 linear foot.
Link to finding aid.
Includes broadsides and other print matter related to the Colored Regiments, the National Freedmen’s Relief Association, and the American Freedmen’s Friend Society (New York). 

Brooklyn ephemera collection, 1814-1998
Call number: ARC.272
Series 10, Miscellaneous.
Link to finding aid.
Includes one folder of material related to Black people that holds a circa 1865 handbill for the American Freedmen’s Friend Society of Brooklyn (James N. Gloucester, President). 

Autograph manuscript collection, 1700-1945
Call number: ARC 206
1.5 linear feet
Link to finding aid.
Pass for agent of National Freedmen’s Relief Association to Norfolk, Charleston and Savannah, 1865.

Conklin and Bedell families papers, 1839-1917
Call number: 2005.021
1.0 linear foot
Link to finding aid.
Correspondence (1865) from a soldier in the 173rd Regiment, New York Volunteers, based in Georgia, expressing objections to attempts to grant suffrage to Black people. 

Alden Spooner family papers, 1810-1867
Call number: ARC.098
0.71 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Ballot from Georgetown, Virginia, with correspondence presenting it as having been cast by a Black person in the first election held under universal suffrage, 1867. 

Kings County Commission for Collecting Evidence of Fraud and Outrages affidavit book, 1871
Call number: 1977.019
0.18 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Testimony concerning electoral fraud committed by Democrats against Republicans, including Black people. 

Francis Skillman papers, 1769-1896
Call number: ARC.280
2.8 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
The collection includes a journal maintained by Skillman, which is principally a record of farmhands and household help, with occasional other entries, 1853-1896. At least one of the farmhands, from 1873-1878, was Black. 

Charles E. Scriven collection on Brooklyn history, circa 1875-1914
Call number: 1973.254
0.84 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Materials compiled by an early 20th -century local historian relating to Flatbush generally, with some reference to Black people, including transcription of an article from the Kings County Rural Gazette concerning an investigation into an 1872 murder of a Black person. 

Epher Whitaker papers, 1864-1900
Call number: ARC.286
0.13 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Recollections concerning Black preachers at the Presbyterian Church of Southold, Long Island, in the late 19th century. 

Brooklyn Republican Party scrapbook, 1881-1883
Call number: 1977.077
0.42 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Scrapbook with First Ward voter registry, including Black voters. 

J.R. and Orrin Dayton papers, 1867-1902
Call number: ARC.240
0.04 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Note with reference to Black people in connection with a vote taken on naming the town of Speonk (Southampton, Long Island), circa 1890s. 

Charles H. Hall letter of invitation from the American Colonization Society, 1886
Call number: 1978.097
0.01 linear feet
Link to finding aid.
Letter requesting Reverend Hall of Brooklyn to speak at the 70th meeting of the American Colonization Society, Washington, D.C., 1886. 

New York State 1892 Census returns for Brooklyn’s 15th election district, 1892
Call number: 1973.231
0.02 linear feet
Link to finding aid.
Brooklyn election district enumerator's blotters with demographic data, including "color." 

Brooklyn charitable organizations for the aged publications, 1883-1948
Call number: 1985.105
0.2 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Includes annual reports (1892-1897, 1916) for the Brooklyn Home for Aged Colored People. 

Brooklyn charitable organizations for children publications, 1871-1968
Call number: 1985.106
0.8 linear feet
Link to finding aid.
Annual reports (1906-1913) for the Brooklyn Howard Colored Orphan Asylum. 

Brooklyn Armstrong Association and Brooklyn Hampton Association records, 1906-1943
Call number: 1981.001
0.33 linear feet
Link to finding aid.
The collection contains records of the Brooklyn organization devoted to promoting Black and Native American education and the Hampton Institute. The collection includes minutes, 1906-1944; correspondence; and scrapbooks containing flyers, clippings, brochures, and circulars. 

Brooklyn Historical Pageant records, 1914-1915
Call number: 1977.143
0.20 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Performances including depictions of Black people; the pageant benefited Howard Colored Orphan Asylum, among other organizations. 

Gates Avenue Association records, 1922-1944
Call number: 1977.177
0.05 linear feet
Link to finding aid.
Records of the organization concerned, in part, with movement of Black people into the neighborhood. 

Richetta Randolph Wallace papers, 1906-1971
Call number: 1978.137
3 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
The collection consists of the personal and business papers of Richetta Randolph Wallace (1884-circa 1971), a Black woman committed to engaging with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem (New York City); Black literary and arts culture; and matters of race relations, racial justice and civil rights. Documents include correspondence, pamphlets and other published print matter; event programs and other ephemera; photographs; receipts; manuscripts; and newspaper clippings. 

Charles Henry Wenman papers, 1832-1951
Call number: ARC.104
8.5 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Correspondence in series 4, sub-series 2 illuminates the transformation of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood with the arrival of new ethnic groups, particularly European immigrants and Black people.  

Methodist Churches of Brooklyn collection, 1856-1978
Call number:  1986.027
0.73 linear feet.
Link to finding aid.
Includes programs for services (circa 1950s) from Bridge Street African Wesleyan (Methodist) Church and the 10th anniversary program (1952) for First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. 

Baptist Churches of Brooklyn publications and ephemera, 1840-1957
Call number: 1986.013
0.42 linear feet
Link to finding aid.
Includes two programs (1957, 1977) from the Concord Baptist Church of Christ. 

John Howard Melish, William Howard Melish and Protestant Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity collection, 1904-1985
Call number: ARC.050
8.0 linear feet
Link to finding aid.
Reel-to-reel audio tapes of a memorial service held in Ghana in 1963 for W. E. B. Du Bois at which William Howard Melish spoke, a transcript of Melish’s remarks concerning Du Bois (possibly those delivered in Ghana), and Melish’s 1960 remarks concerning civil rights activism in the South. A digital version of the tapes can be listened to in the library.  

Brooklyn Council for Social Planning Records, 1931-1958 
Call number: BCMS.0039 
28 linear feet in 67 boxes 
Link to finding aid.
Records date from 1933-1957, with more extensive coverage for the years 1948-57. The collection as a whole provides a comprehensive description of existing and needed social welfare services in Brooklyn during the years covered, as well as efforts to extend and improve these services in the following areas: childcare, adoption and foster care, juvenile delinquency, recreational facilities, neighborhood organization, medical and mental health services, the practice of social work, housing needs, discrimination and segregation issues, veterans' services, and volunteerism. 

Mary DeSaussure Sobers papers, 1945-2002
Call number: 2005.053
0.42 linear feet
Link to finding aid.
Materials concerning the track career of a Black athlete from Brooklyn who later became coach and adviser to the Queens Trailblazers Track Club. 

Arnie Goldwag / Brooklyn Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) collection, 1943-2007
Call number: ARC.002
13.75 linear feet
Link to finding aid.
Collection consists principally of the subject files concerning 1960s civil rights activism maintained by Arnie Goldwag, an officer of Brooklyn CORE during the first half of the 1960s. These files include correspondence, newsletters, event announcements (e.g., fliers), directions for demonstrators, photographs, press releases, clippings, and other documents related to many of the actions conducted by Brooklyn CORE, particularly for the period 1961-1965. Actions represented in the collection include those protesting discrimination in employment, housing, schools, and the like, including the controversial initiative to block traffic in connection with the opening of the 1964 World’s Fair. The collection includes reminiscences by Goldwag and other CORE members looking back from the 1990s and 2000s.  

Amote Sias papers, 1945-1993
Call number: 2008.017
3 linear feet
Link to finding aid.
Papers of Brooklyn (Carroll Gardens) Black activist. The majority of the collection focuses on the political environment in Brooklyn from the mid-1970s and 1980s through newspapers, magazines, and other publications. The collection is rich with programs, bulletins, and manuals from Sias’s involvement in political organizations focusing on social justice, women’s rights, and Black Nationalism. The collection also documents Sias’s political campaign for a seat on the New York City Council in 1989 and her involvement in the Committee to Elect Jesse Jackson for President. 

Ronald Shiffman collection on the Pratt Center for Community Development, 1950-2018 
Call number: 2013.023 
74.37 linear feet in 116 manuscript boxes and 26 record cartons 
Link to finding aid.
Ron Shiffman is a city planner, architect, and expert in community economic development and sustainable development assistance for community-based groups in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. In 1964, Ron Shiffman co-founded the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (known today as the Pratt Center for Community Development). The following year, Shiffman, in partnership with the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, assisted in the conception and launch of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. 

Eastern Parkway Coalition records, circa 1952-2007
Call number: 2007.016 
12.5 linear feet. 
Link to finding aid.
Community activist organization. (unprocessed collection). 

Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth in Action Collection, 1957-2012
Call number: BCMS.0043 
4.59 linear feet in 7 document boxes, 1 oversize box 
Link to finding aid.
A social action organization operating in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood from 1963-1978. The organization focused on community revitalization through programs targeted at underprivileged youth.

Brian Purnell Civil Rights in Brooklyn Oral History Collection, 1987-2006 
Call number: BCMS.0012 
1.8 linear Feet in 4 boxes 
Link to finding aid.
Dr. Brian Purnell's interviews of several activists who were members of the Brooklyn Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), including earlier interviews by other researchers. From 1960-1964, members of Brooklyn CORE led local demonstrations to desegregate apartments, integrate public schools, create jobs, and improve sanitation services to Bedford-Stuyvesant. 

Brooklyn ephemera collection, circa 1840-2021
Call number: BCMS.0007 
22 linear feet in 26 boxes 
Link to finding aid.
The Brooklyn Ephemera Collection consists of catalogs, postcards, business cards, fliers, circulars, and other remnants of daily life in Brooklyn. Search the finding aid for relevant keywords such as "Bedford-Stuyvesant" using Ctrl+F. 

Brooklyn Historical Society ephemera collection, 1814-2001
Call number: ARC.272
Series 10, Miscellaneous
Link to finding aid.
Includes one folder of material related to African-Americans, principally programs and other like material from 1970s-1990s arts and other cultural programs. Includes a booklet, “An Introduction to the History of Black Physicians, Dentists, and Pharmacists in Brooklyn, 1850-1985,” by Irma Watkins-Owen, produced by the Provident Clinical Society.

Rioghan Kirchner Civil Rights in Brooklyn Collection, 1960-2005 
Call number: BCMS.0011 
5.2 linear feet in 10 boxes 
Link to finding aid.
A collection of material related to the 1960s civil rights movement in the United States, particularly the Brooklyn chapter of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and the Brooklyn group FOCUS (Freedom Organizations Coordinated for Unity in Shorefront), compiled by Rioghan Kirchner, a member of Brooklyn CORE and cofounder of FOCUS. 

Major Owens Collection, 1957-2013 
Call number: BCMS.0078 
29.7 linear feet in 13 record cartons, 2 oversize flat boxes, 2 document boxes, and 16 custom boxes in various sizes. 
Link to finding aid.
Materials documenting the life and career of Congressman Major Owens (1936-2013), a Brooklyn-based writer, educator, librarian. and community organizer. Items include photographs, clippings, audiovisual materials, writing samples, congressional materials, and correspondence.  

Hattie Carthan Collection, 1969-2007 
Call number: BCMS.0077 
3.6 linear feet , 4 legal-size document boxes, 1 document box, 1 oversize flat box 
Link to finding aid.
Materials concerning the life of Hattie Carthan and the Magnolia Tree Earth Center (bulk from 1970-1995), an environmental justice and education center founded by Carthan in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Items include photographs, clippings, program information, and administrative documents. 

Martha Gayle Collection, 1902-2001
Call number: BCMS.0050
2.62 Linear Feet in 6 document boxes [5 Letter size, 1 legal]
Link to finding aid.
Various documents relating to the life, work, and activities of Martha Adina Gayle dating from 1902 -2001. Gayle was a Jamaican immigrant who came to the United States in 1924.

Patrick D. Pagnano Empire Roller Skating Collection, 1980
Call number: BCMS.0075
25 items, digital photographic images in tiff format.
Link to Digital Collections imageslink to finding aid.
25 black-and-white digital photographs representing the Empire Roller Skating Rink.

West Indian Carnival Documentation Project records, 1993-1996
Call number: 2010.019
5.0 linear feet
Link to finding aid.
The collection includes photographs and other material related to Brooklyn’s West Indian Day Parade/Carnival.

Crown Heights Oral History – Bridging Eastern Parkway, 1993-1994
Call number: 1994.006
24 interviews.
Link to oral history portal, link to finding aid.
In 1993-1994, the Center for Brooklyn History collected interviews with residents of the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. Thirty-three interviews were conducted by Craig Wilder, Jill Vexler, and Aviva Segall. The subtitle, Bridging Eastern Parkway, refers to racial tensions expressed during the 1991 Crown Heights riots. Narrators are of African American, Caribbean, Jewish, Polish, and Russian descent and include members of the Lubavitch community. Transcripts of 24 interviews from this collection may be read in library. Recordings are not currently available to researchers. 

Jamel Shabazz photograph collection, 1980-2010
Call number: BCMS.005
2 Linear Feet in 2 boxes.
Link to finding aid.
Approximately 400 photographs by Jamel Shabazz, in both black and white and color, representing urban street life in Brooklyn from 1980-2010.

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation Oral History, 2007-2008
Call number: 2008.030
56 interviews.
Link to oral history portal, link to finding aid.
The Center for Brooklyn History (then the Brooklyn Historical Society) and Restoration partnered on the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation Oral History project in 2007-2008 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Restoration’s founding as the first community development corporation (CDC) in the United States. Fifty-six interviews were conducted with founding board members, supporters, activists, artists, tenants, and other community members. Many of the interviewees were involved with Weeksville and Ocean Hill-Brownsville, and civil rights, Black Power, and other Black movements. There are no transcripts of the interviews, but the recordings can be accessed in the Center for Brooklyn History library by appointment. 

Crown Heights Oral History – Listen To This, 2010
Call number: 2010.020
43 interviews.
Link to oral history portal, link to finding aid.
This collection of 43 oral history interviews with Crown Heights residents was donated to the Center for Brooklyn History (then the Brooklyn Historical Society) by project director Alex Kelly. The interviews were conducted in 2010 with the help of the Crow Hill Community Association and five students from Paul Robeson High School who came to the project through the Brooklyn College Community Partnership (BCCP). Recordings of these interviews and an accompanying guide are available in the library.

Bob Gore photograph collection, 2007-2020
Call number: BCMS.0049
12.12 Gigabytes in 148 digital photographic images in tiff format.
Link to Digital Collections images, link to finding aid.
Digital photographs by Bob Gore showing various events in Brooklyn including a Lowa wedding ceremony, the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade, the Tribute to the Ancestors ceremony, the Gateway to Nations powwow, and the Black Lives Matter protests.

Section 3: Digital Resources

Black Brooklyn Renaissance Digital Archive
Call number: CBHM.0002
73 DVDs and CDs.
Link to digital archive, link to Vimeo cliplink to finding aid.
Organized by the Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC), in partnership with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, BBR documents public performances, exhibitions, panels and workshops, a scholarly conference, an oral history project, as well as other documentation, celebrating the many contributions of Black performing artists, primarily those working in music, dance, and spoken word, have contributed to the borough’s significance as a center of Black culture in New York and the world. 

Brooklyn Resists
Call number: no call number associated with this project
Link to Brooklyn Resistslink to digital exhibition, link to curriculumlink to public programming.
Brooklyn Resists tells the stories of Black Brooklynites and how they have responded to systemic racial injustice, risen up against those systems, and how the protest movement of the present ties to the generations of activists and leaders who came before. 

West Indian Day Parade, 1998, SHBZ_0028, Jamel Shabazz photograph collection, Brooklyn Public Library,
Center for Brooklyn History.


Revised to remediate harmful and oppressive language from the introduction, subject headings, and collection descriptions, December 2021. 

This guide was developed, in part, with grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural (URR) Program. The guide was initially compiled in September 2010 by Project Archivist Larry Weimer in connection with In Pursuit of Freedom, a multi-faceted project memorializing the history of abolitionism, anti-slavery and the Underground Railroad in Brooklyn. In Pursuit of Freedom is a partnership among three Brooklyn cultural institutions: Brooklyn Historical Society, Irondale Ensemble Project, and Weeksville Heritage Center. Since the initial compilation, updates to the guide have been made, and will continue to be made, from time to time by the Center for Brooklyn History's reference team. Much of the material related to slavery was identified and originally compiled by archivist Leilani Dawson in 2005-2008.



This research guide was updated May 2023.