Welcome to the Center for Brooklyn History (CBH). CBH is a research library and community hub dedicated to public history.
Formerly known as the Brooklyn Historical Society, CBH became part of Brooklyn Public Library in 2020 and is now free and accessible to all for research, education, culture and more. Our freshly renovated landmark building—home to the Othmer Library's magnificent reading room—is a trove of special collections, archives, ephemera, art exhibits and programs that bring our borough's rich history to Brooklynites of all ages.
The story of the Center for Brooklyn History began in 1863 with the founding of the Long Island Historical Society (LIHS) during a time of tumultuous change. In only a few decades, Brooklyn had grown from a tiny agricultural backwater to the third largest city in the country. Civic pride was at an all-time high. Many of Brooklyn’s citizens believed they needed to commemorate their city’s rural past before it quickly faded from memory. Founders also envisioned the LIHS as a center for dialogue about history. In the nineteenth century, the society’s roster of speakers included newspaper editor and reformer Horace Greeley, writer Arthur Conan Doyle and abolitionist and women’s rights activist Julia Ward Howe.
Over the next century, the fortune of LIHS mirrored that of Brooklyn: it navigated the consolidation into the City of Greater New York, played a part in historic conflicts such as its use as a Red Cross headquarters during World War I, and faced its own struggles as the city grappled with deindustrialization, economic decline and social change.
Authors in the Afternoon | Rob Eschmann and Jelani Cobb Discuss “When the Hood Comes Off”2:30 pm, Center for Brooklyn History
CBH Talk | Racial Politics and Emancipatory Alternatives: Juliet Hooker and Lawrie Balfour in Conversation 6:30 pm, Virtual
CBH Talk | The Glitter and Concrete Show: A Night of Drag History and Performance7:00 pm, Center for Brooklyn History
- Brooklyn History
- Family Genealogy
- The Bridge
- Brooklyn Literary Walking Tour
- Brooklyn Documentaries
Fight the power : African Americans and the long history of police brutality in New York CityClarence Taylor
Knocking at our own door : Milton A. Galamison and the struggle to integrate New York City schoolsClarence Taylor
The invention of brownstone Brooklyn : gentrification and the search for authenticity in postwar New YorkSuleiman Osman
Brooklyn by name : how the neighborhoods, streets, parks, bridges, and more got their namesLeonard Benardo
Gay New York : gender, urban culture, and the making of the gay male world, 1890-1940George Chauncey
The emergence of lesbian kinship patterns in the late twentieth century U.S. : a case study in Brooklyn, N.YClaire Riley
American passenger arrival records : a guide to the records of immigrants arriving at American ports by sail and steamMichael Tepper
Concerning genealogies : being suggestions of value for all interested in family historyFrank Allaben
Foundations of genealogy : with suggestions on the art of preparing records of ancestryWilliam Stowell Mills
Honoring New York's forgotten soldiers : African Americans of the Civil War : with research examples A-Z : a case study in historiographic genealogyHarry Bradshaw Matthews