Taking Care of Brooklyn: Stories of Sickness and Health

Center for Brooklyn History


Everyone gets sick. Visiting the doctor, tending to ill loved ones, struggling to afford care, or advocating for equitable services are part of the everyday fabric of our lives.


In this groundbreaking exhibition, Brooklyn Historical Society explores how centuries of Brooklynites have understood sickness and health. Through the experiences of everyday Brooklynites giving, receiving, demanding, and being denied health care, Taking Care of Brooklyn shows us that sickness is as much a social experience as a biological one.

Taking Care of Brooklyn tells stories about changing beliefs, stereotypes and practices; about families and caregivers, activists and experts; about the building of city infrastructure; and about the complicated role of government in people’s private lives. It is a project about public health and understandings of disease, and so much more. Visitors will leave BHS with an expanded understanding of the meaning of “sickness” and “health,” both in the past and in their lives today.

Experience a special audio tour led by BHS Vice President of Curatorial Affairs and Collections Julie Golia, who curated this exhibition, by downloading the Urban Archive app! Learn more here.

Preview the Exhibit


Taking Care of Brooklyn: Stories of Sickness and Health is made possible through generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, Pfizer Foundation, Wellcome Trust, JP Morgan Chase & Co., the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and The Brooklyn Hospital Foundation. Related programs are also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.