The history and legacy of the Second World War can be seen all around us in Brooklyn. Once home to hundreds of factories, shipyards, and warehouses, and responsible for sending millions of service members off to the front lines, Brooklyn was arguably one of the most important communities in waging and winning the war. Using locations from communities across Brooklyn—including famous sites like the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal, and lesser-known sites that help tell stories about labor, housing, and culture—as well as primary source documents and oral histories, this program will help illuminate Brooklynites’ experience of World War II.
The (Re)connecting Brooklyn’s History series brings the fascinating work of historians to an audience of students and educators through online presentations and resources for sustained engagement with local history topics.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day as we share some of our favorite love stories from history from the places that we work. We will share long-distance love letters from World War II, milestone weddings in Prospect Park, workplace romances at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and people who found their loves in public markets. We will share artifacts, newspaper clippings, oral histories, and more from various archives, and we invite participants to share their own love stories and family histories in this Zoom meeting.
With the National Hockey League scheduled to resume play soon (pandemic permitting), we are looking at the history of hockey in the New York metro area with our resident hockey historian Andrew Gustafson. We will look at high, low, and curious moments in the histories of the Rangers, Islanders, and Devils, but also look the forgotten clubs like the Raiders, Wanderers, and Americans (and how the latter almost moved to Brooklyn), and the many amateur, minor-league, and college clubs that have competed in the region over the past 125 years.
On the eve of Veterans Day, join us as we explore Brooklyn’s homefront during World War II through the experiences of those who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Center for Brooklyn History archivists Amy Lau and Mary Mann team up with Turnstile Tours’ Andrew Gustafson to lead us on an intimate journey that weaves together oral history clips from CBH’s Brooklyn Navy Yard collection, excerpts of letters to loved ones overseas, and photographs of the Yard and its workers. These first-hand stories, primarily from women and people of color, bring to life the WWII efforts of those who remained at home.
In 1636, the first European settler, Willem Adriaensen Benet, was granted title to land in what is today Brooklyn. Though Dutch rule over the colony would last only 30 years, Dutch culture and language would persist in Brooklyn for well over 200 years. In this conversation with journalist and amateur genealogist Sarah Crean, who worked as a researcher for the Brooklyn Historical Society (now the Center for Brooklyn History) and has written extensively about Brooklyn’s history for Bklyner, we will examine some of this landmarks and institutions where the legacy of Brooklyn’s Dutch heritage can still be seen today.
Coffee has long been the lifeblood of the Brooklyn economy, once as a leading commodity coming into the port, and today supporting hundreds of small coffee shops and roasters. This virtual program will look at how one Brooklyn company came to dominate the importing and roasting of coffee in the 19th century, share stories of the small roasters that have survived in Brooklyn for generations, and look at the city’s every-changing coffee landscape.
The waterfront has long been the epicenter of Brooklyn’s economic and cultural life, yet the stories of ordinary workers in the once-bustling piers and factories can be difficult to locate. In this program, historian Julie Golia will share how one small newspaper item – a 1873 notice of the untimely death of dockworker Michael Harkins – allowed her team of researchers at Brooklyn Historical Society to uncover generations of history along the waterfront. Julie is formerly the Vice President of Curatorial Affairs and Collections at Brooklyn Historical Society and oversaw the creation of the exhibit “Waterfront” and BHS DUMBO, and she is currently Curator of History, Social Sciences, and Government Information at The New York Public Library.
During the pandemic, supermarkets are the few public places that people still frequent, so this is a perfect time to look back at the history of grocery stores in America and New York City. From Piggly Wiggly to Whole Foods to Korean grocers, this virtual program will look at important moments in the evolution of food markets over the past century, including the creation of modern consumer food packaging, the rise and fall of grocery chains, and the impact of suburbanization. We will also look at how retailers have adapted to the unique challenges of operating in New York City, and how we are all adapting to shopping in a world with COVID-19. This program is presented with support from Brooklyn Historical Society.
Interested in learning more about your family history, or the history of your neighborhood, block, or building? Join us for this introduction to genealogy, where we will share resources and tips, and we will be answering questions if you need help with your own research. This program will be especially useful to people with family connections to New York City, but even if you don’t have any, we will share lots of free and paid resources that will help you uncover your family story wherever you live.
Did you miss this virtual program? Check out some of the resources below:
Inside the Brooklyn Historical Society’s DUMBO exhibition space are two iconic images of the borough: Francis Guy’s 1820 painting of the small hamlet, and Currier & Ives’ 1879 lithograph of the City of Brooklyn. Led by two of our expert guides, Andrew Gustafson and Stefan Dreisbach-Williams, they will unpack the history of the people and places in these dense images and what they tell us about Brooklyn’s waterfront communities in the nineteenth century.