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Guide to the Voices of Brooklyn oral histories 2008.031

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on November 10, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Voices of Brooklyn oral histories: Veterans and wartime, 1998-

Scope and Contents

This series includes oral histories collected through several projects undertaken by Brooklyn Historical Society beginning in 1998. The assembled series took shape in 2008 under the project title "Brooklyn History Makers." The ongoing oral history series, retitled in 2016, features a range of narrators: Service members from the United Services Organization, Army Reserves, Women's Army Corps, and those who fought in World War II and Vietnam, recall personal moments and the changes they have observed in their Brooklyn neighborhoods over decades.

Bourdonnay, Katherine, 2007 March 2

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • Bourdonnay, Katherine

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Fletcher, Ozzie, 2008 March 25

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Garcia, Marc, 2011 February 18

Biographical / Historical

Colonel Marc Garcia, of the United States Army Reserve and the United States Department of State, was born in 1962 in Brooklyn, New York to parents of Colombian and Haitian heritage. Garcia grew up in Queens, where he graduated from Holy Cross High School. Garcia attended the historically-African American Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia, where he joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) and the Virginia Army National Guard. As a freshman in college, Garcia was promoted meritoriously to the position of sergeant, and as a sophomore in college was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Upon graduation from college, Garcia moved to Brooklyn, where he worked for Assemblyman Roger L. Green as a legislative aide, and became an elected county commissioner. Garcia spent time working at the United Nations before leaving to work in the United States Department of State as a foreign service specialist under Ambassador Vernon Walters, a retired three-star general. In 2009, Garcia was activated as a member of the Virginia Army National Guard and was sent to Iraq to serve as a Military Police Battalion Commander. When he returned in November of 2010, Garcia was promoted to Colonel for his performance in Iraq. At the time of the 2011 interview, Garcia looked forward to an official promotion to Colonel.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Colonel Marc Garcia provides a detailed account of his military and civilian career, which was spent as a member of the Virginia National Guard and a foreign services specialist at the United States Department of State. In the interview's beginning, Garcia describes the evolution of Brooklyn throughout the 1980s, including from being filled with renters and artists, to being filled with single-family homes. He discusses workaday life at the offices of New York Assemblyman Roger L. Green and the economic development of Brooklyn that resulted from the Metrotech Plan. At the interview's end, Garcia discusses his service in the Iraq War, which led to his decoration as a Colonel in the division of Military Police. He describes the next day's pinning ceremony and celebration plans thereafter. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Garcia, Marc
  • Green, Roger L. (Roger Leon)

Subject Organizations

  • United Nations
  • United States. Army. Reserve Officers' Training Corps
  • United States. Department of State

Subject Topics

  • Civil Service -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Soldiers -x Family relationships -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Veterans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • War on Terrorism, 2001-2009

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Politics and government
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (State) |x Politics and government

Gruber, Ruth, 2008 February 7

Biographical / Historical

Ruth Gruber was an award-winning Jewish American journalist, photographer, and humanitarian. Born to immigrants in Brooklyn in 1911, she became the youngest person in the world to receive a PhD, at age twenty--with a dissertation on Virginia Woolf. In 1935, she became the first correspondent to travel to the Siberian Gulag and Soviet Arctic. She went on to author nineteen books and wrote several memoirs documenting her experiences. Photography was a component of her earliest reportage; her groundbreaking work as a photojournalist spanned more than five decades on four continents. Gruber was appointed by Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes in 1941 to report on conditions in the Alaska Territory. In 1947, Gruber's photographs documenting the harrowing voyage of the Exodus 1947 were sent internationally via wire services to thousands of newspapers and magazines, and transformed attitudes toward the plight of Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors after the war. She lived in Manhattan, where the interview occurred in 2008. A mother to two, stepmother to three, a grandmother and great-grandmother to many, she died in 2016.

Sources: Gruber, Ruth. Haven: The Dramatic Story of 1,000 World War II Refugees and How They Came to America (New York, NY: Open Road Media, 1983). "Ruth Gruber, Photojournalist."  International Center of Photography, https://www.icp.org/exhibitions/ruth-gruber-photojournalist. Accessed 25 May 2017. Turner, Philip. "Virginia Woolf and Ruth Gruber, Driven to Create as Women."  The Great Gray Bridge, www.philipsturner.com/2012/04/15/virginia-woolf-ruth-gruber-create-women/ Accessed 25 May 2017.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Ruth Gruber, PhD recalls life as a child and young adult in the Williamsburg and Bushwick neighborhoods of Brooklyn in the nineteen-teens and twenties. She goes into family history of parents and grandparents, and her young life at home. Gruber recalls teachers who made formative impressions on her. She shares the accomplishments of a brother in medicine, a son in public health, and a daughter's reporting and childrearing. Gruber reflects on her studies and getting to know Virginia Woolf. She remembers her pursuit of a career in journalism that took a turn with her connection to explorer Vilhjalmur Steffanson; who shared his knowledge of the Siberian Arctic so that she could pursue an interview there with Soviet scientist Otto Shmidt. She identifies two other major reporting moments; 1948's Arab-Israeli War and the refugee crisis of the Exodus 1947. Gruber picks out several memorable images of her Brooklyn youth; including the Williamsburg Bridge, the temple her father attended, and Bushwick Public Library. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Gruber, Harry, 1907-
  • Gruber, Ruth, 1911-2016
  • Huggins, Willis Nathaniel
  • Michaels, David, 1954-
  • Shmidt, Otto I︠U︡lʹevich, 1891-1956
  • Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Subject Organizations

  • Exodus 1947 (Ship)

Subject Topics

  • Arab-Israeli conflict
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Feminism -- New York (State) -- New York
  • German Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews
  • Jews, American -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Journalists -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Photographers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Teachers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Women authors, American

Subject Places

  • Arctic regions |x Discovery and exploration |x American
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Bushwick (New York, N.Y.)
  • Israel
  • Russia
  • Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.)

Mussen, Kathy, 2007 February 26

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • Mussen, Katherine

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Palo, Lucy Anbrosino, 2008 December 15

Biographical / Historical

Lucy Anbrosino was born in 1919. Her childhood in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn was plagued by the loss of her father and the family's poverty. With her family unable to care for her, she was institutionalized during the Great Depression; within that time she was misdiagnosed as insane, although she likely suffered from a severe learning disability, and spent much of her teens doing chores on a farm in rural New York State. After release as an eighteen-year-old, Anbrosino returned to Coney Island and took on jobs including mangler work at a laundry, adding frills to dresses, and adding color to artificial flowers. Later factory work included the manufacture of sweaters and clothespins. In the last few years of World War II, Anbrosino joined her brothers in war-work; she was a spot-welder on battleship hulls in Port Newark, New Jersey, then measured bullets and anti-aircraft cannons at a Brooklyn factory, and also attached buttons to Navy pea coats at another factory in the city. Also in the 1940s, she met her husband while working at an apple coring facility in Manhattan. She took his name, Palo, and had children. Lucy Anbrosino Palo died in 2011.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Lucy Anbrosino Palo begins with the story of her parents meeting and describes the family's difficulties in her childhood. She talks about her institutionalization at a few facilities and overcoming a learning disability. Much of the discussion revolves around her hard work during the Second World War. With short detours into other topics along the way, Palo delivers many details about her spot-welding work on battleships, being treated for poisoning from galvanized steel, what workers drank and ate on breaks at the Port Newark shipyard, how she was paid, and her mother's collecting of the adult children's wages. Additionally, Palo describes other war-related work on anti-aircraft guns in a Brooklyn factory and remembers how society took on a different look during the war. Palo also delves into her personal history; such as her life during the Great Depression and living with a difficult husband who died at an early age. Palo's son, Michael (also an oral history narrator in this series), makes a few comments during the recording. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Palo, Lucy Anbrosino

Subject Organizations

  • Elizabeth-PA Marine Terminal (N.J.)

Subject Topics

  • Air raid warning systems
  • Children -- Institutional care
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Factories -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Great Depression -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Italian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Navy-yards and naval stations
  • Older people -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Parenting
  • Shipbuilding -- New Jersey
  • Ships -- Welding
  • World War, 1939-1945 -x Women -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Coney Island (New York, N.Y.)
  • New Jersey

Palo, Michael, 2008 November 18

Biographical / Historical

Michael Palo was born to Italian American immigrants in Brooklyn, New York in 1948. (His mother, Lucy Anbrosino Palo, was also interviewed and is in the same series.) Upon graduating high school, he was drafted into the Vietnam War where he was deployed for a year. He moved back to Brooklyn after the war, worked in clinical systems for hospitals, and has been married three times. He has two children with his second wife; a son and a daughter. When the interview took place in 2008, he was living in Staten Island and was heavily involved with veterans organizations.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Michael Palo talks about being drafted into the Vietnam War after high school, the effects the war had on his personality, his relationships upon his return, his physical wellness, and his children's health. He discusses the way in which veterans are treated by civilians and by the government upon their return to the United States and how that has directly influenced his involvement in various veterans' organizations later in life. He reflects on growing up in Brooklyn as the child of second-generation Italian immigrants and how he lived with his family in a three room apartment with little to no luxuries. In closing, Palo talks about his three marriages and how he feels responsible for the health of his children. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Palo, Michael P.

Subject Organizations

  • Patriot Guard Riders
  • United States. Army
  • United States. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Wounded Warrior Project

Subject Topics

  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Italian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Medical care -- United States
  • Mental health
  • Nonprofit organi-ations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Soldiers -x Family relationships -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Soldiers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -x Veterans -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Coney Island (New York, N.Y.)
  • Prospect Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Staten Island (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Politics and government

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