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Guide to the Voices of Brooklyn oral histories 2008.031

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201
718-222-4111
library@brooklynhistory.org


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: Arts and entertainment, 2006-

Scope and Contents

This series includes oral histories collected through several projects undertaken by Brooklyn Historical Society beginning in 2006. 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: jazz musicians, photographers, authors, and artists among them, who describe the changes they have observed in their neighborhoods over decades.

Engberg, Marianne, 2009 December 10

Biographical / Historical

Marianne Engberg is a Danish transplant who moved to the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood in 1968 with her husband, a furniture designer, and young son. An artist, Engberg is a professional photographer who spent her early career traveling around the world shooting for magazines before starting her own commercial studio in Manhattan. Her family moved to the Fort Greene neighborhood in 1972 and they renovated their brownstone, where she still lived as of 2017.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Marianne Engberg talks about moving to Brooklyn as a young family in the 1970s and how their early part of her and her husband's careers were focused on trying to establish themselves in New York City. She describes how the couple fell in love with Brooklyn, their movement from the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights to the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, and the differences, trials, and joys of living in Fort Greene for over thirty years. She reflects on the role race has played in her neighborhood, how the neighborhood has changed in the past decade, and what gentrification has done to their area. Interview conducted by Alexis Taines Coe.

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

  • Engberg, Jan, -2006
  • Engberg, Marianne, 1937-
  • Lee, Spike

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Brooklyn Technical High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • New York Naval Shipyard

Subject Topics

  • Architecture -- Conservation and restoration
  • Artists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Brownstone buildings -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Historic districts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Neighborhood government -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Photographers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Greene Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • Washington Park (New York, N.Y.)

Forbes, Sally, 2013 March 19

Conditions Governing Access and Use

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

George, Nelson, 2009 November 20

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1957 and raised in the Brownsville and East New York neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Nelson George moved to the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn in the mid-1980s. Best known as an author and filmmaker, his non-fiction books have largely focused on histories of popular music and biographies of Black musicians. He helped bankroll Spike Lee's filming of She's Gotta Have It (1986) and has produced, written and directed for the screen ever since. He featured Brooklyn in his book  City Kid: A Writer's Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success and the documentary  Brooklyn Boheme. In 2016, he was a writer on Netflix's  The Get-Down and he was continuing work on a series of detective novels. George shares credits and creative content at his website https://nelson-george.squarespace.com/.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Nelson George takes in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn from several perspectives. Moving in a mostly chronological approach, he recalls trips with his mother to the Abraham & Straus department store on Fulton Street and visits as an independent young adult to a girlfriend in the neighborhood. George remembers the floor plan of his first Fort Greene apartment in the 1980s, and a theft that took place just outside his window. He reflects on the culturally vibrant time of African American artists inhabiting the area and how their departure opened a void that was filled by a new upper-middle class and young professionals starting families. George's friends Spike Lee, Chris Rock, and Vernon Reid all figure into his personal connections with the neighborhood. In much of the final half-hour, he gives his points of view on several Fort Greene landmarks and shares how affected he was as a young writer by living in the same Fort Greene where Richard Wright once wrote. 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

  • George, Nelson
  • Lee, Spike
  • Wright, Richard, 1908-1960

Subject Organizations

  • Abraham & Straus
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music

Subject Topics

  • African American neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community identity -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Musicians -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Performing arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race identity

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Greene Park (New York, N.Y.)

Liman, Ellen, 2007 September 4

Conditions Governing Access and Use

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

Newman, Anne, 2009 July 8

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1932, Anne Newman grew up in Chino, California. The daughter of a father who became Chino's mayor, she attended Chino High School and went on to major in political science at Pomona College and University of California, Los Angeles. While a graduate student in social work at University of Southern California, she appeared in a student film and was drawn to acting. In 1959, Newman entered a Miss Rheingold contest as the Brooklyn-based brewery was cracking the California market. As a semi-finalist, she was flown to New York City and booked at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. She was interviewed there, chosen as a finalist, and received a prize of $25,000. For weeks in the summer of 1959, finalists campaigned to be Miss Rheingold of 1959-1960. Newman met her first husband, Harper's Bazaar publisher Robert MacLeod, when he was judging the contest. Although not chosen as Miss Rheingold, she joined the Ford Models agency and took acting classes. The couple relocated to Malibu, California in the mid-1960s and had a son. She later divorced and married actor Paul Mantee. While acting, she was repeatedly cast by one agency for commercial work. Her third husband, Joe Bacal, cofounded that agency. When she moved back to New York, Newman worked in children's television production in the mid-1980s and then volunteered with Bread and Roses, a cultural project of the 1199 Service Employees International Union. Leading up to this 2009 interview, Newman had chaired a women's theater group and was staying politically active with EMILY's List. She reunited with several Miss Rheingold finalists in 2012 at New-York Historical Society's exhibition on local breweries, and this inspired her 2015 documentary  Beauty and the Beer: 1940-1963.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Anne Newman speaks about much of her early adult life as a graduate student seeking acting roles and her lucky break at becoming a finalist in a Miss Rheingold contest in 1959. She also recalls pivotal moments like meeting her first husband, modeling, becoming a mother, getting into television production on The Great Space Coaster show, marrying her best friend and third husband, and volunteering. Newman considers the unique social significance of the beauty contest in the late 1950s, contrasts that with political campaigns and reality shows circa 2008, and reflects on her early recognition of her feminism and how that empowered her choices through much of her life. 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

  • Newman, Anne, 1932-

Document Type

  • Advertisements

Subject Organizations

  • Ford Models, Inc.
  • Miss Rheingold Pageant
  • Rheingold Breweries, Inc.

Subject Topics

  • Activism
  • Actors -- United States
  • Beauty contests
  • Beer
  • Breweries -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Feminism -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Models (Persons)
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -y 20th century
  • Performing arts -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Politics and culture -- United States
  • Women -- New York (State) -- New York -x Social conditions
  • Women -- United States -x Social conditions

Subject Places

  • California

Palescandolo, Frank, 2009 February 10

Biographical / Historical

Frank Palescandolo was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1917, and moved to the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1919. He grew up there and lived above the restaurant (Villa Joe's) owned and run by his family. His parents, both immigrants from Italy, ran the restaurant; it seated 500 people and was one of the biggest in Brooklyn. As a boy, he and his family had some local celebrity and were good friends with prominent members of the area, such as the Tilyou family, who ran and owned Steeplechase Park. Palescandolo was a trained social worker, and spent the majority of his time working with youths and longshoremen in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. He took over the family business when his father died and ran the restaurant in Coney Island until 1975, when it was sold to Urban Renewal. Under the pseudonym Frank Paley, he completed Rumble on the Docks, his first book, in 1953, and spent his life writing twenty-six books that range from novels to histories to translations. Palescandolo classifies himself as one of the few authentic Brooklyn writers.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Frank Palescandolo talks of the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn's past; restaurants that used to be there, the different ethnicities of the people that visited the beach, and the amusement parks that the area is famous for: Luna Park, Steeplechase Park, and Dreamland. He reflects on the restaurant his family had at Coney Island while he was growing up, Villa Joe's, and remembers his early days in the area; talking about his parents' lives as younger people, the house and restaurant they built, and the small farms that neighbors kept on vacant neighborhood lots. He laments the closing of the restaurant in 1975 and the way in which Coney Island has suffered in recent years. He discusses the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1950s; the teenage gangs there, the crime that was rampant in the area, and how he came to know many of the men involved in that underworld through his social work. He discusses his novel Rumble on the Docks, which takes place in Red Hook and deals with gangs and the gang violence endemic to the neighborhood in the late twentieth century. He recounts how he started writing because he was stuck in bed with the flu, and how he spent roughly thirty years prior to this 2009 interview as a writer. 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

  • Palescandolo, Frank J.

Subject Organizations

  • Luna Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • Steeplechase Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • Villa Joe's (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Amusement parks -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x History
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gangs -- New York (State) -- Kings Country
  • Great Depression -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Italian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Restaurateurs -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Restaurants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban renewal -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Waterfronts -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Economic conditions |y 20th century
  • Coney Island (New York, N.Y.)
  • Red Hook (New York, N.Y.)

Redbone, Martha, 2011

Conditions Governing Access and Use

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

Subject Names

  • Redbone, Martha

Weiner, Gina Ingoglia, 2014 April 21

Biographical / Historical

Born in Philadelphia in 1938, Gina Ingoglia Weiner grew up in New York City and Long Island. She moved to the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights in 1968 and, with her husband Earl Weiner, lived in a brownstone they bought in 1979. She attended Dickinson College for her undergraduate degree, mastered in Publishing at New York University and attained a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture at Rutgers University. Weiner wrote over eighty children's books and also wrote and illustrated publications on nature and gardening. In her private practice, she designed gardens and landscapes for residences. Weiner served on several boards and committees in the New York City cultural community, including that of Brooklyn Historical Society. Gina Ingoglia Weiner died in March, 2015.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Gina Ingoglia Weiner talks about her family and her family's history as well as her career as a children's books writer and illustrator. She tells her parents' stories; her mother, Denis Gerdes spent some formative years in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, and her father, Frank Ingoglia was born in Brooklyn and grew up in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn and later New Jersey. Weiner relates the various moves of the couple; New York City, then Philadelphia, and later New Hyde Park, Long Island, and traces their jobs and careers. She also goes further into her family background, covering her grandparents and a great grandmother. Weiner talks about her education, and some of her children's books, as well as meeting her husband Earl when they were both attending Dickinson College, and their decision to move to Brooklyn Heights in 1968. She discusses her career moves, work highlights, and creative process; taking note of her work for the Golden Books imprint, stories inspired by Disney properties, and Brooklyn Botanic Garden publications. In closing, she describes what volunteering means to her and welcomes a future opportunity to discuss her board service and experiences at Brooklyn Historical Society. 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

  • Ingoglia, Denis
  • Ingoglia, Frank
  • Ingoglia, Gina
  • Weiner, Earl

Document Type

  • Children's books

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • Brooklyn Historical Society (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Disney Press
  • Golden Books Publishing Company

Subject Topics

  • Artists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Authors, American -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Families -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Illustration of books
  • Parents -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Publishers and publishing -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Women -x Education (Higher) -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Long Island (N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.)

Weston, Randy and Cliff Smalls, 2006 October 11

Conditions Governing Access and Use

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

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