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Guide to the Voices of Brooklyn oral histories 2008.031

Brooklyn Historical Society
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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: Civic leaders, 2006-

Hamm, Charles, 2006 November 13

Conditions Governing Access and Use

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

Hamm, Charles, 2006 November 14

Conditions Governing Access and Use

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

MacCrate, Robert, 2007 March 15

Biographical / Historical

Robert MacCrate was born in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1921. He attended high school at Brooklyn Friends School, and then moved on to Haverford College. After his time at Haverford, he had a brief stint in the Navy serving in the Pacific theater of World War II, and then attended Harvard Law School, where he met his wife, then Constance Trapp. From Harvard, he got a job at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York, and moved to Long Island. Beginning in 1958 he worked as counsel to the Governor of New York (Nelson Rockefeller) until 1962. During this time he was heavily involved in the expansion of the State University of New York system. He chaired the American Bar Association Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession, which in 1992 issued what is popularly known today as "The MacCrate Report," which discussed the state of legal education in the United States and stressed the importance of practical experience over purely theoretical learning. It has had a large impact on the way law is taught in the U.S. and abroad. He was living on Long Island with his wife when the interview occurred in 2007. Robert and Constance MacCrate both died in 2016, and were survived by three children. Additional biographical details can be found in notes of other interviews with MacCrate.

Scope and Contents

In this first of four interviews, Robert MacCrate recollects the life of his grandparents and for a long period, tells the life-story of his father, who was a Brooklyn based lawyer and later, congressman and federal judge. He moves into a discussion of his own time in college and recounts the ways in which his life has been intertwined with a friend from Haverford. MacCrate describes his first job at the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm and his move back to New York City from Harvard in Boston. He also mentions that in 1959 he became the general counsel to the Governor of New York. MacCrate discusses what is popularly—although unfairly, according to him—called "The MacCrate Report," which was released by The American Bar Association Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession (which he chaired). Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access

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

  • MacCrate, Constance
  • MacCrate, Robert
  • Swezey, Kenneth M.
  • Whitehead, John

Subject Organizations

  • American Bar Association
  • Brooklyn Friends School
  • Harvard University
  • Haverford College
  • New York Naval Shipyard

Subject Topics

  • Education, Higher -- New York (State)
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Governors -- New York (State)
  • Law firms -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Law reports, digests, etc. -- New York (State)
  • Lawyers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Quakers -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History
  • Greenpoint (New York, N.Y.)
  • Long Island (N.Y.)
  • New York (State) |x Politics and government

MacCrate, Robert, 2007 March 21

Biographical / Historical

Robert MacCrate was born in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1921. After attending Harvard Law School, he got a job at Sullivan and Cromwell law firm in New York, and moved to Long Island. Beginning in 1958 he worked as counsel to Governor Rockefeller until 1962. During this time he was heavily involved in the expansion of the State University of New York system, as well as engineering the modernization of state courts and redrawing a number of congressional district borders in New York City in order to increase representation for minority communities. He then moved back to Long Island and resumed work at Sullivan & Cromwell, where he was involved in a large number of international corporate cases and traveled widely. In 1969 he was asked to be involved in an investigation of the My Lai massacre and filed the report which ended up being the impetus for bringing charges against a number of soldiers for their actions in Vietnam. He and his assistant were the only civilians involved in the investigation. He was living on Long Island with his wife when the interview occurred in 2007. Robert MacCrate and his wife Constance both died in 2016, and were survived by three children. Additional biographical details can be found in notes of other interviews with MacCrate.

Scope and Contents

In this second of four interviews, Robert MacCrate discusses his time as general counsel to Nelson Rockefeller. He spends much of this section discussing his role in the re-structuring of the public higher education system in New York State. He also talks about his role in reorganizing the court system in the state. He provides insight into the politicking and importance of compromise that is integral to government. MacCrate then moves into a discussion about the history of Sullivan & Cromwell. He recalls his role in investigating the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. He details how he was contacted by the Army, and the background of My Lai. He talks about the trip he took to Vietnam, and the process of the investigation itself as well as the report he published and its repercussions. Within the final hour, MacCrate reads a lengthy speech, first delivered in 1971, about My Lai and his views on war. 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

  • MacCrate, Robert
  • Peers, William R. (William Raymond), 1914-1984
  • Rockefeller, Nelson A. (Nelson Aldrich)

Subject Organizations

  • Sullivan & Cromwell
  • United States. Army
  • University of the State of New York

Subject Topics

  • Courts -- New York (State)
  • Education, Higher -- New York (State)
  • Governors -- New York (State)
  • Law firms -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Lawyers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • My Lai Massacre, Vietnam, 1968
  • Soldiers -- United States
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975

Subject Places

  • Long Island (N.Y.)
  • New York (State) |x Politics and government

MacCrate, Robert, 2007 March 27

Biographical / Historical

Robert MacCrate was born in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1921. He attended elementary and high school at Brooklyn Friends School, and then moved on to Haverford College. After his time at Haverford, he served during wartime in the Navy. With a degree from Harvard Law, he got a job at Sullivan and Cromwell in New York, and moved to Long Island. Beginning 1958 he worked as counsel to Governor Rockefeller until 1962. During this time he was heavily involved in redrawing a number of congressional district borders in New York City in order to increase representation for minority communities. He then resumed work at Sullivan & Cromwell, where he was involved in a large number of international corporate cases and traveled widely. He was living on Long Island with his wife when the interview occurred in 2007. Robert MacCrate and his wife Constance both died in 2016, and were survived by three children. Additional biographical details can be found in notes of other interviews with MacCrate.

Scope and Contents

In this third of four interviews, Robert MacCrate focuses on his relationship with/life in Brooklyn. He begins with reminiscing about his family life and his children. MacCrate recalls his own childhood, talking about public transportation he used to take to get to school and then moving into a discussion of New York's subways. Next, he talks about his role in redrawing congressional districts in New York City after 1960's census. He describes how his new borders stressed community representation. He launches into a discussion of baseball in Brooklyn. He recollects his childhood as a fan of the Dodgers and his efforts in government work to deed Queens parkland to create Shea Stadium. MacCrate then moves into a philosophical speech about of the role of law in society, and how he has an untenable faith in idealism. From here he talks for quite some time about his time in school. He mentions the cultural characteristics of Greenpoint when he was little. This moves him into a discussion about the different ethnic neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan. MacCrate ends by recounting a trip he took to Washington when Roosevelt declared war in 1941. 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

  • Chisholm, Shirley
  • MacCrate, Chris
  • MacCrate, Robert
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano)

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball team)
  • Brooklyn Friends School
  • Shriver Tyler MacCrate Center for Justice

Subject Topics

  • Baseball -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life
  • Lawyers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Local transit -- New York (State) -- New York
  • United States -- Social policy -- History -y 20th century

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • Downtown Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Greenpoint (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • New York (State) |x Politics and government
  • Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.)

MacCrate, Robert, 2007 April 12

Biographical / Historical

Robert MacCrate was born in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1921. He attended elementary and high school at Brooklyn Friends School, and then moved on to Haverford College. With a degree from Harvard Law, he got a job at Sullivan and Cromwell in New York, and moved to Long Island. Beginning 1958 he worked as counsel to Governor Nelson Rockefeller until 1962. He then resumed work at Sullivan & Cromwell, where he was involved in a large number of international corporate cases and traveled widely. He chaired the American Bar Association Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession, which in 1992 issued what is popularly known today as "The MacCrate Report," which discussed the state of legal education in the United States and stressed the importance of practical experience over purely theoretical learning. It has had a large impact on the way law is taught in the US and abroad. He was living on Long Island with his wife when the interview occurred in 2007. Robert MacCrate and his wife Constance both died in 2016, and were survived by three children. Additional biographical details can be found in notes of other interviews with MacCrate.

Scope and Contents

In this fourth of four interviews, Robert MacCrate first appreciates a few people who greatly influenced him. He talks about many court cases in which he's been involved and observes the business advances he has seen since he started working. He thanks the people that mentored him and motivated him to join professional associations outside of his firm, and talks about the importance of networking. MacCrate relates a history of Sullivan & Cromwell. He philosophizes on law, then discusses his role in and the importance of court reorganization and modernization. He stresses the need for women and minorities to join the legal profession, and recalls his role in creating the American Bar Association Commission on Women; he chose Hillary Clinton as chair. He traces the paths of his children and some grandchildren. He discusses the various boards and committees he has chaired or served on since the 1970s. MacCrate prides himself on his involvement in the dialogue about legal education and the profession. He describes the process of creating what has been popularly named "the MacCrate Report," and its repercussions in the legal world. In closing, he mentions his outlook on his future. 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

  • Clinton, Hillary Rodham
  • MacCrate, Robert
  • Sullivan, Algernon Sydney

Subject Organizations

  • American Bar Association
  • Sullivan & Cromwell

Subject Topics

  • Education
  • Ethics -- Societies, etc.
  • Family life
  • Law firms -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Law reports, digests, etc. -- New York (State)
  • Lawyers -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • New York (N.Y.) |x History
  • New York (State) |x Politics and government

Parsons, Richard, 2008 October 30

Biographical / Historical

Richard "Dick" Parsons was born in 1948 in Brooklyn. Along with his parents and a sister, he lived in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn until age five. The family relocated to the South Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, and the young Parsons accelerated through school, graduating at age sixteen. He attended the University of Hawaii and the Albany Law School at Union University. After serving in state and federal government, practicing law as a partner in a firm, and being Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dime Bancorp, he joined Time Warner; first as a board member beginning in 1991 and then as President starting in 1995. Taking other high-ranking positions at the company in the late 1990s, he was then CEO of Time Warner from 2002 to 2007 and Chairman of the Board from 2003 to 2009. He has served on the boards of several non-profit organizations and became Board Chair of the Rockefeller Foundation in 2016.

Scope and Contents

In this first of two interviews, Richard "Dick" Parsons describes impressionable sights and feelings about being a small boy in Brooklyn in the 1950's. He recalls his passion for the Brooklyn Dodgers at two points, and shares special memories of Coney Island, riding trolleys, Prospect Park, seeing movies, and street games. A short description of home life is followed by the family's uprooting and resettling in Queens. Parsons relates his public school experience, basketball playing, and his surprising turn to attend the University of Hawaii. In closing, he describes his unpreparedness for life in the new fiftieth state, how he fit in, and some classmates' understanding of the northeast United States. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access

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

  • Newcombe, Don
  • Parsons, Richard D.

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball team)
  • University of Hawaii

Subject Topics

  • Baseball -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Basketball -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Games -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Local transit -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • Coney Island (New York, N.Y.)
  • Hawaii
  • Ozone Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • Prospect Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • Queens (New York, N.Y.)

Parsons, Richard, 2008 November 20

Biographical / Historical

Richard "Dick" Parsons was born in 1948 in Brooklyn. Along with his parents and a sister, he lived in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn until age five. The family relocated to the South Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, and the young Parsons accelerated through school, graduating at age sixteen. He attended the University of Hawaii and the Albany Law School at Union University. After serving in state and federal government, practicing law as a partner in a firm, and being Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dime Bancorp, he joined Time Warner; first as a board member beginning in 1991 and then as President starting in 1995. Taking other high-ranking positions at the company in the late 1990s, he was then CEO of Time Warner from 2002 to 2007 and Chairman of the Board from 2003 to 2009. He has served on the boards of several non-profit organizations and became Board Chair of the Rockefeller Foundation in 2016.

Scope and Contents

In this second of two interviews, Richard "Dick" Parsons begins with a quick run-through of his career timeline from circa 1970 to 1995. He recalls his early encounters with government work in Albany and contrasts the surroundings of Washington, D.C. with Albany. He touches on a few biographical details of his children and moving the family for different opportunities, with some time spent at the Rockefeller estate in Pocantico, New York. Parsons relates his adjusting from work in the Ford White House to private litigation at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler. He describes his preparing for leadership at Dime Bancorp. Turning philosophical, Parsons observes the importance managing people and having judgement, and just how much those skills are transferable. In closing, Parsons cites the people who mentored him, discusses economic failure in the face of the 2008 Great Recession, and details a bit more about his family tree. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan with Deborah Schwartz.

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

  • Parsons, Richard D.
  • Rockefeller, Nelson A. (Nelson Aldrich)

Subject Organizations

  • Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn
  • Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler
  • Time Warner, Inc.

Subject Topics

  • Businessmen -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Family life
  • Governors -- New York (State)
  • Law firms -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Lawyers -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Albany (N.Y.)
  • Downtown Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (State) |x Politics and government
  • Queens (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States -- Economic conditions -- 21st century
  • United States |x Politics and government |y 20th century
  • Washington (D.C.)
  • Westchester County (N.Y.)

Rubin, Marty, 2009 April 2

Biographical / Historical

Martha "Marty" Rubin was born in 1932 and raised in Abilene, Texas. Her father, Homer Hastings Adams was a geologist who started an oil business in Rubin's youth. When she was fifteen with one younger sister, her father died and her mother, Mildred Grizzard, ran the business. Rubin attended Occidental College in California, graduating in 1954, and Radcliffe's graduate business classes in 1955. Robert "Bob" Rubin was also at Radcliffe and the two became a couple. They married and had four children. The family had been in the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights for over fifty years when this interview took place in 2009. The Rubins became founders of the private Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights, with Bob serving as treasurer and Marty teaching history, anthropology, and some geography. Marty Rubin also served on the board of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for many years. In 1993, her book Countryside, Garden and Table was published. Rubin died in February, 2017. Her family had grown to include seven grandchildren.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Martha "Marty" Rubin remembers some features of Brooklyn neighborhoods, in particular how they had developed and survived more polluted periods. She recommends narrators that could also speak to Brooklyn heritage and landmarks, and this leads into her description of some community activism to alter the path of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Rubin recalls her first encounter with Brooklyn and how her family has thrived there. She goes back to her own childhood; describing Abilene, Texas, her father's respect for science—particularly Darwin's writing—and her mother's stereotypical "ladylike" sensibilities. Rubin tells her experiences of higher education, including time at Occidental College and Radcliffe, as well as debating whether a graduate degree in archaeology or anthropology was best for her. She talks about the formation of Saint Ann's School as a private institution and the many ways her family has been part of it. In closing, she remembers the thrill of first owning a home and discovering community in Brooklyn, and how the borough dodged the skyscraper boom of Manhattan. 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

  • Lancaster, Clay
  • Pearsall, Otis
  • Rubin, Martha
  • Rubin, Robert

Subject Organizations

  • Radcliffe College
  • St. Ann's School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Community development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community identity -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Historic preservation -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Home ownership -x Social aspects -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Private schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban renewal -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Carroll Gardens (New York, N.Y.)
  • Texas

Shiffman, Ronald, 2009 December 29

Biographical / Historical

Ronald Shiffman was born in 1938 in Israel. His parents had immigrated to Israel from Russia after his father was imprisoned in a Siberian gulag for his expression of Zionist political views. Shiffman's parents later emigrated to the Bronx borough of New York City, where Shiffman grew up. Shiffman graduated from Pratt Institute's school of architecture, and later its school of urban planning. In 1964, Shiffman co-founded the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (now known as the Pratt Center for Community Development). In 1965, Shiffman, in partnership with the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, conceived and launched the first community development corporation, known today as the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. In 2012, Shiffman won the Jane Jacobs medal for Lifetime Achievement from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Ronald Shiffman remembers the struggling Bedford-Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill, and Fort Greene neighborhoods of Brooklyn, their decaying housing situations and the various forms that revitalization took over decades. He recalls the forming of Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, and several other alliances and partnerships that came out of efforts of the Pratt Center for Community Development (PCCD). He looks back on fifty years of urban development in the area around Pratt Institute. He tells of the community investment activities of the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council. Shiffman discusses how social movements for the nation affected federal funding and local action for community development. He describes resistance from Pratt's administration to some partnerships of PCCD that appeared suspicious. Draft counseling and reaction to veterans back from Vietnam are also part of his reflections. Shiffman closes with the advice that select manufacturing and housing can co-mingle safely in the 2000s; remarking that the Brooklyn Navy Yard needs to have improved connections to the adjoining neighborhoods for better social and economic impact. 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

  • Russell, Carlos
  • Shiffman, Ron

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • New York Naval Shipyard
  • Pratt Institute

Subject Topics

  • Architects -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • City planning -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development corporations -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Local transit -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social justice -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban policy -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Urban renewal -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Bronx (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Politics and government
  • Clinton Hill (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)

Tuttle, Esther Leeming, 2006 November 6

Biographical / Historical

Esther Leeming Tuttle, nicknamed "Faity," was born in 1911, grew up in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood on Henry Street, and was orphaned at age eleven. She became a professional actress, appearing on Broadway with Humphrey Bogart, among others. In 1944, she moved to Park Slope with her husband, Ben, and their three children. The couple later lived on Prospect Park West. She was a longtime supporter of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG); she chaired the Board for seven years, and in 1988 she was awarded the BBG's Forsythia Award for outstanding service. Her autobiography No Rocking Chair For Me was published in 2003. In 2015, Esther Leeming Tuttle died at her longtime summer retreat of Kinderhook, New York, leaving two sons, and many grandchildren, great grandkids, and a great-great granddaughter.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Esther Leeming Tuttle begins with her memories of being raised in Connecticut and Brooklyn. She recalls the architectural ingenuity of both parents and how her mother oversaw two different conversions of homes into multi-apartment dwellings in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood. Tuttle remembers the arrangements of the family and house staff at her childhood home. She recalls Brooklyn cultural institutions like the Apprentices' Library, early models of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Institute of Arts and Sciences. She refers to the upper class residents and influential shapers of Brooklyn in centuries gone by; some were ancestors or friends of her parents. Tuttle shares the process and decision-making that led her and her husband to a home in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn in order to raise a family. She adds that the couple enjoyed spectacular views from a Prospect Park West apartment years later. After sharing some details about her children's experiences of growing up in Brooklyn, she details much about her volunteer work with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. After several other historical subjects, including family contact with Samuel Clemens and Henry Ward Beecher, Tuttle closes with some of her favorite sights and sounds of the borough. 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

  • Beecher, Henry Ward
  • Tuttle, Esther Leeming

Subject Organizations

  • Berkeley Institute (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Brooklyn Apprentices' Library Association
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences

Subject Topics

  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Fundraising -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Philanthropists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Voluntarism -- New York (State) - Kings County -x Societies, etc.
  • Women authors, American

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Buildings, structures, etc.
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Park Slope (New York, N.Y.)
  • Prospect Park (New York, N.Y.)

Weissberg, Norbert, 2012 February 27

Biographical / Historical

Norbert Weissberg was born in Brooklyn in 1934. His father, Bernard Weissberg, immigrated to New York from Lezajsk, Poland; his mother, Anna Spitzer Weissberg, was also of Polish-Jewish heritage but she was born in the United States and grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Weissberg grew up with one brother in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn at 881 Washington Avenue. His education took him from PS 241 to Erasmus Hall High School and then, in 1951, he went to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He then attended Harvard Law School. Married to Judith Schneider Weissberg, the couple resided in Manhattan and, as of 2017, East Hampton, New York. He is currently Chairman of Package Research Laboratory, LLC and Stapling Machines Company, LLC. He serves on several boards, including those at Brandeis University's Ethics Center and-- from 2012 to 2016-- Brooklyn Historical Society.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Norbert Weissberg talks about his childhood in Brooklyn and how his Brooklyn community and the events of World War II influenced his life. Touching on many biographical details, Weissberg recalls PS 241 where he attended elementary school and the fun he had with friends playing street games and following sports like Dodgers baseball. He remembers being raised as a Conservative Jew, maintaining a kosher household, and going to the Catskills for Passover, like many New York families. Weissberg describes his parents' community; they would attend performances at the Metropolitan Opera House weekly and on Thursdays his mother would host a mahjong club. He notes how the family consumed New York media; his father read the New York Post and  PM, while he listened to Uncle Dan and Mayor LaGuardia's broadcasts. The news of Pearl Harbor in 1941 was pivotal for his worldview as a young boy. Weissberg delves into his Jewish identity, then considers antisemitism and how his two children both think differently on the subject. 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

  • Weissberg, Norbert

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball team)
  • Erasmus Hall High School

Subject Topics

  • American newspapers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Antisemitism
  • Apartment houses -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Baseball -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Baseball teams -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Games -x Street -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews, American -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Judaism
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Radio -- United States -y 20th century
  • School children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Religious life and customs
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • Catskill Mountains (N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)

White, Shelby, 2013 October 23

Biographical / Historical

Shelby Baier White was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1938. Her parents, both of Jewish heritage, had both immigrated to New York as children circa 1910. White grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn near Prospect Park and the Parade Grounds, where her family lived from 1938 - 1974. She attended PS 139 and later PS 92 for elementary school and PS 246 Walt Whitman Junior High. For high school, she commuted to Packer Collegiate Institute in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood until graduation in 1957. White attended Mount Holyoke College and graduate school at Columbia University. White has served on the boards of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Institute for Advanced Study, New York Botanical Garden, New York University, Bard Graduate Center, and The Writers Room. She is president of the American Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority. She also serves as chairman of the Shelby White and Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications at Harvard University. White has written a book, as well as financial articles for leading publications. Shelby Baier White has been listed as one of the country's top philanthropists.*

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Shelby Baier White talks about her childhood in Brooklyn with inspired recollections of Jewish community in Flatbush; names and memories of neighborhood businesses and restaurants; influential teachers in both public school and at Packer Collegiate Institute; and enjoying Brooklyn institutions like Brooklyn Public Library and Brooklyn Museum. She remembers the impact of World War II when she was a small child. White describes the recreation and sport she enjoyed in Prospect Park and Ebbets Field. She also recalls her religious education and the family's religious practices, as well as her participation in clubs and camp. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan. Scope note 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.

*Source:

"Officers & Staff." Leon Levy Foundation.http://leonlevyfoundation.org/category/the-foundation/officers-staff/

Subject Names

  • White, Shelby

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball team)
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • Packer Collegiate Institute

Subject Topics

  • Air raid warning systems
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Cultural facilities -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Games -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jewish neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews, American -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Parks -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Religious discrimination
  • Teachers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Yiddish language

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Religious life and customs
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • Brownsville (New York, N.Y.)
  • Flatbush (New York, N.Y.)
  • Prospect Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

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