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Guide to the Voices of Brooklyn oral histories 2008.031

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201

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

Scope and Contents

The Voices of Brooklyn oral histories feature a broad range of narrators. Some are well-known public figures and others are well-known in their communities. This ongoing collection focuses on Brooklyn history and the experiences of these narrators document national and international history as well. The oldest narrator in this collection was born in 1910. Within the collection are several series.


The oral history interview collection is organized into seven series based on content. Series 1: Arts and entertainment consists of recordings that focus on the narrator's production of works of art or entertainment media. Photographers, authors, and musicians are prominent.

Series 2: Business and industry includes interviews thematically linked by owning or operating workplaces. Store managers, small business owners, and restaurateurs are mainstays.

Oral histories represented in Series 3: Civic leaders pertain to narrators speaking to their outsized contribution to how New York City citizens live, work, and conduct business in the five boroughs. Developers, government officials, executives, benefactors, and board members are included.

Series 4: Community activists consists of the gathered recordings of people who have a history of or were presently supporting an underrepresented segment of society, or forming a social movement, which thereby effected broad change to a neighborhood, much of Brooklyn, or the country. The content relates directly to organized support of those harmed in natural disasters, creating cooperative business models, forming architectural preservation groups, and documenting civil rights and social justice movements.

Series 5: Our neighbors is the largest series of the collection and is likely to remain so. The interviews include people from diverse backgrounds making observations or sharing recollections about the growth and condition of several neighborhoods within Brooklyn. Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, and Fort Greene were heavily represented as of 2017.

Oral histories within Series 6: Sports and leisure pertain to narrators who proactively contributed to the athletic pursuits or relaxing diversions of Brooklyn. Professional and amateur athletes and Coney Island novelties are included.

Series 7: Veterans and wartime consists of the gathered recordings of those focusing on their time serving or time served within the country's armed forces, as well as those in support service organizations. There is also some recollection of civilian life before, during, and after mobilizations for fighting abroad. World War II, Vietnam, and the War on Terror are prominent.

The Voices of Brooklyn oral histories are a combination of project-based and individual interviews assembled by oral historians and Library and Archives management of Brooklyn Historical Society. Series were formed with a basis on content in a collection audit phase by the oral history project archivist. The oral history recordings are arranged alphabetically within each series. Two interviews are accompanied by transcripts in electronic files: Shelby White in Series 3 and Albert King in Series 6.