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Guide to the Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection ARC.003

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn 11201
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Amy Lau, Mary Mann, Aliki Caloyeras, and Margaret Fraser

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on  , September 3, 2020
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Oral History Interview with Helen Kuhner, December 26, 2006

Biographical / Historical

Helen Kuhner (1918- ) grew up in Brooklyn in the Prospect Heights neighborhood. She lived in North Carolina working as a secretary at Fort Bragg when her husband went into service. After he shipped out, she came to live in Brooklyn with her mother and began working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a stenographer. Kuhner left the Navy Yard when her husband returned. The family moved to Staten Island and then Long Island. Kuhner now lives in Florida and has five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Scope and Contents

In her interview, Helen Kuhner (1918- ) discusses her work as a stenographer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and life as a mother during WWII while her husband was at war. She talks about interactions between men and women working at the Yard and how she dealt with the whistles and attention from the men. Kuhner tells a story about staying home sick and remembers someone from the Navy Yard coming to check and make sure she was at home. She also remembers a woman who would check the bathroom stalls to make sure workers were not smoking or resting while on the job. Her interview brings up working conditions for women, her Irish-American background, and being a working mother. Interview conducted by Jennifer Egan.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online at the Oral History Portal.

Subject Organizations

  • New York Naval Shipyard

Subject Topics

  • Warships
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Working mothers
  • Military spouses
  • Stenographers
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Women -x Employment -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • United States -- Armed Forces -- Civilian employees
  • Sex discrimination
  • Irish Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Sands Street (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Bragg (N.C.)
  • Prospect Heights (New York, N.Y.)