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

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201

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 Bettie Chase, September 8, 2010

Biographical / Historical

Bettie Virginia Emory Chase (1922- ) grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. She is African-American and her mother was from Virginia and her father was an orphan. She attended PS42, PS9, and graduated from Girls High in 1940. Bettie worked in the Navy Yard from 1942 to 1946 as a tack welder and later in the Tool Room. She married in 1948 and has three children. Chase was the supervisor of transcriptions for the Episcopal Church in New York for 24 years, from where she retired. She currently works as an organist and choir director at Evening Star Baptist Church in Bedford Stuyvesant.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Bettie Virginia Emory Chase (1922- ) describes how she came to work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and her experiences as a tack welder and working in the tool room over the next few years. She thinks she was chosen because of her small size, which allowed her to get into small spaces that needed welding. Chase explains that she did not receive much training but was good at tack welding because she has a steady hand. She describes the role of tack welding as similar to a basting stitch in sewing. After six months, Chase was transferred to the Tool Room because of throat problems caused by welding smoke. She goes into detail about her work and coworkers in the Tool Room, including her clothes, time cards, tools, interactions between men and working the night shift (10pm-6am). She also discusses issues and events that took place in the Yard, such as interactions between men and women, sexual assaults, safety concerns, and the overall war effort, which she knew contributed to the deaths of her friends and neighbors. At the end of the interview, Chase talks about her life after the Yard and describes her role as organist and choir director for the Evening Star Baptist Church. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

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
  • Evening Star Baptist Church

Subject Topics

  • Baptists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Methodist Episcopal Church -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Warships
  • Navy-yards and naval stations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Sex role
  • Sexual harassment of women -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Shipbuilding -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Welding
  • Women -x Employment -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • World War, 1939-1945

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)