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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

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Oral History Interview with Richard Johnson and Geraldine Johnson, February 12, 2009

Biographical / Historical

Geraldine Kiernan Johnson (1925- ) was born in Norfolk, Virginia, but moved soon after to the Washington, D.C. area. As her father (James Eugene Kiernan) was a member of Governor General Frank Murphy's staff, the family lived in the Philippines from 1933-1936. Kiernan was transferred to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1940 after spending a few years at the Camden Navy Yard. In 1941 the family moved to join Kiernan in Brooklyn Navy Yard housing on Flushing Avenue. Geraldine Johnson attended the Packer Collegiate Institute. Richard Johnson (1919- ) grew up in Leominster, Massachusetts and Newark, New Jersey where he attended the Newark College of Engineering where he signed up to be an engineer for the Navy. He graduated in 1941. After college, Johnson went to the Navy Post-Graduate School in Annapolis, Maryland and then began work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a naval engineer and assistant hull superintendent. Geraldine and Richard Johnson were married in 1944 at the Officer's Club at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, after which they spent a few years in San Diego. At the time of the interview, the Johnsons were living in Connecticut.

Scope and Contents

The interview with Richard (1919- ) and Geraldine Johnson (1925- ) focuses on Richard Johnson's work with the US Navy and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, as well as James Eugene Kiernan's work as a naval officer and a supervisor at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Johnsons talk about their family history and lives before they moved to Brooklyn. Geraldine Johnson describes her life growing up at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Richard Johnson describes the layout and organization of the shipyard, his day to day activities, how materials were moved around the yard, wood storage, promotions within the US Navy, his education and the launch of the USS Missouri. Richard Johnson also describes books and other materials he has collected about the history of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan and Daniella Romano.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Subject Names

  • Johnson, Geraldine Kiernan

Subject Organizations

  • New York Naval Shipyard
  • Bon Homme Richard (Aircraft carrier)
  • Missouri (Battleship : BB 63)
  • Iowa (Battleship)

Subject Topics

  • Cranes, derricks, etc
  • Dating (Social customs)
  • Dry docks
  • Engineering
  • Engineering and construction
  • Italian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Naval operations
  • Sailors
  • Security systems
  • Sex role
  • Shipbuilding -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Shipfitting
  • Shipyards -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Transportation -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Women -x Employment -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Work environment -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • New Utrecht (New York, N.Y.)
  • Park Slope (New York, N.Y.)
  • Newark (N.J.)