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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 Howard Zinn, December 8, 2008

Biographical / Historical

Howard Zinn (1922-2010) grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He began working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as an apprentice after taking a civil service test in 1940. Because he worked at the Navy Yard, his family was able to move into a housing project in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Zinn left the Navy Yard to join the Air Force in 1943. He later went on to become an historian, author and activist.

Scope and Contents

During his interview, Howard Zinn (1922-2010) explains how he ended up working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and details his work there as an apprentice shipfitter. He says the best part of his time at the Navy Yard was organization the Apprentice Association, which was an organization of apprentices who were not allowed to be a part of the American Federation of Labor unions at the Yard. He also talks about his salary, organizing a basketball team, commuting to work from Fort Greene, uniforms, witnessing a workplace accident, and race and ethnicity. Interview conducted by 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 Organizations

  • New York Naval Shipyard

Subject Topics

  • Warships
  • Labor -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Labor unions -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Ethnicity
  • Apprentices
  • Accidents
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Wages -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Shipfitting
  • Work environment -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • World War, 1939-1945

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)