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Guide to the Listen to This: Crown Heights Oral History collection 2010.020

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201

Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Burns, Louis, 2010 March 22

Biographical / Historical

Louis Burns was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1949. He grew up in Crown Heights, which he considers to have always been a close knit neighborhood of working class families. When he was younger, many of his friends and neighbors were of Irish descent and - as the postwar period of White flight progressed - increasingly of Puerto Rican heritage. After fathering a child at age sixteen, Burns left school to work and care for his daughter - although he would return in later years and eventually reach the post graduate level. In 2010 he was a consultant social worker, an adjunct professor of sociology and a proud grandfather. With the exception of eight years spent in Oneonta, New York, Burns has lived in Crown Heights his entire life.

Scope and Contents

Louis Burns begins with his Brooklyn childhood in Crown Heights. He expounds on the day to day life of the neighborhood - including street games and other hijinks with his Irish and Puerto Rican friends - overseen by adult neighbors and teachers. Burns details his decision to drop out of high school as a teenage father, as well as his eventual return to school thanks to the help and encouragement of family and neighborhood elders. He describes the circumstances - namely the 1991 Crown Heights riot and 1995 Million Man March - surrounding his return after a move upstate to Oneonta, as well as his career as a social worker and college professor. Finally, Burns gives some pointers to the young interviewers regarding education, career, family and the company one keeps. Interview conducted by Monica Parfait, Quanaisha Phillips, Treverlyn Dehaarte, Floyya Richardson and Alex Kelly.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact

Subject Names

  • Burns, Louis

Subject Topics

  • Activists -- New York (State) -- New York
  • African American neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Games -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Irish Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jewish neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parents -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Rican families -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Riots -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.)