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

Brooklyn Historical Society
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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

Elliott, Zetta, 2010 March 24

Biographical / Historical

Zetta Elliott was born in 1972 and raised in Canada. She made her first visit to New York City and to her cousin Lil's home in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights in 1979. Elliott moved to Brooklyn in 1994 and has been a permanent United States resident since the late 1990s. She received a doctoral degree in American Studies from New York University in 2003. She is a poet, playwright, essayist, author, blogger and publisher. Her award-winning books include the picture book, "Bird," and the novel "Ship of Souls." "The Deep" was published in 2013. In 2015, she was the writer-in-residence at the Weeksville Heritage Center. A self-described Black feminist writer committed to social justice, Elliott continues to live in Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Zetta Elliott recalls her first memories of New York City in 1979 and her cousin Lil's house on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood. She touches on her grandfather's history in Antigua and Canada and how her cousin made money from selling crocheted items at a hospital. Elliott discusses going to graduate school at New York University and becoming an author, listing her books that take place in Brooklyn. She notes the importance of "mapping community" and appreciating local landmarks and architecture. She discusses her father's immigration from the Caribbean to Canada and the United States as well as her own immigration to New York City. She describes her mother, mentioning a brief genealogy that included slavery. Elliott closes by advising on the importance of listening to peoples' stories. Interview conducted by Ansie Montilus, Monica Parfait, Treverlyn Dehaarte 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

  • Elliott, Zetta

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Children's Museum
  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • New York University

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Libraries -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Women authors, American -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History
  • Canada
  • Canarsie (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration
  • Weeksville (New York, N.Y.)