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Guide to the Eugene L. Armbruster Photograph Collection
  PR 81

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 27, 2019
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

Eugene L. Armbruster (1865 - 1943) was born in Baden-Baden, Germany, and came to the United States in 1882. His first job was with H. Henkel Cigar Box Manufacturing Company, where he continued to work until his retirement in 1920. He lived in Bushwick, Brooklyn, with his wife and two children, Julia and Eugene Jr.

Armbruster took photographs beginning in the late 19th century, but the majority of his work is from the 1910s and 1920s. Around the time of his retirement, Armbruster became interested in local history and began to photograph his environs in earnest, specifically the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. He took thousands of photographs of historic houses, churches, streetscapes, and buildings throughout New York City and Long Island.

Beginning around 1915, Armbruster wrote for the "Old-Timer" column of the Brooklyn Eagle. He honed his knowledge of local history through reading and extensive walking throughout the streets he was documenting. A majority of his photographs are annotated with historical information. He sought the rural environments linked to the past, turning to the rural counties of Long Island after the towns and neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens started growing and modernizing in the early 1920s. From 1914 to 1929, Armbruster published several pamphlets about local history, which he illustrated with his own line drawings, copy photos, and original photographs. In the 1930s, he published three pamphlets on language and its origins, seemingly a new interest.

He was forced to give up photography around 1940 after he developed cataracts on his eyes. He died on September 21, 1943.