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Guide to the Erasmus Hall Records
1325–1989 (bulk, circa 1775–1975)
 MS 201

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

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Joseph Ditta (2021)

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on January 12, 2022
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Historical note

Erasmus Hall Academy, named in honor of Dutch scholar and theologian Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536), was established in 1786 to educate the sons (and, beginning in 1803, the daughters) of the farmers of Flatbush, then an independent town of Kings County. Erasmus Hall was the first school chartered by the Board of Regents in New York State (1787), and remained a private institution for over a century. In 1894 the City of Brooklyn annexed Flatbush, and in 1896 its Board of Education took deed to Erasmus Hall. (In 1898 the City of Brooklyn became a borough of Greater New York, and the Brooklyn Board of Education was supplanted by the New York City Board of Education.) Construction of a new Erasmus Hall High School at 911 Flatbush Avenue was in four phases between 1905 and 1940, and resulted in a Collegiate Gothic complex around a courtyard that preserves the original Federal-style Academy building. Excellent for much of the twentieth century—Erasmus Hall produced such luminaries as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Bernard Malamud and singer Barbra Streisand—the school's prominence declined in the 1970s and 1980s. Centered in the heart of then crime-ridden Flatbush, Erasmus saw frequent violence and generally poor performance. It was closed in 1994 and split internally into five smaller high schools, each with a distinct academic focus and its own administration, but sharing the common lunchroom, gymnasium, library, and auditorium.

[This note draws from B. Kimberly Taylor, "Erasmus Hall High School and Academy of the Arts," in The Encyclopedia of New York City, Kenneth T. Jackson, editor, 2nd edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 419, and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission's designation report for Erasmus Hall High School.]