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Arts / History

Get your fill of Brooklyn history with this online portal

The Brooklyn Historical Society has launched an online hub of nearly 250 oral histories. Dig in.

The Brooklyn Historical Society's oral history portal takes you back in time. (Photo via New York Public Library/Wikimedia Commons)

Much of our coverage is devoted to the many companies and organizations that are shaping Brooklyn’s future. But there are several groups harnessing the power of tech to edify the borough’s rich history.

One organization that immediately comes to mind is the Brooklyn Public Library, two-time winner of our Brooklyn Innovation Awards, whose online projects include a bot that tweets photos from the library’s archives in response to emoji. Then there’s Interference Archive, whose volunteer-run library doubles as an exercise in considering how online tools are designed.

Add to that list the Brooklyn Historical Society, which of late has stepped up its digital engagement efforts. This week, the society launched an online portal for its oral history collections, through which listeners can access nearly 250 interviews. Plug in your headphones, and take in first-person accounts of what it was like moving to Brooklyn from Puerto Rico in the 1930s or how Sunset Park morphed into Brooklyn’s answer to Manhattan’s Chinatown.

Check it out

In addition to the launch of its online oral history portal, the Brooklyn Historical Society hit the one-year mark on its podcast Flatbush + Main, a monthly series in which director of public history Julie Golia and oral historian Zaheer Ali use Brooklyn’s history as a jumping-off point to reflect upon current events. Outside of that podcast, Ali also has some intriguing things to say about how the music of Prince serves as a historical archive.

Series: Brooklyn

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