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Brooklyn Historical Society U.S. National Register of Historic Places Location: 128 Pierrepont St., Brooklyn, New York Coordinates: 40°41′41″N 73°59′34″W / 40.69472°N 73.99278°W / 40.69472; -73.99278Coordinates: 40°41′41″N 73°59′34″W / 40.69472°N 73.99278°W / 40.69472; -73.99278 Area: 0.9 acres (0.36 ha) Architect: Post,George B. Architectural style(s): Queen Anne Governing body: Private Added to NRHP: July 17, 1991 NRHP Reference#: 91002054[1] Founded in 1863, the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) is a museum, library, and educational center preserving and encouraging the study of Brooklyn's rich 400-year past. The Brooklyn Historical Society houses materials relating to the history of Brooklyn and its people. These holdings supply exhibitions illuminating the past and informing the future. BHS hosts over 9,000 members of the general public at its exhibitions each year. In addition to general programming, BHS serves over 70,000 public school students and teachers annually by providing exhibit tours, educational programs and curricula, and making its professional staff available for instruction and consultation. Exhibits at BHS are designed for audiences of all ages. Contents 1 Finances 2 History 3 Collection 4 See also 5 References 6 External links // Finances BHS reported assets of $21.783 million on June 30, 2006 and took in revenues of $1.889 million in its fiscal year ending on that day.[2] History The Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) was founded in 1863 as the Long Island Historical Society. At that time, the city of Brooklyn was the commercial and cultural center of Long Island. During World War I, LIHS contributed to the war effort by transforming its 600-seat auditorium into a Red Cross headquarters by removing the seats and building a flat floor over the original sloping floor. After 1926, this space was subdivided and rented to commercial tenants to raise funds for the institution's operating expenses. During the mid-twentieth century, LIHS operated only as a library, although it continued to add to its collections. In the 1980's, new leadership reestablished the organization as a museum and education center. In 1989, after conducting its first capital campaign, BHS restored its ground floor, installing a permanent exhibit that showcased the eclectic range of its collections and chronicled the history of African-American, white, Latino, Asian and Native American Brooklynites. The exhibit included a wax figure of Nat King Cole from Coney Island, Dodger memorabilia, tool boxes from the WWII Brooklyn Navy Yard, "The Honeymooners" stage set, and a drawing of a 17th Century Brooklyn Indian. BHS also began to create a series of exhibits focusing on topics such as the history of African-American churches in Brooklyn, an insider's view of Latino communities, and a chronicle of Crown Heights. BHS’ AIDS exhibition was the first to cover this topic at a history museum in the United States. Documentary photographers working for BHS have recorded thousands of images of contemporary Brooklyn. BHS has the most comprehensive collection of Brooklyn-related materials in existence. In 1993, the U.S. Department of Education designated its library as a "major research library" under Title II-C of the Higher Education Act. As one in seven Americans can trace their family roots to Brooklyn, the BHS collections represent an important national resource. Inquiries received each month reflect the nationwide interest in the borough and its relevance to many family histories. Building In October 1999, BHS began a full-scale restoration of its National Historic Landmark building. A central objective in the renovation of its headquarters is positioning BHS as a community hub for the exchange of ideas and an accessible resource for learning. Since reopening the building in 2003, BHS has served thousands of students and teachers throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan through on-site educational programs, classroom visits, teacher development workshops, and classroom “tool kits.” Additionally, the public now has access to a database containing 33,000 images, walking tours of Brooklyn, and on and off-site exhibits ranging in a variety of topics covering the social and cultural history of Brooklyn. BHS is committed to offering programming that helps Brooklynites young and old develop pride in their own cultural traditions while fostering understanding of their neighbors' similarities and differences. In 2005, the BHS was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. [3] [4] Principal activities of BHS include education programs, which are organized around a central educational concept of encouraging students to understand that history is connected to their lives. BHS programs link the study of American history to events and sites in the students’ own communities by introducing the investigation of primary source documents and neighborhood histories. BHS’ education programs largely focus on the ability of students to “read” primary source documents, including works of art, maps, photographs, and other artifacts. BHS offers a schedule of programs designed to engage a broad range of audiences. Programs range from topics in history and current affairs to exhibition related lectures, to musical events, walking tours, readings and plays. Up to eight exhibitions each year are preesented by BHS, ranging from comprehensive retrospectives and historical surveys to more focused presentations that explore specific themes and topics. Installations from the collection have included a gallery of family portraits and another of landscape paintings. These installations rotate over time, providing visitors with greater access to BHS’ fine arts collections. In December 2007 BHS opened the first gallery in the United States devoted to oral history. The first exhibition installed in the gallery was an installation of oral histories, photographs, documents, and artifacts called "In Our Own Words: Portraits of Brooklyn's Vietnam Veterans". Collection The Brooklyn Historical Society Library was one of only a handful of cultural organizations in the fast-growing City of Brooklyn in the mid-nineteenth century. Founded in 1863, the library has a premier collection of research materials on the history of Brooklyn, that today includes over 100,000 bound volumes, 60,000 graphic images, 2,000 feet (610 m) of manuscripts, and over 2,000 maps and atlases. The library also holds family histories and genealogies, rare books, periodicals, serials, journals, personal papers, institutional records, and oral histories that document Brooklyn's many different ethnic groups and neighborhoods. The collection was designated a major resource library by the U.S. Department of Education and has been used by countless students, teachers, genealogists, researchers and scholars. Collection highlights include: historic maps and atlases of Brooklyn and New York City, numerous individual family histories in the genealogy collection, a microfilm collection of Brooklyn and Long Island newspapers from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, an important collection of microfiche pamphlets on slavery and abolition, the papers of abolitionist clergyman Henry Ward Beecher, the Pierrepont Papers, the Brooklyn Firefighting Collection, and the Brooklyn Council of Churches. Donald F. and Mildred T. Othmer were avid collectors of rare books and historic maps and possessed great affection for the Society's Library. Donald Othmer, a BHS Trustee for ten years, donated $500,000 for the preservation and rehabilitation of the library. The generous gift enabled planning to begin for a much needed renovation of the building, and the Library was named in honor of the Othmers in 1992. The Othmer Library was closed for seven years while undergoing renovations followed by a major digital cataloging project. The Library reopened in February 2007 and is now open to the public. See also List of museums and cultural institutions in New York City Brooklyn Historical Society Building References ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.  ^ The Brooklyn Historical Society (March 31, 2007). "Internal Revenue Service Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax: The Brooklyn Historical Society, Fiscal year ending June 30, 2006PDF (32 KB)".  ^ Roberts, Sam (July 6, 2005). "City Groups Get Bloomberg Gift of $20 Million". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2010.  ^ Carnegie Corporation - News External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Brooklyn Historical Society Official website Society of Old Brooklynites monthly lectures