From the Archives

Home for Christmas

Meredith Wisner 1 year, 8 months ago

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From the Archives

In Remembrance of Archives Past

Meredith Wisner 2 years ago
Drafting Room, Building 5, August 1, 1940 Drafting Room, Building 5, August 1, 1940

This photo is one of my favorites. Depicted is the Yard’s drafting department hunched over their desks busily insuring my future job security. The film’s extended exposure captures their movements – a happy accident that gives the photo an urgency felt across the whole Yard at this time. Taken on August 1st 1940, this image tells the human scale story of the US Navy hurrying to modernizing its infrastructure for its eventual entry in WWII. What was the remainder of all this activity? The answer is tens of thousands of maps and plans that detail the Yard’s largest expansion - a weighty bulk of a collection that I currently manage.

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From the Archives

A Father's Day Remembered

Meredith Wisner 2 years, 2 months ago
Fatherly Pride: Anapolis bound Nicholas LaDuca Jr. and Andrew Zagayko are honored by Admiral Schuyler Neilson Pyne for their soon-to-be midshipmen status as their fathers look on. Fatherly Pride: Anapolis bound Nicholas LaDuca Jr. and Andrew Zagayko are honored by Admiral Schuyler Neilson Pyne for their soon-to-be midshipmen status as their fathers look on.

For Father's Day we found this charming little story of two Navy Yard employees whose sons earned acceptance into the Naval Academy in Annapolis.  Their graduation fittingly took place on Father's Day 1962, and both proud papas were fortunate enough to have been in attendance. We just loved the tone of the story, and how the editorial staff of the Shipworker seemed just as enthusiastic about the young mens' achievements. The story speaks eloquently of the family atmosphere that characterizes Navy Yard throughout its history.

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From the Archives

The HMS Jersey, is she or isn't she?

Meredith Wisner 2 years, 3 months ago
The HMS Jersey, Illustration courtesy of the New York Public Library The HMS Jersey, Illustration courtesy of the New York Public Library

It is thought that approximately 11,000 Continental soldiers died in the British prison ships moored in Wallabout Bay. The most notorious of these ships was the HMS Jersey. Known colloquially as "Hell," the Jersey became the subject of a number of first-hand accounts telling of the horrific conditions and punishing treatment wrought by the British. Philip Freneau, a prisoner himself, relayed his experience in a collection of poems published around 1780.  An excerpt of one of his more famous poems is transcribed below (and more here).  

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From the Archives

Howard Zinn, Author, Activist, Basketball Star!

Meredith Wisner 2 years, 3 months ago
Howard Zinn (top right), posing with his fellow Apprentice Association teammates Howard Zinn (top right), posing with his fellow Apprentice Association teammates

Through a serendipitous perusal of the Navy Yard's Shipworker, I found the above image of a dashing Howard Zinn posing after his basketball team’s victory in a Navy Yard tournament. What’s particularly profound about this discovery is that Zinn shared a story about this very team in an oral history he gave on December 8th, 2008. We’re always excited to find visual evidence of the stories our narrators tell, and given the significance of Howard Zinn’s life and his vivid account of the formation of this team, this discovery is all the more poignant. Here’s the full article for your reading enjoyment:

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From the Archives

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Answers the Call of the Carpathia

Meredith Wisner 2 years, 4 months ago
RMS Carpathia Resting in Erie Basin, Red Hook, New York RMS Carpathia Resting in Erie Basin, Red Hook, New York

It was brought to my attention by a member of our staff--who is turning out to be something of a radio buff--that the Brooklyn Navy Yard radio station (call letters NAH) may well have been one of the first to learn the names of survivors of the RMS Titanic as relayed by the passenger ship, RMS Carpathia. Could this be true?  It seemed likely given our position at the forefront of radio technology at the time, but I needed to dig a little deeper.  A peek into ye olde New York Times revealed that indeed this is correct. NAH was among a handful of radio stations able to pick up the signal of the RMS Carpathia as her crew shared details of their rescue mission back to a nervously expectant American public.   

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From the Archives

Census Week! The Brooklyn Navy Yard, March 1940

Meredith Wisner 2 years, 5 months ago
Brooklyn Navy Yard - Census Week, March 30, 1940 Brooklyn Navy Yard - Census Week, March 30, 1940

The 1940 census has been released! I might be tipping my hand here, but to archivists such as myself this day is akin to Christmas.  You see, although we are able to access statistical information from even our most recent census reports, the details, including family names, individual professions, household incomes and addresses are suppressed for 72 years to protect the privacy of census participants. This census, which was taken the week of March 24th 1940, tells the human scale story of a population struggling to pull out of the Great Depression, and a larger story of a Nation preparing for its possible involvement in a second world war.

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From the Archives

Mapping By Hand: Wallabout Bay 1639 - 1810

Meredith Wisner 2 years, 5 months ago
Manatus Map (detail), Library of Congress, Geography and Maps Division, 1639 Manatus Map (detail), Library of Congress, Geography and Maps Division, 1639

The archive and exhibition staff are just now putting the final touches on our next BLDG 92 talk, Mapping History: 400 Years in 5 Minutes, which will be held at BLDG 92 tonight (March 15th) at 6:30.  In this panel discussion we will cover how technology and archival materials merged to create our most popular museum feature, the 5 foot round interactive map table that lives in our timeline gallery.  If you're interested in attending there are still some seats left.  Book a spot on our events page, here.

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From the Archives

Spring has Sprung? The Navy Yard Bikes To Work!

Meredith Wisner 2 years, 5 months ago
Detail, Brooklyn Greenway Detail, Brooklyn Greenway

Inspired by the unseasonably warm weather a number of Brooklyn Navy Yard staff, including myself, dusted off their bikes, filled their tires and biked to work.  The route has gotten exponentially more attractive given the continued expansion of the Brooklyn Greenway, which once completed will be a 14 mile route that hugs the Brooklyn waterfront--including our very own Navy Yard!

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From the Archives

Happy Birthday Mighty Mo!

Meredith Wisner 2 years, 7 months ago
USS Missouri on Launching Day, January 28, 1944 USS Missouri on Launching Day, January 28, 1944

The USS Missouri is one of the Yard's most storied warships. An Iowa-class battleship, she was known for speed as well as her impressive secondary anti-aircraft batteries. Throughout her long career she earned 11 stars for service, though she is probably best know as the site of the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay that marked the end of WWII. An interesting side note: photographs from the ceremony show a 31-star flag in the background that was flown over Commodore Matthew Perry's flagship when he led the Far East Squadron that opened Japan's ports to foreign trade. The presence of that flag was an additional point of pride to Yard workers since Perry was the Brooklyn Navy Yard's eighth Commandant. The eight-minute United News clip below shows the ceremony.

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