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Ina Clausen & Protest in Brooklyn

Feb 27, 2017 9:42 AM | 0 comments

Ina Clausen (center), 1957, Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

With the inauguration of Donald Trump in January, it seems that we have entered a renewed moment in the public sphere, with each week defined by protests, community meetings, and urgent calls to contact your elected officials. This moment, however, is not so very brand new -- there is of course a long and varied history of protest movements and resistance both in the United States and abroad. Given the current political climate, I thought it would be appropriate to mine the Brooklyn Collection for some local precedent.

I turned to one of my favorite special collections, the Ina Clausen Collection, for inspiration. A bit about the collection’s namesake, Ina, according to our online finding aid: Ina Clausen was born February 21, 1943 to Einar Clausen and Linda Hansen Clausen in Brooklyn, NY. She attended the Prospect Heights High School, where she was on the art staff of her high school’s publication, the Cardinal. Clausen graduated in 1960. In the late 1960s Clausen co-founded a women’s collective print shop at 573 Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn. The shop was called the Greenpoint Print Shop, and was supported by donations of equipment from David Dellinger, who published Liberation Magazine in New Jersey. At the print shop, Clausen designed and printed materials for several local activist groups, including the Southern Conference Educational Fund, the Southside Community of Greenpoint, the National Association for Irish Freedom, Yellow Pearl (an Asian-American organization based in Chinatown), Los Tintos Indios, a Red Hook-based Puerto Rican group, and several women’s liberation groups. Clausen served as president of the Greenpoint Print Shop until late 1972, when she and the other officers all resigned and turned the corporation over to another group. During this period and beyond, Clausen participated in local activist organizations, including the Flatbush Committee to End the War in Vietnam. She also designed and published informational packets to educate women about the Women’s Liberation Movement. Her work in this movement included contributions to the feminist journal Up from Under, which focused on working women.

Let’s take a look at some of the flyers, pamphlets and journals in this collection and hopefully walk away with some inspiration from ticked-off Brooklynites of the past.

Flyers from the Flatbush Committee to End the War in Vietnam.

 

Call for a Coney Island Boycott, 4 July 1968. "Don't risk being herded behind gates like dogs."

 

Cover of Feelings from Women’s Liberation magazine, which Ina helped to design and publish. This periodical focused on creative writing and poetry authored by women participating in the movement.

 

Poem entitled “I am a Sandwich” from Feelings magazine, written by prominent feminist Shulamith Firestone. Text reads:

"At midnight

Between covers

I turn into your sandwich

A fat one

Of pinklayered ham,

Of slicky kosher

Corned beef,

A squished mound

Of tuna,

But sometimes I can only make

A flat little hamburger

Needing too much ketchup,

Or a BLT on toast,

Too expensive,

And falling apart,

But well mayonnaised

For all that.

On rich days

For 10c extra,

I add the red dream

Of a libby tomato."

At the Greenpoint Print Shop, Ina published another more overtly political magazine entitled Up From Under. The Brooklyn Collection owns six editions of this periodical, which features long articles from different voices in the movement, as well as practical how-to’s for women and satirical cartoons or advertisements. Some selections from those editions:


 

Up From Under cover, Volume 1, No. 4, 1971.

 

"Somehow we survive."

 

"I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there, and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator." - Mother Jones, Labor organizer circa 1900

 

Activism for women in prisons.

 

Dissemination as a community effort.

 

Understanding history.

 

A practical how-to on changing a lightbulb. Others in this series include: fixing a flat tire, fixing a toilet, etc.

And this is only the beginning of the inspiration! The Ina Clausen collection is available upon request through the Brooklyn Collection.

Happy belated birthday, Ina!

Hattie "The Tree Lady of Brooklyn" Carthan

Feb 8, 2017 1:44 PM | 0 comments

“We’ve already lost too many trees, houses and people…your community – you owe something to it. I didn’t care to run.” – Hattie Carthan

Welcome to Black History Month at the Brooklyn Collection. As most of you know, many great artists, leaders, educators, activists and politicians contributed to Brooklyn’s rich and indispensable Black history. Today we thought we would highlight one of those activists, Ms. Hattie Carthan, a community leader and environmentalist who forever changed Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Hattie Carthan moved to Brooklyn from Virginia, and was once described as “the best thing ever transplanted to Brooklyn.” Considering Brooklyn’s transplant rate, that’s quite a compliment!

In the 1960’s, when blockbusting swept through her neighborhood, Hattie did her best to encourage her neighbors to form a block association. Sadly only seven people showed up to that first meeting. Undeterred, Hattie rallied those neighbors into creating a back-to-school party for the children and the following summer she used the funds that were raised from a pig and chicken roast and bought something she knew the whole neighborhood would appreciate: trees.

Four saplings were planted on Vernon Avenue. But that was just the tip of the iceberg for Hattie. By the time she was finished Bedford-Stuyvesant would have 1,500 new trees spread across 100 blocks thanks to her perseverance.

Hattie’s focus was not just on new trees. She watched over the old trees, too, and in 1969 she set her sights on a 40 foot transplanted magnolia tree, originally planted in 1885. Hattie not only saved the tree from bulldozing, she also got the City of New York to designate the tree as an official city living landmark the following year.

But Hattie still wasn’t done!  After saving the magnolia tree she set her sights on the three brownstones behind it and turned them into the Magnolia Tree Earth Center -  a conservationist’s dream, with nature programs for school children, summer work study, programs for seniors, a vegetable garden, a research library and even on-the-job training. The Magnolia Tree Earth Center opened on September 18, 1980 when Hattie, by then known as the “Tree Lady of Brooklyn,” turned 80.

 

The following year, Hattie was presented with the Brownstone Revival Committee’s first annual Genesis Award. By then the Magnolia Tree Earth Center was considered an environmental education institute.  From Hattie’s work blossomed the Bedford-Stuyvesant Beautification Program.

Hattie Carthan passed away on April 23, 1984. Her tenacious spirit and hard work not only revitalized Bedford-Stuyvesant’s greenery, it also gave the community an environmental center that flourishes to this day. To honor her work, Brooklyn Botanic Garden Research Center created a hybrid yellow magnolia, which they named in her memory and planted during the ceremony to honor her life.

And because she persisted, Hattie’s 40 foot magnolia tree is still with us.

 

If you want to learn more about Hattie Carthan, please come visit the Brooklyn Collection or check out our Ephemera collection and clippings file.