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Brooklyn Life Magazine, 1890-1931

Nov 8, 2010 2:51 PM | 5 comments

=Front page 1

WHAT DID SHE MEAN? -- MR DE BOER: Miss Emma, perhaps I ought not to call during Lent, for I understand you deny yourself all amusement.  MISS E: Yes, I do Mr. de Boer. Come as often as you like.

Genealogists and others who come to the Brooklyn Collection are often familiar with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in its various forms--online, microfilm, morgue. But the Brooklyn Collection carries many other serials on microfilm, including 63 local newspapers. Lacking an index, these are of little use unless researchers know the date of the article they are seeking. But Brooklyn Life magazine, which chronicled the activities of Brooklyn's upper crust from 1890 to 1931, exists in hard copy and on microfilm; and thanks to the devoted work of a retired librarian named Gunther Pohl we do have an index to Brooklyn Life magazine. According to Mr. Pohl, who completed this enormous task in 1996, it is a "very selective" index, but it runs to 465 closely typed pages, and it is often used here to good effect.

  Brooklyn Life 2

The pages of Brooklyn Life will be of interest to those who believe themselves to be related to blue-blooded old Brooklynites, as well as those interested in social and cultural life of a small sliver of Brooklyn society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Weekly features include "Society" pages, where we learn, for example, that   "Miss Mamie Stearns, formerly of Pierrpont Street, is now residing at 76 Madison Avenue New York, where she will be pleased to meet her Brooklyn friends;" or "Conversation did not flag at the breakfast of eighty, given by Miss Polhemus of Remsen street on Monday." More interesting for the real estate obsessed, are articles such as this:

Brooklyn Life 3

"The big Farmer house on Pierrepont Street opposite Monroe Place, for which Mr. Condit, the well-known New York wholesale grocer, paid $90,000, is again for sale. It seems that Mr. Condit, wishing to give his daughter what he thought would be a pleasant surprise, purchased the house without her knowledge. Then when the title deeds were his, he informed Miss Condit. I understand that the lady was not overjoyed at the information, but like a dutiful daughter she started in her carriage to visit her new Brooklyn domain, coming by way of the Bridge. On her arrival at the Brooklyn side, Miss Condit was so disgusted with the filth and crowded condition of Fulton street that, without visiting the new house, she ordered her coachman to  turn about.....When she saw her father  she vowed to him that she would never, no never live in such a horrid dirty place as Brooklyn, and so the Farmer house is again for sale at a much lower price than Mr Condit paid for it. Pity Miss Condit didn't take the Wall street route or have waited until the Women's Street Cleaning Bureau had begun its fine work."

Some people are never satisfied.

Brooklyn Life ad

Other weekly features include Club Notes, Amateur Sports, Music and Musicians, and Plays and Players; "Our Portrait Gallery" presented ink sketches, mainly of young club men such as Mr Rodney Allen Ward who came from "good stock on both sides of his family," and belonged to " The Brooklyn Club, Brooklyn Riding and Driving Club, Oak Bluffs Club...and the Westhampton Country Club."

Brooklyn Life cars

A BUICK MODEL '34' 32 HORSE-POWER RUNABOUT. Going over a part of the bank at 188th Street, East of Broadway, that no other motor-car has ever climbed.  If you doubt this picture is accurate drop in at the Buick salesroom, Broadway and 55th Street, and A.L. Newton, the retail sales manager, will see that you get a demonstration over this very spot.

Vintage car enthusiasts will find plenty in Brooklyn Life  to feed their passion. The Motoring section contains images of early motor cars and earnest discussions of the value of "self-starters" and other innovations, the virtues of new models such as the Peerless Standard 48 h.p. six-cylinder touring car, or the Buick Colonial Coupe. The magazine notes outstanding drivers such as Mrs Pauline Stern of New York, as of 1911 "the only woman in America who was ever able to control a Transcontinental 'Big Benz 50.'"   Mrs Stern, her son and her chauffeur drove across America "From Hell Gate to the Golden Gate" on a single set of tires.

In later years the magazine ran photographs of attractive young debutantes and brides, such as the lady above whose hair surely breaks some kind of record for bulk in relation to head. Such fantastic coiffures were not sufficient to keep Brooklyn Life in business. By 1931 the magazine had grown thinner and thinner--in keeping perhaps with lean economic times--until it entirely withered away.


11/14/2010 3:31:28 AM #

What an amazing coincidence--I just discovered 'Brooklyn Life' today in the Brooklyn Historical Society's library, rummaging around at random. They had what I think was a facsimile anniversary compilation; will have to check BPL's! It was totally new to me as a resource and had some pics of the park I'd never seen before. Thanks for sharing.

Brenda from Flatbush

11/17/2010 1:49:43 PM #

I have had the honor of scrutinizing the pages of copies of Brooklyn Life from the Brooklyn Public Library's collection. They had the hard copies at that time, although I also availed myself of the microfilm version. I have my own collection of back issues. G. Herbert Henshaw was the editor from 1909 until the magazine ceased publication in 1931, and the Henshaw family has an illustrious and interesting history in Brooklyn and beyond. The museum I am in the process of establishing, The Museum of Brooklyn Art and Culture, has a body of archival materials relating to the Henshaw family.  The library staff was very helpful when I was researching the issues of Brooklyn Life, and I am indebted to them for their kindness. It's nice to see this presentation about the magazine on their website.

Peter Duveen

4/21/2012 3:38:01 PM #

I'm looking for a picture that was in a Brooklyn Life Magazine, I don't know what year. Picture was on page 7 with the poem "Little Great-Grandmamma.

Thank You

Angie Stokes

7/15/2012 9:44:20 AM #

I have a letter from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Frederick Mitchell Munroe, thanking him for a copy of the Brooklyn Life Magazine. There is other Brooklyn content in the letter as well. This letter is signed and dated 12/20/1892 by Ms. Stowe and is in the original envelope. This letter is for sale if your acquisitions departement would like to contact me. Steve Bolter

steve bolter

1/12/2013 1:21:55 AM #

Does anyone having anything on the Brooklyn Young Republican Club, like photos or articles. I am the Current President and we are trying to build up our archives from our past. Our club has been Going Strong Since 1880.

Glenn Nocera