Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library together have received a $12,000 Common Heritage grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to document the immigrant history and demographic changes in Bushwick, Canarsie and Sunset Park.
The grant is for a year-long project entitled, 50 Years of Integration: Personal Impacts of Demographic Changes on Shifting Neighborhoods in New York City, which will study the transformation of the three neighborhoods since the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1975, a law that loosened restrictions on immigration from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, effecting a half-century of demographic change in America.
“In a borough that is no stranger to change and transformation, 50 Years of Integration takes the long view, examining the impact of sweeping national policy at the neighborhood level,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson.
Longtime residents and recent arrivals to the neighborhoods will be asked to share their memories and memorabilia at a series of community digitization events that will begin in the fall of 2016. Their stories, photographs, documents and other artifacts will be preserved as a digital archive of the personal impacts of demographic changes in their neighborhoods.
The grant will also support community history programs that will give participants a wider view of the historical trends in their neighborhoods. Scholars will incorporate each library’s special collections and the materials contributed by neighborhood residents in presentations at library branches and at two capstone events in Brooklyn and Queens.
While these events all provide tremendous educational and community-building opportunities, at the heart of this programming is the idea of democratizing the process of history-making—allowing people to contribute to and define their local history.
“We are proud to announce this latest group of grantees who, through their projects and research, will bring valuable lessons of history and culture to Americans,” said NEH Chairman William D. Adams.