Save Our Stories: Queens Library Invites Residents to Share Memories

Save Our Stories: Queens Library Invites Residents to Share Memories

A 1925 image portraying the old Rockaways' Playland, an amusement park on Beach 98th Street in Rockaway Beach that opened in 1902 and shuttered for good in 1985. Photo courtesy Queens Library/Hairpin

A 1925 image portraying the old Rockaways’ Playland, an amusement park on Beach 98th Street in Rockaway Beach that opened in 1902 and shuttered for good in 1985. Photo courtesy Queens Library/Hairpin

From the Rockaway Playland that opened at the turn the of 20th century to tossing a baseball around in the shadows of the 1964 World’s Fair and the rebuilding of South Queens following the 1938 hurricane, that which constitutes the borough’s mosaic of memories is seemingly endless.

And, often, the stories that paint such vivid pictures of what Queens was – and how it grew into what it is now – are not documented, relegating whole swaths of the borough’s history to photo albums tucked away in boxes shoved to corners of basements and attics from Astoria to Rockaway.

This, however, is something individuals from Queens Library and a group called Historypin are attempting to change with an initiative entitled “Queens: Neighborhood Stories,” an effort to collect materials – such as photos – and memories about the borough that are shared in a free, interactive online database.

The library and Historypin are inviting residents to share their photos, video clips, audio recordings, stories, and memories online at www.historypin.com/neighborhoodstories. There, materials can be mapped, dated and even overlaid in an online street view, enabling visitors to explore Queens through space and time – as well as add their own pieces of history.

A free public Neighborhood Stories event will be held at Queens Library at Court Square, located at 25-01 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, on Tuesday, Feb.11 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.. Neighborhood residents can drop in to have their historic photos and other records of the neighborhood digitized. Material will be added to Neighborhood Stories, and residents will be able to take home a thumb drive with the digital copies.

Queens Library will help local organizations to run community activities in their own neighborhoods. From scanning family photos to locating where photos were taken, the group said it hopes as many people as possible to share, record and contribute their neighborhood history. All materials collected and digitized through community activities will be added to Neighborhood Stories on Historypin.com to enable discovery and public enrichment, and will enter Queens Library’s permanent archival collections.

“Queens Library’s digitization staff, equipment, policies and infrastructure can provide access and preservation for cultural heritage materials from all over the borough,” said Kelvin Watson, Queens Library’s Vice President of Digital Services and Strategy. “We are interested in partnering with small organizations like the Bayside Historical Society that can benefit from our digitization resources, and whose valuable holdings can enrich our digital collections.  Adding these materials  to Neighborhood Stories on Historypin will instantly give them a worldwide exposure that is both exciting for researchers and an opportunity to raise awareness of the Society and our own collections and services at Queens Library.”

If an individual is interested in running a Neighborhood Stories event at their local library, they can contact Natalie Milbrodt at the Queens Library by emailing Natalie.Milbrodt@queenslibrary.org.

By Anna Gustafson

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