BROOKLYN HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Founded in 1863, the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) is a nationally recognized urban history center with a mission to connect the past to the present and make the vibrant history of Brooklyn tangible, relevant, and meaningful for today’s diverse communities, and for generations to come. Recently, BHS launched “Muslims in Brooklyn,” a multi-year public history and arts project designed to amplify Brooklyn’s Muslim communities through traditional oral history and experimental mass audience storytelling.

For well over a century, Muslims have lived, worked, and prayed in Brooklyn—making it a major center of Muslim life in New York City and the nation. As such, the histories and experiences of Brooklyn’s Muslim communities hold great resonance for national conversations on religious diversity and pluralism. Given that “Muslims in Brooklyn” contains over 90 hours of audio and nearly 3,000 pages of transcriptions, the richness of this collection is also its greatest challenge.

This grant will support assessment and design for how this oral history project can be a narrative design and storytelling resource for creatives working in the television industry. The Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) will research the best practices for producing an artist-friendly resource package that efficiently communicates the kinds of stories contained in the collection, and the best means by which to distribute that resource to creatives.

For more information, visit the website.

“The people represented by the Muslims in Brooklyn project have been painfully invisible from the historical record, not just of Brooklyn, but of America. The stories told and heard in this project will forever change our ability to understand our collective history. America’s story is richer because of the remarkable legacy of the diverse Muslim communities who call Brooklyn home.” – Deborah Schwartz, President, Brooklyn Historical Society

“Oral histories can be one of our greatest resources in shaping the portrayals of Muslims in popular culture. Muslim first-person narratives rendered in rich textured detail, like those in the Muslims in Brooklyn oral history collection, defy any flattened, superficial, stereotypical portrayals of Muslim life in America. We look forward to exploring the ways that this collection—and others like it—can inspire and expand our imagination to create new stories that are more representative, authentic, and intimately knowledgeable of Muslim American lives and communities.” – Zaheer Ali, Project Director, Muslims in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Historical Society