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Brooklyn certificate collection

Call Number



1809-1962, inclusive


New York (State). National Guard
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)


3.31 Linear Feet in 23 folders and two oversize boxes.

Language of Materials

English .


A collection of various certificates issued by government bodies and other institutions in Brooklyn, dated 1809 to 1962. The types of certificates contained in the collection include marriage certificates, military discharge and exemption certificates, merit awards to students and public servants, scholarship awards to students, etc.


The certificates are arranged roughly by size in three boxes. The largest certificates are in a large flat box (Box 1), medium size items are in another flat box (Box 2), and the smaller items are in a manuscript box (Box 3). The item level container list, however, is arranged by a sequential number running from 1 to 291 (with gaps) assigned over time by Brooklyn Historical Society librarians. There is no apparent overall order to the sequence. Within each of the three boxes, the certificates are arranged in numerical order reflecting the sequence found in the container list. In addition to the container list and folder, the sequence number is typically found written on the back of the certificate itself.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of various certificates issued by government bodies and other institutions, principally in Brooklyn, dated 1809 to 1962. The bulk of the colection dates from the 1800s and into the early twentieth century. Certificates related to education, the military and institutional membership predominate.The types of certificates contained in the collection include military commissions, discharges and exemptions; report cards, merit awards, scholarship awards, and diplomas to students of public and private schools and colleges; teaching and other licenses; appointments to public offices and other public positions; membership certificates and other recognitions from social clubs, honorary organizations, and cultural institutions; marriage and citizenship certificates; and receipts for subscriptions, purchases of capital stock and other payments, including one sale of an enslaved African-American in Petersburg, Virginia, 1864.

The New York State National Guard, various Brooklyn public schools, Long Island Historical Society, Society of Old Brooklynites, various New York and Kings County firefighting units, and Brooklyn City Hospital are among the many organizations issuing these certificates. Some of the many names of individuals receiving these certificates are found in other collections of Brooklyn Historical Society, and may have been separated from those collections; these names include the Pierrepont family, Nathaniel Matson, Ella Cranston, and Albert G. Harnickel. There are many documents concerning the military career of Carl Gerhard Rasmus and the education of Emily Reuger. There are several U.S. Navy military commissions for Milton Haxton; these are signed by U.S. Presidents ranging from Thomas Jefferson to Rutherford Hayes, including Abraham Lincoln.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to users without restriction.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Brooklyn certificate collection, 1977.307, Box and Item number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The contents of this collection were presented as gifts to the Long Island Historical Society (later the Brooklyn Historical Society) by multiple donors between the 1960s and the 1990s. Some certificates were likely separated from other archival collections. The collection was formally accessioned in 1977.

Other Finding Aids

There is a detailed, item-level inventory for the collection. It is available from the Brooklyn Historical Society library and a PDF version can be accessed on-line from BHS's catablog, Emma.

Collection processed by

Matthew Gorham

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 11:18:58 +0000.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: English

Processing Information

Material found in repository added to collection by Lena Evers-Hillstrom in October 2018.


Brooklyn Historical Society


Box: 2 (Material Type: Text)
Box: 1 (Material Type: Text)
Box: A0061 (Material Type: Mixed Materials)
Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201