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Brian Purnell Civil Rights in Brooklyn Oral History Collection

Call Number



1987-2006, inclusive


Purnell, Brian J., Ph.D.


1.8 Linear Feet
4 Boxes

Language of Materials

English .

Historical Note

The Civil Rights in Brooklyn Oral History Collection serves as a companion to the Civil Rights in Brooklyn Collection. In the course of his research for his dissertation at New York University, Dr. Brian Purnell interviewed several activists who were members of the Brooklyn Congress of Racial Equality(CORE). This collection also includes earlier interviews by other researchers that were obtained by Purnell for his study. During the early 1960s, the Brooklyn Chapter of CORE was one of the most dynamic civil rights organizations in New York City. From 1960-64, members of Brooklyn CORE led local demonstrations to desegregate apartments, integrate public schools, create jobs, and improve sanitation services to Bedford-Stuyvesant.

CORE members were also active in other civil rights organizations, including Freedom Organizations Coordinated for Unity in Shorefront (FOCUS), which protested housing discrimination in the Sheepshead Bay-Shorefront area, and Black News, a newsletter focusing on local and international issues in civil rights. Sonny Carson, who was an executive director of Brooklyn CORE and is interviewed by Purnell, published an autobiography in 1972, The Education of Sonny Carson, which was made into a film in 1974.


Interviews are arranged alphabetically by interviewee name. Audio versions are on numbered cassettes, and printed transcripts, correspondence, and notes for each are in folders. Not all of the interviews are transcribed, and, conversely, some interviews are email-based, with no accompanying audio. Event photographs are organized by format.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 34 interviews of 32 former CORE members, recorded between 1987 and 2005. Most, but not all, of these interviews are in both their original cassette format and in a transcribed copy. Notes, ephemera, and newspaper clippings accompany the transcriptions. Two compact discs and six floppy disks contain photographs of events at which Purnell presented his research, with many of his interviewees, in 2006.


The collection may only be used in the library and is not available through interlibrary loan. Requests to view the collection must be made at least 48 hours in advance of visit.


While many items in the Brooklyn Collection are unrestricted, we do not own reproduction rights to all materials. Be aware of the several kinds of rights that might apply: copyright, licensing and trademarks. The borrower assumes all responsibility for copyright questions.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Brian Purnell Civil Rights in Brooklyn Oral History Collection, BCMS.0012, [Box and Folder number]; Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History.


Brian Purnell Civil Rights in Brooklyn Oral History Collection was donated to the Brooklyn Public Library by Brian Purnell in 2009.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Original cassette tapes are not available for research use. Access to the interviews is only available onsite at Center for Brooklyn History's Othmer Library.

The compact disks and floppy disks in this collection are not open for research. The digital files on them are currently inaccessible.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-06-28 15:22:06 +0000.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Description is written in: English, Latin script.


Brooklyn Collection
Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201