BHS: Studying the Cases

The last visit to the BHS we continued to the research on
how the Brooklyn Theater fire changed life in New York. As we have mention
before the BHS archives is made up of primary, first-hand resources such as
recordings, plans, maps, photos and journals. We found out that the archives
contain more than just that.

In this visit we explored and analyzed the list of deaths,
some case notes and even burial receipts. The list of the deaths has couple of
versions from different years as they collected more information about the
bodies, their families and their economic status. When they got the list of the
deaths, rich people and middle class ‘Brooklynites’, got together to support
the family of those who had died and help them financially according to their
necessities and dependency status. They interviewed each family injured and
wrote case notes detailing how much help they needed and what was the amount
given to them.

A widow wrote a letter to the major’s office in 164th
President St., Brooklyn. She broke her arm in two places and lost all her
properties on the fire. Her case note stated that she received $188 for “medical
fee, loss of time and property.” It is comic the fact that they acted a little
too sarcastic by mentioning ‘loss of time’ within the reasons for help she had
received. We found another case from a family in which the 25 year old died on
the fire and left his 22 years-old brother and his 65 years-old mother. The ONLY
salary they had was $8. The funeral expenses, which cost $12, (note that this
is much more the wage they receive) was not paid. Most funerals receipts
reflect that only a coffin cost $12 while most people made about $13 to $15 a


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