A look into the past: Gabriel Furman’s View of Brooklyn

Gabriel Furman was man who paid careful attention to detail. In his journals, Furman chronicled New York’s first experience with the Cholera virus in 1832. In it he goes on to detail the death toll which the city faced at the time. In just 20 days the disease took the lives of 1,500 people, about 1/75th of the population of New York. Furman’s attention to detail is amazing, since in his journals, he goes on to chronicle how this disease not only affects New York, but also other cities, some, such as St. Petersburg, that are on other continents. As our group continued, we soon saw that Furman made sure to not only detail and cite the sources of his information, but he also took the time to add inserts into his diary of the actual source into his diary. His meticulous manner in chronicling this event was amazing. For example, when describing a cure that had come from India (Calcutta specifically) Furman went on to say the contents of the cure, which consisted of cinnamon, lavender, and a type of opiate. He also cited the newspaper from which the cure originated, or mentioned from.

Gabriel Furman’s attention to detail is something marvelous to read. He was careful to make sure that his thoughts were expressed clearly, his entries themselves had no sign of a mistake, and that any outside source he may have mentioned, were properly accredited. Furman is an excellent example of how we should conduct research today. We must make sure that our thoughts are clearly stated, and that we show our reader, that we are not inventing whatever information we are using. It’s thanks to his meticulous writing that we see how Brooklyn, and New York City as a whole, were in his time, a rare glimpse indeed.

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