The last and final visit to the Brooklyn Historical Society for this semester was perhaps the most intriguing. It has been an honor to have been part of such a unique learning community in which my peers and I were able to experience a wide range of research methods through the observations of primary historical documents. In a past post I had said that I “haven’t yet felt the feeling Jennifer Egan did while reading Lucy’s letters,” but I can excitingly say I have now done so. In this most recent visit we were introduced to the journals of Gabriel Furman, who I purposely decided not to research on the internet, and will explain why later in this post.
When I arrived to the BHS I naturally presided by performing the rutting all of us have become accustom to. Upon having finally signed in I immediately walked towards the third table on the opposite side of the atlas collection. As I sat at my table I realized that I was unconsciously redoing what I had done on my first visit to the private archive. That is I studied the interior architecture once more as I listened to Professor Gold and the very knowledgeable historians. Also while I balanced these to senses I enjoyed the noised produced by the other historians as they walked up and down the stairs located against the side of the space.
After a brief introduction to Furman the man we went ahead and entered the world of the 18th century writer. The reading was defiantly worth reading and who ever wanted to learn about the most important diseases of that time they may be reading Furman’s primary sources. At first he wrote about some of the main statistics of the 1830’s. The most alarming was when he stated that in New York City alone over 15000 people died of disease and I remembered that this is three times of Brooklyn just some 15 years be for hand. Later on he would mention a cure which is important to note because it has to do with the surrounding of a community. This cure was one for New Yorkers, but was introduced by the India’s due to their experience with flies do to their environment. But as much as I enjoyed reading Gabriel Furman’s pieces, what I found amazing was the handwriting my peers and I tried to decode. I personally love great hand writing and was exited to study Furman. I realized that ways people in general of his time would write the long letters longer which makes the general look of the pieces of literature appear attractive. I also realized whenever he had begun a word at one end of a sentence and he had to continue the rest of the word on the line that proceeded he would use an equal sign. At first I thought this was a writing style of his, but I had asked Julie, the historian, and she informed me that his was a standard way of writing at the time.
This last visit was defiantly my favorite, but earlier I mentioned I purposely decided not to research Furman via internet at home because rather than do that I decided to learn more about the man when I visit the Brooklyn Historical Society on my own in the not so distant future! It has been a great privilege to have been able to enter the world of Brooklyn’s past and in this last post I would like to say the following. Before this semester I didn’t know much about Brooklyn other than the sandy beach in Coney Island and the fact that one of its train stations is Broadway Junction. Now, I can say I have a greater understanding of the borough that sites next to mine and most importantly I was able to learn about its rich history through the long walks a few of my peers and I did in an attempt to explore the area, none of which would have happened if it wasn’t for the BHS and its dedicated staff. Thank you!