Oral History Project

Oral history is a method of collecting and preserving a record of the past through first-person accounts of everyday life. An oral history is a recorded interview that elicits the interviewee’s firsthand knowledge and recollections.

We are creating a community archive of interviews with Flatbush-PLG community members. By collecting recordings of our neighbors’ life histories, we aim to document Flatbush-PLG’s rich culture and history through the eyes of the people who live here and to foster dialogue about the neighborhood’s future. We are actively searching for a permanent archival home for our collection of 45+ recordings.

Listen to interviews from our Oral History Collections here. 


Our Collections

Whose Streets? Our Streets: Remain, Reclaim, Rebuild

In 2022, we launched our second special initiative called “Whose Streets? Our Streets!,” which takes the slogan and concept developed by Henri Lefebvre of “the right to the city” as its compass. We thus pose questions about the quality of life in the neighborhood, how it feels to walk the streets, shop in stores, take subways and buses, go to spaces like the Flatbush African Burial Ground. What it means to rename streets. Who has access to quality food, healthcare, and education? What kind of future will serve the needs of all residents? How can community members exert control over real estate development, rent hikes, skyrocketing prices? What programs exist for youth, elders, and people with disabilities. How do people feel about life in Flatbush. School? Policing? Racial profiling? Rents and Prices? Crime? Cafes? What do they love about the neighborhood? Hate? What are their fears, hopes, and dreams? What stories do they have to tell?

Listen to interviews from this collection here. 

A Community History of COVID-19

To capture the unprecedented times that we lived through during the pandemic, Voices of Lefferts launched an oral history collection about our community’s experience with the global COVID-19 pandemic. We spoke to neighbors who experienced the pandemic from a whole range of perspectives — educators, health care workers, store owners, artists, the elderly, and the young — though living just blocks from each other, no two stories were alike.

Listen to interviews from this collection here. 

Flatbush Eats: Food, Survival, and Celebration

Inspired by the 1930s Federal Writers’ Project’s collection, America Eats, Flatbush Eats documents the pleasures, traditions, and histories of food in our neighborhood, and explore a range of food-related issues, including inequitable access, hunger, mutual aid, gender, and environment.

Listen to interviews from this collection here. 

Seeking Participants

We are seeking people who want to learn to conduct interviews AND people who want to share their stories! Recommendations of people you think we should interview are also welcome!

Interviews in our collection are conducted by volunteer interviewers who are also Flatbush-PLG community members. We hold periodic oral history interviewer trainings to provide volunteers with the skills to interview their neighbors, family members, and friends. No prior experience is necessary. Trainings provide an overview of oral history ethics and methodology, and recording techniques. After receiving training, interviewers are invited to contribute interviews to our collection.

Information about upcoming trainings is posted here and shared through our mailing list.

Get in touch!