Photo: Stacy Locke
Anyone who steps through our Arch knows, Green-Wood is brimming with history. But there’s even more than meets the eye—a vast collection of historical documents and objects are contained within our Archives and Collections. Hundreds of thousands of institutional records chronicle our illustrious 180-year history, as do our thousands of collected artworks and artifacts. We are excited to share this rich history with the public.
This fall, our Archives and Collections web portal, collections.green-wood.com, was unveiled. For the first time, portions of Green-Wood’s holdings were available from this virtual access point. Visitors to the site may now explore Green-Wood’s holdings from the comfort of any screen. Hundreds of virtual visitors have stopped by. The portal provides access to finding aids for over fifty record series, including architectural drawings of mausoleums as well as a sampling of over 2,500 items from our Fine Art and Historical Collections. Visitors are encouraged to contact us to dig even deeper into our holdings on-site.
Green-Wood has also made steady progress in organizing its Archival records, thanks to the assistance of 62 college and graduate school interns and volunteers who logged 1,883 hours processing the documents. By year’s end, 125 additional cubic feet of records were processed, preserved, and described; and 150 embrittled documents were encapsulated and protected. Our Founding Documents, records that reveal the intricacies of our early days, were annotated by a Pratt Institute graduate student.
In order to preserve and protect our records while maintaining accessibility to our staff, a state-of-the-art compact shelving system was installed in the Administrative Office’s basement. The custom designed system of 13 movable storage carriages has more than doubled our storage capacity. It houses 1,212 linear feet of shelving, enough to store 2,800 archival document cases of records. This will allow Green-Wood to store our Burial Orders series, detailed records of our 573,855 interments (and counting). About 75% of this series has been processed since 2009, thanks to our team of dedicated volunteers.
Our part-time Green-ealogy research team received 690 inquiries and prepared 558 research estimates which generated 269 orders in 2018. Green-Wood strives to assist families in learning about their own history and, in return, has the opportunity to learn more about our own.
Selections from Green-Wood’s Collections have been on view in exhibitions organized by other New York City institutions. Most notably, Stevedores Bathing Under the Brooklyn Bridge by artist Edward F. Casey, was loaned to the Gracie Mansion Conservancy as part of its exhibition “New Yorkers at Work and Play.” The same painting served as a resource for curator and historian Hugh Ryan for his book “When Brooklyn was Queer” as well as an accompanying exhibition “On The (Queer) Waterfront,” at Brooklyn Historical Society. Additionally, a series of photographs by photographer Christopher Serrano, donated to Green-Wood by the artist’s family, were loaned to Brooklyn College Library. Several exhibitions curated by Morbid Anatomy were held in our Fort Hamilton Gatehouse, each including pieces from our collections. In honor of the 100th birthday of permanent resident Leonard Bernstein, twelve items were displayed in our Administrative Office lobby.
In fall 2018, Green-Wood’s board formed a Collections and Exhibitions Committee chaired by Trustee Bevin Cline. The Committee is charged with reviewing and approving our Collections Management Policy, as well as overseeing acquisitions, deaccessions, loans, and exhibitions.