Nov. 8, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
Astoria residents will have a chance to preserve their memories of the neighborhood in the Queens Library archive this weekend.
As part of the Queens Memory: 50 Years of Integration program, a program focused on preserving the history of Queens, the Library is hosting two sessions for people to bring photos and items to be scanned and saved in the library archives.
“It’s a great chance to pull people together and have them share stories about what Astoria was like when they first moved, and a way to let people share something personal with neighbors and relate to neighborhood and see how changed over the years,” said Director of the Queens Memory Project Natalie Milbrodt.
There will be two sessions for memory sharing, the first on Saturday November 12, and the second on Saturday November 19, both at the Queens Library at 40-20 Broadway, running from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
The session this weekend will focus on what people’s earliest memories of Astoria are from when they first moved to the neighborhood. It will also serve as a five-year anniversary celebration of the 30th Ave Blog, which started when journalist Annabel Short moved to Astoria and interviewed over 50 residents and shopkeepers from the area as a way to understand the neighborhood.
Several of the people originally interviewed for Short’s blog will also speak at the event.
The second session will focus on celebration and art in Astoria, and people are asked to bring memories of festivals, events, music, and dance in the area.
Both sessions will also feature talks from Robyn Spencer, a history professor at Lehmann College.
“I’ve gone to the archives at the library and looked at pictures of how the neighborhood looked in the past and how it has changed,” Spencer said.
“The idea is to reflect back and have people think about their history within the larger narrative in what’s happening and how things are changing in the city and the community. The goal is to provide the big picture perspective, and for people not just to come with stories but bring in something from their culture, their history, their family, to bring in things that represent their own history,” she added.
The Queens Memory Project staff will be on hand with a mobile scanner, and will not only scan artifacts and photos in to the library archive, but will also provide digital copies to the owners.
Milbrodt said that similar events have fostered connections between people in the past. She described an event in Sunnyside where two women brought in photos of their father, and another attendee helped put the pictures in to context, identifying people and things in the photos that they had not known about before.
“The other attendee could help identify things in the photos and they learned about their own materials. It’s like a show and tell for grown ups,” Milbrodt said.
The Queens Memory Project archives are available online, combining historical and contemporary photography, maps, news clippings, and other documents with oral history interviews of current residents.
For more information on the project, visit http://www.queensmemory.org/index.php.
To register for the event this Saturday ahead of time, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/astoria-memories-tickets-28987300797.