Recent ISAS excavations in Brooklyn, Illinois, during the building of the new Mississippi River bridge, are revealing more about the past as the first majority-black town in the United States to incorporate.
The Elders of Brooklyn, Illinois, have preserved the town's history and our cultural heritage through oral tradition that has been handed to each
succeeding generation. Until recently, it was thought that all written records had been lost. While interviewing an elder, he remembered that his
deceased sister had entrusted him with two books that she had found in an old house before its demolition. These books contain hand written
records of our history dating from 1891 through 1893. A professional archivist, working in conjunction with HSOBI, and volunteers from ITARP
has begun work on stabilizing the material which was deteriorating and beginning to flake.
Brooklyn's Historical Society was incorporated July 23, 2007. Prior to the formation of the Historical Society, Elders George McShan, Magnolia
Johnson, Joe Henry, Robert Smoots, Juanita Clemons, Nathaniel O'Bannon II, and Robert Dale Sr., had amassed a collection of photos and news
paper articles chronicling he history of Brooklyn and its citizens. Elders Prince Wells, Henry Ross Carmelita and Willie Gower have patiently
recounted life in Brooklyn during the early 1930's through 1960's which was digitally recorded. They have provided the foundation on which the
Historical Society was formed.
The focus of our work is to collect, preserve and present the historical record and cultural heritage of the first inhabitants, founding families, and
early settlers of Brooklyn, Illinois, through interpretive exhibits, promote awareness of Brooklyn, Illinois and encourage the association of people with
a common interest in our history. Our goal is to have the town of Brooklyn and its' historic sites receive designation on the National Registry of
We must preserve our past with a vision to secure our future.