Scope and arrangement
This collection (1986-2000) contains sound recordings of interviews Kisseloff conducted for his published and unpublished books and articles. Books published include You Must Remember This: An oral history of Manhattan from the 1890s to World War II and Generation on Fire: Voices of protest from the 1960s. The interviews for a book on the integration of baseball and a book on early rock and roll were never published.
The Jeff Kisseloff oral history interviews are arranged in four series:
This series consists of over 150 interviews Kisseloff conducted for You Must Remember This: An oral history of Manhattan from the 1890s to World War II. The recordings are listed alphabetically by neighborhood; within each neighborhood, interviewees are arranged alphabetically by surname. Some interviews took place over multiple sessions and these sessions are arranged sequentially by date. Due to the large number of interviewees and length of the interviews, only a portion of each interview was transcribed and incorporated into the published book. About ten percent of the interviewees were not represented in the final work at all.
Kisseloff interviewed native New Yorkers and immigrants from Europe, Russia, South America, and the Caribbean who represented a broad spectrum of social, economic, ethnic, and racial groups. Included are conversations with artists and writers who lived in Greenwich Village, longshoremen and merchant seamen who worked the docks in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, and dancers and musicians from Harlem. Interviews chronicle an interviewee’s education and profession; religion; family, friends, and neighbors; and key life events like marriage and childbirth. The interviews are rich with accounts of everyday life including descriptions of apartments and houses; health and hygiene; modes of transport; and the purchase of household goods like groceries, ice, and coal. Many interviewees also discuss their military service and their involvement with unions and community groups.
While the majority of the interviewees are not notable, there are interviews with saxophonist Eddie Barefield; newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Jr.; Barney Josephson, founder of New York’s first integrated nightclub, Café Society; sculptor Reuben Kadish; New York state Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz; New York Supreme Court justice Owen McGivern, who was educated through the dual support of his priest, Reverend Francis P. Duffy, and the sponsorship of Tammany Hall; and Naomi Waller Washington, the sister of Thomas “Fats” Waller. Many otherwise ordinary people were involved in key events in New York City history; Pauline Pepe survived the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire and Edna Doering was six years old when she survived the fire on the General Slocum. For additional background material on some of the interviewees, researchers may wish to consult the published book.
This series consists of interviews Kisseloff conducted for an unpublished book on the integration of American baseball. Kisseloff interviewed African American and Cuban baseball players who played in the Negro leagues; white and black players who played for integrated teams in the minor leagues; teammates of Jackie Robinson from the Brooklyn Dodgers; and journalists. Of note are substantial interviews with Les Rodney, the sports editor at the Daily Worker who lobbied in the 1940s for the integration of the major leagues. Some of the interviews were for an earlier article Kisseloff was writing on the effect of Jackie Robinson’s appointment to the Brooklyn Dodgers on African American communities in Brooklyn. Interviewees include baseball historians David Falkner and Donald Kaplan, Brooklyn judge Frank Barbara, and Reverend Gardner Taylor from the Concord Baptist Church. Kisseloff also interviewed attendees at a Dodger fan event called Return to Brooklyn Day.
The interviews are arranged alphabetically by interviewee.
This series consists of interviews Kisseloff conducted with activists for his book Generation on Fire: Voices of protest from the 1960s. Most interviews were held over multiple sessions and the recordings are arranged sequentially using Kisseloff’s own alphanumeric designations. The majority of the of the interviews are undated. The interviews touch on many of the key issues of the 1960s including the push for civil rights for African Americans and gays; the anti-war movement; the organization of unions; folk and rock music; and communal living.
Though only 15 people were profiled in the published book, Kisseloff interviewed 28 people, including ancillary interviews with the children of Paul Krassner, Gloria Richardson, Shoshana Rihn, Marilyn Webb, and Lee Weiner. Substantial interviews that were not published include Yippie and political activist Stew Albert; Vietnam soldier turned peace activist Jan Barry; Weather Underground member Bernardine Dohrn; civil rights activist Bob Ross; gay rights activist Jim Fouratt; author Marty Jezer; anti-war activist Shoshana Rihn, who was formerly known as Patricia Swinton; musician Happy Traum; basketball player and sportscaster Bill Walton; and feminist Marilyn Webb. There are also interviews with Ben Chaney, brother of James Chaney, and Carolyn Goodman, mother of Andrew Goodman, regarding the murders of Chaney and Goodman by Ku Klux Klan members during the Freedom Summer. Barry Levine and Doris Krause were also interviewed about the death of Allison Krause at Kent State in 1970; Levine was Krause’s boyfriend and next to her when she was shot by the Ohio National Guard.
This series is arranged alphabetically by interviewee.
This series contains interviews with Marshall Lytle, Vito Picone, and Ivan Ulz . They were conducted for an unfinished book on the history of early rock and roll. Figure skater Albertina Noyes was interviewed regarding her career as both a skater and teacher, and Fred Schuster was interviewed for an article on his bakery, S & S Cheesecake.
This series is arranged alphabetically by interviewee.