Brooklyn Heights

BPL nominates Dominique Jean-Louis as chief historian at Center for Brooklyn History

April 10, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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BROOKLYN HEIGHTS – Dominique Jean-Louis was appointed as chief historian of the Center for Brooklyn History (CBH) at the Brooklyn Public Library on Monday.

A writer and scholar who specializes in Black America and New York City History, Jean-Louis will oversee the creation of exhibitions and programs at CBH along with the collection and preservation of the stories of Brooklyn’s diverse and dynamic communities. The Center for Brooklyn History is home to the world’s largest collection of physical and digital primary source materials and artifacts about Brooklyn

“Dominique Jean-Louis’ vision—to share history as a means to empower and strengthen communities —has never been more important as we witness an onslaught of book bans, censorship, and disinformation. We are thrilled to welcome her to the Center for Brooklyn History at Brooklyn Public Library,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library.

Dominique Jean-Louis, the newly appointed chief historian at the Center for Brooklyn History, BPL. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Public Library

Previously, Jean-Louis held the position of associate curator of history exhibitions at New-York Historical Society, where she co-curated Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow (2018), Our Composite Nation: Frederick Douglass’ America (2022), and Black Dolls (2022). She is a former Mellon Predoctoral Fellow in Museum Education at the Museum of the City of New York, where she also contributed to the exhibition New York at Its Core (2016). She received her B.A. in comparative ethnic studies from Columbia University and is completing her doctoral dissertation at NYU on race, education, and immigration in post-Civil Rights Era Brooklyn. She regularly writes and lectures on Black history in America, schools and education, and New York City history.

“I am overjoyed to be taking on the role of Chief Historian of the Center for Brooklyn History at the Brooklyn Public Library. I have long been impressed with the many achievements of this Center, I have had my research shaped by its vast collections, and I really admire the talented individuals who have made it such a leading city institution,” said Dominique Jean-Louis. “To me, the best part of this new position is that I’ll be doing history within the system of a public library. As a public historian, part of your job is to connect the stories (and lessons) of the past with a broad audience. It’s a rare opportunity to be doing this work within a network of more than 60 branch libraries that are already deeply embedded in their neighborhoods. My whole career, I’ve seen firsthand how history truly can bring people together, and I can’t wait to learn from, and take part in, the many ways Brooklyn shares and celebrates its beautifully complicated history.”

As part of Brooklyn Public Library’s network of 61 neighborhood branches, CBH works to democratize access to and engagement with its collection. Through regular high-profile events, exhibits, and educational programs online, CBH strives to expand its community of students, scholars, and Brooklynites of all ages who are curious about the civic life and cultural heritage of their borough.

“I am thrilled to have Dominique in the critical role of Chief Historian. Recognized as a leader in public history, her approach is inclusive, multi-disciplinary, and rooted in making history accessible to diverse audiences. Her expertise in museum education will be vital as we reinterpret our landmark building and welcome more visitors than ever before,” said Heather Malin, Director, Center for Brooklyn History at Brooklyn Public Library. “And, as we bring history to branches throughout the system, Dominique’s focus on creating repositories for community history – particularly Black diasporas – will be central to our approach.

The Center for Brooklyn History’s historic landmark home at 128 Pierrepoint St. is currently being renovated and is scheduled to re-open this September. The Othmer Library remains open by appointment and the Center offers a wide range of resources and programs online and in person at nearby library branches.

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