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Oral histories are intimate conversations between and among people who have generously agreed to share these recordings with BHS’s archives and researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. BHS abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.

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[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.

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Seth Edwards

Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan

April 16, 2008

Call number: 2008.030.12

Interview Description

Oral History Interview with Seth Edwards

Seth Edwards was born in 1946 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the son of an Episcopalian missionary. Around age two, Edwards moved with his family to Liberia, where his father served as a medical missionary. During their time in Liberia, Edwards and his family would occasionally vacation with his grandparents in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Edwards stayed in Liberia with his family until middle school, when he enrolled at a boarding school in Garden City, Long Island. Edwards graduated from Cornell University via a university in Liberia, which he attended on a Cornell exchange program. Soon after, Edwards was drafted into the United States Army and served in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1969. Upon returning to America, Edwards joined JP Morgan Chase Bank. At the time of the 2008 interview, Edwards was a vice president within the bank's Global Philanthropy, Community Relations division.

In this interview, Seth Edwards discusses his own life story, and his family's history and genealogy. He provides impressions of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn of his youth. Edwards recounts Bedford-Stuyvesant's economic and cultural renaissance, and describes the essential role played by Restoration in the community's evolution, sharing his thoughts on the tension between economic development and gentrification. At the interview's end, Edwards describes JP Morgan Chase Bank's philanthropic strategy. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) partnered on the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral history project in 2007-2008 to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Restoration's founding as the first community development corporation (CDC) in the United States. Nearly sixty interviews were conducted with founding Board members, supporters, activists, artists, tenants, and other community members. Audio clips from these oral history interviews were included in the exhibit "Reflections on Community Development: Stories from Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation" (BHS 2008, Restoration 2009).


Edwards, Seth, Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, April 16, 2008, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories, 2008.030.12; Brooklyn Historical Society.


  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Development and Services Corporation
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
  • Edwards, Seth
  • Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History
  • United States. Army


  • Community centers
  • Community development corporations
  • Economic development
  • Enterprise zones
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Gentrification
  • Philanthropists
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975


  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Paris (France)

Finding Aid

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories