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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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Oral history interview conducted by Jennifer Egan
December 26, 2006
Call number: 2010.003.036
1:17 - Coming to work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and living near Washington Avenue and St. John's Place
7:21 - Receiving news of her husband's return from World War II and job as a secretary at Fort Bragg at the beginning of World War II
9:02 - Jobs in Brooklyn before job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and living in different places in the United States
15:45 - Location of office building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and transportation to and from the Brooklyn Navy Yard
40:58 - Coworkers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard office and her husband, Ray, coming home from World War II
53:11 - Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, growing up in Brooklyn, moving to Staten Island and Long Island after World War II, and changes in Brooklyn since World War II
63:30 - Husband's jobs post-war and death and memories of Brooklyn and Fort Bragg during World War II
67:07 - Gender relations at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and feeling lonely with husband fighting in World War II
Oral History Interview with Helen Kuhner
Helen Kuhner (1918-2010) grew up in Brooklyn in the Prospect Heights neighborhood. She lived in North Carolina working as a secretary at Fort Bragg when her husband went into service. After he shipped out, she came to live in Brooklyn with her mother and began working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a stenographer. Kuhner left the Navy Yard when her husband returned. The family moved to Staten Island and then Long Island. Kuhner now lives in Florida and has five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
In her interview, Helen Kuhner (1918-2010) discusses her work as a stenographer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and life as a mother during WWII while her husband was at war. She talks about interactions between men and women working at the Yard and how she dealt with the whistles and attention from the men. Kuhner tells a story about staying home sick and remembers someone from the Navy Yard coming to check and make sure she was at home. She also remembers a woman who would check the bathroom stalls to make sure workers were not smoking or resting while on the job. Her interview brings up working conditions for women, her Irish-American background, and being a working mother. Interview conducted by Jennifer Egan.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection is comprised of over fifty interviews of men and women who worked in or around the Brooklyn Navy Yard, primarily during World War II. The narrators discuss growing up in New York, their work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, their relationships with others at the Yard, gender relations and transportation to and from work. Many narrators bring up issues of ethnicity, race, and religion at the Yard or in their neighborhoods. Several people describe the launching of the USS Missouri battleship and recall in detail their daily tasks at the Yard (as welders, office workers and ship fitters). While the interviews focus primarily on experiences in and around the Yard, many narrators go on to discuss their lives after the Navy Yard, relating stories about their careers, dating and marriage, children, social activities, living conditions and the changes that took place in Manhattan and Brooklyn during their lifetimes.
CitationKuhner, Helen Culloty, 1918-2010, Oral history interview conducted by Jennifer Egan, December 26, 2006, Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection, 2010.003.036; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Kuhner, Helen Culloty, 1918-2010
- New York Naval Shipyard
- Irish Americans
- Military wives
- Mothers, Working
- Naval ships
- Sex discrimination in employment
- United States--Armed Forces--Civilian employees
- World War, 1939-1945
- Fort Bragg (N.C.)
- Prospect Heights (New York, N.Y.)
- Sands Street (New York, N.Y.)
Finding AidBrooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection