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.
Every oral history relies on the memories, views, and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.
The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. Where provided, transcripts created prior to 2008 or commissioned by a third party other than BHS, serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. More recent transcripts commissioned by BHS are nearly verbatim copies of the recorded interview, and as such may contain the natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, and repetitions that are common in conversation. The decision for their inclusion was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator’s speech while editing the material for the standards of print.
All citations must be attributed to Brooklyn Historical Society:
[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.
These interviews are made available for research purposes only. For more information about other kinds of usage and permissions, see BHS’s rights and reproductions policy.
Oral history interview conducted by Bahati Williams
May 13, 2008
Call number: 2008.030.33
Oral History Interview with David Ramnauth
David Ramnauth was the owner of Big Brother's Discount Hardware and Appliance. After immigrating to America in 1975 from the small village of Leguan, Guyana, Ramnauth grew up in Brooklyn and attended P.S. 93.
In this interview, David Ramnauth discusses his motivation for starting a business; he says the family's entrepreneurial spirit began in their hometown of Leguan, Guyana, where his mother started a donkey-cart vending venture. Ramnauth says that in America, the Ramnauths turned to licensed street vending to subsidize the high cost of living; but by saving their money, they eventually purchased Big Brother's Discount Hardware and Appliance. Ramnauth discusses the pros and cons of merchants' associations, business improvement districts, and gentrification. Ramnauth tells of his philanthropic philosophy, and reflects on the decline of the American small business. Interview conducted by Bahati Williams.
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).
CitationRamnauth, David, Oral history interview conducted by Bahati Williams, May 13, 2008, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories, 2008.030.33; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Dabu, Joel
- Fulton-Nostrand United Merchants Association
- Ramnauth, David
- Business enterprises
- Economic development
- Enterprise zones
- Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Finding AidBedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories