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The Robert L. Hess Collection: Our Collections

Digital Archives

Each Year, the Brooklyn College Archives places more archival collections and documents online. 

Many of our finding aids are also available via


Collections with digital components

Brooklyn College Bulletins

Brooklyn College Farm Labor Project

Brooklyn College History

Brooklyn College Student Newspapers

Brooklyn College Yearbooks

Brooklyn YWCA

Everett Hughes Postcard Collection

A Life Apart

The Sermons of Dr. William Augustus Jones, Jr

A Life Apart


In 1997, filmmakers Oren Rudavsky and Menachem Daum released their landmark documentary, A Life Apart: Hasidism in America. The 90-minute film has been described as “audio-visual field notes” on the religious practices, cultural mores, communal organization, family life, inter-communal relations and the Americanization process of a distinctive immigrant community from 1936-1996.

The filmmakers donated their original footage and audio recordings to the Brooklyn College Archives in 2012.  The archive contains over 69 hours of footage not used in the documentary. Rudavsky and Daum collaborated with the Archives to secure a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to digitize the unused material, because they strongly believe the content will be of interest and value to researchers and the general public alike.  The newly digitized film archive contains oral history interviews with members of the Hasidic community, scenes of community and family life, and interviews with scholars including Anne Braude, Yaffa Eliach, David Fishman, Samuel Heilman, Arthur Hertzberg, Martin Marty, and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.


The digitized material can be found here:


The finding aid for the collection can be found here:


Rev. Dr. William Augustus Jones, Jr.


The Rev. Dr. William Augustus Jones, Jr. was the pastor at Brooklyn’s Bethany Baptist Church for over forty years. He helped form the Progressive National Baptist Convention with Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the National Black Pastor’s Conference. Jones was a renowned speaker, invited to preach at events around the world, and was a leader in the fight for social and economic justice for his community.

In the mid-1970s he was invited to share his weekly sermons with a wider audience, initially on radio, and later on television. The Bethany Hour broadcasts ran for over twenty years.  When the Brooklyn College Archives acquired Rev. Jones’ papers from his family in 2007, among the records were several hundred audio and video recordings of The Bethany Hour.


Thanks to funding from a Council on Library and Information Resources grant, all recordings have been digitized, and can be found here:  


Although the grant project has ended, archives and library staff continue to work on creating transcripts for each recording, which will be linked to the related broadcast, as seen in this example:


The guide to the Papers of Reverend Dr. William Augustus Jones, Jr. can be found here:

YWCA of Brooklyn

Women of Slender Means is a documentary film by Allison Prete that follows five of the 300 women living at the YWCA Brooklyn. Told with grace and humor, their stories reveal multidimensional lives of unseen women, as well as overlooked perspectives on the history of the city itself: courageous tales of migration, gentrification, poverty, urban planning, community, faith and perseverance. We meet Frances, a WWII veteran who arrived during the Great Migration, hoping to escape segregation; Ann, an activist who worked at the infamous Willowbrook School, and is a witness to gentrification; Mary, raised by nuns in an orphanage twice burned to the ground by the Ku Klux Klan; Cheryl, a Native American 82nd Airborne veteran who suffers from PTSD; and Wendy, born into privilege and a survivor of violent abuse.

The YWCA archival collection can be found here: