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Brenda Beattie-Neuman papers, 1986–2020

Information, Description, and Finding Aid

Collection Information

Reference: MS-BEATTIE.1

Dates: 1986–2020

Extent: 0.1 linear ft. across 1 archival box

Finding Aid Information

Creator(s): Steven Payne, Ph.D., Librarian and Archivist

Date created/updated: December 16, 2020

Biography

Brenda Beattie-Neuman was born of a Russian Jewish mother and a Shinnecock Indian father in Brooklyn, New York, in 1935. Brenda's birth mother held onto her for as long as she could, but eventually, faced with pressures on all sides, she had to give Brenda up for adoption. In 1940, at the age of 5, Brenda was adopted by a Black couple, Elizabeth and Henry Beattie, who lived in the Coops, or the United Workers Cooperative Colony, located at 2700 Bronx Park East. Brenda grew up in this community, which was overwhelmingly comprised of Eastern European working-class Jews but had a very small number of Black and interracial families as well. Indeed, the Coops was one of the earliest housing complexes in New York City to begin integrating—as early as 1935, when the Beatties and about a dozen other Black and interracial families moved in. During the 1940s and 1950s, the number of Black and interracial families in the complex increased somewhat, but out of 750 families, it is doubtful that the number of Black and interracial families ever reached 5% before the 1960s.

At any rate, Brenda continued living in the Coops when she began a career and a family. She raised her two daughters in the Coops and remained highly engaged in community affairs. Although other Coopniks (as residents were called) had spoken about landmarking the complex in the early 1980s, it was Brenda who was primarily responsible for getting the Coops added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. As a real estate broker, Brenda was particularly well positioned and knowledgeable about such matters. It was shortly afterwards that Brenda moved away from New York City, but as of 2020 she continues to be a strong advocate for preserving all aspects of the history of the Coops—including the complicated racial dynamics that have been neglected in some discussions of the complex.

The core of this collection documents Brenda's successful landmarking efforts as well as the ways that people inside and outside the community responded to the landmark designation.

Description/Scope and Content

The Brenda Beattie-Neuman papers are arranged in the following three series:

1) Landmarking of Allerton Coops;

2) Correspondence; 

3) Oral history.

Provenance

The first installment of the Brenda Beattie-Neuman papers were donated to The Bronx County Historical Society by Brenda in December 2020. The oral history included in this collection is a duplicate of that recorded for The Bronx African American History Project on October 17, 2020.

Preferred Citation

[Item name or description,] Brenda Beattie-Neuman papers, box _, folder _, The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.

Points of Access

  • Allerton -- Bronx Park -- United Workers Cooperative Colony (Allerton Coops/The Coops), 2700 Bronx Park East
  • Communism
  • Ethnic groups and nationalities -- African Americans -- Jews
  • Films -- At Home in Utopia (2008)
  • Housing -- cooperatives
  • Individuals -- Beattie-Neuman, Brenda -- Guthrie, Woodie -- Scheuer, James H. (Jim) -- Seeger, Pete

Related Collections

  1. The Bronx African American History Project Digital Collection of Oral Histories. Fordham University Library.
  2. The Bronx African American History Project. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  3. Paul "Pete" Rosenblum papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.
  4. Carl Rosenstein papers. The Bronx County Archives at The Bronx County Historical Society Research Library.

Series

Series Title Box Folders
1 Landmarking of Allerton Coops 1 1–2
2 Correspondence 1 3–8
3 Oral History 1 9–10

Container List

Series 1: Landmarking of Allerton Coops

Box

Folder

Contents

Date

1

1

Coops National Register of Historic Places papers 1986

1

2

U.S. House of Representatives, James H. (Jim) Scheuer, Allerton Coops 1986

Series 2: Correspondence

Box

Folder

Contents

Date

1

3

Brenda to Goldman, Michal, re: ignoring Black Coopnicks in At Home in Utopia 2003

1

4

Fowler, Wilton B., to Brenda, re: receipt of Coops landmark papers 1986

1

5

Fox, Richard, to Brenda, re: receipt of Coops landmark papers n.d.

1

6

Gerber, David, to Brenda, re: receipt of Coops landmark papers 1986

1

7

Norton, Estelle, to Brenda, re: receipt of Coops landmark papers 1987

1

8

Seeger, Pete, to Brenda, re: receipt of Coops landmark papers and Woodie Guthrie 1986

Series 3: Oral History

Box

Folder

Contents

Date

1

9

Brenda Beattie-Neuman, Oral History, video recording, October 17, 2020, Bronx African American History Project 2020

1

10

Brenda Beattie-Neuman, Oral History, transcript, October 17, 2020, Bronx African American History Project 2020