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Brooklyn College Project To Preserve School's History, Culture

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The Brooklyn College community is connecting to future generations by turning back the pages of time, using digital technology to make sure the school's story is not lost. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

With just a quick look around campus, the diversity of the Brooklyn College student population is evident. More than 100 languages are spoken there.

Brooklyn College is starting a new campus project called the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion in order to preserve the school’s rich culture and history. Students, faculty, administrators and alumni are all taking part.

"The idea is to create a kind of living mosaic of Brooklyn College through the family photograph and through this idea of history as something that's living and present and something dynamic," said Thomas Allen Harris, the creator of the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion.

This week, interviews were conducted and photographs were shared.

"This is a picture of my mother, which is her graduation from college, which happened to be Brooklyn College about 1936 or 1937,” said Gene Reiser, a Brooklyn College alumnus.

"I knew my family was from the islands and I said 'let me just express my family heritage,'" said Dominique Carson, a Brooklyn College graduate student. "It's always interesting to find out."

The project also digs into the college's beginnings. A photo from 1905 showed the land that would become the campus.

The school opened in 1930 in a Downtown Brooklyn building. Five years later, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia officiated at the ribbon cutting for the Midwood location. President and former New York State Gov. Franklin Roosevelt came a year later for the dedication of a building named in his honor, Roosevelt Hall.

Jahongir Usmanov, a Brooklyn College archivist, provided much of the project's materials.

"We have a number of artifacts and historical collections and documents that relate to Brooklyn history,” said Usmanov. “Not only Brooklyn College but also Brooklyn as a borough."

Harris travels around the country to preserve history in what he calls a road show.

The Brooklyn College Community Partnership sponsored the project.

The Digital Diaspora Family Reunion will have its grand finale presentation at Brooklyn College next week. The free show is Oct. 25 and the project will be showcased online at www.ddfr.tv

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