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The 576 gelatin silver prints in the Nooney Brooklyn Photographs collection are organized chronologically. Each photograph is identified by neighborhood, address, and the names of the sitters. In addition to the photographs, Nooney kept index cards to which she affixed contact prints and took notes recording her observations of each family. The collection includes copies of these notes. The Library acquired the collection as a gift from the photographer in 1995.
A Manhattanite by birth, Nooney's first photographic project (1974-76) was to document the entire length of the West Side Highway, which had partially collapsed in 1973 and was demolished beginning in 1977. The Getty Center acquired Nooney's West Side archive, including negatives, prints, notes, and newspaper clippings.
Her second project, the documentation of Brooklyn, was much larger in scope. Nooney initially became interested in the borough in 1972, while working as a volunteer for George McGovern's presidential campaign. Two years later, she used the connections she had made in order to gain access to rooftops and other vantage points for a survey of the borough. She soon became more interested in the people she met and began photographing families in their homes. Many of these sitters then recommended other potentially willing subjects.
Working almost daily from January 1978 to April 1979, she crisscrossed the borough, documenting the broad ethnic and economic range of Brooklyn's residents. The portraits that emerge are striking in their attention to the details of architecture and décor, which reveal just as much about the subjects as how they choose to pose themselves for Nooney's camera. This project was the subject of an exhibition, At Home in Brooklyn, at the Long Island Historical Society in 1985.
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