Local Historian’s Books Accepted by the New York State Library

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Joan V. Cusimano Lindquist
Joan V. Cusimano Lindquist

Joan V. Cusimano Lindquist, author/editor of THE LOST NEIGHBORHOOD COLLECTION (2010), BROOKLYN SQUARE, THE LOST NEIGHBORHOOD, AND BEYOND (2013), and REMEMBERING BROOKLYN SQUARE: THE 1930s TO THE 1960s (2015) and contributing writer of the monthly column “Remembering Brooklyn Square” for the Jamestown Gazette, has had her three books chronicling the history of Brooklyn Square and the Lost Neighborhood accepted by Senior Librarian, Michael Meyer, at the New York State Library in Albany, NY.

Mrs. Lindquist, a native of Jamestown, New York, grew up in the 1940s and 1950s on Derby Street in a close-knit, Italian American community that formed the southern boundary of Brooklyn Square. It was demolished during the city’s urban renewal program in the late 1960s and early 1970s and has become known as the Lost Neighborhood. She attended Jamestown public schools and is a graduate of Jamestown High School (1958), Jamestown Community College (1960), and Harpur College in Binghamton, New York, where she earned a B.A. in British Literature in 1962. She taught in the English Department of Jamestown High School from 1962 to 1964 as well as Jamestown Community College where she taught Composition and Literature in the Evening Division. In 1964, she married Harold S. Lindquist, Jr. and moved from the city. In 1983 she earned an M.A. in English from Fordham University and taught at Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey (1984-1985) and continued her graduate studies in English at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she taught American literature, drama, and composition from 1985 to 2002. She currently resides in Jackson, New Jersey where she has lived for the past 53 years.

As a historian, Mrs. Lindquist has noted that we sometimes fail to see that our local history is part of a greater history, a larger history of its people that goes beyond the political borders of a city or a county that, indeed, becomes an integral part of a state’s history. This is why state libraries exist they are repositories for literature of all kinds that “tell” and chronicle the life of a much wider and diverse population of a larger political, social, and cultural arena than our immediate surroundings. The collection of history, especially in the case of the New York State Library that has been in existence since 1818, presents the “birth” and building of a state in the Union through its cities and people that gathers to itself all that it has become to the present moment. We all contribute to a state’s growth, whether we realize it or not. That is why these books, which chronicle the life of a city’s past that invariably has affected its future, have rightfully found a place in the New York State Library.

Mrs. Lindquist realizes the value of history and pays respect to the personal narratives of former residents of the Lost Neighborhood and the owners and employees of Brooklyn Square businesses that form a collective history of a part of Jamestown, New York that was lost to urban renewal over a half century ago. Her books are built on memory, for as she wrote in the Preface to her second book, BROOKLYN SQUARE, THE LOST NEIGHBORHOOD, AND BEYOND: “What is lost in physical structures cannot be lost in memory or the people who crowded our past. Memory is a way to replant the past and watch it grow as memories and stories, told by those who lived those moments, swell our present.” It is these voices that give her books their authenticity.

As Dolores Thompson, former historian for the city of Jamestown, reminds us: “History is not just a chronicle of events; it is primarily the biographies—individually and collectively—of people.” These books fulfill that realization, and Mrs. Lindquist gives deep and sincere recognition to those authors who cooperated so enthusiastically in the work they undertook: from Jim Auria, whose constant presence in the preparation of her three books as author, confidant, and advisor to many other Jamestonians whose memories and deep interest and knowledge of the Lost Neighborhood and Brooklyn Square and their obvious respect for history led to all of the contributions in her books. It is apparent that Mrs. Lindquist has deep personal regard for all of them, people who believed in her vision of recording a history of part of the city of Jamestown that is no more but a part of this city that the younger generations of city and state dwellers can now know through the recollections of a much older generation.
In addition to the placement of her books in the New York State Library, other museums and libraries where Mrs. Lindquist’s books are available for circulation and/or reference are the following: the Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History, and Genealogy of the New York Public Library (New York City), the James Prendergast Library and the Hultquist Library on the campus of Jamestown Community College (Jamestown, NY), the McClurg Museum, home to the Chautauqua County Historical Society (Westfield, NY), and closer to Mrs. Lindquists’s home in Jackson, NJ, the Ocean County Library (Toms River, NJ). Her books may also be purchased at the Fenton Museum and History Center gift shop in Jamestown and Off the Beaten Path Book Store in Lakewood, New York.

Mrs. Lindquist’s interest in Jamestown’s history continues in her monthly column, “Remembering Brooklyn Square,” that appears on the third Monday of each month in the Jamestown Gazette. Her latest article about the Fenton family entitled “The Fenton Women II” appeared in the October 19, 2020 issue of the Gazette.