Podcast Review: Rachel Whitlow and the Haverstraw Brick Museum Exhibition-Crossroads of Rockland History

Crossroads of Rockland History is an interesting podcast that teaches about Rockland County’s history and educational institutions. Claire Sheridan is the writer, producer, and host of it. On December 21st of 2021, she uploaded an interview with Rachel Whitlow who is the Executive Director of the Haverstraw Brick Museum.  In the episode, you learn about the fascinating history of Haverstraw and the importance of the brick industry to this region. You also learn about innovative programs and education exhibitions at the Haverstraw Museum. While listening to this podcast, you will be inspired to visit the Haverstraw Brick Museum.

Haverstraw was settled in the 1600s by the Dutch. While settling there, they developed Flemish bond bricks out of malleable clay in this region The British and American crafted their own types of bricks. In the 19th century, the brick industry exploded in Haverstraw and there were forty brick yards from which they were created. The chemistry of the earth there unfortunately lead to The Great Mudslide of 1906. Whitlow does an excellent job of talking about the interesting history of Haverstraw.  

The slogan of the Havershaw Museum is: Learn the past, Discover the future. Whitlow talks about how “learn the past” is done by people viewing the museum’s rich archival collections and listening to oral history interviews created by staff members. The museum helps the public “discover the future” by holding STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs for children and maintaining technology that visitors can learn how to use. Whitlow talks about how hands on learning is a key component of education at the museum. People from as far away as Europe have visited it and viewed their remarkable exhibitions.

Elementary school children and students from the Pratt Institute joined in a program where they created bricks themselves. This was done with 3-D printers using clay. Whitlow choose clay as an environmentally friendly alternative rather than plastic. Students from the Pratt Institute crafted brick shelters for specific animals including bats and snakes. While doing this, students learned about coding and the chemistry. These projects are displayed in an exhibition at the museum. The innovation of this program in truly remarkable!

This podcast episode is both a history lesson of Haverstraw and tutorial of unique programs at the Haverstraw Brick Museum. As someone who has conducted oral history projects and studied archives while in library school, I am interested in listening to and viewing these collections. I would also like to get my hands on clay and craft my own brick! These podcast intrigues you with description about programs at the museum and excites you for their next project.

Crossroads of Rockland History can be heard on SoundCloud  or apps such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.

Michael Walsh

Will Branch-Adult Services Librarian