I need suggestions on tracing a Brooklyn business.. — Brooklynian

I need suggestions on tracing a Brooklyn business..

A friend of mine's father has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and his family is trying to trace his employment history dating back to the early 1940s (his father is experiencing the onset of dementia and can't remember a lot of things).

Part of his employment was working at a machine shop on Pacific Ave. in 1942. Would anyone have any suggestions as to finding the names of machine shops in that area at that time?

Any help that anyone can give would be greatly appreciated. I'm at a loss as to where to look for this information, and my friend isn't very web-savvy and has asked me to help. Thanks in advance.



  • Does he have any old pay stubs? I'm guessing this was before W2s? Maybe check for old permits issued?

  • So dad must be around 90 figuring that you're going back 71 years. By the time this case comes to court, if ever, dad will probably not be around. So someone is looking to make money for something that won't even affect this person. But in any event, even the attorneys must not think this case is worth a whole bunch, otherwise they'd be doing the leg work. And if there was more than one machine shop on Pacific Street who knows if you'll be able to prove that he was employed at that one. One possible way to check would be to see what Social Security has on file, they would probably know where he was employed as they would keep earnings records.

  • Social security seems to have started in 1937.


    Another option could be NYS unemployment insurance records, it seems to have started around that time as well.


    I do hope the OP is seeking the info just out of curiosity; I also suspect that the prospect of getting a civil judgement from a machine shop which may be long defunct to be a long shot.

    Lots of stuff had asbestos in it (floor tiles, installation, etc), so tying his condition to a specific shop also presents challenges.

  • Maybe Block & Lot history photos?

  • Pacific Street stretches on for miles, all the way out to Brownsville, so locating a machine shop from the 1940s seems to be a long shot. I wouldn't be surprised if many of the buildings have been demolished since then. Currently, the portion between Grand and Franklin is industrial/commercial, so that might be a place to start.

  • You need to look at Sanborn maps also known as fire insurance maps from 1942 and maybe a couple of years before and after just to make sure.

    If you have a NYPL account you can access them online at any library in Manhattan.

    Fire insurance maps have so much information on them. Not only do they name the companies in the buildings but they also make notes of whats in the surrounding areas such as a lumber yard.

    Good luck!

  • Do you mean Pacific STREET or Pacific AVENUE?

  • Brooklyn Room at the Grand Army Plaza Library may have old phone books

    also get thee to a lawyer who specializes in Asbestosis law

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