New-York Historical Society

Author Archives: staff

“Don’t Give Up the Ship”

Written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections Such a challenge seems unheard of in modern warfare, but, nearly a year into the War of 1812, Captain Philip Bowes Vere Broke of the British frigate Shannon wrote to Captain James Lawrence of the United States frigate Chesapeake promising that their ships could duel outside [...]

“Get Me A Radium Highball!”: New York and the Radium Craze

This post was written by Kate Burch, Library Page. Radium, a naturally occurring element first isolated by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898, fascinated the world with its radioactive and luminescent properties. With no understanding of the ill effects of radiation poisoning, radium became a fashionable trend, a medical cure-all, and an industrial wonder. Newspapers [...]

The Cherokee Nation and the Birth of a New Script

Written by Geraldine Granahan, CLIR project cataloger The Patricia D. Klingenstein Library of The New-York Historical Society has several items in its collections that were printed in the Cherokee language. One example is the above almanac, Cherokee Almanac 1861, which is written in Cherokee (or Tsalagi), an Iroquoian language used by the Cherokee people. The [...]

“Fleeting Magic Designs”: Arnold Genthe and the Dance

Written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. In the early 20th century, a new form of dance was emerging, one fostered by periods of experimentation in European cities and transferred to American stages by impassioned personalities led by Isadora Duncan. As this new, modern dance both challenged and influenced other dances from ballet [...]

Happy 100th Anniversary, Woolworth Building!

Written by Marybeth Kavanagh, Print Room Reference Librarian April 24, 1913, 7:30pm:  President Woodrow Wilson presses a telegraphic button in Washington, DC, illuminating eighty thousand bulbs in the newly constructed Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway in New York City, and ushering in the era of the modern skyscraper. Constructed in neo-Gothic style by architect Cass [...]

Beyond “A Photographic Mask”: An Introduction to Arnold Genthe

This post was written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. One of the best known American photographers of the early 20th century, Arnold Genthe (1869-1942) taught himself photography, experimenting with focus, retouching, and color processes along the way. Trained as an academic in his native Germany, it wasn’t until he moved to San [...]

The Tale of the Wandering Washington, No. 2

This post was written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian. Last year at this time, we commemorated George Washington’s birthday by following a wooden statue of the general and President in its convoluted journey from city monument to private hands to mythologizing.  It would not be the only sculpture to share such a fate, and this [...]

A Short, Incomplete History of American Traditional Tattooing

This post is written by Joe Festa, Print Room Reference Assistant As my colleague Ted pointed out in his previous blog post, the electric tattoo machine revolutionized tattooing at the end of the 19th century. However, it wasn’t just electric current that propelled the industry; another factor can be attributed to the circulation of what’s [...]

The Constitution, the Java, Patrick O’Brian, and …Audubon’s Birds

This post was written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian. We last met “Old Ironsides” on this blog when she won her War of 1812 victory in August 1812 against the HMS Guerrière off of Massachusetts.  Less than six months later, the USS Constitution had been refitted in Boston, assigned a new captain, and in late [...]

Louis Prang, Father of the American Christmas Card

This post was written by Marybeth Kavanagh, Print Room Reference Librarian. It’s widely accepted that the  first Christmas card was printed in London in 1843, when Sir Henry Cole hired artist John Calcott Horsley to design a holiday card that he could send to his friends. But it was Boston-based printer Louis Prang who introduced [...]

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This is a blog created by staff members in the library to draw attention to the richness and diversity of our collections.

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