New-York Historical Society

Author Archives: sue

“Little Ethiopians:” 19th Century Photography of African Americans

To kick off Black History Month, here is a cabinet card that has fascinated me ever since I stumbled across it in our Portrait File. Titled “Little Ethiopians,” it’s a composite of 21 portraits of African-American babies. The cabinet card was issued by Smith’s Studio of Photography in Chicago, Illinois, and bears an 1881 copyright […]

Vintage advertising calendars

The beginning of a new year seems like the perfect time to explore our collection of vintage calendars. It’s hard to imagine in this age of email marketing and television commercials, but calendars were once among the most effective means of advertising.  Unlike advertisements in newspapers or magazines, which were likely to be discarded right […]

Yellow Fever: the Ebola of earlier centuries

The current Ebola crisis is by no means the first time a viral  haemorrhagic fever (“VHF”) has terrorized the inhabitants of America.  Throughout the 18th century and into the 19th, epidemics of another VHF — yellow fever — spread fear and panic across the United States.  N-YHS is fortunate to hold a number of rare […]

Climate and Protest: The Letters of Reverend James MacSparran

We hadn’t even started changing the climate, and Wall Street could only be understood in a literal sense, but the title page of a tract published in 1753 captures the spirit of this week’s protests perfectly, viz: America Dissected, being a Full and True Account of all the Colonies, showing the Intemperance of the Climates; […]

In honor of Labor Day: a photographic tribute to New Yorkers at work

While historians still debate who first proposed a labor day holiday, there is no question as to where the first Labor Day celebration took place. Like most other important events, it happened right here in New York City. On September 5, 1882, a parade organized by the city’s Central Labor Union marched up Broadway, past […]

Street Trades: The Photography of Marcus Reidenberg

“The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any one place is always replete with new improvisations.” Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. From poet Walt Whitman to activist Jane Jacobs to fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, New Yorkers have celebrated their streets as […]

Spring Fashion, circa 1890’s

“Fashion is unfolding, just like nature,” reads the caption for a recent On the Street column by famed New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham (whose work is currently on exhibit at N-YHS).  Now that spring has finally arrived, we decided to take a look at seasonal fashion in New York over a hundred years ago. […]

George Frederick Seward and the Chinese Exclusion Act

This post was written by Heather Mulliner, spring semester intern in the Department of Manuscripts. A career in politics seemed all but inevitable for George Frederick Seward, the nephew of Lincoln’s famed Secretary of State (and one-time Presidential rival) William Henry Seward. But like his better-known uncle – whose vocal opposition to slavery cost him […]

Happy Passover and Easter!

To celebrate the holidays, here are a few lighthearted Easter and Passover images that can hardly help but make you happy, regardless of religion.                      

New York City: the Curling Capital

Most Americans view curling — reinstated as an Olympic medal event just 16 years ago , in 1998 — as a novel and peculiar sport.  Given its exotic status, not to mention the U.S. team’s dismal performance at Sochi, it may come as a surprise to learn that this ancient Scottish game also has a […]

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