New-York Historical Society

Author Archives: sue

A Drunken Bookbinder in the Stacks?

This post was written by Henry Raine, Director of Digital Programs and Library Technical Services Contrary to popular belief, previously unknown treasures rarely turn up in the stacks of a great research library. Most collections are cataloged, and even if they aren’t, curators, librarians and archivists tend to know what they have in their collections. [...]

Top Secret: the Stager ciphers in the Civil War

Anson Stager is not exactly a household name, but perhaps that is only fitting for a man whose main claim to fame is that he created the most widely used — and most effective — secret code during the Civil War. Born in Ontario County, New York, in 1833, Anson Stager began his career as [...]

Remembering Antietam

This post was written by Alice Browne, N-YHS cataloguer September 17 marks the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day of fighting in the Civil War, which left almost four thousand dead. It was not a conclusive victory for either side, but did put an end to Lee’s invasion [...]

Death Warrant signed by George Washington

This post was written by N-YHS intern Catherine Newton While working with the Oversize Manuscripts Collection this summer, my coworker and I uncovered a death warrant signed by George Washington and dated October 25, 1778. Best known for his role as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and later as the first president of the United [...]

The cure for nostalgia: nineteenth-century coroner’s reports

This post was written by N-YHS intern Audrey Belanger If you, like me, occasionally suffer from bouts of longing for life in the 19th century (Carriages! Balls! Needlepoint!), there is no better cure than perusing 19th century death records in the N-YHS manuscript collection.  Not only were sicknesses such as consumption, dropsy, smallpox, and hives [...]

Old Ironsides Earns Her Nickname: The USS Constitution versus HMS Guerriere

Post written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian The logbook’s entry for the morning, 200 years ago, of August 19, 1812 records hazy weather, temperature 64° in the air and a similar 65° in water. By “3/4 past 11 am” the weather is cloudy with fresh breezes, so the mizzen topsail is set. And then it [...]

Croquet, an Olympic Sport?

It was in 1900, for the first and only time.   The 1900 Olympics, held in Paris, were also the first which allowed women to compete (an Olympic tradition which has, happily, had a longer track record than croquet).  According to Olympic games historian Bill Mallon, two women competed (with other men) in a croquet [...]

Who really created the Teddy (Roosevelt) Bear?

Brooklyn is justly known as the borough of churches and the rightful home of the Dodgers — but did it also give birth to the Teddy Bear? Credit for inventing the teddy bear is generally given to Morris Michtom, a Russian immigrant who is said to have opened a candy store at 404 Tompkins Avenue [...]

Davy Crockett Almanacs

This post was written by cataloger Catherine Falzone. As my colleagues and I work to catalog the thousands of almanacs held by N-YHS, thanks to a Hidden Collections Program grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), we have come across some unusual items that bear a closer look. Some of my favorite [...]

The Serious Side of Drinking: Political Toasts

Tippling is mainly a recreational sport today, but beer was an important source of nutrition in colonial New York.  And alcohol also played a role in early American politics, through the time-honored ritual of drinking toasts. In 18th century America, nearly every public occasion ended with a score of ceremonial drinks and toasts. Verbatim transcripts [...]

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