New-York Historical Society

Author Archives: sue

Rare photographs of Hart Island, New York’s potter’s field

Off-limit to the public for over 35 years, Hart Island — a mile-long island off the eastern coast of the Bronx — has remained one of New York City’s most closely guarded secrets.  It is the home of New York’s “potter’s field,” for those who can’t afford to pay for burial, or whose identity is […]

Indian Summer

Above-average temperatures at other times of year may raise alarms of global warming, but autumn heat waves are still fondly referred to as “Indian summer.” So where does the term come from, and what exactly does it mean? A number of explanations have been advanced over the years, including the following: 1. In 1804, Charles […]

“Jane’s jaunts:” the travel sketchbooks of Jane Bannerman

Jane Campbell Bannerman — now a sprightly 103 years of age — embarked on her first trip abroad in 1929, long before there were iphones or digital cameras.  Instead, she carried sketchbooks and watercolors to record the scenes and people she encountered.  Colorful, personal, quirky, and utterly unique, Bannerman’s 74 sketchbooks capture the quintessential spirit […]

James Vick and his Illustrated Floral Guides

Spring fever was as common 150 years ago as it is now, and for many winter-weary souls, the illustrated seed catalogs that began appearing in that era are still the closest thing to a cure. Among the many fine examples of early seed catalogs in our collections, my personal favorites were produced by James Vick, […]

Grace Hoadley Dodge and the Travelers Aid Society of New York

Women’s History Month is the perfect time to pay tribute to a largely unsung heroine, Grace Hoadley Dodge. Born in 1856, to a family prominent in both business and philanthropy, Grace Dodge devoted her life to helping underprivileged women.  She was instrumental in founding a number of prestigious and long-lasting aid organizations, including the YWCA, […]

Almost an Alleghanian: or how N-YHS tried to change the nation’s name to the United States of Alleghania

Given the New-York Historical Society’s reluctance to change so much as the hyphen in its own name (see “It Can Hyphen Here: Why the New-York Historical Society Includes a Hyphen”), it may come as a shock to learn that in 1845, N-YHS spearheaded an effort to give an entirely new name to the whole country. […]

John Ruggles Strong: another “Strong” diarist

If not quite a household name, George Templeton Strong enjoys a certain notoriety among historians as a pungent observer of 19th century New York. His 2250-page diary, held by the New-York Historical Society, has been described as “the greatest of American diaries, and one of the world’s great diaries,” and has been cited or quoted […]

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 […]

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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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