New-York Historical Society

Author Archives: Edward O'Reilly

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

This post was written by Tammy Kiter, Manuscript Reference Librarian Who among us doesn’t enjoy a cold, creamy treat on a hot summer day? In honor of July being National Ice Cream month, I thought we’d take a little trip down creamery lane to celebrate ice cream in all its delicious glory. It is estimated [...]

Before the Declaration of Independence…

The line between historical obscurity and fame is often a fine one. It’s not surprising then that on July 4th no one thinks about the most important document produced by Congress before the Declaration of Independence: the Declaration of the Causes and of the Necessity of Taking Up Arms. As its title implies, it was a justification for [...]

Enlightenment in the Cemetery: The Adams Memorial and Buddhism in 19th Century America

Even in a city with as many monuments as  Washington, D.C., the Adams Memorial is exceptional. Commissioned on the death of his wife by Henry Adams, it is one of the most widely celebrated pieces of American funerary art. Adams’ wife Clover committed suicide in December 1885. The loss so shook Adams that she is [...]

“However, be you Scotch or Irish”: Thomas Addis Emmet’s letter to his daughter Jane

For many significant figures, the historical spotlight is focused on their public accomplishments but being able to appreciate the aspect of their lives outside the public sphere often presents an important context for those accomplishments. An excellent example is a cache of letters by famed early nineteenth century Irish-American revolutionary and lawyer Thomas Addis Emmet [...]

The Traveller and the Stone: John Ledyard and the Central Park Obelisk

John Ledyard’s far from a household name in his own country even though he’s arguably the United States’ first explorer, and, had Catherine the Great not abruptly ended his circumnavigation of the globe in 1787-1788, could very well have achieved what Lewis & Clark accomplished fifteen years later. Ledyard also attended Dartmouth, participated in Cook’s Third [...]

“Jeff: Davis, aint this a Go?”: Hiram Rhoades Revels takes his seat in the Senate

On February 25, 1870 Hiram Rhoades Revels, a preacher from Mississippi was sworn into the United States Senate. That occasion marked the first time a man of African descent served in either house of congress. While his service is a landmark in American history, Revels would not seek a second term but did go on [...]

Snakes in the Mail

Although he lived at the Waldorf-Astoria, died at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital and is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery, George A. Treadwell spent the bulk of his career as a mining engineer out west, much of it in the sweltering Arizona desert. Naturally, his papers document this mining work but they also contain some curious incoming [...]

“Freely for games and recreative sports”: New York and the small municipal park

Central and Prospect Park parks dominate New York City park history. While that’s somewhat understandable, it’s time smaller parks got some attention of their own. Despite New York’s long history, small, city-owned public parks didn’t really become a common feature until the waning years of the nineteenth century. It was then that waves of  immigration and [...]

“Are and henceforward shall be free”: Marking the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

If you’ve been preoccupied with the “fiscal cliff” saga over the last several days, you may have missed a rather significant milestone. 150 years ago yesterday, on January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in all rebellious states, enacting what has been described as, behind the Declaration of the United States, perhaps “the single [...]

Cuttin’ the mustard: Gulden’s and the American Institute

Let’s talk mustard. Even if you’ve never actually tried it, it’s unlikely you’d have trouble recognizing a bottle of Gulden’s. Its distinctive gold and crimson label is, at least as far as condiments go, iconic. But have you ever taken a closer look? Like many brands, Gulden’s slapped images of medals  earned in bygone days on [...]

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