New-York Historical Society

Author Archives: Edward O'Reilly

New York cyclists and the “Orange Riding District”

It’s National Bike Month again, and it so happens that Albert B. Barkman’s Road-Book of Long Island (1886) recently crossed our path. It’s an unassuming book at best, but like a great deal of our collections, when given a dose of context it turns out to be an interesting little piece of bicycling and mapmaking history. The Road-Book contains […]

The Promise and Loss of the Hindenburg

Post written by Mariam Touba This spring we have heard much that commemorates the disaster that befell the ocean liner Titanic, but it is not the only mournful anniversary of the destruction of a beautiful, efficient and luxurious way to cross the Atlantic. Seventy-five years ago, on May 6, 1937, the airship Hindenburg caught fire […]

“High class freight”: The Titanic and its cargo

With the centennial of its sinking having arrived, the Titanic is a big ticket these days. Fittingly, most commemorations  recognize the terrible loss of life associated with its sinking but there are certainly less somber aspects of this catastrophe too. Aside from its great quantity of passengers, the Titanic also sailed with a modest cargo, […]

Henry Bergh: Angel in Top Hat or the Great Meddler?

Written by Tammy Kiter, Manuscript Reference Assistant. Many of us are familiar with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA. But lesser-known and truly inspiring, is Henry Bergh, its founder and the man who worked so diligently to maintain it. A native New Yorker, Bergh was born in 1813 and […]

American Eagle and Irish Harp: The Story of the New-York Hibernian Volunteers

A great deal of the work done on the Irish immigrant experience focuses on the refugees of Ireland’s potato blight in the late 1840s. However, the epic story of the Irish in America, and the challenges it encountered, did not begin there. One obscure chapter of this story is captured in the tale of the […]

Happy Birthday Yellowstone!

Last Thursday (March 1), Yellowstone National Park marked its 140th year of existence. It’s also a perfect excuse to remind everyone that, despite our name, the New-York Historical Society’s collections document the history of the entire United States, not just of New York and its neighbors. In his 2008 television series documenting his tour of […]

Daniel E. Sickles: The Rotten Apple from the Big Apple

Far be it from us to dwell on the negatives of history, but there’s no denying that New York has produced its share of heels. High on anyone’s list should be Daniel Sickles. On a Sunday morning in February of 1859, the New York born and bred Sickles shot the un-armed Philip Barton Key (the son of […]

The Sailor’s Life

Sometimes primary sources overturn history’s misconceptions while at others they simply illustrate common knowledge. The latter is a task by a cache of records from the Richard Worsam Meade 2nd Papers in conveying the colorful life of a sailor. The documents in question all cover the Civil War service of the USS San Jacinto, a screw […]

A Christmas Carol: One of those quaint, simple, affecting, humoursome things

Holidays evolve — for better or worse. And while there is reason to bemoan the creep of commercialism into every niche of the holiday season, such disappointment is not necessarily as recent as one might think. Charles Dickens’ iconic work, A Christmas Carol: In Prose: Being a ghost story of Christmas arrived in America at a time when contemporaries […]

A Word about the Weather

Have you ever read a description of some idyllic, sun-soaked historical moment and wondered how a historian could have assembled such an image? Sometimes it’s pure fabrication, but if a researcher “does it by the book” there actually are sources for such details, even before official meteorological records were kept. According to the Encyclopedia of New York, […]

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