New-York Historical Society

Author Archives: Edward O'Reilly

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, [...]

A Spurious Thanksgiving

In 1900, The Century Co. published Colonial Days & Ways, by Helen Evertson Smith, a description of life in New York and Connecticut during that period. According to Smith, the book is largely derived from papers found  “tucked away under the eaves in old baskets of Indian make, or in open pine-wood boxes, and even in [...]

Veterans Day: Remembering World War I

At 5 a.m. on November 11, 1918, the United States and its allies concluded an armistice with Germany. Later that morning, at 11 a.m. French time, World War I hostilities came to an end after one concluding salvo. In America, the day became known as Armistice Day until Congress substituted “Veterans” in 1954 to expand [...]

Occupying Manhattan’s Public Spaces: 1776 and Today

Post written by Eric Robinson. Love it or hate it, the forlorn but determined group camped out at Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan thrust New York City back into the center of a national debate. Our city has long been considered a political outlier because of its progressive voting patterns and ability to weather recessions, [...]

Albert Gallatin — a Big (Swiss) Cheese

“Forgotten” — undeservedly — is the adjective most commonly applied to Swiss-born statesman Albert Gallatin, whose personal papers reside in the N-YHS library. Born to a highly regarded but not particularly wealthy family in Geneva in 1761, he left nineteen years later to seek his fortune in America while the budding nation was still in [...]

Laudanum: A Dose of the Nineteenth Century

Coroner’s report for the suicide of Richard D. Hamilton, 18 August, 1822. BV New York City Coroner’s Reports, MS 1957 A great primary source often elicits a visceral sense of what it meant to live in the moment of the document’s creation. It’s difficult not to have this reaction when reading through two manuscript volumes [...]

About

This is a blog created by staff members in the library to draw attention to the richness and diversity of our collections.

Bookmark and Share

Subscribe

Support n-yhs

Help us present groundbreaking exhibitions and develop educational programs about our nation's history for more than 200,000 schoolchildren annually.