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“So terrible a calamity”: Timothy Pickering, Slavery and the Declaration of Independence
July 1, 2016

Americans have spilled quite a lot of ink discussing the Declaration of Independence’s five words “all Men are created equal.” As with any historical text, their meaning in eighteenth century America is important to avoid drawing anachronistic conclusions. In particular, many would point out that many contemporaries commonly wouldn’t have regarded African Americans as commensurate with “all Men.” This underscores slavery’s denial of…

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Alexander Hamilton’s Version of #NeverJohnAdams
June 28, 2016

This post was written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections What to do if you are a leader of a political party and you fear that your party’s presumptive nominee for the presidency thoroughly lacks the temperament for the office? If he is erratic, animated by “disgusting egotism,” “distempered jealousy,” and “ungovernable indiscretion”?…

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“A Supply of Pure and Wholesome Water:” Views of the Old Croton Aqueduct
June 22, 2016

This blog post was written by Marybeth Kavanagh, Reference Archivist for Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections. “A supply of pure and wholesome water is an object so essential to the health and prosperity of a city, that it should form one of the leading features of the public improvements which characterize its growth”- F.B. Tower, civil…

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AHMC of the Month: Farmer/Author James Johns of Vermont
June 15, 2016

This post was written by cataloger Miranda Schwartz. An unusual item in the American Historical Manuscript Collection is a hand-printed, or pen-printed, newspaper by Vermont farmer James Johns (1797-1874). Born in Huntington, Vermont, Johns received little formal education but from the age of 13 on he wrote—and wrote and wrote—not stopping until his death at…

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And then there were ten: Brooklyn’s Landmarked Dutch Houses
June 8, 2016

This post was written by Joseph Ditta, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. In her 1945 book Old Dutch Houses of Brooklyn Maud Esther Dilliard (1888-1977) recorded the stories of “all the ancient dwellings” which were then in existence around the borough so “that their early owners, the founders of Kings County, [would] not be forgotten in the…

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Mr. Egyptology and his “Outline of a Grand Chronological Atlas”
June 3, 2016

Few of us would have the temerity to summarize world history in a single volume but that is what the Swiss educator, cartographer and geographer Henri Venel attempted in the 1840s. We would hardly be aware of his name though were it not for a translation of that work by the English-born American Egyptologist George Gliddon. As it…

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Versailles on the Susquehanna
May 24, 2016

This post was written by cataloger Catherine Falzone. If Marie Antoinette had survived the French Revolution, she might have come to live in the Pennsylvania woods. The American Historical Manuscript Collection (AHMC) contains documents from the founding of Asylum (or Azilum), the French refugee settlement located in Pennsylvania that was intended for the French royals….

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Sketches of New York
May 19, 2016

This post was written by Marybeth Kavanagh, Reference Archivist, Deptartment Of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections. Today there is nothing remarkable about the idea of New York as a large, diverse, cosmopolitan city. But to mid-19th century New Yorkers,  the rapid growth of New York  from a small, walkable city to a bustling, sprawling metropolis must have been a…

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AHMC of the Month: Peter, born of Lilly
May 11, 2016

This post was written by Julita Braxton, AHMC Cataloger. One collection within the American Historical Manuscript Collection (AHMC) is composed of four birth certificates for children born to enslaved mothers, following the passage of “An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery” in New York in July, 1799. This is a birth certificate for a…

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