New-York Historical Society

Category Archives: Collections

A 19th-Century Fad: The Illustrated Gift Annual

This post was written by Miranda Schwartz, cataloging assistant. The New-York Historical Society’s Patricia D. Klingenstein Library has a rich collection of about 500 English and American gift annuals. What is a gift annual? the modern reader may well ask. It’s an annual compendium of poetry and prose, usually heavily illustrated, gilt-edged, and bound in [...]

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 [...]

Rockaway After Sandy

This post was written by Marybeth Kavanagh, Print Room Reference Librarian Almost a year after Superstorm Sandy hit New York City, waterfront communities are still feeling  the impact.  To commemorate the one year anniversary of Sandy, a set of  photographs documenting the effects of the storm in Rockaway Park, Queens was given to the New-York [...]

“Perhaps Rain, Perhaps Not”: Josh Billings Parodies the Almanac

This post was written by cataloger Catherine Falzone. Continuing our series  of highlights from the American Almanac Collection, another almanac of note is the Farmer’s Allminax by Josh Billings. Josh Billings was the pen name of humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw (1818-1885). Shaw was a member of a prominent New England family—his father was a member of Congress, [...]

The Drag Queen Stroll: Jeff Cowen and 1980s New York City

This article is written by Joe Festa, Manuscript Reference Librarian. Jeff Cowen, a contemporary art photographer born in New York City, is best known for his portraits and collages, and a painterly approach to his photographic process. Five gelatin silver prints by Cowen are housed within the Photographer File here at New-York Historical Society. Taken [...]

The Photography of Claire Yaffa

This post was written by Twila Rios, Summer Intern in the department of  Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections. The New-York Historical Society has two collections of photographer Claire Yaffa:  the Claire Yaffa Children with AIDS photograph collection  and the Claire Yaffa New York Foundling Hospital photograph collection.  A portion of the Children with Aids photograph [...]

John Jacob Astor: New York’s landlord

This post was written by Sherry Cortes, Summer Intern in the Department of  Manuscripts Born in Walldorf, Germany in 1763, John Jacob Astor was the son of a butcher who traveled to America seeking to improve his condition in life.  It was not long before he made his way to New York City, a still [...]

“They deliberately set fire to it … simply because it was the home of unoffending colored orphan children”: The New York Draft Riots and the burning of the Colored Orphan Asylum

This post was written by Matthew Murphy, Head of Cataloging and Metadata. This week marks the 150th anniversary of the New York Draft Riots, one of bloodiest and most violent insurrections in American history. A perfect storm of social unrest, ethnic hatred, and class conflict led to the brutal and horrifying riots, which were popularized [...]

Attending Ford’s Theater with the Lincolns: the tragic lives of Clara Harris and Henry Rathbone

Most Americans are familiar with the events of the Lincoln assassination. On the evening of April 14th, 1865 Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln went to see Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. During the play the actor John Wilkes Booth snuck into the Presidential Box and shot President Lincoln. However the details of the [...]

“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 [...]

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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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