New-York Historical Society

Category Archives: Ephemera

“Feelin’ Tomorrow Lak Ah Feel Today”: W.C. Handy, the St. Louis Blues, and Marion Harris

Written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. An often overlooked source of historical and cultural memory is the ephemeral format of sheet music. The New-York Historical Society houses an extensive sheet music collection numbering close to 15,000. Many of these are from the 19th century, but a significant subsection contains popular songs from […]

“An abomination in the eyes of sportsmen”: The early days of professional football

On April 4, 1865, New Yorker James F. Maury wrote in his diary “Very fine day. I celebrated the capture of Richmond by breaking my leg while playing football.” Although the injury will not be new to today’s football fan, the game played that day might not have been quite as familiar. In 1865, football […]

The X-Rays of Melville E. Stone, Jr.

Scrapbooks are unpredictable. Each page turn may reveal some obscure, interesting piece of ephemera, photograph or letter. But it’s still a bit surprising to unearth x-rays of a man’s head and chest as we found in one of  two enormous scrapbooks of Melville E. Stone Jr. Born in Chicago in 1874, Stone was an 1897 graduate of Harvard […]

Beware of Things that go Blog in the Night

This post is by Tammy Kiter, Manuscript Reference Librarian Halloween’s origins can be traced back to the Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”). The Celts’ New Year was November 1st. They believed that on the night before the New Year, boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and that ghosts […]

The Wilderness Cure

This post was written by Kate Burch, Library Page. “…To a man whose life is chiefly within four brick walls, and whose every breath takes up some part of the street and its filth, whose daily work is such that his body and health are a daily sacrifice to the necessities of sedentary life,- to […]

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 […]

“Get Me A Radium Highball!”: New York and the Radium Craze

This post was written by Kate Burch, Library Page. Radium, a naturally occurring element first isolated by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898, fascinated the world with its radioactive and luminescent properties. With no understanding of the ill effects of radiation poisoning, radium became a fashionable trend, a medical cure-all, and an industrial wonder. Newspapers […]

Historians and America’s First Secret Societies

This posting was written by Kevin Butterfield, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the New-York Historical Society, 2012-1013. Much of what we know about the past we know for one simple reason: someone took the care to record and to preserve some record of his or her time. Thankfully, people like New York’s […]

James Vick and his Illustrated Floral Guides

Spring fever was as common 150 years ago as it is now, and for many winter-weary souls, the illustrated seed catalogs that began appearing in that era are still the closest thing to a cure. Among the many fine examples of early seed catalogs in our collections, my personal favorites were produced by James Vick, […]

A Short, Incomplete History of American Traditional Tattooing

This post is written by Joe Festa, Print Room Reference Assistant As my colleague Ted pointed out in his previous blog post, the electric tattoo machine revolutionized tattooing at the end of the 19th century. However, it wasn’t just electric current that propelled the industry; another factor can be attributed to the circulation of what’s […]

About

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

Share Our Blog!

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.