New-York Historical Society

Category Archives: Ephemera

“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, [...]

Ladies, Get Ready: Its a Leap Year!

Ever since the idea of an extra day every four years was implemented as a corrective measure for the calendar, it has been filled with traditions and superstitions.  One of these is the (shocking!) idea that a woman may propose to a man on February 29th (or anytime during a Leap Month or even the [...]

Currier & Currier & Ives? a tribute to Charles Currier

To most people, Currier & Ives are locked together like love and marriage (in the song, at least) — as Frank Sinatra sings, “you can’t have one, you can’t have none, you can’t have one without the other.” In fact, though, Nathaniel Currier was a successful lithographer long before James Merritt Ives joined the business [...]

Friggatriskaidekaphobes Need Not Apply

Written by Joseph Ditta, Reference Librarian Thirteenth Annual Report of the Thirteen Club, 1895 (cover) Happy Friday the Thirteenth! Are you cowering under the covers, hoping to escape the horrible tragedies that are doomed to hit you should you set foot out of bed? If you answered yes, we are sorry to say your friggatriskaidekaphobia [...]

Carriers’ Addresses: The Holiday Gratuity, With a Little Flair

Written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian It still happens at this time of year, a holiday greeting is slipped under the door from a service provider offering good wishes and a subtle hint to be remembered with an end-of-the-year gratuity.  The practice is an old one, but was, in the 18th and 19th centuries, carried [...]

Selling for a song

Peace on earth and good will to men may be in short supply, but there is no time like Christmas to appreciate that nowadays advertising is everywhere.  Billboards, newspapers, magazines, television, the Internet, cell phones . . . advertisers will try any means available to get consumers to buy their products.  So it’s hardly surprising [...]

Early Vampire Celebrations

It appears that New Yorker’s love for vampires began before the rise of gothic rockers or even the publication of Bram Stoker’s book Dracula in 1897. The N-YHS library  collection includes invitations and programs for dinner parties from 1892-1893 called a “Death Watch” sponsored by an organization entitled “Order of the Vampires” or sometimes simply called [...]

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 [...]

Taking the Plunge: Pools of New York City

It may come as a surprise that the so-called concrete jungle of New York City has no fewer than 54 outdoor pools maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation. Astoria Park Pool.  Geographic File, PR 020. New Yorkers have been taking the plunge in the Big Apple since the late 1800s, when the state [...]

East Hamptons Hooch

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