“Rank Abolitionists”: a New Yorker Responds to Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin
“Rank Abolitionists”: a New Yorker Responds to Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin
February 25, 2015

On September 22, 1852, New York dry goods merchant Edward Neufville Tailer sat down to record his latest diary entry as he did religiously from 1848 until very nearly the day of his death in 1917. On this particular occasion he reflected on his reading of one of the most famous American literary works, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published…

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“Seven Moments of Love”—from Langston Hughes to Robert Earl Jones
“Seven Moments of Love”—from Langston Hughes to Robert Earl Jones
February 18, 2015

This post was written by Luis Rodriguez, Library Collections Technician. Imagine a moment in Harlem in 1939. It’s inside the Community Center of the International Workers Order on West 125th Street, where the Harlem Suitcase Theater is putting on bare-bones experimental “proletariat” theatrical productions. The audience has left after a performance of Don’t You Want to…

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Special Delivery for Valentine’s Day
Special Delivery for Valentine’s Day
February 12, 2015

This post was written by Tammy Kiter, Manuscript Reference Librarian. Like it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is upon us. With all the advertisements for expensive jewelry, bountiful bouquets and fine dining, one might overlook the significance of a good old fashioned Valentine. Yep, a card can hold just as much meaning as a giant…

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“Little Ethiopians:” 19th Century Photography of African Americans
“Little Ethiopians:” 19th Century Photography of African Americans
February 4, 2015

To kick off Black History Month, here is a cabinet card that has fascinated me ever since I stumbled across it in our Portrait File. Titled “Little Ethiopians,” it’s a composite of 21 portraits of African-American babies. The cabinet card was issued by Smith’s Studio of Photography in Chicago, Illinois, and bears an 1881 copyright…

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“The Untold Delights of Duluth”: The Speech That Killed the Railroad Bill
“The Untold Delights of Duluth”: The Speech That Killed the Railroad Bill
January 28, 2015

This post was written by cataloger Miranda Schwartz. Satirical takedowns and witty bon mots weren’t invented by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Our 19th-century forebears knew a thing or two about the influential effect of a little well-aimed satire, as evidenced by an 1871 broadside that the New-York Historical Society Library has in its collections….

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Woman of Letters: Charlotte Lennox and The Life of Harriot Stuart
Woman of Letters: Charlotte Lennox and The Life of Harriot Stuart
January 21, 2015

Written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. Among the uncatalogued treasures at the New-York Historical Society are two small, leather bound volumes I recently stumbled upon in the library stacks. Out of pure curiosity, I picked these volumes up and looked at the title page. The title read: The Life of Harriot Stuart,…

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A Pictorial Record of New York’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial March, April 5, 1968
A Pictorial Record of New York’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial March, April 5, 1968
January 15, 2015

Margot Gayle is synonymous with historic preservation. A leading figure in the movement which found its voice following the tragic loss of Pennsylvania Station in 1963, Gayle played a seminal role in the creation of New York’s Landmark Preservation Law two years later. For sixteen years she penned an architecture column in the Daily News while  helping to found the Victorian…

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Vintage advertising calendars
Vintage advertising calendars
January 7, 2015

The beginning of a new year seems like the perfect time to explore our collection of vintage calendars. It’s hard to imagine in this age of email marketing and television commercials, but calendars were once among the most effective means of advertising.  Unlike advertisements in newspapers or magazines, which were likely to be discarded right…

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From “Splendid” to “Usurper”: The fickle story of the Ailanthus tree
From “Splendid” to “Usurper”: The fickle story of the Ailanthus tree
December 31, 2014

Historians are accustomed to constructing human history through surviving texts, architecture, and images but the living world  can help us understand our past in its own unique way. A particularly good example of this is the Tree of Heaven, or Ailanthus altissima. Although now widely regarded as a weed, at one time it was a heralded exotic plant. Most will also…

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