New-York Historical Society

Category Archives: General

What does the ‘S’ in Ulysses S. Grant stand for?

You might expect to hear this kind of question in a game of Trivial Pursuit, and if you’re inclined to say “Simpson”, you’re right – sort of. In truth, Simpson was not part of his name at all and that’s on the authority of the man himself. On June 23, 1864, Grant wrote to Congressman [...]

The “Suff Bird Women” and Woodrow Wilson

Written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. As Women’s History Month comes to a close, let’s focus on an attempted publicity stunt from 1916 involving New York suffragists, a biplane, and President Woodrow Wilson. Three fantastic photographs in the library collection tell the beginning of the story as a group of suffragists met [...]

“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 [...]

William Halsey Wood and the Cathedral that Never Was

Post written by Luis Rodriguez, Library Collections Technician The architect William Halsey Wood died in 1897 at the age of 41, less than a decade after losing out on the opportunity to build his masterpiece. He did manage to build a number of other noteworthy churches and homes, but when looking at his relatively brief [...]

Keeping the Peace with Samuel Colt

Post written by Tammy Kiter, Manuscript Reference Librarian “If I can’t be first, I won’t be second in anything.” – Samuel Colt, 1844 Born in Hartford, CT, in 1814, Samuel Colt transformed the evolution of firearms. An ambitious inventor and successful industrialist, Colt was fascinated by machinery from an early age. He enjoyed taking things [...]

New York City: the Curling Capital

Most Americans view curling — reinstated as an Olympic medal event just 16 years ago , in 1998 — as a novel and peculiar sport.  Given its exotic status, not to mention the U.S. team’s dismal performance at Sochi, it may come as a surprise to learn that this ancient Scottish game also has a [...]

Artist as soldier: David Cronin’s sketches from the field of war

This post was written by Deborah Tint, cataloging assistant.   At the start of the Civil War Harper’s Weekly, then known as a journal of news, culture and serial fiction, sprang into action to provide striking images of the conflict to those at home and at the front. Articles appeared to inform readers that a corps of “Regular Artist-Correspondents” [...]

Doris Ulmann’s Portraits: “The Marks of Living Intensely”

In honor of the death of Pete Seeger last week, this week’s blog will highlight the work of another champion of American folk music and crafts: the photographer Doris Ulmann (1882-1934). Like Seeger, Ulmann was born in Manhattan, and seemed an unlikely candidate to work in the rural South. The eldest daughter of a prosperous [...]

“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 Light at the End of the Hudson Tunnels

This post written by project cataloger Geraldine Granahan. Few commuters probably give much thought to the tunnels under the Hudson River, even as they travel through them every day, but they should.  The history of the tunnels is a fascinating example of early Gilded Age engineering technology, which predates the construction of the New York [...]

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