New-York Historical Society

Category Archives: General

Concerning Spooks: The Spiritualists of New York

This post was written by Kate Burch, Library Page In March of 1848, Kate and Margaret Fox, teenagers living in Hydesville, New York, reported something fantastic: they had developed a system of communicating with the dead. Their home, in a small hamlet near Rochester, was rumored to be haunted, and for months the family had [...]

Indian Summer

Above-average temperatures at other times of year may raise alarms of global warming, but autumn heat waves are still fondly referred to as “Indian summer.” So where does the term come from, and what exactly does it mean? A number of explanations have been advanced over the years, including the following: 1. In 1804, Charles [...]

The Dancing Cavalier: The Dual Lives of Edward Ferrero

Written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. Among the Civil War related papers in the American History Manuscript Collection at the Historical Society are those of Union Army General Edward Ferrero (1831-1899). This one folder collection consists mainly of items relating to his military commissions. These materials document Ferrero’s progress through the war, [...]

“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 [...]

“We Have Met the Enemy,” or, in Other Words…

This post was written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections As we continue to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812, we pause this week to commemorate the September 1813 Battle of Lake Erie.  Unlike those heroic naval encounters on the high seas, this victory for the young United States was fought [...]

Turning the Pages of Patriotism with the American Library Association

This post is written by Tammy Kiter, Manuscript Reference Librarian Thoughts of World War I do not necessarily conjure up images of soldiers reading for leisure. Rather, we tend to recall seeing photographs of brave young men engaged in trench warfare and scenes of the horrific aftermath of brutal battles. But through the efforts of [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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