New-York Historical Society

Category Archives: Library

What is the Oldest Book in the N-YHS Library?

Written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. A reasonable assumption would be that the oldest materials in the New-York Historical Society Library relate to Colonial North America or New York. However, in terms of the book collection, the oldest item actually predates the first North American colonies by over a hundred years. Amongst […]

Yellow Fever: the Ebola of earlier centuries

The current Ebola crisis is by no means the first time a viral  haemorrhagic fever (“VHF”) has terrorized the inhabitants of America.  Throughout the 18th century and into the 19th, epidemics of another VHF — yellow fever — spread fear and panic across the United States.  N-YHS is fortunate to hold a number of rare […]

Climate and Protest: The Letters of Reverend James MacSparran

We hadn’t even started changing the climate, and Wall Street could only be understood in a literal sense, but the title page of a tract published in 1753 captures the spirit of this week’s protests perfectly, viz: America Dissected, being a Full and True Account of all the Colonies, showing the Intemperance of the Climates; […]

“The Star-Spangled Banner” Watched O’er the Ramparts of Fort McHenry

This post was written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections  Frank Key, as his friends knew him, had little use for this war, particularly as he viewed the War of 1812 as an aggressive one directed at Canada.   The Georgetown lawyer’s patriotism kicked in, however, with the threat of the British invading the […]

“Lamenting the Disgrace of the City”: The 1814 Burning of Washington, D.C.

This post was written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. “Our preparation for defence by some means or other, is constantly retarded but the small force the British have on the Bay will never venture nearer than at present 23 miles,” First Lady Dolley Madison wrote to her friend in her letter of […]

Damn the torpedoes! The Battle of Mobile Bay

This post was written by Alice Browne, Ebsco Project cataloger. The Battle of Mobile Bay, fought on August 5, 1864, led to Union control of one of the last significant Gulf ports remaining in Confederate hands. The New-York Historical Society holds letters and papers from several participants in the battle. It was widely anticipated, and […]

“I wish to be honorable & right in my dealings all round” — Letters from Louisa May Alcott to James Redpath

This post was written by Miranda Schwartz, cataloging technician. The New-York Historical Society Library has a collection of eighteen letters by Louisa May Alcott, best known as the author of the 1868 novel Little Women, a classic of American children’s literature. The Alcott letters are in the American Historical Manuscripts Collection, a trove of 12,000 small […]

Ken Regan’s Celebrity Portraiture: Paul Mazursky Comes Home

This post was written by N-YHS intern Brynn White Numerous tributes to actor and filmmaker Paul Mazursky have unspooled since his passing on Tuesday, July 1. In films such as Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (1969) and An Unmarried Woman (1978),  the Brooklyn native investigated middle class values, hypocrisy, and personal growth during a time in American […]

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 […]

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

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