New-York Historical Society

Category Archives: Library

Historians and America’s First Secret Societies

This posting was written by Kevin Butterfield, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the New-York Historical Society, 2012-1013. Much of what we know about the past we know for one simple reason: someone took the care to record and to preserve some record of his or her time. Thankfully, people like New York’s [...]

Happy 100th Anniversary, Woolworth Building!

Written by Marybeth Kavanagh, Print Room Reference Librarian April 24, 1913, 7:30pm:  President Woodrow Wilson presses a telegraphic button in Washington, DC, illuminating eighty thousand bulbs in the newly constructed Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway in New York City, and ushering in the era of the modern skyscraper. Constructed in neo-Gothic style by architect Cass [...]

Enlightenment in the Cemetery: The Adams Memorial and Buddhism in 19th Century America

Even in a city with as many monuments as  Washington, D.C., the Adams Memorial is exceptional. Commissioned on the death of his wife by Henry Adams, it is one of the most widely celebrated pieces of American funerary art. Adams’ wife Clover committed suicide in December 1885. The loss so shook Adams that she is [...]

Where to Live in New York: the Women of the Ladies Christian Union

Everyone knows how hard it is to find housing in New York.  However, locating safe housing for young women in New York City in the mid-nineteenth century was particularly difficult. In 1858, a prayer group known as the “Ladies’ Christian Association” recognized this as a common problem and decided to provide housing for young women [...]

Grace Hoadley Dodge and the Travelers Aid Society of New York

Women’s History Month is the perfect time to pay tribute to a largely unsung heroine, Grace Hoadley Dodge. Born in 1856, to a family prominent in both business and philanthropy, Grace Dodge devoted her life to helping underprivileged women.  She was instrumental in founding a number of prestigious and long-lasting aid organizations, including the YWCA, [...]

The Traveller and the Stone: John Ledyard and the Central Park Obelisk

John Ledyard’s far from a household name in his own country even though he’s arguably the United States’ first explorer, and, had Catherine the Great not abruptly ended his circumnavigation of the globe in 1787-1788, could very well have achieved what Lewis & Clark accomplished fifteen years later. Ledyard also attended Dartmouth, participated in Cook’s Third [...]

Free of an Empire, by Way of an Empress

This posting was written by Dael Norwood, a  Bernard & Irene Schwartz Postdoctoral Fellow at the New-York Historical Society.  On February 22, 1784, a small ship with big ambitions weighed anchor, and sailed down the East River. Commanded by John Green, the Empress of China left New York on George Washington’s birthday aiming to be [...]

It Can Hyphen Here: Why the New-York Historical Society Includes a Hyphen

Visitors to the New-York Historical Society (as well as many copy editors and printers throughout the ages) have often wondered why the title of our institution includes a hyphen between the “New” and “York”.  The answer is simple; when the New-York Historical Society was founded in 1804, New York was generally written as “New-York.” This [...]

“Are and henceforward shall be free”: Marking the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

If you’ve been preoccupied with the “fiscal cliff” saga over the last several days, you may have missed a rather significant milestone. 150 years ago yesterday, on January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in all rebellious states, enacting what has been described as, behind the Declaration of the United States, perhaps “the single [...]

Louis Prang, Father of the American Christmas Card

This post was written by Marybeth Kavanagh, Print Room Reference Librarian. It’s widely accepted that the  first Christmas card was printed in London in 1843, when Sir Henry Cole hired artist John Calcott Horsley to design a holiday card that he could send to his friends. But it was Boston-based printer Louis Prang who introduced [...]

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