New-York Historical Society

Category Archives: Library

American Eagle and Irish Harp: The Story of the New-York Hibernian Volunteers

A great deal of the work done on the Irish immigrant experience focuses on the refugees of Ireland’s potato blight in the late 1840s. However, the epic story of the Irish in America, and the challenges it encountered, did not begin there. One obscure chapter of this story is captured in the tale of the [...]

Happy Birthday Yellowstone!

Last Thursday (March 1), Yellowstone National Park marked its 140th year of existence. It’s also a perfect excuse to remind everyone that, despite our name, the New-York Historical Society’s collections document the history of the entire United States, not just of New York and its neighbors. In his 2008 television series documenting his tour of [...]

Ladies, Get Ready: Its a Leap Year!

Ever since the idea of an extra day every four years was implemented as a corrective measure for the calendar, it has been filled with traditions and superstitions.  One of these is the (shocking!) idea that a woman may propose to a man on February 29th (or anytime during a Leap Month or even the [...]

Mr. Mitchell’s Muscular Map

Post written by Eric Robinson It’s hard to believe, but a document with the imperious title A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America was the cartographic basis for our American republic. John Mitchell’s 1755 masterpiece provided the lens with which the founding generation negotiated independence and plotted westward settlement. Needless to [...]

Daniel E. Sickles: The Rotten Apple from the Big Apple

Far be it from us to dwell on the negatives of history, but there’s no denying that New York has produced its share of heels. High on anyone’s list should be Daniel Sickles. On a Sunday morning in February of 1859, the New York born and bred Sickles shot the un-armed Philip Barton Key (the son of [...]

Friggatriskaidekaphobes Need Not Apply

Written by Joseph Ditta, Reference Librarian Thirteenth Annual Report of the Thirteen Club, 1895 (cover) Happy Friday the Thirteenth! Are you cowering under the covers, hoping to escape the horrible tragedies that are doomed to hit you should you set foot out of bed? If you answered yes, we are sorry to say your friggatriskaidekaphobia [...]

The Sailor’s Life

Sometimes primary sources overturn history’s misconceptions while at others they simply illustrate common knowledge. The latter is a task by a cache of records from the Richard Worsam Meade 2nd Papers in conveying the colorful life of a sailor. The documents in question all cover the Civil War service of the USS San Jacinto, a screw [...]

A Christmas Carol: One of those quaint, simple, affecting, humoursome things

Holidays evolve — for better or worse. And while there is reason to bemoan the creep of commercialism into every niche of the holiday season, such disappointment is not necessarily as recent as one might think. Charles Dickens’ iconic work, A Christmas Carol: In Prose: Being a ghost story of Christmas arrived in America at a time when contemporaries [...]

A Word about the Weather

Have you ever read a description of some idyllic, sun-soaked historical moment and wondered how a historian could have assembled such an image? Sometimes it’s pure fabrication, but if a researcher “does it by the book” there actually are sources for such details, even before official meteorological records were kept. According to the Encyclopedia of New York, [...]

A Castle on the Hudson: the Bannerman Island Story

Post written by Ashley Todd, a fall intern at N-YHS who processed the Bannerman Family Papers. The collection was generously donated by Virginia Betts in 2011. If you have ever taken the Metro-North Hudson Line train to Poughkeepsie then you are probably familiar with the haunting castle ruins that sit on a small island between [...]

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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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