New-York Historical Society

Category Archives: Manuscripts

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 [...]

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” [...]

“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 [...]

Generations a Slave: Unlawful Bondage and Charles Carroll of Carrollton

This post was written by Julita Braxton, EBSCO Project Cataloger Challenges to the legality of bondage, shown in acclaimed director Steve McQueen’s film 12 Years a Slave—which won the Best Picture for Drama at the Golden Globes on Sunday night—are not without precedence, as evidenced by a document held in the manuscript collections of the [...]

A Wintry Dionysiaca

This post was written by Joseph Ditta, Reference Librarian. Pick any contentious global issue. Drinking red wine with fish, perhaps. Or wearing white after Labor Day. Do you hang a paper towel roll over or under? You’re either on one side or the other (always the right side, of course). No shilly-shallying. How do you feel [...]

“Speak to the past and it shall teach thee”: Wilberforce Eames, the Self-Taught Bibliographer

Written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. Last week a copy of The Whole Booke of Psalmes, the first book printed in English in North America, set a record as the most expensive book ever sold at auction – for $14.2 million. Published in 1640 by Stephen Daye in Cambridge, Massachusetts, only 11 [...]

Horse Thieves Beware!

This post is by Brenna McCormick-Thompson, Print Room Reference Assistant In the autumn of 1815, a group of concerned citizens in Westchester County, New York banded together to put a stop to one of the most egregious crimes plaguing the region: horse stealing.    Having identified a very real threat to their homes and communities, a [...]

Redwoods and Hitler: the link between nature conservation and the eugenics movement

In 1931, the California State Park Commission presented this engrossed certificate in gratitude to Save the Redwoods League founders  Henry Fairfield Osborn, Madison Grant and John C. Merriam. From all appearances, it’s an attractive reminder of the achievements of the early conservation movement. What is less apparent is a darker link between the three founders [...]

“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 [...]

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