“Profligate, abandoned, and dissipated”: New York City’s Last Colonial Mayor
June 10, 2015

This year marks 350 years since Governor Richard Nicoll appointed New York’s first mayor, Thomas Willett, in 1665. Much has changed since the office’s earliest days, including the expansion of the mayor’s powers. New York mayors are now known far and wide while a comparatively small number of the 109 overall are familiar to the average New Yorker. Among this less recognizable cohort…

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Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes in America
June 3, 2015

Written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for the Printed Collections. Last week the New-York Historical Society proudly opened its new installation of Pablo Picasso’s “Le Tricorne” drop curtain, formerly located in the hallway of the Four Seasons Restaurant until its removal and conservation late last year. This impressive 20 foot square curtain was commissioned as part…

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The Beekman Family Papers and the Archival Challenges of Women’s History
May 26, 2015

This post was written by Alisa Wade, New-York Historical Society Graduate Archival Research Fellow James Beekman and his wife, Jane Keteltas Beekman, circulated in New York’s high society in the post-Revolutionary era.  After returning to the city following British evacuation in 1783, the Beekman family reintegrated themselves into the social circles of the urban elite,…

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Meaningful Utility: The Handwritten Word During the American Civil War. Part 2 of 2.
May 19, 2015

This post is by Jonah Estess, Digital Project Intern in the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, approximately 60,000 amputations were performed during the Civil War. This equates to approximately three out of every four wartime operations. A large percentage of those soldiers had hand or arms amputated. For those…

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“What the business requires”: Early 20th Century Firefighting in NYC
May 12, 2015

This post was written by Marybeth Kavanagh, Reference Librarian for Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections On July 31, 1865, Engine Company 1 of the new Metropolitan Fire Department went into service, and the transition from a volunteer to a paid professional fire department in New York City had begun. The Metropolitan Fire Dept. was originally…

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“A Terrible Mass of Wood, Iron, Steam, and Water – and Worst of all Lives and Souls!!” – Dwight C. Harris, Lusitania Survivor
May 6, 2015

This post was written by Tammy Kiter, Manuscript Reference Librarian. On the morning of May 1, 1915, the German Embassy in the United States placed ads in New York newspapers issuing serious warnings to anyone planning to travel on an Atlantic voyage; alerting them that a war zone existed in the waters adjacent to the…

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Meaningful Utility: The Handwritten Word During the American Civil War. Part 1 of 2.
April 29, 2015

This post is by Jonah Estess, Digital Project Intern in the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library. What would we do without the written word? Written communication has been, and still is, our saving grace. The Civil War was the first time that the American military used the telegraph to communicate information across vast distances in wartime,…

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Earth Day Photos Reveal the Dirt on NYC
April 22, 2015

Now that every inch of Manhattan is covered with buildings or fabricated parks, it’s hard to imagine the city was once just another patch of earth. To celebrate Earth Day, here are photographs that reveal some dirt on New York City’s past. The first one shows the land currently occupied by the New-York Historical Society….

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Now He Belongs to the Ages: 150 years after Lincoln’s Assasination
April 14, 2015

Today marks the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. As is fitting for our most eloquent president, Lincoln’s death, and life, have inspired a torrent of writing. The memorializing began at the moment of Lincoln’s death, when his friend and Secretary of State, Edward Stanton, famously said, “Now he belongs to the ages” (or, as…

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