New-York Historical Society

Category Archives: Manuscripts

Death Warrant signed by George Washington

This post was written by N-YHS intern Catherine Newton While working with the Oversize Manuscripts Collection this summer, my coworker and I uncovered a death warrant signed by George Washington and dated October 25, 1778. Best known for his role as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and later as the first president of the United [...]

The cure for nostalgia: nineteenth-century coroner’s reports

This post was written by N-YHS intern Audrey Belanger If you, like me, occasionally suffer from bouts of longing for life in the 19th century (Carriages! Balls! Needlepoint!), there is no better cure than perusing 19th century death records in the N-YHS manuscript collection.  Not only were sicknesses such as consumption, dropsy, smallpox, and hives [...]

Old Ironsides Earns Her Nickname: The USS Constitution versus HMS Guerriere

Post written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian The logbook’s entry for the morning, 200 years ago, of August 19, 1812 records hazy weather, temperature 64° in the air and a similar 65° in water. By “3/4 past 11 am” the weather is cloudy with fresh breezes, so the mizzen topsail is set. And then it [...]

Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

It sounds like an easy question, right? Well, Thomas Jefferson certainly wrote it — in terms of authorship. But do you know whose hand it was that literally produced the famous handwritten copy? If you’re not sure, don’t worry, historians aren’t completely certain either. That said, there is consensus that it was “probably” Timothy Matlack, of [...]

Golf and the Gilded Age at Newport Golf Club

It’s probably no consolation for last week’s heat wave but if you were a well-heeled New Yorker living in the late nineteenth century, you would probably be spending the sultry days of summer living it up in Newport, RI. Not surprisingly, the story of Newport and New York’s richest dwellers is well documented at the N-YHS. [...]

Transits of Venus from Times Past

On June 5th a rare transit of Venus will occur that can be seen from most of North America.  During the transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black dot moving across the sun.  A transit, in which Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, is exceptional in that it occurs [...]

Who put the “Williams” in Williamsburgh?

Today uttering Williamsburg  is more likely to precede a snarky comment about hipsters than it is to spur thoughts of its namesake. After all, time has heaped layers of meaning onto New York’s place names, and while places like Fort Greene and Fort Tryon require little effort to discover that they were once military installations, other [...]

Johnny Reb in the Big Apple: The Confederate Veteran Camp of New York

This post was written by N-YHS intern Rachel Schimke, a graduate student in the Archives and Public History program at NYU, who processed the Alexander Robert Chisolm Papers. Though most war-weary Confederate soldiers returned home following Lee’s surrender, not all had the ability or interest to recover their lives in the South. Founded in 1890, [...]

New York cyclists and the “Orange Riding District”

It’s National Bike Month again, and it so happens that Albert B. Barkman’s Road-Book of Long Island (1886) recently crossed our path. It’s an unassuming book at best, but like a great deal of our collections, when given a dose of context it turns out to be an interesting little piece of bicycling and mapmaking history. The Road-Book contains [...]

“High class freight”: The Titanic and its cargo

With the centennial of its sinking having arrived, the Titanic is a big ticket these days. Fittingly, most commemorations  recognize the terrible loss of life associated with its sinking but there are certainly less somber aspects of this catastrophe too. Aside from its great quantity of passengers, the Titanic also sailed with a modest cargo, [...]

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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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