New-York Historical Society

Category Archives: Photographs

“Rank Abolitionists”: a New Yorker Responds to Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin

On September 22, 1852, New York dry goods merchant Edward Neufville Tailer sat down to record his latest diary entry as he did religiously from 1848 until very nearly the day of his death in 1917. On this particular occasion he reflected on his reading of one of the most famous American literary works, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published […]

“Seven Moments of Love”—from Langston Hughes to Robert Earl Jones

This post was written by Luis Rodriguez, Library Collections Technician. Imagine a moment in Harlem in 1939. It’s inside the Community Center of the International Workers Order on West 125th Street, where the Harlem Suitcase Theater is putting on bare-bones experimental “proletariat” theatrical productions. The audience has left after a performance of Don’t You Want to […]

“Little Ethiopians:” 19th Century Photography of African Americans

To kick off Black History Month, here is a cabinet card that has fascinated me ever since I stumbled across it in our Portrait File. Titled “Little Ethiopians,” it’s a composite of 21 portraits of African-American babies. The cabinet card was issued by Smith’s Studio of Photography in Chicago, Illinois, and bears an 1881 copyright […]

“The Untold Delights of Duluth”: The Speech That Killed the Railroad Bill

This post was written by cataloger Miranda Schwartz. Satirical takedowns and witty bon mots weren’t invented by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Our 19th-century forebears knew a thing or two about the influential effect of a little well-aimed satire, as evidenced by an 1871 broadside that the New-York Historical Society Library has in its collections. […]

A Pictorial Record of New York’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial March, April 5, 1968

Margot Gayle is synonymous with historic preservation. A leading figure in the movement which found its voice following the tragic loss of Pennsylvania Station in 1963, Gayle played a seminal role in the creation of New York’s Landmark Preservation Law two years later. For sixteen years she penned an architecture column in the Daily News while  helping to found the Victorian […]

From “Splendid” to “Usurper”: The fickle story of the Ailanthus tree

Historians are accustomed to constructing human history through surviving texts, architecture, and images but the living world  can help us understand our past in its own unique way. A particularly good example of this is the Tree of Heaven, or Ailanthus altissima. Although now widely regarded as a weed, at one time it was a heralded exotic plant. Most will also […]

MGs, Fords, Bugattis, Austins, Willys and Maserati: Early Photos of American Car Racing

This post was written by Alison Barr, Manuscript Department volunteer With the advent and popularity of NASCAR in America, long forgotten is New York’s road racing circuit in the tradition of the European Grand Prix. Between the two wars, in 1934, the Collier Brothers (Barron, Samuel and Miles) and Thomas Dewart founded The Automobile Racing […]

The First Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

This post was written by Marybeth Kavanagh, Reference Librarian for the Department of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections. Tonight, thousands of people will gather to celebrate the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, a spectacle that’s been a holiday tradition in New York City for over 70 years. Though the first official ceremony was held […]

The Last Hours of World War I

This post was created by intern Alison Dundy. Imagine hearing the war is over, but a time lag in communications means men are still laying on their bellies in trenches while shells whizz overhead and explode around them. Elsewhere in the world, champagne corks are popping and glasses are raised in toasts to peace. Will […]

The Half Moon Club

Few people are aware that the Half Moon Club even existed and this probably wouldn’t have bothered its members very much. Although it wasn’t a secret society, its surviving club “log” suggests that it was on par with other leading Progressive Era social organizations — elite, sophisticated and enormously selective. Beginning in 1906, the Half […]

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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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