New-York Historical Society

Category Archives: Photographs

Earth Day Photos Reveal the Dirt on NYC

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. […]

“We Are All Americans:” Grant, Lee, and Ely Parker at Appomattox Court House

This post was written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. Robert E. Lee wore a puzzled look as he examined the officer’s dark features, then recovered enough to extend his hand and remark, “I am glad to see one real American here.” On that April 9 afternoon, 150 years ago, at the McLean House […]

Celebrating Women’s History: Rebecca Lepkoff

To celebrate Women’s History Month, here are some images by pioneering street photographer Rebecca Lepkoff.   A quintessential New Yorker, Lepkoff gained international acclaim for her iconic images of the Lower East Side. She was born on August 4, 1916, in a Hester Street tenement. Like the majority of families living in the neighborhood at […]

Cass Gilbert & the Brooklyn Waterfront

This post is by Nina Nazionale, Director of Library Operations The architectural profile of the Brooklyn waterfront, especially in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, has changed radically in the last ten years. Amidst the new, high-rise towers, stands a massive, stately low-rise. Originally known as the Austin, Nichols & Co., Inc. warehouse and now a luxury apartment […]

“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 […]

About

This is a blog created by staff members in the library to draw attention to the richness and diversity of our collections.

Share Our Blog!

Subscribe

Support n-yhs

Help us present groundbreaking exhibitions and develop educational programs about our nation's history for more than 200,000 schoolchildren annually.