AHMC of the Month: Frederick Douglass letters, 1851-1894
October 14, 2015

This post was written by Matthew Murphy, Head of Cataloging and Metadata One of the jewels of our American Historical Manuscript Collection (which is a “collection of collections” consisting of 12,000 small and unique manuscript collections) is the Frederick Douglass letters, which consists of ten letters sent and received by Frederick Douglass between 1851 and 1894. In…

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Horatio Gates, Samuel Washington, and America’s Original Sin
July 28, 2015

This post was written by Julia Lipkins, Reference Archivist, Manuscripts Department. Archival collections from the Revolutionary War period are thick with stories of heroic soldiers and their battles won and lost. Although less evident, collections of this era also contain documentation of what President Obama describes as the “nation’s original sin,”[i] i.e. the institution of slavery. I…

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“Little Ethiopians:” 19th Century Photography of African Americans
February 4, 2015

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…

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Doris Ulmann’s Portraits: “The Marks of Living Intensely”
February 5, 2014

In honor of the death of Pete Seeger last week, this week’s blog will highlight the work of another champion of American folk music and crafts: the photographer Doris Ulmann (1882-1934). Like Seeger, Ulmann was born in Manhattan, and seemed an unlikely candidate to work in the rural South. The eldest daughter of a prosperous…

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Generations a Slave: Unlawful Bondage and Charles Carroll of Carrollton
January 15, 2014

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…

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“A Real Santa:” the portrait photography of Theron W. Kilmer
December 24, 2013

Long before SantaCon, Theron W. Kilmer found — and photographed — “A Real Santa” in New York City. Although largely forgotten now, in his own time Theron W. Kilmer was aptly described as “an amazing person.”   He was a distinguished physician, an associate professor of pediatrics, a writer, a lecturer, an honorary police chief,…

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African Americans and the World of Tomorrow
November 18, 2011

Post written by Kenneth Cleary, a summer intern at N-YHS who processed the Paul Gillespie Collection of New York World’s Fair Materials. A rich collection of photographs from the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair is newly available to researchers at the N-YHS library. Donated to N-YHS in May of this year, the Paul Gillespie Collection…

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