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

This post is 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 recently…

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“Some relicks of Genl. Washington”: The Misadventures of the Washington Papers
July 1, 2015

On December 18, 1836, Henry Van Der Lyn penned a letter to his nephew describing a visit to the Georgetown home of Col. George Corbin Washington, with a former student, Congressman Aaron Ward. As they prepared to leave, George Washington’s grand-nephew called them back to show them “some relicks” of his esteemed great uncle. In his…

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“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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Who Coined the Phrase ‘United States of America’? You May Never Guess
November 5, 2014

This post was written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections Take a look.  Dated January 2, 1776,  many months earlier than once thought, this, quite likely, is the first time the name “United States of America” was ever written, or possibly even expressed. People have indeed tossed around the question, “Who named this…

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
July 26, 2013

This post was written by Tammy Kiter, Manuscript Reference Librarian Who among us doesn’t enjoy a cold, creamy treat on a hot summer day? In honor of July being National Ice Cream month, I thought we’d take a little trip down creamery lane to celebrate ice cream in all its delicious glory. It is estimated…

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The Tale of the Wandering Washington, No. 2
February 13, 2013

This post was written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian. Last year at this time, we commemorated George Washington’s birthday by following a wooden statue of the general and President in its convoluted journey from city monument to private hands to mythologizing.  It would not be the only sculpture to share such a fate, and this…

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Death Warrant signed by George Washington
August 29, 2012

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…

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Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
July 3, 2012

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…

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The Tale of the Wandering Washington
February 20, 2012

Written by Joseph Ditta, Reference Librarian. In honor of Presidents’ Day, come with us back to 1889, when the celebrations marking the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as first president of the United States were in full swing. Perhaps the most impressive manifestation of New York’s pride of place as the location for that memorable…

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