“The unadulterated Irish language”: Irish Speakers in Nineteenth Century New York
March 17, 2015

The June 13, 1857, issue of Harper’s Weekly ran this short anecdote under “Things and Otherwise”: A woman a short time since appeared at the lower police court in New York city, and, going up to the judge, addressed him, as nearly as our reporter could understand, as follows:“R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r!” The judge at once called the interpreter of the court. “Here, F—,…

Read More
Artist as soldier: David Cronin’s sketches from the field of war
February 12, 2014

This post was written by Deborah Tint, cataloging assistant.   At the start of the Civil War Harper’s Weekly, then known as a journal of news, culture and serial fiction, sprang into action to provide striking images of the conflict to those at home and at the front. Articles appeared to inform readers that a corps of “Regular Artist-Correspondents”…

Read More
“An abomination in the eyes of sportsmen”: The early days of professional football
January 29, 2014

On April 4, 1865, New Yorker James F. Maury wrote in his diary “Very fine day. I celebrated the capture of Richmond by breaking my leg while playing football.” Although the injury will not be new to today’s football fan, the game played that day might not have been quite as familiar. In 1865, football…

Read More
Elephants in the (Reading) Room
March 27, 2012

Written by Joseph Ditta, Reference Librarian. Apropos of nothing, here are two elephant “firsts” from the library collections. The Elephant (Newburyport, Mass.: William Barrett, 1797) Broadside SY1797 no. 26. Although most accounts refer to it in the masculine, the first elephant brought to the United States (through New York, of course!), was actually female. Some…

Read More
Daniel E. Sickles: The Rotten Apple from the Big Apple
January 31, 2012

Far be it from us to dwell on the negatives of history, but there’s no denying that New York has produced its share of heels. High on anyone’s list should be Daniel Sickles. On a Sunday morning in February of 1859, the New York born and bred Sickles shot the un-armed Philip Barton Key (the son of…

Read More
Merry Christmas!
December 23, 2010

Most people do not associate Santa Claus with war, but in fact the connection goes back to Santa’s very beginnings. Our popular image of Santa was created by cartoonist Thomas Nast during the Civil War. Nast’s first Santa illustrations, published in the January 3, 1863 edition of Harper’s Weekly, featured Santa visiting dejected Union soldiers….

Read More