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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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The Beekman Family Papers and the Archival Challenges of Women’s History
May 26, 2015

This post was written by Alisa Wade, New-York Historical Society Graduate Archival Research Fellow James Beekman and his wife, Jane Keteltas Beekman, circulated in New York’s high society in the post-Revolutionary era.  After returning to the city following British evacuation in 1783, the Beekman family reintegrated themselves into the social circles of the urban elite,…

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Earth Day Photos Reveal the Dirt on NYC
April 22, 2015

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….

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“To wake the sluggards effectually”: The Beginnings of Daylight Saving Time
March 4, 2015

This post is by Samantha Walsh, Reference Assistant in the Department of Prints, Photographs & Architectural Collections The first mention of Daylight Saving Time was made by Benjamin Franklin, in a 1784 letter to the editor of the Journal de Paris. While many attribute today’s practice of turning the clocks forward and back to Franklin, it…

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Woman of Letters: Charlotte Lennox and The Life of Harriot Stuart
January 21, 2015

Written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. Among the uncatalogued treasures at the New-York Historical Society are two small, leather bound volumes I recently stumbled upon in the library stacks. Out of pure curiosity, I picked these volumes up and looked at the title page. The title read: The Life of Harriot Stuart,…

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“Feelin’ Tomorrow Lak Ah Feel Today”: W.C. Handy, the St. Louis Blues, and Marion Harris
March 20, 2014

Written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. An often overlooked source of historical and cultural memory is the ephemeral format of sheet music. The New-York Historical Society houses an extensive sheet music collection numbering close to 15,000. Many of these are from the 19th century, but a significant subsection contains popular songs from…

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“Speak to the past and it shall teach thee”: Wilberforce Eames, the Self-Taught Bibliographer
December 4, 2013

Written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. Last week a copy of The Whole Booke of Psalmes, the first book printed in English in North America, set a record as the most expensive book ever sold at auction – for $14.2 million. Published in 1640 by Stephen Daye in Cambridge, Massachusetts, only 11…

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The Dancing Cavalier: The Dual Lives of Edward Ferrero
October 2, 2013

Written by Maureen Maryanski, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. Among the Civil War related papers in the American History Manuscript Collection at the Historical Society are those of Union Army General Edward Ferrero (1831-1899). This one folder collection consists mainly of items relating to his military commissions. These materials document Ferrero’s progress through the war,…

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“Jane’s jaunts:” the travel sketchbooks of Jane Bannerman
June 19, 2013

Jane Campbell Bannerman — now a sprightly 103 years of age — embarked on her first trip abroad in 1929, long before there were iphones or digital cameras.  Instead, she carried sketchbooks and watercolors to record the scenes and people she encountered.  Colorful, personal, quirky, and utterly unique, Bannerman’s 74 sketchbooks capture the quintessential spirit…

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