Photograph of portrait of Theodosia Burr, age 11, by Gilbert Stuart, 1795.  {PR 052 Box 19}
The Precocious Theodosia Burr and a Love Letter for “Citizen Alexis”
February 8, 2017

This post was written by Mariam Touba, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. Popular culture now makes it known how much Aaron Burr believed in the education of women, endorsing “with avidity and prepossession” what he would read in Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1792 A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.  He applied these principles to the upbringing…

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“So terrible a calamity”: Timothy Pickering, Slavery and the Declaration of Independence
July 1, 2016

Americans have spilled quite a lot of ink discussing the Declaration of Independence’s five words “all Men are created equal.” As with any historical text, their meaning in eighteenth century America is important to avoid drawing anachronistic conclusions. In particular, many would point out that many contemporaries commonly wouldn’t have regarded African Americans as commensurate with “all Men.” This underscores slavery’s denial of…

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And then there were ten: Brooklyn’s Landmarked Dutch Houses
June 8, 2016

This post was written by Joseph Ditta, Reference Librarian for Printed Collections. In her 1945 book Old Dutch Houses of Brooklyn Maud Esther Dilliard (1888-1977) recorded the stories of “all the ancient dwellings” which were then in existence around the borough so “that their early owners, the founders of Kings County, [would] not be forgotten in the…

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AHMC of the Month: Peter, born of Lilly
May 11, 2016

This post was written by Julita Braxton, AHMC Cataloger. One collection within the American Historical Manuscript Collection (AHMC) is composed of four birth certificates for children born to enslaved mothers, following the passage of “An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery” in New York in July, 1799. This is a birth certificate for a…

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NOW ON VIEW: A Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., with selections relating to African American history
February 3, 2016

Through March, the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library at the New-York Historical Society is displaying a number of documents reflecting the long history of African Americans in North America. These complement a particularly important new acquisition, an original letter from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to publisher Henry Luce, that came to N-YHS as part of the recent…

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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, Manuscript Department. Archival collections from the Revolutionary War period are thick with stories of soldiers and generals, their battles won and lost. Although less evident, collections of this era also contain documentation of what President Obama recently described as the “nation’s original sin,”[i] i.e. the institution of slavery….

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American emancipation or African colonization: Juneteenth, Paul Cuffe and “the society of people of colour”
June 17, 2015

This post was written by Julita Braxton, AHMC Cataloger. On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after Lincoln granted freedom to all persons enslaved within rebellious states through the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation, word finally reached Galveston, Texas. It was on this date that Union soldiers brought news that the war had…

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“Rank Abolitionists”: a New Yorker Responds to Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin
February 25, 2015

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…

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