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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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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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“Are and henceforward shall be free”: Marking the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation
January 2, 2013

If you’ve been preoccupied with the “fiscal cliff” saga over the last several days, you may have missed a rather significant milestone. 150 years ago yesterday, on January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in all rebellious states, enacting what has been described as, behind the Declaration of the United States, perhaps “the single…

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