“To blossom as a rose”: the Society and the New York Wilderness
“To blossom as a rose”: the Society and the New York Wilderness
April 30, 2014

While the rain falls outside and spring continues to give us only tantalizing glimpses, it seems like a good time to visit a curious little story about the conflicted relationship we Americans have long maintained with nature. In fact, it actually involves the New-York Historical Society itself. By September 1809, just shy of five years…

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Before the Declaration of Independence…
Before the Declaration of Independence…
June 27, 2013

The line between historical obscurity and fame is often a fine one. It’s not surprising then that on July 4th no one thinks about the most important document produced by Congress before the Declaration of Independence: the Declaration of the Causes and of the Necessity of Taking Up Arms. As its title implies, it was a justification for…

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The Traveller and the Stone: John Ledyard and the Central Park Obelisk
The Traveller and the Stone: John Ledyard and the Central Park Obelisk
March 8, 2013

John Ledyard’s far from a household name in his own country even though he’s arguably the United States’ first explorer, and, had Catherine the Great not abruptly ended his circumnavigation of the globe in 1787-1788, could very well have achieved what Lewis & Clark accomplished fifteen years later. Ledyard also attended Dartmouth, participated in Cook’s Third…

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Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
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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Who put the “Williams” in Williamsburgh?
Who put the “Williams” in Williamsburgh?
May 30, 2012

Today uttering Williamsburg  is more likely to precede a snarky comment about hipsters than it is to spur thoughts of its namesake. After all, time has heaped layers of meaning onto New York’s place names, and while places like Fort Greene and Fort Tryon require little effort to discover that they were once military installations, other…

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“Aliens” in America: British Citizens during the War of 1812
“Aliens” in America: British Citizens during the War of 1812
April 3, 2012

Post written by Rachel Schimke, a spring intern at N-YHS who processed the Peter Curtenius Papers.  This year marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812, a conflict that is often overshadowed by the more celebrated wars in our nation’s history. The newly processed Peter Curtenius Papers offer invaluable information for researchers interested in this…

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The brier and bramble: Thomas Jefferson and the English Garden Style