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Posts from the Manuscripts and Archives Division

Classroom Connections: Lists for Lesson Planning (Gr. 6-12)

Aguilar Library, 1938 - Librarian w/ students. Want to know more about our current educational initiatives? See The ABC of Education: Why Libraries Matter by Maggie Jacobs, Director of Educational ProgramsWe have just shuttered the doors on our first Education Innovation @ NYPL Summer Institute. During this three week Institute, master teachers from NYC (and further afar) met curators from our Research 

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Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury, Prince Among Dancers

Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury Indian folk dance is a very broad term used to describe South Indian dance styles. There are many websites that give information about Indian folk dances and their interpretations.

Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury was one person who achieved a high level of success as an Indian folk dancer. Chowdhury was also an actor, choreographer, author and painter.

Chowdhury was born on February 11, 1930, in Madras, India (now Chennai, India) into a family of Indian royalty. He was the son of Devi Prasad Roy 

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Kay Brown Barrett: The First Victim of "Scarlett Fever"

Laurence Olivier and Kay Brown BarrettI recently processed the papers of talent scout and agent Kay Brown Barrett, known professionally as Kay Brown, or Katherine Brown. In her capacity as a scout for Selznick International Pictures, she was instrumental in some of the studio's biggest coups. She put Selznick onto the Daphne du Maurier novel, Rebecca, which would be Alfred Hitchcock's first 

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Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: Greatest Hits

There are so many worthwhile topics to highlight in the Timothy Leary papers that I don't have time to cover in this blog. Should I delve into his notes on prostate cancer? The "Leary circle? Tom Robbins' lovely stationary? The Adventures with Briscoe Country, Jr. and other cameos? The wives, the children, Hotel Catalina, his Alcor 

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USSC Processing Project: The United States Sanitary Commission Records Open for Research on July 16, 2013

We are delighted to announce that archival processing of the records of this important Civil War humanitarian organization has been completed. The collection will be available for research in the Manuscripts and Archives Division reading room beginning on July 16, following usual procedures. A draft guide to the collection will be made available at that time.

A snapshot of USSC shelvingThe project marks the first comprehensive arrangement of the entire collection since 1878, made possible by 

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The Ken Dewey Collection

All images were used with permission from the Dewey estate.

Dewey's notes for Museum Piece on a map of the Moderna Museet.Picture this: it is April 1963, and you are in Stockholm at the Moderna Museet. Currently on display is the American Pop Art Show. You walk into the museum and are instructed to sit in one of the galleries in a section of chairs arranged to mimic the seats of a subway car. Other people are in chair arrangements that resemble boats, a helicopter, and a tank. Over the next two hours the following events take place: a woman holds forth a conversation with a 

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Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: Artifactual Intelligence

The Roaring 20th Century Tour t-shirt, 1988Artifacts have an interesting relationship with archives. The traditional spheres of influence for cultural institutions has been libraries for published works, archives and manuscript collections for unpublished paper and media-based materials, and museums for objects. In reality, though, all three institution types routinely are stewards for all materials and need to make judgments about their research value, access, and preservation.

As an intern at New York Public Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division this 

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The Adagio Dancers, the Ballroom Dancers and Richard Stuart

Today, the word adagio is rarely used to describe ballroom dancing. If you told someone that you were going adagio dancing, most likely, this would draw a blank stare. Substitute the words adagio dancing with ballroom dancing, the recognition factor would increase tenfold.

The widely accepted definition of adagio is acrobatic balance with counterbalance. It is 

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A Family for My Art: Poets at the American Place Theatre

The Place

Anne Sexton and Marian SeldesIn 1963, a small not-for-profit theater called the American Place Theatre was founded in St. Clements Church, a Victorian Gothic church tucked away in Manhattan's Theater District. The theater was founded by the minister and actor Sidney Lanier, acting teacher Wynn Handman, and actor Michael Tolan. Their goal was to foster good writing for theater by providing a place where American writers, both emerging and established, could find support in writing new works for the stage. Their vision shines through the entirety of the

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Life is a Cabaret! A Study Guide to a Great American Musical

If you're interested in doing research on a musical, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has an embarrassment of riches. To find all the information we have, you may have to look in many different places. Of course, your first move should be to consult with the knowledgeable staff at the 2nd Floor Drama Desk, who'll be able to guide your research.

As a way of providing a guide to doing research in general, I'll take a case in point, one of the great musicals, which NYPL has covered from every angle; John Kander and Fred Ebb's 1966 masterpiece, Cabaret. 

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Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: Experiments in Teletype to Tele-Thought

The Experiential TypewriterAs both a psychologist and innovator, Timothy Leary was interested in the role technology played in transmitting human thoughts and feelings. Although his earlier research focused on the assessment of personality, it's not unexpected that the problem of communication would concern him after his experiences with mind-expanding drugs. For those with an interest in technological gadgets and how they affect our interaction with others, the Leary papers document some unusual and creative ideas in human communication.

His early experiments with 

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Focus On: Recent Acquisitions in the Manuscripts Division

The Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library supports historical research. Each year, individuals with all levels of library experience arrive at the Division's Reading Room to consult collections assigned the classmark, or call number, 'MssCol.' In an effort to provide a glimpse into activities of the Manuscripts Division, kindly accept this blog series 'Focus on,' as I seek to highlight recent acquisitions, research opportunities, and new publications.

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Freedom to Dance: The Mikhail Baryshnikov Archive, Part 1

Baryshnikov showed great promise at a young age.Recently, when friends ask me what collection I am working on and I give my answer — "The Mikhail Baryshnikov Archive" — I've been receiving unexpected reactions. Everyone seems to have a Baryshnikov story. People who I know have never been to the ballet, who couldn't name another dancer if pressed, have something to say. My younger friends were not even born when he 

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Leon Dabo’s Notebook: An Interview with Frank Goss

In 1955, the artist Leon Dabo (d. 1960) donated a thin manuscript volume to The New York Public Library. Prolific during his time, Dabo is perhaps best known as a muralist and landscape painter. Dabo also spent many years in New York, and was involved with organizing the artistic community, including a part in shaping the 1913 Armory Show. Seemingly an address book, the volume Dabo donated also contains a handful of small sketches. Looked at as a whole the pages provide information about his social life and artistic 

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History in Print: Harriet Walden and the New Yorker Records

Harriet Walden may not be a household name. But for forty years she was, as former New Yorker magazine fiction editor William Maxwell wrote in a letter bemoaning her retirement, "the pin that [kept] the wheel attached to the axle" in her role as secretary and office manager at the New Yorker magazine.

Walden joined the New Yorker in 1944, as secretary to the magazine's infamous editor and founder, Harold Ross. She was replacing her 

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Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: Keith Haring Makes a Mind Movie

In the process of imaging digital material from the Timothy Leary papers, my eyes have scanned some curious documents, but sometimes the most intriguing files are the ones I can't read. Timothy Leary collaborated with a number of celebrities on projects during his years of freelancing. One of the celebrities that left his mark on the Leary papers is Keith Haring.

Among the box load of disks, a few are tantalizingly inscribed "Drink me" and "Love, 

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Metamorphosis of a Song: “What Do the Simple Folk Do?”

I've blogged before about my joy in finding something I never knew existed in the richly varied archival holdings of the New York Public Library, but while processing the James Barton Papers, I had an epiphany of another color: finding something I've wanted to get my hands on for nearly twenty years.

Bear with me while I set the scene for this discovery with some personal history. It would be an understatement to say that I'm a fan of lyricist and librettist Alan Jay Lerner.

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Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: Season’s Greetings from William S. Burroughs

Timothy Leary first made acquaintance with William S. Burroughs in Tangier, Morocco in the summer of 1961.[1] During this heady time, Leary was reaching out to beat poets and artists for participation in his early drug experiments at Harvard University, and Burroughs made an obvious comrade. Despite Burrough's disappointment with Leary's scientific method, their friendship managed to survive 

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James A. Hamilton: Mousetraps, Memory and a Forgotten Secretary of State

In 1869, James Alexander Hamilton published a memoir. The third son of Alexander Hamilton was a Columbia-educated district attorney, colonel, writer and diplomat who addressed many aspects of his "varied life" in The Reminiscences of James A. Hamilton.i But while The Reminiscences have often been used as a source in the biographies of the father, they have never been used to tell the story of the son. A selection of Hamilton's papers and correspondence made it into the published work but the

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The Lost Musicals: Redhead

Musicals are often most associated with women, or at least with divas: the larger than life stars that musicals are built around. To get a show produced you want to have a decent score and story, but another thing that sells the backers — and the audience — is having a name attached. You need Ethel Merman, Gertrude Lawrence, Mary Martin, Julie Andrews, Chita Rivera, Angela Lansbury, Carol Channing, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, or last but not least, the star of our show, that improbably sexy, brittle but strong, mercurial, redheaded dancer, Gwen 

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