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Posts from the Manuscripts and Archives Division

Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: What I Thought I Knew

When I first started the Leary Processing Internship in June, I had what is probably the most common impression of Timothy Leary. I had obviously heard about him before, but honestly, all I knew about him was that he was famous for his line "turn on, tune in, drop out." To me, he was simply the LSD guru of the 1960s. Not having grown up in his heyday, I only knew what was best and most widely known about him.

Fast forward two months, and here I sit at my desk at the New York Public 

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Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: A Buddy Film Starring Timothy Leary and G. Gordon Liddy

In the 1982 documentary, Return Engagement, Timothy Leary sits before a class of high school students and says, "I think that everyone in this room, in our lifetimes, can go through as many changes and metamorphosis and mutations, as the butterflies go from cocoons to caterpillars to beautiful high-flying creatures."

Leary's professional life was defined by a number of "metamorphosis and mutations." He was a clinical psychologist at the Kaiser Foundation in the 1950s,

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Wait for Me, World: The Kander, Ebb and Wasserman Musical that Never Was

Dale WassermanMost archivists will tell you that the best part of our job is the feeling of possibility. Every time you open a box and start digging through it, you might find that something amazing — you might be making an intellectual discovery. This can be especially exciting when you’re dealing with a subject that you thought you pretty much had down cold. Professionally, I live for these moments and I had one while processing the Dale Wasserman Papers.

After his tremendous success writing the book for 

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Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: The "Archival Catastrophe" of 1975

Interview featuring Michael Horowitz.

Envelope sent to Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library, Timothy Leary PapersI touched on the saga of Timothy Leary’s legal problems in my last blog post involving his escape from prison for a drug conviction and his attempt at seeking asylum in Switzerland for the persecution of his writings and ideas.

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Short-Term Research Fellows: A Closer Look at Tatar-Language Pamphlets

Russia — what does it make you think of? Cold winters, fur hats, vast forests, and perhaps some vodka and caviar? As a Russian historian in training, I want to help people understand that Russia is much more complex than these simple images suggest, 

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The Victory Book Campaign and The New York Public Library

World War II Posters Collections. Published by the U.S. Government Printing Office, public domain. Northwestern University LibraryDuring the month of November 1941, three organizations, the American Library Association, the American Red Cross and the United Service Organizations (USO) formed the Victory Book Campaign (originally named the National Defense Book 

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VITO: The Life of Gay Activist Vito Russo

Tonight at 9pm, HBO will premiere Jeffrey Schwarz's new documentary VITO: The Life of Gay Activist Vito Russo. Extensive research for the film was undertaken at the New York Public Library using Vito Russo's papers, as well as many other collections, such as the Gay Activists Alliance Records and ACT UP New York Records.

I was privileged to preview 

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Floriant et Florete: Treason in Translation

The hero's name as written in the manuscript.

The most important factor in Floriant's obscurity is its complete lack of originality. As an imitative rather than an original work, Floriant holds little appeal for either the academic or the amateur. Yet it is precisely Floriant's derivative nature that shines a new light on the practices of rewriting and reinterpretation when they are taken to their logical extremes. In fact, Floriant can be read as a subtle allegory on medieval 

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A Closer Look at Jefferson's Declaration

The New York Public Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division is honored to safeguard a copy of the Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson. Because the Declaration was featured in the Library’s 2011 Centennial Exhibition, it will not be on display in July 2012. However, the occasion offers a chance instead for a closer look at the document through the Library’s website. In the days immediately following its 

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Floriant et Florete: An Arthurian Romance of the Mediterranean

A marginal decoration of the manuscript of Floriant.Floriant et Florete, a thirteenth-century Arthurian romance, is preserved in a single manuscript that has been held, since 1941, in the Archives and Manuscripts Division of the New York Public Library. Although neglected by scholars and unknown to common readers, its text is not only interesting as an entry in the annals of Arthurian history, it is also fascinating as a work of literary pastiche.

A "pastiche" is a feat that resembles plagiarism in its 

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The Lost Musicals: Joel Grey’s Star Vehicles, Part Two: The Grand Tour

I think I know why Joel Grey's 1975 star vehicle Goodtime Charley flopped, but I'm less clear about The Grand Tour. The story is powerful and charming. The star performance, was by all accounts one of the most special anyone had ever seen. And Herman's score is terrific — maybe not fully up to his standard of Hello, Dolly,

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2012-2013 Short-Term Research Fellowship Recipients Announced

The New York Public Library is pleased to announce the awarding of Short-Term Fellowships to support the following scholars from outside New York who will research the Library's archival and special collections between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013.

Dorot Jewish Division and Slavic, Baltic, and Eastern European Collections  

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Segal and Sendak: A Grimm Collaboration

Earlier this year, the NYPL Manuscripts and Archives division acquired the papers (PDF finding aid) of the acclaimed novelist and children's book author Lore Segal. The collection contains letters and literary manuscripts documenting her life as a Jewish refugee in England during World War II and her subsequent writing and teaching 

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Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: Hesse, Gurdjieff and Minor White

Early into my project, I opened a box and found a folder that caught my eye. It was labeled “Minor White.” A famous American photographer (b. 1908, d. 1976), White is known for his work with Aperture Magazine, the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco and the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Most research libraries and museums with major American photography collections own his works, including the

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: A Day at the (Civil War) Office

Anna Peterson, a graduate student at the University of Michigan's School of Information, recently helped us organize some correspondence of the USSC's Hospital Directory office in Philadelphia. Here are Anna's impressions of a letter she found in the collection during her internship with the Manuscripts and Archives Division:

The Hospital Directory, with offices in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Louisville, was established in 1862 to collect and record information concerning the location of sick and wounded soldiers in U.S. Army hospitals. Members of the 

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The Lost Musicals: Joel Grey's Star Vehicles, Part One: "Goodtime Charley"

I recently processed the papers of one of the musical theater's greatest stars, Joel Grey. His Tony and Oscar winning performances as the bizarre, androgynous master of ceremonies of a nightclub in Hitler's Berlin in Kander and Ebb's Cabaret (1966) and its 1972 film adaptation made him a star; and Grey has had a long, successful career, highlighted by hits like

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Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: The Self-Annotated Papers

Annotations throw a wrench in dating materials, and Timothy Leary liked to annotate... everything. Aware of his demise after being diagnosed with cancer in 1995, he wrote notes and signed printed matter, clippings and correspondence from his personal files. Although he authored the autobiographies High Priest and Flashbacks, it will be his 

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Frank McHugh: A Beloved Character Actor Who Played an Important Role in World War II

Unless you’re a classic film buff, you’ve probably never heard of Frank McHugh, and most of the hundred odd movies he appeared in during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s have fallen into obscurity. Born into a theatrical family, McHugh (1898-1981) grew up touring in a Vaudeville act with his brother and sister. He honed his acting skills in the 1920s, performing in regional/stock productions and on the Broadway stage. He landed in Hollywood in 1930, along with the rash of New York theatre actors talking pictures created a demand for.

McHugh quickly became 

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Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: Applying Archival Processing

A box of unprocessed papersPeople ask me what my work entails as I process the Timothy Leary papers. As I pore through the boxes, I am faced with over 400 linear ft. of material created and collected by Leary which I must process to make available for research. I encounter various media, such as photographs, video tapes, computer disks, prints and posters. I encounter quite a bit of paper.

My responsibilities include determining the record keeping structure and making decisions 

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Manifesting Destiny: First Person Accounts of Westward Migration

The 1840s marked a period of unfettered expansion and exploration in America. Whether inspired by the romantic nationalism of John O'Sullivan's "Manifest Destiny," or by the more material goal of striking gold at Sutter's Mill, nearly half a million Americans pushed westward by land and by sea in search of new ground, new opportunities, and new lives. Within these larger historical currents, researchers can find the stories of individual travelers, 

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