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Posts from Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

Researching Orphans in Genealogy

If you have an orphan in your family tree, you may have to go through additional steps to find relevant genealogical records for the orphaned or adopted ancestor. Orphans originating in New York City are not uncommon because of the city's history with the Orphan Train movement.

From the 1850s to the 1920s, the Orphan Train Movement was an organized effort to transport children from overcrowded cities, such as New York City, to foster homes across the country. An estimated 250,000 orphaned, abandoned, or 

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Flying a Drone Around the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

I have a friend who has a drone.

I realize that not many people can say that. It's akin to saying "I know a guy who knows a guy in New York City who once ate 300 sandwiches in a single sitting." Just within the realm of believability.

But I do. His name is Nate Bolt, and he lives in San Francisco. He was recently in New York for a conference, and wagering on the fact that he often travels with Lucy IV (as his drone is so lovingly named) (don't ask about Lucys I-III), I reached out to him about coming to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building to shoot 

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Why We Fight: The E-Resources

While the Library's collections related to HIV and AIDS in both the Manuscripts Division and the General Research Division are especially rich, the Library also provides access to electronic resources that supplement the print holdings.Read More ›

Hands-On Art History: The Treasures of the Pamphlet Files

Since the NYPL Art & Architecture Pamphlet Files have recently been updated, it is a good time to revisit this great resource. These files contain ephemeral material relating to over 4,200 art galleries, museums, auction houses and art events that are for the most part from the New York City area but also with substantial files from all over the United States, Europe, Central and South America. There is material from the late 19th century to the present, including many items that may well be the only 

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Romantic Interests: Peacock's Science of Cookery

Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866), novelist, poet, trade company official, steam engine expert and gourmet—a Renaissance man of the Romantic age—once convinced his friend and fellow poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a passionate vegetarian, to cave in to meat-eating.Read More ›

Researching Japanese Culture and History

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a series of research workshops organized by the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC) held at Harvard. It was a great experience to learn about the latest digital tools, services and resources available for Japanese studies in the humanities and social sciences.

Throughout the conference, I met many East Asian Studies librarians, specialists and teaching faculty from

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Brain Pickings @ the NYPL

I'm sure my boss wouldn't want to know how often I check Brain Pickings's 20+ daily Twitter posts but I never imagined I would actually meet Maria Popova, the "curator of interestingness." Lucky for me she's a fan of the NYPL and was more than willing to collaborate with the Library Shop on a series of "best of" lists. And so four lists were born: Wisdom on the Written Word, Furry Friends, I <3 NY, and 

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Train Travel Menus

When it comes to romantic ways to travel across the United States, the train gets short shrift. Cars, even Greyhound buses, are the usual setting for burgeoning love affairs, quiet introspection, and hunger for new beginnings. This September, however, train travel gets its due when video artist Doug Aitken celebrates the modest Amtrak with his latest project, Station to Station. Aitken will take an Amtrak train and transform it into a moving kinetic light sculpture (this is not your mother's Northeast Corridor), with stops in major cities along 

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From Sanitary Fairs to "The Settlement": Early Charity Cookbooks

One hundred and fifty years ago, as the Civil War raged, the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) was busy raising money to improve conditions for Union soldiers. Early on in the war, people realized that, in addition to the terrible loss of life during the battles, an appalling number of casualties occurred because of poor sanitation and inadequate medical care. One very successful method of fundraising by the USSC was "Sanitary Fairs"—exhibitions and festivals held throughout the Northern states. Merchandise for sale at the fairs might include clothing, toys, tobacco, 

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X-Ray Vision: Not Just For Superheroes

It's time to be blinded with SCIENCE...

We do some pretty cool things in the Barbara Goldsmith Conservation Laboratory, but one of the coolest happened recently when we used x-rays—or rather X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF), to be exact—to help us identify colored pigments on some very rare fragments of prints from the 15th Century known as stencils.

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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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Meet the Scholar: Melissa Forstrom

Melissa ForstromMuseums. They are great. From Museum of Mathematics to Museum of Glass, there's so much to see and to learn about these topics in our shared history. Whenever I visit a new town or country, I am always eager to check out their local or national museums; they offer a glimpse of their cultural histories, identities and accomplishments.

However, some exhibitions can also showcase contested and controversial materials. Take for example the

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Playing With Matches: Jewish Deli Ephemera

Hot pastrami. Three decker sandwiches with chopped liver, corned beef, tomatoes and bermuda onion. Hungarian beef goulash with noodles. Stuffed derma with kasha. These artery-clogging delicacies are no longer available at the Stage Delicatessen, which closed late last year after 75 years as a New York City landmark. The Stage was one of the relatively few remaining "Jewish-style" (but decidedly unkosher) delicatessens in New York.

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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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Meet the Scholar: Nerina Rustomji

Nerina Rustomji and her book, "The Garden and the Fire: Heaven and Hell in Islamic Culture."About 6 years ago, I was taking an undergraduate class on the history of the Modern Middle East taught by Professor Nerina Rustomji of St. John's University. The class opened my eyes to the complexity of the region. She challenged us to look differently at the historic and ongoing conflicts in the area and America's intricate relationships with Middle Eastern countries before September 11th. 

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Why Your Family Name Was Not Changed at Ellis Island (and One That Was)

Between 1892 and 1954, over twelve million people entered the United States through the immigration inspection station at Ellis Island, a small island located in the upper bay off the New Jersey coast. There is a myth that persists in the field of genealogy, or more accurately, in family lore, that family names were changed there. They were not. Numerous blogs, essays, and books have proven this. Yet the myth persists; a story in a recent issue of The New Yorker suggests that it happened. This post will explore how and why names were not changed. It will then tell the story of Frank 

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Jack Baker and James McConnell

Given yesterday's historic Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, it's good to take a moment to look back at the struggles for marriage equality.

In many current debates about the direction of LGBT political struggles, marriage equality has been portrayed as a conservative move after the radicalism of 1970s Gay Liberation and later Queer politics. However, a closer look reveals that LGBT activists have been deeply concerned over the right to marry since the start of modern gay 

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Researching Sex, Sexuality and Sexology

Sexology, the interdisciplinary scientific study of sex has been an integral component to the study of humanity. If you are currently researching any topics relating to the areas of sexology, sexuality or sex, consider visiting The New York Public Library's research collections! Whether you find sexology to be 

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Zombies and Why They Won't Go Away

Zombie Librarian Themed BookmarkAbout a month ago, I was having a conversation with a colleague about the then upcoming film, World War Z. Our discussion turned to pop culture's fascination with zombies. Zombies have shuffled their way into books, films,

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John Donne, Re-done

My colleague MN said she would be coming the 'my' next lecture. Of course I said what?? (your friends will come to your funeral, your real friends go to your lectures). She had just discovered John Adams's opera Doctor Atomic and pointed me to the YouTube clip of the aria "Batter My Heart," one of Donne's most famous poems. Cool, as the youngbloods say (used to say?)

But back to the lecture, which is neither mine, nor a lecture. This 

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