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Posts from Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

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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Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Last month, while reading the ever-elegant obituaries in The Economist, I ran across RPJ's. I knew the name through the Merchant/Ivory movies, but she was a writer-writer as well as screen-writer. She wrote over a dozen novels, with a "heroine [who] was almost always herself: trapped in a cross-cultural marriage, tipping between the old world and the new, observing from the outside some bewildering place." As so often happens, 

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Not For Sale: The Iconic Brooklyn Bridge Celebrates 130 Years

For 130 years, the Brooklyn Bridge has been an icon of the New York City landscape—longer if you account for the 13 years required to construct it. This beloved connection between boroughs is still in use while many of its contemporaries have been replaced or dismantled worldwide.

When the bridge opened in 1883, New York was a different sort of town. Also referred to as either the New York Bridge or East River Bridge until its official naming in 1915, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was built. New York and Brooklyn were still

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Memorial Day: Commemorating and Remembering Our Veterans and Those Who Serve

May 27th is Memorial Day. Did you know that this U.S. federal holiday goes as far back as the American Civil War in the 1860s?

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, occurs ever year on the last Monday of the month of May and is the day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

For the past two centuries, the U.S. has been involved in many wars domestically and aboard. Many service men and women have put aside their jobs, families and lives to defend our country and principals of freedom during 

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The Influence of Struwwelpeter

Heinrich Hoffmann's Struwwelpeter from Andy's Early Comics ArchiveStruwwelpeter is a children's book that has been endlessly imitated and retold, while providing the inspiration for countless parodies.

Struwwelpeter, pronounced Strool'vel-pay-ter, is a collection of cruel and frightening stories written and illustrated by Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann in 1844. Wanting to buy his three-year son a book for Christmas and dissatisfied with what was available, he wrote his own. His 

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Edith Wharton, A Writing Life: Childhood

Edith Wharton, by Edward Harrison May National Portrait Gallery NPG.82.136This coming fall, perhaps in September, I will be giving a library talk called "Edith Wharton: A Writing Life." In preparation, I have been immersing myself in Wharton's novels and stories. Although the fiction is often set in a New York as remote from us as an ancient city, among a wealthy and exclusive class many generations removed from today's social elite, what strikes me most 

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Sports for All: Find Out What Sport Is Right for You!

Here we are in the middle of spring; and I'm still embarrassingly waffling over which sport I should focus on in the beautiful weather. I've once again missed my opportunity to do cross-country skiing. Perhaps table tennis will be within reach for me this summer...

Though I myself am a bit indecisive, I love the idea of each of us finding at least one sport or other athletic activity that's fun and right for us, and participating on a regular basis.

To this end, several libraries have hosted 50+ Fitness Fairs in the past, in

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Where the Hell is Hell? A Look at the Underworld

The Ancient Greeks believed it. Christians believe it. So do Muslims, Zoroastrians,

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The Woolworth Building: The Cathedral of Commerce

April 24th sees the one hundredth anniversary of the opening of the Woolworth Building, at 233 Broadway. In 1913 the Woolworth Building was the tallest inhabited building in the world, and would remain so until the opening of the Chrysler Building, in 1929. The Milstein Division's collections include a series of photographs, taken by the photographer Irving Underhill, that chart the building's construction. This post looks at those photographs, and at the man who commissioned the building's construction, Frank W. Woolworth, and its architect, Cass Gilbert.

The term 

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