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Unexpected Sources: Slave Cloth in the Richard Henry Lee Letters

One of the most surprising letters I have recently come across is held in a small group of Richard Henry Lee correspondence: a passing reference that serves as an indication of slavery’s enormous economic influence.Read More ›

Traveling the Roads of Early America with Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson recorded, measured, and calculated things obsessively. He kept copious notes in his account book on the distances he traversed and the roads he traveled.Read More ›

HAMILTON: The Archive

In the musical Hamilton, which opened last night on Broadway, George Washington tells Alexander Hamilton, “You have no control...who tells your story.” At the New York Public Library, we preserve the artifacts that allow such stories to be told, and we have an especially strong collection of archives related to the women and men whose lives inspired the characters in the musical.Read More ›

Sea Blazers and Early Scriveners: The First Guidebooks to New York City

The first guidebooks to New York City were written by the navigators, explorers, crewmen, trail-makers, and settlers who sailed west from Europe across the Atlantic Ocean in the 16th and 17th centuries. Read More ›

Letterbooks, Indexes, and Learning about Early American Business

Letterbooks were the hard drives of their day. Businessmen and merchants used letterbooks to keep records of their business transactions. To learn about how everyday life worked in a given period, there really is no substitute for these and other manuscript sources.Read More ›

George Chalmers and the History Wars of the American Revolutionary Era

George Chalmers was a sore loser. Born in Scotland in 1742, Chalmers came to Maryland in 1763 and practiced as an attorney until 1775. Hostilities between Britain and its colonies drove the ardent loyalist to leave North America for London. In England, Chalmers began amassing documents and writing histories about colonial North America and British imperial policy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.Read More ›

Despotic Characters: Researching Shorthand at the New York Public Library

Through multiple gifts over the years, The New York Public Library has gathered an outstanding and extensive collection of shorthand material. These items can help answer such wide-ranging questions as: What was the eruption of Mount Vesuvius like? Why are some of the lines in Shakespeare’s King Lear so weird? and How can I take faster notes in my classes and work meetings?Read More ›

The Case of the False Quixote

I recently came across a third volume of Don Quixote. Cervantistas among you know that this novel, the full title of which is El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, consists of two parts only. What’s more, the author listed is not Cervantes, but “the Licentiate Alonzo Fernandez de Avellaneda.” So what exactly is going on here?Read More ›

Remembering (the Hardly Trivial) Sam Houston: Rare Texana at the Library

April 21 is the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. As any grade school student in the Lone Star State will proudly tell you, the leader of the Texan forces was Samuel “Sam” Houston, a.k.a. the President of the Republic of Texas. He is well-represented in NYPL's collection of Texana.Read More ›

Strasbourg's Most Splendid Party

On October 5, 1744, the city of Strasbourg threw a party that would last through the five following days. There were processions, ceremonies, arches of triumph, costumed children, music, dancing, banquets, fireworks, jousting, water games, allegorical figures, decorated barges, and pageantry of all sorts. It was a most splendid party.Read More ›

The Union Remembers Lincoln

Upon learning of the president’s death, the nation responded with shock, confusion, outrage, and sorrow. This tumultuous period was captured by the printing and photography of the time: both in immediate ephemera and later, more contemplative works. Read More ›

30 Days of Poetry: A Kid's Eye-View of WPA-Era New York City

The Doughnut Boy and Other Poems offers a glimpse of New York City through the eyes of a sassy little beret-wearing, doughnut-loving, public-transit-taking, library-visiting child.Read More ›

Madame du Châtelet and Fighting the Invincible Force

Madame du Châtelet was a French noblewoman of the Enlightenment who came from a wealthy family, married into a position of prominence, raised several children, and studied as a member of the Republic of Letters. However, in her native France, the Academy of Sciences, universities, and many intellectual gatherings excluded women. She was forced to pursue a path of independent study.Read More ›

The Rope Maker of Boston and Samuel Adams

In 1797, Isaac Davis, a rope maker of Boston officially had his name changed. To help him stand out from the crowd of other Isaac Davises, he added a ‘P’ to his name as a middle initial: Isaac P. Davis.Read More ›

Black Life Matters Feature of the Week: Epistolary Lives

Curator Steven G. Fullwood discusses the importance of handwritten letters, an intimate component of our newest exhibition, Curators' Choice: Black Life Matters. Read More ›

Love Letters 101: Epistolary Lessons from Rare Books

Universal letter-writers were guidebooks meant to teach young men and women the art of writing and speaking fluently on a variety of subjects—including love.Read More ›

The Archive in the White Suit: The Tom Wolfe Papers Now Open

The collection, which was acquired by The Library in 2014, fills over 200 boxes and will be a vital resource for the study of Wolfe's writing process, his journalism-based research methods, and the creation of his hugely successful works.Read More ›

Beyond the Title Page: Watermarks, Colophons, and Publishing Dates

What started as a simple comparison of beautifully illustrated books on fashionable dress, trades’ dress, and ethnic costume held in both the Art and Architecture Collection and the Rare Book Division turned into an open-ended bibliographic exercise with many rabbit holes to get lost in. Read More ›

Short-Term Research Fellowship: Evert A. Duyckinck's Social Network

A look at the papers of two brothers who were at the center of New York publishing in the mid-1800s.Read More ›

Glimpses of Alice

To celebrate Lewis Carroll’s upcoming birthday—and my un-birthday!—let’s venture down the rabbit hole to explore depictions of Alice, his most famous creation, here at the library.Read More ›
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