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Blog Posts by Subject: History

Best Books for Teens 2014!

The list includes a selection of 25 novels, non-fiction books, and graphic novels chosen by a committee of Young Adult librarians who work with teens in NYPL’s neighborhood branches. Read More ›

Play Strike! Exploring NYC Playgrounds Through Historical Newspapers

At the turn of the 20th century, children’s lifestyles were not quite what they are today. Child labor laws were not declared constitutional until 1938 and children largely socialized with their adult co-workers in dance halls, gambling dens, and gin mills. It was this children-as-adults culture that sparked the play movement, removing children from the “physical and moral dangers of the street” to playgrounds, under the direction of trained play leaders.Read More ›

Valentina Tereshkova: The Anniversary of the First Woman in Space

It was 51 years ago to the day, June 16th, 1963, that Valentina Tereshkova left the earth aboard the Vostok 6, and became the first woman to enter outer space.Read More ›

Booktalking "Founding Mothers" by Cokie Roberts

Unfortunately, there is not much written about the formative female figures in our nation's history. In many cases, women assisted famous male figures, but some also did amazing things sheerly of their own volition.Read More ›

A Library Branch in the Woods

A walk in the woods, a guy with a rake... history uncovered.Read More ›

Recent Activity in the Raphael Lemkin Papers

To honor April as Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month, this post recounts recent efforts to bring more attention to the Polish philologist and international lawyer who coined the word genocide. The Raphael Lemkin papers have been safely held at NYPL since 1982. We expect more people will realize the significance of this collection as scholars, researchers, and the general public discover the life and achievement of Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959.)Read More ›

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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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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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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Haiti's Patent Law of 1826 - Solution and Wrap-Up

Last June, I made note of one of SIBL's patent pamphlets cataloged long ago as the Haitian Patent Law for 1826. I had my doubts about it, and wondered if anyone could help. Now, to wrap things up I thought I'd share some of what I learned here... and give an answer to the question "what is it?"

The document's title is Loi sur les patentes. Patente is not French for what in everyday speech we call a patent. As I should have known from seeing it elsewhere, 

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The Importance of Earthworms: Darwin’s Last Manuscript

Charles Darwin died 130 years ago today, leaving an intellectual legacy which has profoundly influenced the general course of Western thought. He is best known for his work On the Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871), both of which 

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Behind the Scenes of the Milstein Suspense Trailer

History has secrets... but secrets don’t stay hidden if you know where to look...

The Library's Milstein Division staff are very excited to present a movie trailer-style promotional video, which debuted this week on YouTube. We've loved the videos that other NYPL divisions and neighborhood libraries have made — especially Jefferson 

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December’s Readers Den: "97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement" Wrap Up

I would like to thank all the followers and fans of the Reader’s Den. I hope you have enjoyed 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement just as much as I have. If you are interested in learning more about the people and cultures of the Lower East Side, 

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Article and Artifact — Digitization's Dilemma: A True Story

Every librarian understands that the increased reliance on digital resources is a Faustian bargain.

While the stakes may not seem as high as in the legend, the risks are plain, clear, and much discussed in library and publishing literature. For any organization that wishes to preserve or archive its resources, digitization can be both a blessing and a curse. Easier access versus preservation concerns may not be possible to reconcile completely.

On a day-to-day level, the limitations of some digital resources are painfully evident. Particularly on a 

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Finding Jesus at NYPL: A Research Guide

Perhaps no person in human history is more controversial than Jesus of Nazareth. The parable above (among many other well known ones) came from Jesus in the New Testament of the Christian

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: Army of the Potomac

The Army of the Potomac Archives, part of the United States Sanitary Commission Records, is an important resource for anyone interested in studying the USSC’s work alongside the Union armies on campaign in eastern Virginia from 1862-1865, especially during the long and bloody struggle from the battle of the Wilderness in 1864 to the fall of Petersburg and Richmond in 1865. Archivist Elizabeth Delmage shares materials explored during processing, which shed light on how the USSC geared up its systems to meet ever-growing military and humanitarian needs.

Journals 

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Weddings and Marriages at NYPL: A Research Guide

Courtesy of New Line Cinemas/HBO Productions: Sex and the City at NYPLIn Sex and the City: The Movie, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) ascends the iconic marble steps of The New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street wearing a stunning Vivienne 

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: Department of the Gulf

Our archival processing staff continues to follow the U.S. Sanitary Commission on campaign during the Civil War, this time along the Gulf Coast. Melissa Haley reports on one man's journey in their service:

Based in New Orleans, the USSC’s Department of the Gulf was founded in the spring of 1862, soon after that city came under Union control. Its scope of operations coincided with the territory covered by the Union’s Department of the Gulf — eventually including the entire Gulf Coast, from Brownsville, Texas on the Mexican border to Key West and the 

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The Great Obituary Hunt: A Genealogy Research Guide

Like all good detective work, genealogy research benefits from organization, patience, and procedure. One of many tools in the researchers toolbox is the obituary. Obituaries are small articles in a newspaper that offer a posthumous piece of the story of a person’s life. They can also be very useful to those who are researching genealogy, adding details that would otherwise be unknown. The names of relatives, location of birth, final resting place, occupation, religious affiliation, volunteer work, and other 

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Finding a Life at The New York Public Library

This last week of October, 2011 is Magic Week. Perhaps it's a good time to tell this true story about how I found a life at The New York Public Library:

In the spring of 1923, my grandfather, a magician, disappeared. This well practiced man of magic had pulled off his greatest trick of all. He was never seen again — at least not by my family. His love for the circus could not hold him to a small town, a young wife, and a three-year-old son. He left, and the memory of him was put aside. Occasionally my grandmother would 

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