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Blog Posts by Subject: History

WOW @ The Library: Women of the Month

Wonders Of Women (WOW) presents the notable life and amazing accomplishments of three courageous women.

Amelia Earhart: the turbulent life of an American icon

by Kathleen C. Winters

Amelia Earhart Day is commemorated on January 11th. This book offers a fascinating look at the life of the courageous aviatrix, Amelia Mary Earhart—the first person to fly solo across the Pacific and first woman to perform a nonstop solo ... Read More ›

Elements of Cartography

The title of this post comes from an important textbook that every formally trained student of cartography will recognize. Arthur Robinson (1915-2004), a towering figure in the world of cartography and geography, first published Elements of Cartography in 1953. Now in it sixth edition, Elements remains an essential teaching tool in both cartographic literacy and the basics of mapmaking.

In Elements, the reader is reminded that every 

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: Giving

A colorful USSC emblemIt may seem surprising to learn that even though the United States Sanitary Commission was officially endorsed by the U.S. government in June 1861, by mutual agreement this civilian organization did not receive federal funding for its work. The USSC's extensive activities—camp and hospital inspections, medical studies and publications, and especially, a wide variety of relief efforts for soldiers—were bankrolled entirely by the private sector.

Project archivists Melissa Haley, working on the records of the California Branch and 

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A Tour of the Stacks

On Sunday, December 5, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building was the site of the 2010 Holiday Open House, the Library's annual thank-you celebration for donors at the Friends level ($40) or above. Besides enjoying building-wide party fun, attendees were offered a rare opportunity to glimpse a part of the Library that is normally hidden from public view: the building's central stacks 

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Field Trip! Adult Literacy Students Visit Three Faiths Exhibit

Students outside the Three Faiths exhibitLast week, students from the Seward Park Library's Center for Reading and Writing, the Library's free adult literacy program, took a field trip to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building to see the exhibit, Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

As the group trundled up the library 

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Students at Seward Park Adult Literacy Program Discuss Three Faiths Exhibit

Last week, a group of adult students and volunteer tutors at the Seward Park Library's Center for Reading and Writing, the library's free adult literacy program, gathered for an introduction to the Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam exhibit at Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, and to gauge interest in a field trip. 

"Who has been to the 42nd Street Library—the 

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: Harvests for Health

The United States Sanitary Commission records might not be the first port of call for anyone interested in studying 19th-century American agriculture or the culinary arts, but the visit could well repay the effort. 

From the first days of its existence, the USSC concerned itself with identifying suitable ingredients for a soldier's diet. A healthy diet kept men in fighting strength and in good spirits, prevented disease, and helped them recuperate more quickly from wounds and sickness. The Commission and 

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Special Collections Highlights: Mary Löwenkopf Weiss Papers

In December 1938, Mary Löwenkopf, a 13 year old Jewish girl from Nazi-occupied Vienna, left on a Kindertransport and settled in The Netherlands for the next 8 years. After liberation, she emigrated to the United States.

The Mary Löwenkopf Weiss Papers, a small archival collection in the Dorot Jewish Division documenting this World War II refugee, is a great example of how the remnants of 

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From the Archives: Executions at San Quentin Prison

March 3, 1905, was not an auspicious day for Hy Brown.

Brown, an 18-year-old man from California with no known occupation, had been sentenced to death for the murder of Patrick Dunne, an aged storekeeper. On March 3rd, his sentence was carried out, making him the 149th of over 200 men executed by hanging at the California State Prison at San Quentin between 1893 and 1937.

San Quentin was erected between 1852-1854 to replace the overcrowded prison ship Waban. It rose in response to the violent crime boom in California that followed in the wake of the Gold Rush 

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Thanksgiving Ragamuffin Parade

However, by 1930, articles were appearing in The New York Times calling for the end of the practice.  William J. O'Shea, Superintendent of schools at the time, sent a circular to the district superintendents and principals which stated that "modernity is incompatible with the custom of children to masquerade and annoy adults on Thanksgiving day."  Shea also stated, "many citizens complain that on Thanksgiving Day they 

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Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters: A Review

The Sullivan family’s Christmas began in the traditional way that year. The six Sullivan siblings opened their gifts. Daddy-o made pancakes for breakfast and Ginger contributed her signature dish to the feast (sliced grapefruit halves sprinkled with Splenda).

Christmas would take an unexpected turn at the Sullivan’s annual holiday dinner with the family matriarch–unaffectionately known by family, friends, enemies, and most of Baltimore as “Almighty Lou.”

One of the Sullivans has deeply offended Almighty.

Subsequently the entire 

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Music manuscripts from the composer of the Star-Spangled Banner

It’s been a while since my last post, but the genesis of this post began with July 4th, 2010.  I was thinking:  What better way to observe the anniversary of the United States of America than with the national anthem. (The image above ‑ seen through mylar protection ‑ is of the first edition of the Star-Spangled Banner owned by the Music Division – one of 

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Now That's History!

Ancient History, Middle Ages, Industrial Revolution... Does history homework make you feel like you are in the Dark Ages? Well be enlightened by the library's resources!

You can find complete, trustworthy information a lot faster using the library’s databases and apps.

Here’s how to access NYPL’s databases: 1. Go to 2. Click on ‘Find Books, DVDs, & More’ in the top menu 3. Click on ‘Articles and Databases’ in the left sidebar 4. Databases are listed 

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USSC Processing Project: the U.S. Sanitary Commission's Archive Department

As we work towards our goal of providing optimal access to the collection, we encounter, learn about, and engage with the work of our 19th-century predecessors—the staff of the USSC’s Archive Department and their successors.

Metropolitan Fair stationery, 1864Although the USSC’s military campaign relief services were essentially completed in the summer of 1865, and many of its offices closed, others carried on, finishing their relief work and distributing remaining supplies to the 

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USSC Processing Project: Diving In

Our first blog post announced the United States Sanitary Commission Records Processing Project, a three-year project to comprehensively process (arrange, describe, and physically preserve) the archival records of the United States Sanitary Commission, a civilian organization that supported the health, comfort and efficiency of Union forces during the American Civil War.

A glimpse of USSC in the stacksIn the meantime, we have been planning our work, evaluating the collection from top to bottom, studying the Sanitary Commission’s operations, acquiring supplies, 

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A Week in the Life of James Dean, or The Force is Strong With This One

What if someone told you that you had one week to live? What would you do? What places would you visit? Would you read any books? Listen to any particular music? Would the common and insignificant things you pass every day become more meaningful? Would that apple taste any better if you know it was your last one? Who would you thank? Who would you apologize to?    This week fifty-five years ago was the last week in the life of ... Read More ›

Wertheim Study and the Allen Room writers celebrate Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Free public lectures in the South Court Auditorium by the writers and scholars of the Research Study Rooms began last week, and with a bang.

Distinguished historian and biographer Susan Butler spoke about her forthcoming book, Roosevelt and Stalin: Winning the War: Shaping the Peace.  For it, she discovered 300 unpublished hot-war messages, researched the Tehran and Yalta conferences, and we learned all sorts of things - 

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POP! goes the Picture Collection: Warhol at NYPL

Self-Portrait, 1967.(1)He came from my hometown. As a teenager, he collected photographs of movie stars. A few years later, I clipped fan zines featuring Hayley Mills and the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark 5 and

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In the Neighborhood: Theodore Roosevelt's Birthplace

Of all the reference questions I expected upon coming to work at the Andrew Heiskell Library in its current location on West 20th Street in Manhattan, "Where is Teddy Roosevelt's birthplace?" was nowhere on my list. I quickly learned that the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace Historic Site is a short two blocks east, at 28 East 20th Street, and that this question comes up mostly during the summer tourist season. Since then, I've often walked past this now familiar, unassuming townhouse and 

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