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Blog Posts by Subject: History of North America

The Music of the Titanic

An oft-reproduced sheet music cover, memorializing the Titanic and the StrausesThere will probably be more written about the RMS Titanic this month than in the past 100 years. This blog entry is my contribution to the literature of the steamship and its connection to music.

The sheet music cover above (from The New York Public Library’s

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My Heart Will Go On: Stories from the RMS Titanic, Truth and Fiction

In the late hours of April 14th, 1912 and the early morning hours of April 15th, about 85 years before a dying Leo DiCaprio urged a freezing Kate Winslet to live, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sunk into the icy waters of the North Atlantic. In a matter of hours this “unsinkable” ship was on the bottom of the ocean and only 712 out of its 2,208 passengers would survive.  Since the news of the sinking first got out up to the present day, on the100th anniversary of the tragedy, there have been hundreds of stories about those who died, those who survived 

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1940: What's Going On

Released April 2, 2012 by the National Archives, the Sixteenth United States Federal Census is an exciting and important document. It describes the lives of Americans caught between two cataclysmic events in the country's history. When the 1940 census was taken, the nation was still in the throes of the Great Depression, with 14.6 percent of the population out of work, but not yet caught up in the Second World War, a soon to be global conflagration that was, ironically, to put an end to years of economic hardship. Using The New 

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Booktalking "Firehorse" by Diane L. Wilson

Firehorse by Diane L. Wilson, 2010

Imagine a world where horses pull fire engines, hoses and firemen, galloping to fight fires and save lives. Imagine a place where "ready-made" clothes are the talk of the town, and women gasp at the prices, where dalmatians nip at the heels of horses to make way for the fire horses, where a working "woman writer" at the Bostonian newspaper Argus is 

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The Second Time America was Bombed in World War II

A patron wrote ASK NYPL to ask about her uncle, who died in March 1945 while serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. She granted us permission to share the story of the search here.

The patron knew very little about her uncle "Buddy." When the Army notified her uncle's next of kin of his death, they did not disclose how or where he died. Further, her uncle's military records had been destroyed in the 1973 National 

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"Chris in the Morning" Reading List

From 1990 through 1995, the television viewing public was obsessed with the goings on in Cicely, Alaska. Northern Exposure ruled the television airwaves. And while our airwaves were dominated by this quirky drama, on the show itself the airwaves were ruled by Chris Stevens and his KBHR radio show Chris in the Morning.

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Teaching Prohibition: Databases for Use in Creating Lesson Plans

To help in your lesson planning, I've highlighted some databases available at the Library that are related to Prohibition.

Grolier Online — type in "Prohibition" and find articles on the topic in various reading levels and in Spanish. Kids Search — click on the “images” link and type in "Prohibition." You will find primary source information on the topic. ... Read More ›

Social Studies Resources for the 4th Grade Classroom: Colonial and Revolutionary Periods

With Thanksgiving a few days away, many of us are getting ready to enjoy the wonderful foods of our harvest, spend time with loved ones and reflect on the things for which we are thankful. We know that teachers are also busy creating social studies lessons about the significance of this holiday, especially the contributions of the different groups living in and travelling to the "New World" in the 1600-1700s.  This list of resources was compiled to help teachers and students learn, from a variety of perspectives, how the United States was 

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New York Foundation Records: Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Physicians

In 1933 — the same year he was first contacted by Franz Boas about funding for scientific studies to subvert anti-Semitic claims spreading through Europe and America — banker and New York Foundation Trustee Felix Warburg also began receiving letters requesting his assistance from the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Physicians and Medical Scientists. At that time, the German National Socialist party had 

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Findings from the Miscellaneous Personal Name Collection: The Case of the Slave Ship Antelope

Detail of 1825 John MacPherson Berrien letter on Antelope slave ship trial

This is one of the most fascinating documents I have found so far in the Miscellaneous Collection. It’s a letter written by attorney and politician John MacPherson Berrien on March 4th, 1825, the same day he started his term as a U.S. Senator from Georgia.

The above detail of the letter reads: “…the U.S. have consequently a rightful possession of a number of human beings, who are claimed by the Sp[anish] and Port[uguese] 

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9/11/01

From "Drugstore Photographs, Or, A Trip Along the Yangtze River, 1999;" Lower Manhattan Block-by-Block by Dylan Stone. Block 084: West Thames Street between South End Avenue and the Hudson River Esplanade (north side), Digital ID 504218, New York Public LibraryWhere were you? Uptown, midtown, downtown. Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx. Brooklyn, Manhattan, New Jersey. On the ferry, on the train, in the air, below ground. At the library, at school, at home, at work. Maybe you were somewhere 

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Maury and the Menu: A Brief History of the Cunard Steamship Company

In 1907 the Cunard Steamship Company launched the first of their Express Liners, the Lusitania and the

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My Library: Jerilyn Jurinek

Jerilyn is a painter of American history, and teaches drawing at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers and Spring Studio, and collage at The Cooper Union Department of Continuing Education.

What brings you to the Mulberry Street Library today?

I intend to use the computer. I do everything that needs to be done with email, practice how to use the 

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Charles Kuralt and Walt Whitman on the Road

Walt Whitman filled the pages of Leaves of Grass with poetry exalting the lives of Americans. While out in the streets, he observed and recorded the beauty of daily life. Whitman's poem "I Hear America Singing" is a delightful example how common activities make up the fabric of America.  Within its lines, a boatman owns a part of America, and a mother's daily activities are considered 

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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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Fact Checking a Novel: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Did that really happen?!? 

Historical fiction is a genre that encompasses both fact and fiction, but where the line is drawn between the two can be anyone's guess sometimes.  Some authors do tremendous research for their novels to be historically accurate, while others take liberty with history to fit their plot line.

One such novel that rides that line between fact and fiction is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz.  It follows the story of Oscar Wao and 

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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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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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Changing the Changing City

Seeking further enlightenment into the city we call home, I recently took a class on the literary and cultural history of New York City. Among the many themes common to New York City novels we discussed was the portrayal of the city itself as a character with power to shape the lives of its citizens.

Many of us New Yorkers have felt this pressure in our own lives: we choose where to live based on our budgets, our hobbies, our family situation, and often our ethnic, linguistic or religious 

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