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Blog Posts by Subject: Reference

Hooray for Broadway: Tips for Getting Tickets

Drama, comedy, dance, music and romance! I found them all on 42nd Street and you can too!

If you love Broadway musicals old and new, along with drama, romance and some comedic repertoire, then the Great White Way is where you know you can enjoy a day or night out in New York City. It may become an adventure navigating and obtaining those coveted Broadway tickets. There are many websites that offer discount codes, but there are other ways to see a show at a reasonable price.

Broadway has implemented what is called Rush (General or Student), Lottery and 

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Navigating Health Care in New York: Researching Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and Providers

Many New Yorkers no longer have much choice about who their health care provider is. Many times New Yorkers — if they are fortunate enough to have an employer sponsored or other health care plan — may be asked to choose from among those health care providers who belong to a particular heath care maintenance program or other health insurance program.

Other New Yorkers may be enrolled in the Medicare Program if they are

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Resources for Senior Care and Senior Activism

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive degenerative disease. Actually it can be viewed as a group of disorders that results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior and affects approximately 4 million Americans and as many as 15 million through out the world. Medical care, education and a support strategy can make the difference and help family and loved ones cope.

Alzheimer's Disease. (2004). In The New Harvard Guide to Women's Health.

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Get Moving NYC: Where’s Your Fitness Fun?

yourdon on Flickr

Every year, spring sparks my desire to get out of my stuffy apartment, stretch my legs, and enjoy what the city has to offer. I want to enjoy a little time outside or find an event that requires some movement.

Certainly getting out, exercising, and discovering a new activity has many great benefits to your general health, but finding the activity that puts a smile on your face can also give you 

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Hidden Chess Gems

Care for a game of chess? Here are some hidden gems you'll find in our collection.

Digital Gallery

J.R. Capablanca. (ca. 1921-1929) Considered by most experts to be one of the strongest players of all time. He was often referred as the Chess Machine.

Max Euwe (1901-1981) Max Euwe was the Fifth World Chess Champion, mathematician, author and former FIDE president.

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Face First: Resources on Cosmetics

In the film The Truth About Cats & Dogs there is a scene where Janeane Garafalo’s character Abby is at a cosmetics counter in a department store. Abby has been dragged there by her new friend and total opposite Noelle, played by Uma Thurman. The salesperson warns Abby of the dire condition her skin is in and how she can take action to counter her “huge pore” situation. Abby quips that it sounds more like the salesperson is planning to stage a military coup rather than 

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How to Research and Employ an Attorney

At some time in their life, most New York City residents will need to employ an attorney. This may reflect the need to make a will, a

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How to Find Free or Low Cost Legal Services in New York City

These services are generally available only to those of limited financial means. However, there are also certain legal services that are available for those of moderate means. If you are a person of limited financial means who faces a civil legal issue — one that is not a criminal offense — certainly the most comprehensive source of information about your legal rights is LawHelp.org. Its assistance is also 

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Direct Me NYC: NYPL Helps You Find New Yorkers in the 1940 Census

The genealogy world is buzzing with today’s release of the 1940 Federal Census, but some have been disappointed to discover that the newly released data cannot yet be searched by name. Never fear, NYPL to the rescue!

NYPL Labs has created a fantastic new online tool to help you locate New Yorkers in 1940. In conjunction with the Milstein Division, One-Step, and the

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Legal Resources at NYPL and Elsewhere in New York City

Without a doubt, the best location in the New York Public Library to conduct legal research about legal issues that arise in either the state or the city of New York is the Science Industry and Business Library. SIBL has a selective law library that contains such essential New York legal research tools as McKinney’s Consolidated Statutes of New York (annotated with New York and federal cases and state agencies that cite the 

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Virginia Woolf's Typewriter

The reference librarians of ASK NYPL recently received a very interesting question about Virginia Woolf.

“Virginia Woolf typed all her major works and other writings on a typewriter. But what brand of typewriter did she use?”

I immediately recalled the one brand of typewriter that dominated the Anglo-American market for typewriters in the years that Woolf was most prolific as a published author (1915-1943): the Underwood — 

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Ask NYPL: The History of The Library Shop

Photo by Herb ScherThis question was recently posed to the Ask NYPL reference librarians: “What were the predecessors to The Library Shop located off Astor Hall in the Schwarzman Building?” This is a question whose answer proves to be quite intriguing. What we found reveals a room whose uses were as varied and that served as many needs as The New York Public Library does itself!

Under the original and all later

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Telling Time on New Year's Eve: Why the First Ball Was Dropped in Times Square

On New Year's Eve all clocks are synchronized for the epitome of countdowns. The clinking of champagne glasses and the first kiss of the New Year will all be coordinated to the descent of a 12-foot-wide glowing geodesic sphere stationed on top of One Times Square. When all of its 11,875 pounds reach the bottom of its pole, we will know that the New Year has officially begun.

It wasn't always that way. But thanks to a time-honored tradition involving a lowered ball, a one-shot opening celebration has morphed into a spectacle that attracts one million revelers 

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Everyone Counts: Using the Census in Genealogy Research

You should always start your genealogy research by interviewing your relatives. Carefully record all of the names, dates, and places that they tell you. Don’t worry if Uncle Joe and Aunt Joan have a different story about where grandma was born, write it all down. With that step complete, it is time to start looking into the United States Federal Census. Census takers assiduously attempt to include all Americans, and they typically do a good job at this task. This is what makes it such a valuable genealogical tool. With few exceptions, the census is generally complete, but not always 

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How to Buy a Diamond

"When is the best time of year to buy a diamond?"

This question was recently posed to the ASK NYPL virtual reference service of The New York Public Library. First, if you're looking for a diamond whose size is a half carat or larger, make sure your jeweler offers you a grading report from one of the reputable diamond-grading labs below. To properly evaluate these reports, you must understand the four "C's" of diamonds: carat weight, cut, color and 

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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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Who Lived In a House Like This? A Brief Guide to Researching the History of Your NYC Home

The Library's Milstein Division is home to one of the largest free United States history, local history, and genealogy collections in the country, and many of our patrons are writing their family histories. Many reference questions pertain to building histories, especially in the light of genealogy. Afterall, those ancesters lived somewhere, and it's natural to wonder what it was like where they lived.

Sometimes patrons are curious about the buildings they live in, when the buildings were built, and by whom. They might wonder, "Who lived in my apartment 

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Hey! Got Homework?

Does the word homework make you cringe in your seat?

Well, you can find complete, trustworthy information a lot faster using the Library's databases.

Here’s how to access NYPL’s databases:

  Go to www.nypl.org   Go to "Research"   Click on "Articles and Databases" (databases are listed in alphabetical order)

If you are not accessing the database on site at the Library, simply enter the number on the back of your library 

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: What’s My Line?

Picture an archival version of those 1950s quiz shows — “I’ve Got a Secret” or “What’s My Line” — where panelists try to guess the identity, occupation or special talent of the contestant. This is an episode in the ongoing United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) series, where project staff members do their best to analyze and accurately describe the volumes and documents at hand, asking the usual questions: who, what, where, when? What activities do these materials reflect?

Some background: During the USSC’s 

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