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Out of the Box

This blog channel explores the library’s world-class and ever-growing archival holdings. We’ll examine these unique materials and the works produced by researchers consulting them. Open the box and delve into the archives with us!

Celebrating the Stamp Act's Repeal, May 19, 1766

One Philadelphian's account of the celebrations accompanying the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, and what it tells us about the coming of the American Revolution.Read More ›

A Melville Marginalia Mystery

A researcher's reading of erased marginalia provides insight to Melville's thoughts on religion.Read More ›

The Mystery Shakespeare Plot

A clue to a mysterious performance that at the time may have been "the finest spectacle that has ever been presented on the American stage."Read More ›

Violet Oakley: An Interview with Dr. Bailey Van Hook

Dr. Bailey Van Hook recently published the first full-length biography of artist Violet Oakley. In this interview, she discusses her work and what made Oakley an interesting subject, as well as her research in our archival collections.Read More ›

Falstaff On the Road: Or, Why Dickens Was Right About America

Two prime examples of actors and actor/managers who based their later careers on performing Sir John Falstaff.Read More ›

Recently Digitized Early American Manuscript Collections, March 2016

Recently digitized collections of early American manuscripts.Read More ›

O Romeo, Romeo

Why is Margaret Mather's 1882 performance as Juliet, in William Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet,' so well remembered? Perhaps this illustration of the balcony scene, apparently in her own hand, has something to do with it. Read More ›

Politicizing the Federal Courts in Early America

We often bemoan the recent politicization of the federal courts and especially appointments to the Supreme Court, but this has been a source of political strife since the creation of the federal judiciary. The judicial politics of the Jeffersonian era help explain why the Supreme Court remains such a charged issue in our own time.Read More ›

Elizabeth De Hart Bleecker Diary, February 8, 1800

Elizabeth De Hart Bleecker lived through a tumultuous period in the history of labor in New York City. Here is a page from her diary, 216 years ago today.Read More ›

Hannah Lawrence Schieffelin's Journey Through Revolutionary America

On September 15, 1780, Hannah Lawrence Schieffelin “abandoned the paternal mansion that so long bounded my wishes,” boarded a “small vessel,” and left her home in New York for Quebec. Her narrative describes events, peoples, and places far removed from the center of the American Revolutionary struggle.Read More ›

The Diary of Elizabeth De Hart Bleecker, 1799-1806

Periodically, for the next year, we will write blog posts featuring a single entry, or a series of entries, from the Bleecker diary: a source from and about New York City in its formative era.Read More ›

Head Shots: Doubles, Triples and Quads

These double and triple exposures made more memorable headshots which showed multiple aspects of the performer. At worst, they interfered with the casting directors' ability to imagine the performer in roles.Read More ›

Silas Deane: Reading and Parenting in Revolutionary America

Political elites are well represented in archival collections. One of the great virtues for historians is that a lot of their family correspondence survives, though it is not always included in edited volumes that focus on political events. Through these papers we can glimpse family life at an emotional level.Read More ›

Head Shots: Dulcie Cooper

If you’ve never heard of Dulcie Cooper, don’t worry, there’s still time to get familiar: two portraits of her are on display in Head Shots through December 30.Read More ›

Alice Live! on Television

In the 1954 and 1955 seasons, two lavish productions of Alice in Wonderland were premiered on television. In each case, they were developed to attract families to the presenting series and their sponsors. Read More ›

Top 9 Documents from the Boston Committee of Correspondence Records

The BCC records is an important resource for understanding the American Revolution. But it is also a massive and unwieldy one. To make things easier, I've put together a list of nine important and representative documents from the BCC records, which, taken together, offer a rough outline of the BCC's activities and functions during the 1770s and 1780s, as well as a sense of the Committee's place in the larger story of the American Revolution.Read More ›

Founding Firefighters: Volunteer Firefighters and Early American Constitutional History

The Chelsea Fire Club formed in late 1788 to protect the people and buildings of Norwich, Connecticut from being destroyed by fire. The records of the Fire Club reveal far more about how early Americans grappled with the challenge of self-government than about firefighting. Read More ›

Joseph Hawley Papers Digitized

As part of the Early American Manuscripts Project, the Library has just digitized and made available online the Joseph Hawley papers. Hawley was a lawyer, legislator, and militia officer from Northampton, Massachusetts. Read More ›

Reintroducing the Boston Committee of Correspondence Records

Looking back on the Revolution in 1815, John Adams remarked that “The History of the United States never can be written” without the records of the Boston Committee of Correspondence. Read More ›

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 ›
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