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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!

Merce Cunningham Archive

The Jerome Robbins Dance Division is proud to announce that the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Inc, records, Additions is now open. This collection is 141.44 linear feet comprising 315 boxes, 41 tubes and 116.1 gigabytes of electronic records and digitized content. Read More ›

Bill Barvin's Location Photography

William "Bill" Barvin worked for over two decades as a location manager and scout for television and film, taking thousands of photos during the course of his career of New York and New Jersey streets, apartments, storefronts, and rooftops; bars, clubs, restaurants, and theaters; hotels, hospitals, laundromats, and churches.Read More ›

The Rope Maker of Boston and Samuel Adams

In 1797, Isaac Davis, a rope maker of Boston officially had his name changed. To help him stand out from the crowd of other Isaac Davises, he added a ‘P’ to his name as a middle initial: Isaac P. Davis.Read More ›

The Archive in the White Suit: The Tom Wolfe Papers Now Open

The collection, which was acquired by The Library in 2014, fills over 200 boxes and will be a vital resource for the study of Wolfe's writing process, his journalism-based research methods, and the creation of his hugely successful works.Read More ›

You Must Remember This: The Jeff Kisseloff Oral History Interviews

Between 1986 to 1988, Kisseloff traversed the city with a cassette recorder to interview former longshoreman, bootleggers, pickle makers, butchers, community activists, housewives, and writers in an attempt to capture stories of old Manhattan. Read More ›

Short-Term Research Fellowship: Timothy Leary as Illuminatus!

The Manuscripts and Archives Division at the New York Public Library has proof that Timothy Leary was in the Illuminati. Or, if he was not an ‘illuminated’ one himself, there is evidence in the Timothy Leary papers that he was in correspondence with representatives of this mythically ambiguous organization from the time of his incarceration in Folsom onwards. Read More ›

From the Archives of the Century: The Century Foundation & NYC, Part II

My previous post detailed the Twentieth Century Fund’s relationship with New York City issues and its first task force on New York City’s economic troubles in the 1970s, the Task Force on Prospects and Priorities of New York City.Read More ›

John Quinn's Art Collection

When few American collectors or museums were investing in the European avant garde, New York lawyer John Quinn (1870–1924) built an art collection primarily comprised of Modernist works. Through social connections and advice from trusted consultants, Quinn became discerning connoisseur and patron of new art.Read More ›

Captain Cook's Mouldy Bread

A prosaic letter from Captain James Cook gives us a glimpse into preparations for his epic second voyage.Read More ›

From the Archives of the Century: The Century Foundation & NYC, Part I

In 2012, the Manuscripts and Archives Division acquired the records of the Century Foundation, a non-partisan research institute based in New York City previously known as the Twentieth Century Fund and originally founded as the Cooperative League. Since its founding, the Century Foundation (TCF) has supported the creation and dissemination of progressive policy ideas through the funding of books, position papers, pamphlets, task forces, and conferences that address current issues faced in the United States economy and democracy. The Century Foundation records document the governance of the Read More ›

Lydia Maria Child and Archival Research

By all accounts, Lydia Maria Child should be famous. An author, abolitionist, and advocate for human rights a full generation before that stance became widespread, Child remains an unsung hero—even though we continue to sing her lyrics to “Over the River and Through the Wood.” Read More ›

Culinary Delights in Lady Anne Percy’s Receipt Book

Around 1650, a teenage Lady Anne Percy compiled a collection of receipts now held in the NYPL's Manuscripts and Archives Division as part of its Whitney cookery collection. "Whitney MS 2" includes over four hundred medical and cookery recipes from friends, family, and contemporary printed cookbooks. Read More ›

The Battle of Antietam in Maps: An Interview with Researcher Jamesina Thatcher

Reconnecting the veterans' testimonies with physical structures and topography of the battlefield, Thatcher improved the understanding of troop movements during this important Civil War clash. Recently, I spoke with Thatcher about her project and the use of archival resources, including the Ezra A. Carman papers here in the Manuscripts and Archives Division.Read More ›

Presentación del Nican Mopohua y Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

Esta es la traducción del blog en ingles de Thomas Lannon.Read More ›

The Nican Mopohua and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

Among the many treasures of the New York Public Library are documents created as the New World was explored and settled by Europeans and a hybrid culture emerged. James Lenox (1880-1880) whose books, manuscripts, and maps formed the great base for the Library's collection was interested in the history of the Americas. This blog post focuses on a set of documents long referred to as the Monumentos Guadalupanos, or Guadeloupean Monuments, and one document in particular, the Nican Mopohua. A facsimile edition of this historic manuscript is currently underway from SYL Creaciones Graficas and Read More ›

Classroom Connections: Reconstructing Reconstruction (Gr. 11-12)

This Unit, for Grades 11-12, is a historical analysis of how school textbooks tell the story of the Post-Civil War Era, focusing on the evolution of how U.S. History textbooks interpret the history of Reconstruction.Read More ›

John Quinn and the 1913 Armory Show

The Armory Show is celebrating its centennial this year, which has been marked by international conferences and commemorative exhibitions. Originally devised as a way for the Association of American Painters and Sculptors to promote the output of its members, the show is remembered for introducing European Avant-Garde art to the American public. Lawyer and art collector John Quinn's social connections and financial support were essential in bringing about the 1913 Armory Show. An honorary member of that Association, Quinn held various roles within the artistic community—counsel, 

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Classroom Connections: World War II and the Double V Campaign (Gr. 10-12)

"The Pittsburgh Courier drew its inspiration for the Double V campaign from a letter by James G. Thompson of Wichita, Kansas, published in the January 31, 1942 issue. Thompson, in his letter titled 'Should I Sacrifice to Live 'Half American?',' advocated for a 'double VV' for a dual victory over enemies to the country and enemies—opposed to equality, justice, and democracy—at home. In its next issue, on February 7, the Courier displayed Double V drawings emphasizing the theme 'Democracy, At Home, Abroad.' The paper announced the Double V campaign the next week, declaring 

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Classroom Connections: 'New York, Then & Now' Immigration to Washington Heights/Inwood (Gr. 6-8)

The story of immigration to America is a rich tapestry whose opposing threads, oddly for how much they reject each other's reality, hang together as one. It outrages us and gives us hope in frighteningly equal measure.

Nowhere is this truer than New York City, a city of extremes in every sense. The community known as Washington Heights/Inwood originally spanned from 135th Street north to the top end of Manhattan Island, surrounded by the Hudson River on the west and the East River with Spuyten Duyvil's deadly currents in between. Its land is the highest ground in 

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Classroom Connections: The Role of Social Darwinism in European Imperialism (Gr. 9-10)

In order to provide 9th and 10th grade students an opportunity to explore this topic further, we have assembled a collection of primary and secondary source readings to be analyzed and discussed as part of common core-aligned Social Studies units on either the "New Imperialism" of the 19th century or the rise of Fascism in the 20th century.Read More ›
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