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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!

Lamine Thiam's Dance Oral History Interview

Lamine Thiam teaching dance classThis past spring in the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, we were very pleased to produce an inspiring Oral History Project interview with Lamine Thiam. A world-renowned dancer, choreographer, drummer and actor, Mr. Thiam specializes in West African Dance from his native Sénégal and neighboring countries. We digitally filmed Carolyn Webb's interview with Mr. Thiam, so that it is now among the first dance videos to 

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Classroom Connections: Lists for Lesson Planning (Gr. 6-12)

Aguilar Library, 1938 - Librarian w/ students. Want to know more about our current educational initiatives? See The ABC of Education: Why Libraries Matter by Maggie Jacobs, Director of Educational ProgramsWe have just shuttered the doors on our first Education Innovation @ NYPL Summer Institute. During this three week Institute, master teachers from NYC (and further afar) met curators from our Research 

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Classroom Connections: The Underground Railroad to Canada (Gr. 6-8)

"I left the States for Canada, for rights, freedom, liberty. I came to Buxton [Ontario] to educate my children" —Henry Johnson (pp. 307 A North-side View of Slavery: The Refugee, Or, The Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada)

Additional Resources for Further Reading Expanded Text List - Slavery ... Read More ›

Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury, Prince Among Dancers

Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury Indian folk dance is a very broad term used to describe South Indian dance styles. There are many websites that give information about Indian folk dances and their interpretations.

Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury was one person who achieved a high level of success as an Indian folk dancer. Chowdhury was also an actor, choreographer, author and painter.

Chowdhury was born on February 11, 1930, in Madras, India (now Chennai, India) into a family of Indian royalty. He was the son of Devi Prasad Roy 

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Kay Brown Barrett: The First Victim of "Scarlett Fever"

Laurence Olivier and Kay Brown BarrettI recently processed the papers of talent scout and agent Kay Brown Barrett, known professionally as Kay Brown, or Katherine Brown. In her capacity as a scout for Selznick International Pictures, she was instrumental in some of the studio's biggest coups. She put Selznick onto the Daphne du Maurier novel, Rebecca, which would be Alfred Hitchcock's first 

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Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: Greatest Hits

There are so many worthwhile topics to highlight in the Timothy Leary papers that I don't have time to cover in this blog. Should I delve into his notes on prostate cancer? The "Leary circle? Tom Robbins' lovely stationary? The Adventures with Briscoe Country, Jr. and other cameos? The wives, the children, Hotel Catalina, his Alcor 

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USSC Processing Project: The United States Sanitary Commission Records Open for Research on July 16, 2013

We are delighted to announce that archival processing of the records of this important Civil War humanitarian organization has been completed. The collection will be available for research in the Manuscripts and Archives Division reading room beginning on July 16, following usual procedures. A draft guide to the collection will be made available at that time.

A snapshot of USSC shelvingThe project marks the first comprehensive arrangement of the entire collection since 1878, made possible by 

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A Disturbed Genius Seen Through the Eyes of an Intimate Friend: William Inge and Barbara Baxley

Barbara BaxleyThough not as well remembered today as Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, William Inge was the most successful and acclaimed playwright in America in the 1950s. During that decade, Inge produced an unbroken string of successful plays: Come Back Little Sheba (1950), the Pulitzer Prize winner Picnic 

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The Ken Dewey Collection

All images were used with permission from the Dewey estate.

Dewey's notes for Museum Piece on a map of the Moderna Museet.Picture this: it is April 1963, and you are in Stockholm at the Moderna Museet. Currently on display is the American Pop Art Show. You walk into the museum and are instructed to sit in one of the galleries in a section of chairs arranged to mimic the seats of a subway car. Other people are in chair arrangements that resemble boats, a helicopter, and a tank. Over the next two hours the following events take place: a woman holds forth a conversation with a 

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Srimathi Gina: A Life Devoted to Indian Classical Dance

A photograph found loose in a binder of Indian classical dance terms and definitions; although the photograph is unmarked, the dancer is believed to be Gina Blau.One needs to only glance at the papers of Gina Blau (also known as the performer Srimathi Gina) to see that her study of Indian classical dance was truly her life's passion. From the highly detailed (and copious) writings in her many notebooks, to the intricate drawings of various hand positions—or 'mudras'—of Indian classical dance, there is a thoroughness and sense of 

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Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: Artifactual Intelligence

The Roaring 20th Century Tour t-shirt, 1988Artifacts have an interesting relationship with archives. The traditional spheres of influence for cultural institutions has been libraries for published works, archives and manuscript collections for unpublished paper and media-based materials, and museums for objects. In reality, though, all three institution types routinely are stewards for all materials and need to make judgments about their research value, access, and preservation.

As an intern at New York Public Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division this 

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View the Jerome Robbins Dance Division 2012 Annual Report

When people talk to me at dance events, they often ask a series of questions. How is the Dance Division doing? Does the Dance Division still accept materials? How does the Library store them? Preserve them? What about digitizing the videos? These can take a long time to answer, but there is one place I can point to with much of this information. That is the Jerome Robbins Dance Division's Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2012 (PDF), which is now 

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The Adagio Dancers, the Ballroom Dancers and Richard Stuart

Today, the word adagio is rarely used to describe ballroom dancing. If you told someone that you were going adagio dancing, most likely, this would draw a blank stare. Substitute the words adagio dancing with ballroom dancing, the recognition factor would increase tenfold.

The widely accepted definition of adagio is acrobatic balance with counterbalance. It is 

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A Family for My Art: Poets at the American Place Theatre

The Place

Anne Sexton and Marian SeldesIn 1963, a small not-for-profit theater called the American Place Theatre was founded in St. Clements Church, a Victorian Gothic church tucked away in Manhattan's Theater District. The theater was founded by the minister and actor Sidney Lanier, acting teacher Wynn Handman, and actor Michael Tolan. Their goal was to foster good writing for theater by providing a place where American writers, both emerging and established, could find support in writing new works for the stage. Their vision shines through the entirety of the

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Life is a Cabaret! A Study Guide to a Great American Musical

If you're interested in doing research on a musical, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has an embarrassment of riches. To find all the information we have, you may have to look in many different places. Of course, your first move should be to consult with the knowledgeable staff at the 2nd Floor Drama Desk, who'll be able to guide your research.

As a way of providing a guide to doing research in general, I'll take a case in point, one of the great musicals, which NYPL has covered from every angle; John Kander and Fred Ebb's 1966 masterpiece, Cabaret. 

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Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: Experiments in Teletype to Tele-Thought

The Experiential TypewriterAs both a psychologist and innovator, Timothy Leary was interested in the role technology played in transmitting human thoughts and feelings. Although his earlier research focused on the assessment of personality, it's not unexpected that the problem of communication would concern him after his experiences with mind-expanding drugs. For those with an interest in technological gadgets and how they affect our interaction with others, the Leary papers document some unusual and creative ideas in human communication.

His early experiments with 

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Focus On: Recent Acquisitions in the Manuscripts Division

The Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library supports historical research. Each year, individuals with all levels of library experience arrive at the Division's Reading Room to consult collections assigned the classmark, or call number, 'MssCol.' In an effort to provide a glimpse into activities of the Manuscripts Division, kindly accept this blog series 'Focus on,' as I seek to highlight recent acquisitions, research opportunities, and new publications.

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Freedom to Dance: The Mikhail Baryshnikov Archive, Part 2 - White Oak Dance Project

The cover of one of the many White Oak Dance project programs within the collection.When Baryshnikov founded the White Oak Dance Project with choreographer Mark Morris in 1990 the focus was to give choreographers a venue for developing new works, as well as creating a touring arm to present them. The project also revisited modern works from previous decades, presenting 

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The Mikhail Baryshnikov Archive

Mikhail Baryshnikov signing the Library's Deed of GiftFor some twenty years, the Jerome Robbins Dance Division curators have been speaking with Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of the most celebrated dancers of the Twentieth Century, about the possibility of acquiring his collection.

So, we were thrilled, when on July 14, 2011, Mikhail Baryshnikov donated his archive to The New York Public 

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The Jews of Shanghai: Uncovering the Archives and Stories

"Life was difficult in Shanghai, but infinitely better than anything they had left behind. From lower-middle-class comfort, the Tobias family was reduced to poverty but not to starvation. There was always food, always something to eat, always shelter even when the Jewish community was ghettoized shortly after Pearl Harbor. Thus even under terribly difficult conditions Moses Tobias was able to take care of his family but under the Nazis the conditions of the Jews were far worse than merely 'terribly difficult.'

"Shanghai was a multiethnic city and the 

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