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Posts from the Manuscripts and Archives Division

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 ›

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 ›

Check Out These Spuds! Eight 'Potatoes' for Hanukkah

What would Hanukkah be without potato pancakes? 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 ›

The United States of Fredonia?

“It was a great oversight” of the Constitution’s framers that they did not give the United States a “proper name.” 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 ›

Traveling the Roads of Early America with Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson recorded, measured, and calculated things obsessively. He kept copious notes in his account book on the distances he traversed and the roads he traveled.Read More ›

Traces from Jefferson's Account Book: The Hemings Family

The New York Public Library has just digitized Jefferson’s manuscript account book from 1791 to 1803. The volume is basically a day-by-day running record of Jefferson’s transactions. The account book offers a glimpse of how Jefferson interacted with his world on a daily basis.Read More ›

Letterbooks, Indexes, and Learning about Early American Business

Letterbooks were the hard drives of their day. Businessmen and merchants used letterbooks to keep records of their business transactions. To learn about how everyday life worked in a given period, there really is no substitute for these and other manuscript sources.Read More ›

The Olive Branch and the Declaration of Independence

Was the Declaration of Independence really necessary? Or was it widely understood by the end of 1775 that the American colonies were already engaged in a war for independence? The key to answering these questions about July 4, 1776 begins with the events of July 5, 1775, when the Second Continental Congress approved the Olive Branch Petition.Read More ›

Despotic Characters: Researching Shorthand at the New York Public Library

Through multiple gifts over the years, The New York Public Library has gathered an outstanding and extensive collection of shorthand material. These items can help answer such wide-ranging questions as: What was the eruption of Mount Vesuvius like? Why are some of the lines in Shakespeare’s King Lear so weird? and How can I take faster notes in my classes and work meetings?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 ›

Short-Term Research Fellowship: Evert A. Duyckinck's Social Network

A look at the papers of two brothers who were at the center of New York publishing in the mid-1800s.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 ›
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