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Blog Posts by Subject: United States History

Genealogy Tips: Searching the Census by Address

Ever wondered who lived in your home before you? Or having trouble finding great-grandparents in old census records? If you are so inclined, and want to search the census by address, to see who lived in your American house many moons ago, this post explains how you can do that. Even better, all the information is available online for free. You will need an address... Read More ›

Election Confections: Harrison Cake and Other Historical Political Treats

The presidential election of 1840 was a fascinating moment in American political—and confectionary—history. While Harrison's status as a well-known war hero almost certainly contributed to his victory, I like to believe that his popularity was further bolstered by the cake created in his honor.Read More ›

Elizabeth De Hart Bleecker Diary, May 27, 1799

A major lottery jackpot in 1799 captures the attention of Elizabeth De Hart Bleecker.Read More ›

The Run for the Roses: An Exciting Two Minutes of Bluegrass Local History

The peak season of professional horse racing breaks from the gate this Saturday at 6:24PM, as 20 thoroughbreds contend nose-to-nose down to the wire for the 142nd Kentucky Derby, at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. Read More ›

Hamilton, An American Musical: A Reading and Resource List

Why was Hamilton so important that he deserves recognition today? Find books and resources on the “10-dollar founding father without a father.”Read More ›

Live from the Reading Room: Arturo Schomburg to Langston Hughes

Today’s letter features correspondence between Arturo Alfonso Schomburg and Langston Hughes. In the excerpt below, Schomburg speaks with Hughes regarding acquisitions for The Division of Negro Literature, History and Prints—the forerunner to today’s Schomburg Center.Read More ›

Paranoia, the Devil, and Witchcraft: Books on the Salem Witch Trials

Why did this happen and how could it have happened? You’ll have to read the accounts, the theories and stories and figure that part out for yourself. The following are recommended nonfiction and fiction books on the topic from children’s, YA and adult collections.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 ›

Clustered Resources on the California Gold Rush

Whether you are an educator looking to diversify your lesson plans or a parent helping your child select materials for their upcoming report, clustering is a fun way to delve into any topic.Read More ›

Remembering (the Hardly Trivial) Sam Houston: Rare Texana at the Library

April 21 is the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. As any grade school student in the Lone Star State will proudly tell you, the leader of the Texan forces was Samuel “Sam” Houston, a.k.a. the President of the Republic of Texas. He is well-represented in NYPL's collection of Texana.Read More ›

The Arm That Clutched the Torch: The Statue of Liberty’s Campaign for a Pedestal

France proposed to bestow the Statue of Liberty to the United States, while Americans were asked to fundraise for its pedestal. The plan to raise money? Her arm went on tour.Read More ›

The Union Remembers Lincoln

Upon learning of the president’s death, the nation responded with shock, confusion, outrage, and sorrow. This tumultuous period was captured by the printing and photography of the time: both in immediate ephemera and later, more contemplative works. Read More ›

Ben Franklin on Cooking Turkey... with Electricity

The options for cooking a turkey are seemingly endless, but leave it to founding father Benjamin Franklin to invent one more — electrocution.Read More ›

Evacuation Day: New York's Former November Holiday

A once-annual holiday local to New York City, Evacuation Day was formerly equal in importance to the Fourth of July. Referring to the evacuation of British troops from New York City following the Revolutionary War, the celebration of the troops’ departure was observed yearly throughout the early 20th century. Read More ›

TeachNYPL: 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 ›

TeachNYPL: 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 

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September Author @ the Library Programs at Mid-Manhattan

The centrality of sunshine… the most fascinating New York Times obits of the year… the riddle of the

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TeachNYPL Summer 2013: Lists for Lesson Planning - Primary Sources and the Common Core

We 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 Divisions, explored our Archives, and connected with members of our Strategy Department—all with the intention of addressing how we can better identify materials from our collections for use in the classroom, and how we can better connect these materials to teachers. The New York Public 

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TeachNYPL: 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 and the Underground Railroad Gr. 6-8. List of additional materials from the NYPL Library ... Read More ›

From Sanitary Fairs to "The Settlement": Early Charity Cookbooks

One hundred and fifty years ago, as the Civil War raged, the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) was busy raising money to improve conditions for Union soldiers. Early on in the war, people realized that, in addition to the terrible loss of life during the battles, an appalling number of casualties occurred because of poor sanitation and inadequate medical care. One very successful method of fundraising by the USSC was "Sanitary Fairs"—exhibitions and festivals held throughout the Northern states. Merchandise for sale at the fairs might include clothing, toys, tobacco, 

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