In the Great Depression of the 1930s, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia nicknamed the Library’s iconic lion statues “Patience” and “Fortitude,” qualities he considered to be the core virtues of all New Yorkers. These names resonated with the Library’s values—strengthening our communities and inspiring lifelong learning—and we continue to refer affectionately to the lions flanking our Fifth Avenue entrance by these names.
Fortitude conveys the resilience that enables each of us to encounter danger, or bear pain or adversity, with courage. Our research libraries collect and preserve evidence of the fortitude required to campaign for recognition and to overcome oppression and discrimination. We hold documents relating to the nation’s struggle for independence and the female emancipation movement; one of the most important LGBTQ collections in the United States; and collections of unique and unpublished primary source material for the study of the American Jewish experience in the 20th century. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture—dedicated to collecting and interpreting literature, performance, art, and artifacts by and about people of African descent throughout the world—is a leading resource for the study of the civil rights movement and the African American experience. We continue to add to and build upon these collections, preserving and memorializing the history of what is, in many cases, an ongoing struggle for equity.
Please note when viewing in the gallery: some items listed here as "on view" have undergone page changes, or have been replaced by similar works from the same series, to preserve and maintain the valued artifacts in accordance with conservation guidelines.