Museum Open Monday

The New-York Historical Society Museum will be open Monday, December 22. For details, please visit our calendar.

Slavery in New York

For most of its history, New York has been the largest, most diverse, and most economically ambitious city in the nation. No place on earth has welcomed human enterprise more warmly. New York was also, paradoxically, the capital of American slavery for more than two centuries. In October 2005, the New-York Historical Society begins an unprecedented two-year exploration of this largely unknown chapter of the city's story. Slavery in New York, the first of two exhibitions, spans the period from the 1600s to 1827, when slavery was legally abolished in New York State. With the display of treasures from The New-York Historical Society, as well as other great repositories, it focuses on the rediscovery of the collective and personal experiences of Africans and African-Americans in New York City.

New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War

Slavery ended in New York State in 1827, yet this victory did not sever the city's connections to enslaved labor. New York City capitalized on the expanding trade in southern cotton and sugar to become the leading American port, a global financial center, and a hotbed of pro-slavery politics.At the same time, it nurtured a determined anti-slavery movement. In less than half a century, abolitionists convinced many northerners that American slavery could not be reconciled with American freedom. Conflict between the two sides, one favorable to slavery and one opposed, was all but inevitable.
New York Divided, the second of two major exhibits, draws from the New-York Historical Society's rich collection to explore the turbulent half-century of the city's history with southern slavery.

Grant and Lee in War and Peace

Casting a dramatic new light on the events that defined a nation, from the conflicts and rivalries of a fast-growing young republic to the fitful efforts at reconstruction after a terrible Civil War, the New-York Historical Society will present the major exhibition Grant and Lee in War and Peace from October 17, 2008 through March 29, 2009. Organized by the New-York Historical Society in collaboration with the Virginia Historical Society, the exhibitionexplores the most critical decades in American history through the lives of two towering men. By telling the stories of Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), commander of the Union armies and later 18th President of the United States, and of Robert E. Lee (1807–1870), commander of the Confederate forces, the exhibition brings to life not only these two compelling figures but the forces that have shaped America, in their time and our own.

Lincoln and New York

Abraham Lincoln—the quintessential westerner—owed much of his national political success to his impact on the eastern state of New York—and, in turn, New York's impact on him.This exhibition of original artifacts, iconic images, and hand-written period documents, many in Lincoln's own hand, will for the first time fully trace the evolution of Lincoln's relationship with the nation's largest and wealthiest state: from the time of his triumphant Cooper Union address here in 1860, to his efforts to hold the Union together in 1861, to the early challenges of recruitment and investment in the Civil War, to the development of new military technologies, and the challenge to civil liberties in time of rebellion. Lincoln's evolving stance on slavery issues alternately pleased and infuriated New Yorkers. African-Americans, many of them veterans of the anti-slavery movement and Underground Railroad activism, saw Lincoln as slow to deal with the numerous slaves escaping during the war. These "contraband" forces clamored to join the Union army which for several years excluded colored troops – be they free men or the newly freed. Meanwhile free black New Yorkers readied volunteer regiments.
New York's role as the Union's prime provider of manpower, treasure, media coverage, image-making, and protest, some of it racist—the 1863 Draft Riots and the robust effort to unseat Lincoln in 1864—will be traced alongside Lincoln's concurrent growth as a leader, writer, symbol of Union and freedom, and ultimately as national martyr. Through all, from political parades to funeral processions, as this show will demonstrate, New York played a surprisingly central role in the Lincoln story—and Lincoln became a leading player in the life of New York. This exhibition commemorates the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial. A catalog will accompany the exhibition.

Emancipation Proclamation

Oct 7 2005 - Oct 16 2005

Rarely seen by the public, and considered to be among the three most important documents in the U.S. (along with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights), the Emancipation Proclamation, is on display here for nine days. It is on generous loan from the New York State Archive.

Fascimile of the Emancipation Proclamation

Oct 20 2005 - Mar 26 2006

The New-York Historical Society displayed a facsimile of the original hand-written draft of the Emancipation Proclamation that President Abraham Lincoln wrote while waiting in the telegraph office of the War Department for favorable news from the war front during June and July of 1862. It was written in pencil and on paper that was just lying about the office. President Lincoln read this document to his Cabinet on September 22, 1862 and told them that he firmly believed in its principles, though he would accept minor changes of wording. Except for some revisions by Secretary of State William H. Seward and the Chief Clerk, the document is otherwise entirely in Lincoln's hand. Lincoln signed the official Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, which declared, "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." The proclamation fundamentally transformed the character of the Civil War and announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.

Underground Railroad Resources

Run for Your Life

Weight: 
0

The First Shot: 1861

Speaker: 
James M. McPherson
Craig L. Symonds
Adam Goodheart
Harold Holzer
Thu, April 7th, 2011 | 7:30 pm

A century and a half after Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter to ignite the Civil War, leading historians ask and answer the crucial questions: What really caused the conflict? Could the Civil War have been avoided? Did Lincoln invite the first shot—or did the Union “get lucky?” This program marks the start of an ongoing New-York Historical Society focus on the great American tragedy with the first of several discussions and lectures.

If Elected: The Game of American Politics

Jul 4 2008 - Jan 11 2009

The New-York Historical Society will mark the occasion of the upcoming November elections with a small exhibition that surveys the history of American presidential elections through the lens of campaign ephemera and other items of material culture.

Lantern, 1864. Tin, glass, paper. New-York Historical Society, Purchased from Elie Nadelman, 1937.585

The New-York Historical Society will mark the occasion of the upcoming November elections with a small exhibition that surveys the history of American presidential elections through the lens of campaign ephemera and other items of material culture.

Lincoln and New York

Oct 9 2009 - Mar 25 2010

Abraham Lincoln—the quintessential westerner—owed much of his national political success to his impact on the eastern state of New York—and, in turn, New York’s impact on him.

The Lincoln Family, ca. 1865, Francis Bicknell Carpenter, 1830-1900, Oil on canvas, Gift of Warren C. Crane, 1909.6

Syndicate content
Creative: Tronvig Group