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.

Remembering The Forgotten Ones: The Photographs of Milton Rogovin

Jun 17 2003 - Oct 12 2005

The New-York Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of the exhibition Remembering The Forgotten Ones: The Photographs of Milton Rogovin, which will be on view from June 17, 2003–October 12, 2005.

Milton Rogovin (b. 1909) is one of this nation's most accomplished and important social documentary photographers, although until now he's remained virtually unknown to the public outside of his adopted hometown of Buffalo, New York. His last New York City exhibition, Lower West Side, was at the International Center of Photography in 1976. At the age of 93 Rogovin continues to document the neighborhoods of Buffalo with passion, artistry and commitment.

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.

Legacies: Contemporary Artists Reflect on Slavery

Jun 16 2006 - Jan 7 2007

A generation of critically acclaimed contemporary artists has thought deeply about how America's history of racially based slavery has shaped our society. Legacies brings together the works of Faith Ringgold, Carrie Mae Weems, Fred Wilson, Whitefield Lovell, Mel Edwards, Lorenzo Pace, Betye Saar, Marc Latamie, Willie Birch and a host of others in a remarkable ensemble of innovative art and historical reflection. The exhibition embodies provocative interpretations that capture the tension between the reprehensible past and the emotions of the present. This exhibition complements the historical exhibitions mounted by The New-York Historical Society from 2005 to 2007, emphasizing how history affects our current day concerns and perceptions.

Barbara Chase-Riboud, Sojourner Truth Monument Maquette, 1999. Bronze. New-York Historical Society, Purchase, 2007.13

List of Artists

Fatima Allotey
American Anti-Slavery Group
Malcolm Bailey
Willie Birch
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
Barbara Chase-Riboud
Renee Cox
Leonardo Drew
Ellen Driscoll
Melvin Edwards
David Hammons
Eli Kince
Leslie King-Hammond and José J. Mapily
Marc Latamie
Joseph Lewis, III
Glenn Ligon
Whitfield Lovell
Kerry James Marshall
Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry
Algernon Miller
Lorenzo Pace

Freedom Now: Photographs by Platon

Nov 11 2011 - Apr 29 2012

Note: This Exhibit will be closed April 21, 2012
The African-American struggle for civil rights is the subject of a series created by British photographer, Platon. Seen through a fresh perspective, Platon’s photographs sensitively capture the dreams, fears, disappointments and triumphs of a people who have striven for decades to overcome hardships and achieve equality in our society. Works in the exhibition include photographs of the Little Rock Nine, Dr. King’s Birmingham prison cell, Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Muhammad Ali, and Joseph McNeil and Franklin E. McCain, who were among the students who participated at the famous sit-in for civil rights at the Woolworths in Greensboro, North Carolina on February 1, 1960. (Many of these images appeared in The New Yorker issue of February 15–22, 2010.)

Platon, John Lewis, January 2010. Light jet print. Courtesy of the artist

Underground Railroad Resources

Run for Your Life


The First Shot: 1861

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.

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

John Brown: The Abolitionist and his Legacy

Sep 15 2009 - Mar 25 2010

Planned by the Gilder Lehrman Institute in collaboration with the New-York Historical Society. October 16, 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of John Brown's doomed raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859. Brown, an ardent abolitionist who believed in racial equality, embraced violence as a means to end slavery. Executed in 1859, he has been both vilified as a murderer and celebrated as a martyr. This exhibition of rare materials from the Gilder Lehrman Collection and New-York Historical explores Brown's beliefs and activities at a critical juncture in American history and invites us to ponder the struggle for civil rights down to the present.

Thomas Satterwhite Noble (1835 – 1907) John Brown's Blessing 1867 Oil on canvas 1939.250, New-York Historical Society, Gift of the children of Thomas S. Noble and Mary C. Noble, in their memory

Planned by the Gilder Lehrman Institute in collaboration with N-YHS.

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Creative: Tronvig Group