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

Examination Days: The New York African Free School Collection


In 1787 the New York Manumission Society created the African Free School with the primary goal of educating black children. It began as a single-room schoolhouse with about 40 students, the majority of whom were the children of slaves, and taught them a variety of practical subjects. By the time it was absorbed into the New York City public school system in 1835, it had educated thousands of children, including many who went on to become notable leaders.
With the support of the Russell Sage Foundation, the New-York Historical Society has launched a comprehensive website, showcasing actual examples of students’ work from 1816 through 1826, offering an unparalleled glimpse into the little-known history of African-American life in New York City in the late-18th and early-19th centuries as well as pedagogical techniques used at that time.
Click here to view the full collection.


Manuscript Collections Relating to Slavery


The Klingenstein Library of the New-York Historical Society holds among its many resources a substantial collection of manuscript materials documenting American slavery and the slave trade in the Atlantic world. The 14 collections on this website are among the most important of these manuscript collections. They consist of diaries, account books, letter books, ships’ logs, indentures, bills of sale, personal papers and records of institutions. Some of the highlights of these collections include the records of the New York Manumission Society and the African Free School, the diaries and correspondence of English abolitionists Granville Sharp and John Clarkson, the papers of the Boston anti-slavery activist Lysander Spooner, the records of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, the draft of Charles Sumner’s famous speech The Anti-Slavery Enterprise and an account book kept by the slave trading firm Bolton, Dickens & Co.

Click here to view the full collection.




Books and Pamphlets


Books and other published materials constitute the bulk of the Klingenstein Library’s collection. These include current monographs and supporting  sources on the history of New York and the United States, as well as an array of religious tracts, city directories, atlases, rare Native American language dictionaries, contentious pamphlets of the American Revolution, pro- and anti-slavery literature, Civil War regimental histories, institutional annual reports, and travel and entertainment guides. Search for these through the Klingenstein Library's online catalog.


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.

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.

The Draft Riots: 1863

Barnet Schecter
Barry Lewis
Harold Holzer (moderator)
Tue, June 14th, 2011 | 7:30 pm

Event details

Time & Location

Date: Mon, March 21, 2011, 6:30 PM

New York City’s only “Civil War Battle” was the 1863 Draft Riot—a convulsive, racially-motivated street fight for the very soul of Manhattan. Experts provide a frank, no-holds-barred account of the sickening excesses of the bloody struggle, its lasting impact on New York politics, the efforts of the mayor, governor, and President Lincoln himself to quell the frightening disturbance, and what it all meant to the future of New York.

Inherently Unequal: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903

Lawrence Goldstone
Eric Foner
Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Thu, May 26th, 2011 | 7:30 pm

Antietam and the Battles of 1862

James M. McPherson
Stephen W. Sears
Harold Holzer (moderator)
Thu, May 12th, 2011 | 7:30 pm

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Creative: Tronvig Group