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Patricia D. Klingenstein Library
Records for the majority of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library's collections are available through the Klingenstein Library's online catalog. Please contact the reference staff if you have any questions or are not finding what you are looking for.
A small portion of the Library’s printed collections are now stored offsite. Any item with the designation of “Offsite” on a catalog record may be requested for onsite use in the Library’s reading room. Please keep in mind that it will it will take between two (2) and five (5) business days for collections to arrive, and you should plan your research accordingly. A list of call number ranges being stored offsite can be found here.
Collections Request System
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.
This site on Flickr highlights a selection of images from the historical records of the Children's Aid Society. The charitable organization was founded in New York City in 1853 to aid, educate and provide lodging for poor children in the city, and/or to place them in foster homes or with employers outside of the city. The entire collection has been rehoused and processed and a finding aid, or guide to the collection, can be located here. The select images portray children participating in activities at CAS facilities as well as children leaving on the "Orphan Trains." Some annual reports, personal diaries, intake volumes, broadsides and pamphlets have also been included.
Click here to view the full collection.
This digital collection consists of selected images from the New York Foundling Hospital. The Foundling opened in 1869, under the auspices of the Sisters of Charity, as a Catholic haven for abandoned babies. It was one of the principal institutions sending children to live with families in the country, in a program known today as the "orphan train." The collection documents the programs and administration of the New York Foundling Hospital, 1869–2009, and the St. Agatha Home for Children, which operated separately from the Foundling beginning in 1884, before merging into the Foundling in 1977. The collection has processed and a finding aid, or guide to the collection, can be found here. Images include photographs of Foundling facilities and activities, reproductions of pamphlets, and reproductions of notes left with children entrusted to the Foundling.
Click here to view the full collection.
Brooklyn Revealed offers a photographic tour of Brooklyn, through which visitors will learn about individual neighborhoods as well as the origin of more than 100 Brooklyn street names. The photographs, all of which come from the collections of the New-York Historical Society's Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, are paired with historical descriptions researched and written by New-York Historical's librarians. In instances where information about a specific street is inconclusive, visitors to the site are invited to submit their own ideas about how the street got its name. Visitors are also encouraged to submit the names of streets not included on the site.
Click here to view the full collection.
Typescript of over 1,400 pages with approximately 650 accompanying illustrations written and compiled by Marion Mahony Griffin (1871–1961), architect, designer, delineator and artist, with her husband Walter Burley Griffin (1876–1937), architect, landscape designer and city planner. Their architectural practice spanned almost four decades on three continents. The Magic of America: Electronic Edition collates in a digital format all the texts and illustrations from the three known copies of the work, including the New-York Historical Society's copy. The electronic edition thus represents the most complete and accessible version currently available of this important architectural document.
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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.
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Two thousand images highlighting 12 collections of prints, posters, photographs, manuscripts and ephemera relating to the Civil War are featured on the Library of Congress American Memory site. This project (1998–2000) was undertaken in collaboration with NYU and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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On this website, we are making available previously unpublished manuscript documents by, to, or about Alexander Hamilton; that is, all manuscripts we have located that were not published in the major collections of Alexander Hamilton's papers, including The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, edited by Harold C. Syrett (New York, Columbia University Press, 1961–1987), and The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary, edited by Julius Goebel, Jr. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1964–1981). The images and transcripts provided here are documents from the New-York Historical Society and the Gilder Lehrman Collection.
Click here to view the full collection.
This project was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and co-administered by N-YHS and NYU. It contains digital images of historical documents that preserve the words of hundreds of eyewitnesses to the American Revolution in and around New York City. This digital archive includes the collection of maps by George Washington's cartographers, Robert Erskine and Simeon DeWitt, the Alexander Family Papers, and all broadsides published from 1776 and 1783 in the N-YHS collections.
The New-York Historical Society's manuscript collections contain over 2 million items of archival materials, including family papers and organizational and business records. This website presents a selection of collections that document the lives of important New Yorkers and Americans as well as average citizens.
Click here to view the full collection
The extensive photograph collections at the New-York Historical Society are particularly strong in portraits and documentary images of New York-area buildings and street scenes from 1839 to 1945, although contemporary photography continues to be collected. This website presents photographic prints and negatives depicting New York City in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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One of the New-York Historical Society’s most important publications, the New-York Historical Society Quarterly (1917-1980) remains an outstanding resource for the study of nearly every aspect of American history and material culture. The Quarterly is a record of the N-YHS Library and Museum and their collections, providing a narrative of the institution’s growth since 1917, and describing collections of manuscript and printed documents, artwork, and decorative arts in exhaustive detail. It also presents original and ground-breaking research on New York City, New York State, and American history in the Colonial period, the Revolutionary War era, the Early Republic, and the nineteenth century. The New-York Historical Society Quarterly was digitized with support from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and the Pine Tree Foundation.
Click here to view the full collection.
The library has been digitizing its collections since 1998, and its growing digital library now includes collections of photographs of New York City, manuscripts, maps, and broadsides from the Revolutionary War era, manuscripts relating to slavery and African American history, Civil War materials, and other historical resources. Some of the collections were digitized in partnership with other institutions such as the Library of Congress and New York University, while others are part of our ongoing program to provide remote electronic access to our collections.
The digital collections listed here are freely available over the internet. Additional online resources, only available in the library’s reading room, are listed here
In addition to our online resources, there are many research tools available in the library's reading room. On-site users can access digitized primary source documents from the New-York Historical Society in Gateway to North America: The People Places, & Organizations of 19th Century New York and digitized Revolutionary War Orderly Books. The library's menu collection and collection of September 11, 2001 ephemera can be searched using on-site databases. Other subscription databases include American National Biography, American Periodical Series, Ancestry.com, Grove Art Online, Harper's Weekly, Journal of American History, JSTOR Early Journal Content, New York Online Virtual Library, Oxford English Dictionary, and ProQuest Historical Newspapers New York Times. Click here for more descriptive information.
The holdings of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library are especially strong for the Colonial and Revolutionary War periods. This guide covers the years 1775 to 1783, with the inevitable steps forward and backward. The geographic scope reflects the library collections for this time period: all 13 colonies and the contiguous territories. The points of view of all participants, including foreign governments and other allies, are represented.
The purpose of this guide is to introduce the researcher to the kinds of resources—reference books, manuscripts, newspapers, broadsides, pamphlets, maps, prints, and current historical journals—available at the Library, and to outline the ways in which these materials can be identified and used.
Please keep in mind that the collections are divided into three main areas—general printed collections; manuscripts; and prints, photographs and architectural drawings—and that the librarians and curators in each of those areas are the best guides to the collections. This guide is meant as a complement to the assistance provided by those librarians and curators, so please be sure to approach them with any specific questions you may have.
Because so many of the collections from this time period are rare, and often fragile, researchers will be brought surrogate formats—microfilm, microfiche, photostatic copies and Readex cards—when available. Original materials are reserved for exhibitions, photography and digitization. Photographic reproductions of most materials may be ordered through the Department of Rights and Reproductions. For more information about this service, please ask at the Library's main reference desk or call (212) 485-9282.
In order to help preserve the Library's collections for future generations, please handle all collections with care, and abide by the Library's general guidelines as well as the guidelines for using individual collections.
Getting Started: The American Revolution in Context
** Note on Reference Books: While most of the holdings of the Library are housed in closed stacks, many reference books are available on shelves in the reading room. These are indicated in this guide with the words "Reading Room Reference." For all other books, please fill out call slips and submit them at the main reference desk.
The following sources, about United States and New York City history, contain a significant amount of information about the Colonial and Revolutionary War periods and are recommended for those just beginning their research.
- Carruth, Gorton, ed. The Encyclopedia of American Facts and Dates. 7th ed. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1979. [Ask at Reference Desk]. Day-by-day chronological charts are divided into four categories of description: politics and government, literature and the arts, science and social sciences, and popular culture and pastimes.
- Foner, Eric and John A. Garraty, eds. The Reader's Companion to American History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991. [Reading Room Reference]. The entries in this volume, of varied lengths, include numerous cross-references and the citation of at least one source for further reading.
- Ketz, Louise Bilebof, ed. Dictionary of American History. 8 vols. New York: Scribner's, 1976. [Reading Room Reference]. Short and medium-length entries are listed alphabetically in this eight volume set; the index is in the last volume.
- Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States. New York: Harper and Row, 1980. [Call No. E169.1 Z53]. See especially the chapters "Tyranny is Tyranny" and "A Kind of Revolution," which offer a class-based interpretation of the fight for independence.
New York City History
- Burrows, Edwin G. and Mike Wallace. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. [Reading Room Reference]. Tracing New York City history from its known beginnings until 1898, this volume incorporates much modern scholarship and social history into a thorough, readable narrative. Its well-organized chapters are excellent starting points for delving into specific topics; the work is marred only by poor endnotes.
- Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995. [Reading Room Reference]. Chronologically comprehensive, this source offers short, medium and long entries about all aspects of the city's history. An index supplements the alphabetical access; bibliographies are included for most entries.
- Stokes, I.N. Phelps. The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1919. 6 vols. New York: Arno Press, 1915. [Reading Room Reference]. This unique source, which chronicles Manhattan history from 1498 to 1919, includes numerous illustrations and maps. It's best to begin by looking at the index (volume 6) or the day-by-day chronology (volume 4), which is useful as an end in itself and also in its listing of contemporary sources. A librarian can assist you with the use of its complex arrangement.
The American Revolution
- Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Enl. Ed. Cambridge, MA: Belknap & Harvard, 1992. [JA84.U5 B3 1992]. The politics of the Revolution as revealed through the writing of the time, especially pamphlets. Contains outstanding footnotes.
- Raphael, Ray. A People's History of the American Revolution. New York: The New Press, 2001. [E275.A2 R37 2001]. The American Revolution as experienced by different groups of people-"rank and file rebels," "fighting men and boys," women, loyalists and pacifists-is conveyed through excerpts from letters, diaries and newspapers of the time. Excellent footnotes.
- Rhodehamel, John, ed. The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence. New York: Library of America, 2001. [E203.A579 2001]. Over a hundred writings by famous and lesser known figures in the Revolution, with substantial notes, biographical profiles, chronology of events and index.
- Ward, Harry. The American Revolution: Nationhood Achieved, 1763-1788. New York: St. Martin's, 1995. [E208.W275 1995]. Issues and controversies contributing to the Revolutionary movements are explored, as are key campaigns and battles, how Americans were affected by the creation of state and national governments. Includes a substantial bibliography.
- Wood, Gordon S. The Radicalism of the American Revolution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. [E209.W65 1992]. Tenets of monarchy, republicanism and democracy are explored as the author argues that the American Revolution radically transformed society rather than preserved the existing social structures.
Encyclopedias, Atlases & Almanacs
- Barnes, Ian. The Historical Atlas of the American Revolution. New York: Routledge, 2000. [E208.B36 2000]. Includes two indexes-general and map name; a chronology, biographical notes and bibliography.
- Boatner III, Mark Mayo. Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1976. [Ask at Reference Desk]. Narrative entries vary in length; those about battles include maps, statistics, and descriptions of troop movements and engagements.
- Cappon, Lester J., editor. Atlas of Early American History: The Revolutionary Era, 1760-1790. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976. [Reading Room Reference]. Map technology of the twentieth century is used to present details of the Revolutionary Era: boundaries; Indian settlements; population according to race, ethnicity and religion; types and locations of commerce and industry; battles and campaigns.
- Faracher, John Mack, ed. Encyclopedia of Colonial and Revolutionary America. New York: Facts on File, 1990. [Reading Room Reference]. Alphabetically listed medium-length entries describe people, places and terms; an index supplements the alphabetical access.
- Nebenzahl, Kenneth and Don Higginbotham. Atlas of the American Revolution. Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1974. [Reading Room Reference]. This chronological narrative features reproductions of numerous maps and other illustrations. In addition to a general index, there is a list of participants which identifies key people by allegiance and profession, e.g. soldier, diplomat, lawyer.
- Purvis, Thomas L. Revolutionary America, 1763-1800. New York: Facts on File, 1995. [Reading Room Reference]. This source presents basic data about the period-chronologies, demographic and economic statistics, election data, state profiles, biographical notes-in a single volume, complete with index and black & white illustrations.
- Garraty, John A. & Mark C. Carnes, eds. American National Biography. 24 vols., New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. [Reading Room Reference]. The medium-length entries in this source are especially thorough and include bibliographies and indications of archival repositories. Because this is not a comprehensive source, it's important to look in other dictionaries of American biography, located adjacent to ANB, including its predecessor:
- Johnson, Allen, ed. Dictionary of American Biography. 29 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928-1937. [Reading Room Reference]
- Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume 1607-1896. Chicago, IL: A.N. Marquis Co., 1963. [Reading Room Reference]
- Palmer, Gregory. Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution. London: Meckler Publishing, 1984. [Reading Room Reference]. Entries include varying degrees of biographical information-geographical background, actions taken during the Revolution, and legal claims. The introduction offers background concerning Loyalist research and its historiography, as well as statistics and charts. Loyalist regiments, with organization and disbandment dates, are also listed.
- Purcell, L. Edward. Who Was Who in the American Revolution. New York: Facts on File, 1993. [E206.P87 1993]. Those profiled include political figures, soldiers, British leaders, French allies, diplomats and spies.
- White, J. Todd, and Lesser, Charles H., ed. Fighters for Independence: A Guide to Sources of Biographical Information on Soldiers and Sailors of the American Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977. [Call No.: Z1238.W45]. Refers researchers to reference and manuscript sources, including documents in The New-York Historical Society library collections.
Military Personnel: Muster Rolls, Registers & Indexes
These lists identify personnel and also provide insight into the structure and economics of the military for this time period. In addition to the sources listed here, the library also holds lists of military personnel for each of the colonies. Search the card and online catalogs under United States-History-Revolution-Registers, lists, etc. to identify and call for these. Please see also A Guide to Military History Guides.
- Muster and Pay Rolls of the War of the Revolution, 1775-1783. 2 vols. New York: The New-York Historical Society, 1914-1915. [Reading Room Reference]. These volumes present Revolutionary War muster and pay rolls from the library's collections, listed according to state with a name index at the end of the second volume. There are also indications of illness, desertion and discharges for some military personnel.
- D.A.R. Patriot Index. Washington, DC: National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Centennial Administration, 1990. [Reading Room Reference]. Lists place and date of birth and death, marriage information, and rank of this group's Patriot ancestors. Not all entries are complete.
- Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register of the Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution, April, 1775 to December, 1783. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973. [Reading Room Reference]. The heart of the text is an alphabetical list of Continental Army officers that includes state or country of origin, rank, years of service, and casualties (if applicable). The book also includes entries for regiments and their officers and charts pertaining to other services performed by Continental officers (for example, a list of aides-de-camp and secretaries to General Washington).
- White, Virgil D., transcriber. Index to Revolutionary War Service Records. Waynesboro, TN: The National Historical Publishing Company, 1995. [Reading Room Reference]. Index to nearly 400,000 military service records of Revolutionary War Army and Navy personnel, located at the National Archives, as well as some civilians who performed service during the war. Content of each entry may vary, but generally includes branch, unit, rank and state for which service was performed.
- Bunnell, Paul J. The New Loyalist Index. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, Inc., 1989. [Reading Room Reference]. Lists birth, marriage and death dates, original residence, place of relocation during or after Revolution, occupation, claim and regiment. Not all entries are complete. According to the introduction, it is the author's attempt to list the known facts of Loyalists who migrated during the Revolution, including records from New Brunswick, Canada, the Bahamas and the American seaboard.
- Ford, Washington Chauncey, comp. British Officers Serving in the American Revolution, 1774-1783. Brooklyn, NY: Historical Printing Club, 1897. [Reading Room Reference]. Lists rank, regiment and date of commission of British Officers.
- A List of the General and Field-Officers, As They Rank in the Army; of the Officers in the Several Regiments of Horse, Dragoons, and Foot on the British and Irish Establishments. London: Admiralty Office, Whitehall, published annually. [Ask at Reference Desk]. This source is commonly referred to as the "Army List." Volumes from the Revolutionary period contain an alphabetical index.
- Peterson, Clarence Stewart, comp. Known Military Dead During the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783. Baltimore, MD: Peterson, 1952. [Ask at Reference Desk]. This alphabetical list of military dead includes name, rank, regiment, and date of death. It also distinguishes between combat and disease related deaths.
New York City
- New York in the Revolution as Colony and State: A Compilation of Documents and Records. Albany: J.B. Lyon and Co., 1904. [Reading Room Reference]. This source includes lists of soldiers in New York regiments of the Continental Army and militias.
- Ranlet, Philip. The New York Loyalists. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1986. [E277.R25 1986]. A valuable modern history of the activities and sentiments of the white population that remained loyal to the British crown before, during, and after the Revolutionary War. The study suggests that loyalists were less numerous and united in the colony and state of New York than commonly asserted.
- Tiedemann, Joseph S. Reluctant Revolutionaries: New York City and the Road to Independence. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997. [F128.4.T54 1997]. This history carefully documents the events in New York City leading up to the Declaration of Independence and continually addresses the question of why New Yorkers were reluctant to rebel. The author emphasizes the heterogeneity of the city's population and interests and demonstrates the political skill acquired by activists who brought about a final consensus for independence.
- Calver, William Louis, and Reginald Pelham Bolton. History Written with Pick and Shovel: Military Buttons, Belt-Plates, Badges, and other Relics Excavated from Colonial, Revolutionary, and War of 1812 Camp Sites by the Field Exploration Committee of the New-York Historical Society. New York: The New-Historical Society, 1950. [Reading Room Reference]. Organized on both a site-by-site basis and an analysis of various period objects. Please Note: Calver and Bolton's field exploration records are available in the Manuscript Department; Photographs from this field exploration are available in the Department of Print, Photograph and Architectural Collections.
- Coggins, Jack. Ships and Seamen of the American Revolution: Vessels, Crews, Weapons, Gear, Naval Tactics, and Actions of the War for Independence. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1969. [Call No.: XN E271.C63]. A guide to naval warfare in the Revolution including charts, illustrations, statistics and a chronology of naval engagements.
- Lefferts, Lt. Charles M. Uniforms of the British, French, and German Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783. New York: The New-York Historical Society, 1926. [Reading Room Reference]. This text includes descriptions of military uniforms, with illustrations and accounts from contemporary newspapers. Entries are on a regimental basis, and include lists of references. The author describes appearances, fabrics, origins of styles, and utilitarian variations frequently adopted by soldiers in the field. Images from the text are also available online at http://www.walika.com/sr/uniforms/uniforms.htm.
Manuscripts, Newspapers, Broadsides, Maps & Periodicals
The Manuscript Department's holdings generated by, and relating to, the American Revolution are extensive, both in breadth and depth. They document the waging of this war from numerous perspectives at many levels of the struggle, from the elite (e.g., letters and general orders of George Washington and of his various aides-de-camp and generals) to the ordinary (muster rolls, ordnance reports, descriptions of guard duty, soldiers' letters and diaries), including one of the largest Collections of Revolutionary War orderly books.
The manuscript collections are being systematically cataloged online. A large and growing percentage of catalog records for manuscripts may be accessed through NYU's BobCat system. Researchers in the reading room should be sure to check both the online and card catalogs for the manuscript department. See the Using the Catalogs section of this guide for more information on BobCat. The manuscript department's online catalog records employ the same call phrases as the card catalog.
The New-York Historical Society's collection of Revolutionary War-era newspapers is one of the largest in the nation. Virtually every newspaper published in the colonies is represented, and many are in near-complete runs. They tell the story from the press's vociferous and imaginative protests against the Stamp Act in 1765 to the unusual banner headlines that announced the victory at Yorktown in 1781.
While American newspapers published during the Revolution are valuable historical tools, they do present unique problems as primary sources. The very number of 18th-century newspapers is limited as they were generally published weekly and in only one or two cities in each colony. Wartime pressures, scarcity of paper and the British occupation of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Charleston at various times during the conflict severely disrupted their publication. Some patriot newspapers summarily ceased publishing as the British army approached their city, while others resumed, at best, an irregular printing schedule in exile in outlying areas. Once the fighting began, newspapers that were even mildly Loyalist in orientation rarely survived mob pressure in American cities without the protection of the British army. Hence it is unlikely that researchers will find a Tory and patriot viewpoint simultaneously expressed in newspapers in any given city after 1775, and there were even short periods when major American cities had no newspaper at all.
Because of these unusual publication conditions, it is recommended that researchers consult secondary sources before beginning their newspaper research. The following titles are especially useful:
- Lathem, Edward Connery, comp. Chronological Tables of American Newspapers 1690-1820. Barre, MA: American Antiquarian Society & Barre Publishers, 1972. [Ask at Reference Desk]. This work gives a precise delineation of the very complicated publication history of newspapers by indicating-in chart form-which newspapers were published when in each city.
- Mott, Frank Luther. American Journalism. rev. ed. New York: Macmillan, 1950. [Ask at Reference Desk]. The chapters "Patriots and Loyalists" and "Covering the Revolution" of this history of American newspapers are helpful in putting newspapers in historical context. From Mott, the reader can get a sense of which newspapers were patriot or Loyalist and to what degree, and how much influence and respect each carried.
- Brigham, Clarence S. History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820. 2 vols. Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 1947. [Reading Room Reference]. This is the standard bibliography of American newspapers published before 1820. It provides a detailed publication history of each paper with emphasis on the identity of the editor (editors and publishers were generally one and the same), along with a meticulous documentation of title changes. Brigham also provides a precise list of the repositories that hold original copies of the issues. While this information is still remarkably accurate for original issues, it is superseded in the respect that reproductions through microformats have since been made available in many additional locations.
- Jodziewicz, Thomas W. Birth of America: The Year in Review 1763–1783. Glen Rock, NJ: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1976. [Call No.: E187.J63]. This work serves as an index to representative American newspapers for the major events of the Revolution, which are described and listed chronologically. A second index includes noteworthy ancillary topics. The book accompanies a microfilm set of the newspapers that the library does not own, but many of the newspapers themselves are available in the library collections.
Access to the newspaper collection is through the newspaper card catalog available on-site only. For a description of how to use the newspaper catalog, please refer to the research guide entitled A Guide to Newspaper Research at The New-York Historical Society Library.
Researchers must view newspapers in surrogate formats, when available. For more information about the preservation of library collections, please see the Introduction to this guide.
The New-York Historical Society has an extensive collection of broadsides that document the American Revolution and the tumultuous events leading up to it. Broadsides, the technical term for any document, large or small, printed on one side of a single sheet of paper, served as posters, handbills, official proclamations, advertisements, and conveyors of ballads and poetry. They were plastered on walls, distributed by hand or read out loud and are especially important for the study of the Revolutionary period. At a time when newspapers were published one or two times a week, broadsides served as the immediate vehicle for late-breaking news: One can find in The New-York Historical Society's collection the first news of the repeal of the Stamp Act and the arrival of a tea ship at Sandy Hook. They report the latest news brought by Paul Revere from Boston and record how news of the events at Lexington and Concord reached New York. Other examples in the collection include a Boston account of the Battle of Bunker Hill told from the British perspective and an appeal, in their own language, to the Pennsylvania Germans to resist the British army as it approaches Philadelphia in December 1776.
Because broadsides bring a sense of immediacy to very specific long-ago events, they can be a challenge to interpret. Well-documented published histories of the Revolution can thus be very helpful; historians have indeed mined this material, and a surprising number of these broadsides are "explained" within the text or in the footnotes of modern histories. For New York City broadsides, The Iconography of Manhattan Island by I. N. Phelps Stokes is very useful. See the Getting Started section of this guide for more information. Records for all broadsides are available through the Library's online catalog
Researchers should use photostatic copies and other surrogate formats to view broadsides, if available. For more information about the preservation of the library collections, please see the Introduction to this guide.
Pamphlets, like newspapers and broadsides, were a fundamental means of communication during the Revolutionary era. They were cheap, sewn or stapled together, and usually not more than a few pages in length, factors that contributed to an ease of circulation and accessibility. Sermons, legal tracts, poetry, rules and orders, and almanacs were all published in pamphlet form. As disputes increased in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, pamphlets became a way to document significant events as they happened and also set forth personal polemics.
Thomas Paine's Common Sense, many editions of which are held by the Library, is one of the best-known examples of a personal polemic. This pamphlet was printed in various cities including Philadelphia, New York, Newburyport, Massachusetts and London. Often additions or slight changes were made at the time of a new printing, as was the case with the Philadelphia printing by R. Bell of Third Street, "To which is added an appendix to Common sense: together with an address to the people called Quakers." A rebuttal to Paine, by Charles Inglis, The deceiver unmasked; or, Loyalty and interest united : in answer to a pamphlet entitled Common sense / by a loyal American, is also held by the library.
Pamphlets also documented major events of the time as they were unfolding, as is the case with the pamphlet entitled The votes and proceedings of the freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Boston, in town meeting assembled, according to law, the 5th and 18th days of November, 1773, which was published in Boston, shortly before the Boston Tea Party.
Events were also documented after-the-fact, often with a clear political agenda, as is the case with An oration, delivered March 5, 1774 : at the request of the inhabitants of the town of Boston : to commemorate the bloody tragedy of the fifth of March 1770, by the honorable John Hancock, Esq.
The following books and articles are recommended for further reading about pamphlets:
- Adams, Thomas R. "The British Pamphlet Press and the American Controversy, 1764- 1783." Reprinted from the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 89 (April 1979): 33-88. [Call No.: E209.A32 1979]
- Adams, Thomas R. "American Independence: The Growth of an Idea; a bibliographic study of the American political pamphlets printed between 1764 and 1776 dealing with the dispute between Great Britain and her colonies." In Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts: Transactions 1956-1963. Boston, MA: The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1966. [Call No.: F61.C71 v.43]
- Bailyn, Bernard, ed. Pamphlets of the American Revolution, 1750-1776. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965. [Call No.: E203.B25]
- Calkin, Homer J. "Pamphlets and Public Opinion During the American Revolution." The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 64 (1940): 22-42.
- Jensen, Merrill, comp. Tracts of the American Revolution. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs & Merrill, 1967. [Call No.: E203.J4]
Researchers must view these and other pamphlets in surrogate formats, if available. For more information about the preservation of the library collections, please see the Introduction to this guide.
For the period of the American Revolution, the New-York Historical Society holds a significant number of maps. Chief among them is the series of field sketches and finished maps of projected battle sites in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania begun by Robert Erskine, geographer and surveyor-general to the Continental Army, and completed by his successor, Simeon De Witt. The Erskine- De Witt series culminates with the detailed Winter-Cantonment of the American Army and it's [sic] Vicinity for 1783, which shows the final encampment of the Continental forces at New Windsor, New York, during the winter of 1782–83.
An example of a British map of the period is The Theatre of War in North America, with the Roads and a Table of Distances, published by Robert Sayer and John Bennett in London in March 1776, which served to educate the average British subject about the rebellious American colonies in gazetteer fashion by providing "a compendious account" of statistical and geographical information.
Records for the majority of the New-York Historical Society's manuscript maps, including roughly three-quarters of the manuscript maps covering the Revolutionary War, can be found through the online catalog. These maps are classified by Library of Congress subject headings. While one may search online for maps by author (i.e. maker) or title, Revolutionary War maps are easiest to find by doing a subject search. Printed maps in the collection can be identified using an online map database [http://dib.nyu.edu/nyhs/maps].
To pinpoint place names that are unfamiliar or have fallen from current use, consult a gazetteer such as The Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World, listed at the end of this section.
Many Revolutionary War maps have been printed in books or as illustrations to articles in journals and other periodicals. To find these, consult David Sanders Clark's Index to Maps of the American Revolution in Books and Periodicals, listed below, which is arranged geographically by state, with a subject and name index providing additional access points. Please consult the library's online catalog for holdings.
The following titles are merely a sampling of useful works about Revolutionary War maps and their makers. J. B. Harley's Mapping the American Revolutionary War surveys mapping projects during the Revolution and includes a study on the availability and use of maps during the War. Peter J. Guthorn's American Maps and Map Makers of the Revolution is essential to understanding the extensive Erskine-DeWitt series; the library's reference copy has been annotated to reflect its holdings. Guthorn includes biographical sketches of the mapmakers he discusses, but other accounts may be found listed in the card and online catalogs under their surnames, e.g. "Romans, Bernard."
- Adams, Randolph G. British Headquarters Maps and Sketches Used by Sir Henry Clinton While in Command of the British Forces Operating in North America During the War for Independence, 1775-1782. Ann Arbor, MI: The William L. Clements Library, 1928. [Call No.: E267.C65]
- Bedini, Silvio A. "Simeon DeWitt." American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. [Reading Room Reference]
- Clark, David Sanders. Index to Maps of the American Revolution in Books and Periodicals Illustrating the Revolutionary War and Other Events of the Period 1763-1789. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1974. [Reading Room Reference]
- Guthorn, Peter J. American Maps and Map Makers of the Revolution. Monmouth Beach, NJ: Philip Freneau Press, 1966. [Reading Room Reference]
- Guthorn, Peter J. British Maps of the American Revolution. Monmouth Beach, NJ: Philip Freneau Press, 1972. [Reading Room Reference]
- Harley, J. B., et al. Mapping the American Revolutionary War. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1978. [Reading Room Reference]
- Heusser, Albert H. George Washington's Map Maker: A Biography of Robert Erskine. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1966. [Call No.: CT.E736H42]
- Marshall, Douglas W. and Howard H. Peckham. Campaigns of the American Revolution: An Atlas of Manuscript Maps. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 1976. [Call No.: *E230.M36]
- Nebenzahl, Kenneth. A Bibliography of Printed Battle Plans of the American Revolution 1775-1795. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1975. [Call No.: Z6026.H6N33]
- Seltzer, Leon E., editor. The Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962. [Reading Room Reference]
- Sullivan, Larry E. "The Cartographic Treasures of the New-York Historical Society." Map Collector 34 (March 1986): 28-34. [Call No.: GA300.M29 no.34]
- Stevens, B. F. B. F. Stevens's Facsimile of the Unpublished British Head Quarters Coloured Manuscript Map of New York & Environs  Reproduced from the Original Drawing in the War Office, London. London, 1900. [Ask at Reference Desk]
Researchers should study maps reprinted in books or surrogate formats such as photostatic copies, when available. For more information about the preservation of the library collections, please see the Introduction to this guide.
The library subscribes to a number of current periodicals that contain articles about the American Revolution and other American history topics. These include:
• American Heritage
• American Historical Review
• American History
• Journal of American History
• New York History
• Public Historian
Use the card and online catalogs to find other magazines and journals and their call numbers.
America: History and Life, a multi-volume index available in the hall behind the reading room, lists citations to articles according to author's name and subject and, in the case of book reviews, author of the book being reviewed and reviewer's name. All of the periodicals listed above are indexed through America, as are hundreds of others.
If you are interested in a periodical that the library does not hold, ask a librarian where you can find that title.
Prints & Photographs
Eighteenth century American prints are rare now because they were produced infrequently in the Colonies and their perceived coarseness did not endear them to collectors. However, the events transpiring on this side of the Atlantic were of great concern to European nations; thus there are British and Dutch prints depicting persons and incidents relevant to the American Revolution. There are also 19th century representations of momentous events, the Centennial in 1876 being the impetus of many. The negatives and photoprints of Calver and Bolton's Field Exploration Committee are unique.
Following is a list of the types of prints held by the Department of Print, Photograph and Architectural Collections for this period:
- Portraits: Military heroes in uniform, clergy, lawyers and governors. Arranged alphabetically by last name.
- American history and life: Costumes; battle scenes-including Paul Revere's Boston Massacre and the Nathan Hale, Benedict Arnold and Major André affairs; everyday life, allegories, the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Arranged chronologically according to date of event illustrated.
- Geographic depictions: Views of the original thirteen colonies, especially New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. New York City-Evacuation Day; fictitious views of troops; incidents imagined by European print publishers; and, landings. Arranged geographically according to subject.
- Caricatures: English, Dutch and a few extremely rare American caricatures from 1760s–80s. Arranged chronologically.
For an in-depth analysis of caricatures of this period, see Shadwell, Wendy. "Britannia in Distress," American Book Collector 7 (Jan. & March 1986): 3-12; 11-22. [Call No.: Z990.A52]
Olds Collection: British and American naval prints from the Revolutionary War, especially dramatic battles made famous in slogans, such as "I have not yet begun to fight" (J.P. Jones) and portraits of those captains. Arranged chronologically according to date of event illustrated.
The New-York Historical Society Field Exploration Committee: Photographs of sites and finds from archeological excavations in New York City, conducted in the early 20th century. For further information about this project, see History Written with Pick and Shovel, listed in the Getting Started section of this guide, under Material Culture.
A Guide to Architectural Research at the New-York Historical Society
The purpose of this guide is to introduce the researcher to the printed architectural resources, specifically those relating to New York City, available in the reading room of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library and at local libraries and city agencies. Please note that the Library's architectural drawings collections are housed with the Department of Print, Photograph and Architectural Collections (x228 or 273), and that architects' papers are housed in the Manuscript Department (x265). For information on those collections, see department finding aids or contact those departments directly.
The following books can help you identify specific architects, buildings, neighborhoods and styles. They may be used as a first step in your research, before going to the Library's catalogs (refer to the Catalogs section of this guide for more information); as a complement to research already in progress; or, as an end in themselves, to answer a specific question or verify a fact. Please ask a librarian to direct you to these books.
Architects and their Commissions
- Francis, Dennis S. Architects in Practice in New York City, 1840-1900. New York: Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records, 1989.
- Ward, James. Architects in Practice in New York City, 1900-1940. New York: Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records, 1980.
- Withey, Henry. Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased). Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1956.
Guides and Directories
- Diamonstein, Barbaralee, The Landmarks of New York III. NY: Abrams, 1998.
- Dolkart, Andrew S. Guide to New York City Landmarks. NY: New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1998.
- Norton, Thomas E. and Jerry E. Patterson. Living It Up: A Guide to the Named Apartment Houses of New York. NY: Atheneum, 1984.
- Willensky, Elliot and Norval White. AIA Guide to New York City. 4th ed. NY: Harcourt Brace, 2000.
- Dunshee, Kenneth Holcomb. As You Pass By. NY: Hastings House, 1952.
- Lockwood, Charles. Bricks and Brownstones: the New York Row House 1783-1929. NY: Abbeville, 1972.
- Silver, Nathan. Lost New York, rev. ed. NY: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.
- Stern, Robert A.M. New York 1880. NY: Monacelli Press, 1999.
- ________. New York 1900. NY: Rizzoli, 1983.
- ________. New York 1930. NY: Rizzoli, 1987.
- ________. New York 1960. NY: Monacelli Press, 1995. The endnotes in the Stern books are extensive and detailed. They are a particularly good source of citations to architectural journals.
Except for a limited number of reference books available in the reading room, books and other library materials are housed in closed stacks. Use the catalogs in the reading room to identify the items you'd like to look at, then fill out a call slip for each one and submit them at the reference desk. Please note: only four call slips may be submitted at a time.
It's important to consult both the card catalog and the online computer catalog; if you don't, you'll only be searching a portion of our collections. The online catalog contains records for books acquired since the mid-1980s as well as records for items published in the earlier centuries that have only recently been catalogued. The card catalog contains records for all other catalogued materials. Both list materials according to author, title and subject; the online catalog offers additional searches, such as keyword.
Because the catalogs have evolved over many decades and centuries, subject headings may vary, both within the card catalog and between the card and online catalogs. In some cases, similar subject headings, such as Architects-New York (City) and Architects-New York (NY), will be inter-filed in the card catalog. You may also notice that certain subject headings, such as Architects-New York (State)-New York, only appear online. Most alternate subject headings have been indicated in this guide, but you should also be aware of the "See" and "See Also" references in the catalogs, and follow them as needed.
It's always best to start by looking under the most specific subject headings you can think of, then move on to broader ones, if necessary. For instance, if you know the name of the architect you are interested in, look under that person's name or firm name in the catalogs:
Carrerre & Hastings
Post, George B.
Do this even if you think the person is not well-known: we may have materials published during the person's lifetime even if that person's reputation has not extended into the present. If you don't find anything under the person's name, look under broader subject headings, such as:
Architects-New York (City)
Architects-New York (N.Y.)
Architects-New York (State)-New York
In some cases a building name is used as a subject heading, e.g. Empire State Building or Grand Central Terminal. For most buildings, however, you'll have to search more broadly:
Architecture-New York (City)
Architecture-New York (NY)
Architecture-New York (State)-New York
Buildings-New York (NY)
Housing-New York (NY)
New York (City)-Buildings, structures, etc.
New York (NY)-Buildings, structures, etc.
or by type of building:
Apartment buildings-New York (State)-New York
Apartment houses-New York (City)
Apartment houses-New York (NY)
Hotels, taverns, etc.-New York (NY)
New York (City)-Hotels, taverns, etc.
Office Buildings-New York (City)
Office Buildings-New York (NY)
Tenement Houses-New York (City)
Tenement Houses-New York (NY)
To find materials dealing with specific neighborhoods in New York City, look under the name of the neighborhood:
Greenwich Village (New York, NY)
Harlem (New York, NY)
As well as under:
New York (City)-Sections-Greenwich Village
New York (City)-Sections-Harlem
The New York City section of the catalog can be difficult to use, so please ask a librarian if you need help.
Newspapers and Periodicals
Our periodical holdings are listed by title in the main card catalog. There are separate drawers for our newspaper holdings, at the very end of the main card catalog. These drawers are organized first according to state, then city, then title of newspaper. Refer to our guide to newspaper research for more information.
The best way to find articles in newspapers and periodicals is to use an index, which lists citations to articles according to name and/or subject. The following indexes, available at the Historical Society, can help you in your search:
• The Art Index (1929-present)
• The New York Times Index (September 1851-present)
• The New York Tribune Index (1875-1906)
• Poole's Index to 19th Century Periodicals (1802-1906)
• Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature (1890-present)
Additional indexes, including the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, are available at the Art and Architecture Division of the New York Public Library. See the Other Resources section of this guide for more information.
Each volume of an index contains citations for a specific year or years, so it's important to know the approximate years an architect was working or a structure was built. You can find this information by using the books recommended above in the Getting Started section or by asking a librarian for assistance.
Not all of the periodicals cited in the above indexes are available at the Library. If we don't have the journal you are looking for, a librarian can refer you to another library. Here are just a few of the architectural journals in our collection:
• Architectural Record 1891–1913
• Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 1941–
• Real Estate Record (and Guide) 1868–present
There is no general index to the Real Estate Record but a picture index, Real Estate Record and Guide Index to Pictures, will lead the researcher to pictures as well as articles. Only one volume of this picture index, for the years 1885–1918, is available.
Insurance atlases, also known as fire atlases, fire insurance maps and land maps, have been published by various companies, including Perris, Perris & Browne, Bromley & Co. and Sanborn. Our holdings begin with the 1852 edition, covering lower Manhattan. Atlases contain a great deal of useful information including: street addresses; block and lot numbers; an indication of building materials (brick, stone, wood, etc.), number of stories and commercial vs. residential use.
See Diane L. Oswald's Fire Insurance Maps: Their History and Applications (1997) for more information.
Special Architectural Resources
Corsa Building Files
Files containing information about Manhattan hotels are the core of this collection; a limited number of files on Manhattan apartment and office buildings are also available. Some files are quite full, with clippings, floor plans and promotional materials; others are rather thin. Lists of these files are available in the reading room.
Cross & Brown Files
Most of these files contain information about commercial buildings located in Wall Street and midtown. A complete listing of these files is available in the reading room.
These files contain newspaper clippings, brochures and other information filed according to subject. A complete list of the vertical files is available in the reading room. Subject headings related to architecture include (but are not limited to): New York City-Buildings-Restoration and Rehabilitation New York City-Sections-Greenwich Village New York City-Sections-Harlem
Other Resources in New York City
Public Records/Official Agencies
The Library does not hold records of deeds and mortgages, nor does it have architectural and engineering plans, except in a few cases. For official records, please contact the following city agencies:
Department of Buildings This department maintains files which may contain one or more of the following: construction applications, building permits, architectural drawings and plans. Information for Manhattan blocks 1-968 for the years 1866-1975 is also available at the Municipal Archives (see description following). All research must be done in person. Call ahead for hours and additional information or visit their website.
60 Hudson Street, 5th Floor
210 Joralemon Street, 8th Floor
1932 Arthur Avenue
126-06 Queens Boulevard
Register's Offices: Deeds, mortgages and other documents relating to building ownership can be found here. All research must be done in person. Call ahead for hours and additional information.
31 Chambers Street
210 Joralemon Street
1932 Arthur Avenue
144-06 94th Avenue
Municipal Archives: Every building in the five boroughs was photographed between 1939 and 1941 as part of a real property appraisal project. Prints of these black & white photographs can be purchased through the Municipal Archives (212) 788-8580 or online at http://www.nyc.gov/html/records/html/dorisref.html . The Archives is located at 31 Chambers Street.
Landmarks Preservation Commission :The Landmarks Preservation Commission oversees the designation of landmarks and historic districts and all changes or repairs to those buildings and districts.
The Library holds some historic district reports, e.g. NoHo, Upper West Side, and we are in the process of adding a substantial number of reports for individual buildings to our collection. District reports may be found by looking in both the card and online catalogs under the district's name or the subject headings Historic districts-New York (State)-New York and Historic buildings-New York (State)-New York. For more information, call the commission at (212) 487-6800 or log on to their website: www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/lpc/home.html
- Art & Architecture Division, The New York Public Library, 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, Room 300 , (212) 930-0834, www.nypl.org/research/chss/spe/art/artarc/artarch.html. Here you will find the Avery Index in both print and electronic form, as well as extensive holdings relevant to New York and American architecture. Their website includes an online guide to architectural research at NYPL.
- The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, The New York Public Library. 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, Room 121 , (212) 930-0828, www.nypl.org/research/chss/lhg/genea.html. This division houses two photographic collections, Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s to 1970s, and the Lloyd Acker Collection of New York City Photographs 1935-1975. The first is indexed by address, subject and building name; the second is indexed by address. Indexes to the Photographic Views are available at the Historical Society Library, as are microfiche copies of the photographs. If you'd like to view the actual photographs, you must go to NYPL.
A Guide to Newspaper Research at the New-York Historical Society
The pages of a newspaper preserve the flavor of a time as no other chronicle can. Along with reports of key historical events, one can find smaller, though no less important items in newspapers: vital statistics (records of marriages and deaths which can function as substitutes for missing civil or religious registrations), biographical sketches, legal notices, offers of rewards for runaway slaves, public announcements, advertisements, and shipping information. This is history captured as it happened.
The New-York Historical Society holds the fourth largest collection of American newspapers published before 1820: 634 titles by one estimate. To that number must be added the myriad mid-19th to early-20th century New York papers, as well as those published in outlying frontiers of the expanding nation, bringing the total number of titles held close to 10,000. While the collection is strongest in newspapers from New York City and State, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, it encompasses all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia.
If the title and place of publication of a newspaper are known, consult the newspaper card catalog. This lists newspapers alphabetically by state, place of publication, and then by title. The words “Morning,” “Evening,” “Daily,” “Weekly,” and the initial article “the” are ignored in the alphabetizing process. And unless it constitutes the entire title of a newspaper, the city of publication is also disregarded. For example, The New-York Weekly Journal is found under “J” for Journal; the New-Yorker (a 19th century newspaper with the same title as the current magazine) under “N” for New.
Under “New York City” you will find most papers historically published in Manhattan. Papers from areas originally outside the pre–1898 consolidation boundaries of New York City—the annexed boroughs of Brooklyn, Staten Island and The Bronx, as well as various localities within Queens (i.e. Far Rockaway, Flushing, Long Island City, etc.)—are filed in the drawers labeled “New York State.” A small number of foreign newspapers—in English and other languages—are listed in the bottom drawer.
The extent of the library’s holdings of a newspaper is noted beneath the title; for lack of space, dates may occasionally continue onto the back of the card. A continuous run is indicated by a hyphen between dates (1837: Jan 28–1842: Aug 30). For a run of several years, the first and last years are given and the intervening years replaced by a hyphen (1824–1869). A comma marks where issues are lacking (1883: Apr 6, 9, 18–27, 30).
The colored stripe running across the top of some catalog cards indicates that a newspaper is:
Blue—available on microfilm
Red—available in Readex Microprint edition
Orange—too fragile to be retrieved
To learn which newspapers the library holds for a location in a given year, consult the chronological file, which is located in three large drawers near the card catalog. The drawers are arranged by state, place of publication, year, and then by titles held for that year. The extent of the holdings must then be checked against the detailed newspaper catalog.
Union lists—catalogs that describe the holdings of multiple libraries—are helpful in determining the titles and dates of publication of newspapers for a given locality. The two most often consulted for United States newspapers, Clarence Brigham’s History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 and Winifred Gregory's American Newspapers, 1821-1936: A Union List of Files Available in the United States and Canada (see Bibliography) are arranged by state and then locality. The United States Newspaper Project’s New-York Historical Society Holdings, April 1990, lists newspapers alphabetically by title, then place of publication. This is helpful when only the exact title of a paper is known. For example, there are no less than six distinct newspapers titled Evening Star in New-York Historical's collection.
Some publications containing the word “newspaper” in their title, such as Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, are listed as periodicals in the online catalog. If you cannot locate what you believe is a newspaper by the steps outlined above, look for it by title in the online catalog, BobCat, or ask a librarian for assistance.
Requesting, Handling and Copying Newspapers
To request a newspaper, log on to AEON, the library’s automated system, and fill out the appropriate form. Newspapers do not have call numbers, so please include the title, place of publication, and exact date(s) desired.
In cases where we hold the original and microform or photocopied versions of a newspaper, we will retrieve the latter in order to preserve the original from the natural deterioration caused by handling. Old newspapers are fragile and we ask that you use care when turning pages; corners are especially prone to chip. Except for loose issues, which should remain flat on the reading room tables, all bound original newspapers must be used with an oversized cradle. Please refrain from leaning on the pages, and do not write on paper placed on top of the newspaper, as this will leave a damaging impression. If you have questions about the proper handling of newspapers and other library materials, ask a librarian.
With very rare exceptions, original format newspapers—including those bound in volumes—cannot be photocopied. The technology Readex Microprint cards does not permit copying, but newspapers on microfilm can be printed at a cost of $.35 or $.50 per page, depending on the size. Personal scanners are not permitted on library materials, but non-flash photographs can be taken for research purposes only for a daily fee of $15.00 submitted with a signed permission agreement. Images of original newspaper pages may also be purchased through the Department of Rights and Reproductions; for further information call 1-(212)-873-3400, extension 282, or request a fee schedule at the Reference Desk.
Selected General Indexes to New York Newspapers
The contents of very few 18th and 19th century newspapers have been indexed, and those only partially. Advertisements and paid death and marriage notices are usually not indexed, though abstractions have been published for a number of these (see below). The comprehensive New York Times Index often serves as a guide to other nineteenth and twentieth century papers, which usually ran the same stories on the same dates. Some important early African-American newspapers, such as Freedom’s Journal and The Colored American are indexed in Donald M. Jacobs’s Antebellum Black Newspapers (see Bibliography and Newspaper Websites). In addition to the indexes listed below, New-York Historical holds Thomas Farrington De Voe’s Historical Incidents from Newspapers, a unique manuscript chronological index for the years 1704-1850 covering Boston, Hartford, Philadelphia and New York newspapers, with emphasis on the latter.
- Brooklyn Daily Eagle: July 1891–1900
- New York Times: 1851–present [also Personal Name Index to the New York Times Index, 1851–1989]
- New York Tribune: 1875–1906 [in print and on microfilm; print copy lacks 1879, 1894 and 1900; also digitized by Library of Congress at http://www.loc.gov/library/libarch-digital.html ]
- New York World: 1885–1890, 1892
An index unique to the New-York Historical Society is the card file from the offices of The Sun, which indexes that paper and its subsequent name changes for the years outlined below:
- Sun [morning]: January 1913–January 31, 1920
- Combined Sun and New York Herald: February 1, 1920–September 30, 1920
- New York Herald: October 1, 1920–March 18, 1924
Indexes to Genealogical Information in New York Newspapers
- Genealogical Data From Colonial New York Newspapers: material extracted from the New-York Gazette, 1726–1744; the New-York Weekly Journal, 1733–1751; the New-York Mercury, 1751–1768; and the New-York Gazette and the Weekly Mercury, 1768–1783 [CS61 .S37]
- Genealogical Data from the New York Post-Boy, 1743-1773 [CS42 .N37 no. 35]
- Rivington’s New York Newspaper: Excerpts from a Loyalist Press, 1773-1783 [reference shelves]
- American Deaths and Marriages, 1784–1829: Taken From Upstate New York Newspapers [F118 .G33] [See also Joseph Gavit’s American Deaths and Marriages: 1784–1829: Index to Non-principals in Microfilm Copies of Abstracts in the New York State Library, Albany, New York; F118 .G331]
- New-York Weekly Museum, 1788–1817: marriages and deaths [F128 .252 .N55]
- The New-York Magazine, Marriages and Deaths, 1790-1797 [F118 .S37]
- New-York Evening Post, 1801–1890: marriages [F128 .252 .N44] and deaths [F128 .252 .N45] [Also in Ancestry.com]
- Commercial Advertiser, 1802–1809, 1827–1832: marriages and deaths [F128 .252 .C7]
- Christian Intelligencer of the Reformed Dutch Church, 1830–1871: marriages [F128 .252 .C3] and deaths [F128 .252 .C4] [Also in Ancestry.com]
- New York Herald, 1835–1876: marriages and deaths [F128 .252 .N52 M2 1987]
- Marriages and Deaths from the New Yorker (Double Quarto Edition), 1836-1841 [F128.25.S39 1980]
- Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1841–1871: marriages [F128K .252 .B3] and deaths [F128K .252 .B32] [Also in Ancestry.com]
- New York Times, 1858–1978: obituaries [Reading Room Reference]
The following are just a few of the books about newspapers available on the open shelves of the Reading Room or at the Reference Desk, but many others can be found through the online catalog.
- Brigham, Clarence Saunders, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 (Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 1947). [REF Z6951.B86] Brigham’s “Additions and corrections to History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820” appeared in the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 72 (1961), 15-62. [REF E172 .A35 n.s. v.71]
- Emery, Michael, “Newspapers,” in The Encyclopedia of New York City, Kenneth T. Jackson, editor (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995), 809-821. [REF F128 .3 .E75 1995]
- Fox, Louis H., New York City Newspapers, 1820-1850: A Bibliography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1928). [Reading Room Reference]
- Gottesman, Rita, The Arts and Crafts in New York: Advertisements and News Items from New York City Newspapers, 3 vols. (New York: The New-York Historical Society, 1938-1965). [Reading Room Reference]
- Gregory, Winifred, American Newspapers, 1821-1936: A Union List of Files Available in the United States and Canada. 1937. Reprint. (New York: Kraus, 1967). [REF *Z6945 .A53 1967]
- Clarke, Avis G., An alphabetical index to the titles in American newspapers… (Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International, 1983). [REF Z6945 .A54 Index]
- Hansen, James L., “Research in Newspapers,” in The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, revised edition, Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Leubking, editors. (Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry, Incorporated, 1997), 413–438. [REF CS49 .S65 1997]
- Jacobs, Donald M, Antebellum Black Newspapers: Indices to New York Freedom’s Journal (1827–1829), The Rights of All (1829), The Weekly Advocate (1837), and The Colored American (1837–1841) (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1976). [REF E185 .5 .J55]
- Lathem, Edward Connery, compiler, Chronological Tables of American Newspapers, 1690-1820, Being a tabular guide to holdings of newspapers published in America through the year 1820 (Barre, MA: The American Antiquarian Society and Barre Publishers, 1972). [Reading Room Reference]
- Mott, Frank Luther, American Journalism: A History of Newspapers in the United States through 260 Years: 1690 to 1950, revised edition (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1950). [REF PN 4855 .M63 1950]
- United States Newspaper Project, New-York Historical Society Holdings: April, 1990, 2 vols. (Dublin, OH: Online Computer Library Center, 1978–1990). [Reading Room Reference]
- New York State Newspaper Project, http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/nysnp/
- Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
- ProQuest’s Historic New York Times, 1851–2007 [on-site access only], http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?RQT=306&DBId=6861
- Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online, 1841–1902, eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary.org
- Old Fulton New York Postcards [has over 16,000,000 digitized New York State newspaper pages, including the complete Brooklyn Eagle, 1841–1955], http://fultonhistory.com/
- Freedom’s Journal, 1827–1829, http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/libraryarchives/aanp/freedom/
The Patricia D. Klingenstein Library houses notable collections documenting military and naval history. It incorporates the libraries of the Naval History Society, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion-New York Commandery, and the Seventh Regiment (New York National Guard). The Library also holds the Lathrop C. Harper Spanish-American War Collection and the Eugene H. Pool Collection of Captain James Lawrence.
A Guide to Military History Research at the New-York Historical Society
The Klingenstein Library houses notable collections documenting military and naval history. It incorporates the libraries of the Naval History Society, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion-New York Commandery, and the Seventh Regiment (New York National Guard). The Library also holds the Lathrop C. Harper Spanish-American War Collection and the Eugene H. Pool Collection of Captain James Lawrence.
Please note that this guide is meant to aid the researcher in using only the Library's published collections; visitors seeking to work with original manuscripts or visual materials should be certain to inquire of the Manuscripts Department and the Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Drawings, respectively.
Searching the General Collections
The BobCat online catalog and the main card catalog provide the principal access to the general library collections. Although the Library has acquired several distinct military collections over the years, it has made an effort to unify them through the same cataloging system. Thus, for ease of access to the most up-to-date holdings, one should always consult the main catalogs before seeking assistance in using any special catalogs.
Researchers gain access to published materials in the library catalogs by using the Library of Congress subject headings. When searching by subject for most pre-20th-century military conflicts, the best approach is as an event in American history: United States-History-French and Indian War, 1755–1763 Personal narratives, United States-History-Civil War-Regimental Histories-New York Infantry-11th.
Twentieth-century wars, by contrast, are best accessed directly by the name of the conflict: World War, 1939–1945-Regimental Histories-U.S.-3D Armored Division.
Specific battles and campaigns of any century should be searched directly:
Saratoga Campaign, 1777. Petersburg (Va.)-Siege, 1864–1865.
Finding Published Regimental Histories
When seeking information on a military unit during a specific conflict, it is best to search for it under the name of the war following the guidelines given above. These published histories will then be grouped together under the subheading, "Regimental Histories." Although one can also look directly under the name of the unit, it requires the searcher to be very precise with names that can vary, for example: New York Infantry. 10th Regiment. New York (State) National Guard. Eighth Regiment. U.S. Army. 3D Armored Division.
Civil War Regiments
When seeking information on a Civil War regiment, it is advisable to consult first: Dornbusch, C. E. Regimental Publications & Personal Narratives of the Civil War: A Checklist. 4 vols. (New York: New York Public Library, 1961–1987) [Vols. 1 and 4 in Reading Room Reference]. This bibliography provides, at a glance, all the available published literature on any given regiment and notes the libraries where it can be found.
Dornbusch will also clarify the important distinction between different regiments that bear the same number, such as the:
New York 10th Volunteer Infantry , New York 10th Infantry (National Guard)
Many of these regimental histories are now available in microform at the New York Public Library as:
Civil War Unit Histories: Regimental Histories and Personal Narratives. (Bethesda, Md.: University Publications of America, 1990–1993). Microfiche.
New York Regiments
Dornbusch (cited above) also serves as a useful index to the principal reference work on the New York regiments in the Civil War: Phisterer, Frederick. New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1865. 3rd ed. 6 vols. (Albany: J. B. Lyon Co., 1912). [Reading Room Reference].
Phisterer provides the best capsule history of each regiment: how and where it was raised, a list of its engagements, and the service record of its commissioned officers. The work also includes a guide to the regiments by county. The index volume provides indexing by name of officers, battles, and, most useful, the "Synonyms," or nicknames, such as "Garibaldi Guard" or "New York Rifles," by the which the numbered regiments were commonly known.
Finding Information on Military Personnel
One can often find service records of military personnel in the National Archives, but several printed sources here in The New-York Historical Society Library provide ready access to much of this information.
- Heitman, F. B. Historical Register of the United States Army, from its Organization September 29, 1789, to September 29, 1889. (Washington, D. C.: The National Tribune, 1890) [Ask librarian]. This work provides biographical information about commissioned officers of the regular army, but it does not include state militia units or volunteer regiments raised for specific wars.
- Callahan, Edward W. List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900. (New York: L. R. Hamersly & Co., 1901) [Reading Room Reference]. This listing includes officers and midshipmen.
- Muster Rolls of New York Provincial Troops, 1755–1764. Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1891 (New York: New-York Historical Society, 1892) [Reading Room Reference].
- New York Colonial Muster Rolls, 1664-1775. Report of the State Historian of the State of New York. 2 vols. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000) [Reading Room Reference]. This a reprinting of the second and third annual reports of the State Historian published in 1897 and 1898.
- White, Virgil. Index to Revolutionary War Service Records. 4 vols. (Waynesboro, Tenn.: National Historical Publishing Co., 1995) [Reading Room Reference]
- Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution, April 1775, to December, 1783. Rev. ed. 1914. Reprint. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1973) [Reading Room Reference]. As the title suggests, this comprehensive list includes officers of the Continental Line but not necessarily militia officers.
- DAR Patriot Index. Centennial edition. 3 vols. (Washington, D.C.: National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Centennial Administration: 1990) [Reading Room Reference].
- Muster and Pay Rolls of the War of the Revolution, 1775-1783. 2 vols. Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Years 1914-1915 (New York: New-York Historical Society, 1916) [Reading Room Reference]. An exact transcription (with index) of Revolutionary War muster rolls. These lists represent archives that were available in the New-York Historical Society's collection in 1914 and are not otherwise comprehensive.
- Coldham, Peter Wilson. American Migrations 1765-1799. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000). [Reading Room Reference]. Contains biographical information on American Loyalists drawn from the claims in the British Public Record Office.
- Palmer, Gregory. Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution. (Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1984) [Reading Room Reference]. A reissue, with major revisions, of the classic 1864 work of the same title by Lorenzo Sabine.
- New York in the Revolution as Colony and State. (Albany: J. B. Lyon Co., 1904) [Reading Room Reference].
- Fernow, Berthold. New York in the Revolution. (Albany: Weed, Parson and Co., 1887) [Reading Room Reference]. This volume requires a great deal of effort to use, and we suggest you ask a librarian for assistance. When searching for enlisted men and non-commissioned officers, researchers should first consult the "Alphabetical Roster of the State Troops" on pages 311-524. Instead of page references, this roster index will refer to the last names of an enlistee's commanding officers, and one must then turn to the index in the very back of the book to find the officers' names with the appropriate page reference for the regimental list.
War of 1812
- White, Virgil D. Index to War of 1812 Pension Files. 3 vols. (Waynesboro, Tenn.: National Historical Publishing Co., 1989) [Ask librarian].
- New York Adjutant-General's Office. Index of Awards on Claims of the Soldiers of the War of 1812. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1969) [Reading Room Reference].
- White, Virgil D. Index to Mexican War Pension Files (Waynesboro, Tenn.: National Historical Publishing Company, 1989) [Ask librarian].
- U.S. Adjutant-General's Office. Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force of the United States Army for the Years 1861, '62, '63, '64 '65. 8 vols. (Washington, D.C., 1865–67). [E494 .U538] The volumes are arranged by groups of states and serve as an index to all commissioned officers in the many regiments raised for the war effort.
- U.S. War Department. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 70 vols. (Washington, D.C., 1880-1901) [XL E494 .U6]. This series contains official dispatches but does not include rosters. One can locate the occasional mention of a soldier by using the master index.
- New York Adjutant-General's Office. [Registers of the New York Regiments in the War of the Rebellion] Serial nos. 1-43, 43 vols. (New York and Albany, 1894-1906) [XL E523 .2 .N6]. Issued as supplements to the annual reports of the New York State Adjutant-General at the turn of the 20th century, these volumes record the service records of the officers and soldiers in the 280 regiments raised in the state. Each volume contains the record of several regiments, and one can find the appropriate volume by consulting the card catalog or by noting the "Register serial no." found in the Dornbusch bibliography cited above.
- Wilt, Richard A. New York Soldiers in the Civil War. 2 vols. (Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1999). [Reading Room Reference]. Phisterer, Frederick. New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1865. (cited above) does contain an index of names that leads to the service records of commissioned officers in the New York regiments.
- New York Adjutant-General's Office. New York in the Spanish-American War 1898. Rev. ed. (Albany: J. B. Lyon Co., 1902) [E726 .N5N51 1902]
- Index to New York in the Spanish-American War. Compiled by Chauncey W. Herrick. (Albany: J. B. Lyon Co., 1914) [E726 .N5N52].
SPECIAL MILITARY COLLECTIONS
Loyal Legion Civil War Collection
Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Commandery of the State of New York Collection of 3,000 books and periodicals on Civil War history was donated to The New-York Historical Society in 1926. These materials are accessed through the main catalog and bear the call number prefix XL. Some manuscripts formerly owned by the Legion are housed in the Manuscripts Department.
Seventh Regiment Military Library
The Library and archives of the famed Seventh Regiment (New York National Guard) came to The New-York Historical Society in 1948. The Collection holds mainly 19th- and early 20th-century American books on military tactics and history. Included as well are some of the Seventh Regiment's institutional archives in the form of company minutes, order books, muster rolls and photographic albums. A researcher exploring this collection should first consult the Library's main catalogs and then, if necessary, move to the Seventh Regiment Military Library catalog in the hallway behind the Reference Desk. One can search there by author, title, or subject, and the subject headings generally conform to the Library of Congress headings described above. The call numbers, based on the Dewey Decimal system, differ from those used elsewhere in the library. These numbers do not always work well to distinguish one book from another; for this reason, we ask that researchers include as much descriptive information (such as size and pagination) as possible on the call slip when requesting material from this catalog. Seventh Regiment items will take somewhat longer to retrieve than other library books.
Lathrop C. Harper Spanish-American War Collection
The Library owns over 6,000 items-books, sheet music, manuscripts and prints relating and contemporary to the Spanish-American-Cuban War of 1898. These were donated to the Historical Society by the book collector Lathrop C. Harper in 1953. The materials have been integrated into the collections and are listed in various catalogs to which a librarian can direct you.
Researching Ships in the Library's General Collections
Researchers seeking general information about naval ships should search the catalogs alphabetically under each ship's name. Thorough histories of U.S. Naval ships may be found in: U.S. Naval History Division. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. 8 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Navy Dept., 1959-1981). [XN VA61 .A53]
Naval History Society Collection
An integral part of The New-York Historical Society's military holdings is the Library of the Naval History Society, a collection of over 3,500 items that was donated in 1925. The collection includes many 19th- and 20th-century books on naval and maritime history. The books have been integrated into the regular catalogs, and the books bear the call number prefix XN. A wooden card catalog in the corridor behind the reference desk provides an inventory of this collection, but, as a location guide, it has been superseded by the listings in the card catalog. The Naval History Society's archival collection of manuscripts, logbooks, and other materials is available in the Manuscripts Department; consult its online finding aid at: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/NHSColl.html
Eugene H. Pool Collection of Captain James Lawrence
The 1944 gift to The New-York Historical Society represents the major collecting interest of Eugene H. Pool, great-great-nephew of the War of 1812 naval hero, James Lawrence. Among the broad range of materials are manuscripts, books, and prints that cover all aspects of Lawrence's naval career and brief life. Pool Collection holdings may be found in the main catalogs, but much material is also held in the Manuscripts Department and in the Department of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Drawings.
The following is a list of helpful research links from the Library staff. Please click on the heading to view links from this category.
The staff of The New-York Historical Society cannot provide appraisals of Library or Museum materials. The following organizations offer professional advice in this area:
Antiquarian Booksellers— See especially "Collectors' Corner."
Appraisers Association of America
The Professional Autograph Dealers Association
Rare Books & Manuscript Section of the American Library Association —See especially "Questions about your old books."
Architecture & Real Estate
Department of Buildings —There is information on this site about certificates of occupancy, inspections, permits and violations.
Department of Finance —This department's website includes an online city register through which deed and mortgage records can be searched, tax maps and records of tax payments, and recommended ways to estimate property value.
Municipal Archives —Every building in the five boroughs was photographed between 1939 and 1941 as part of a real property appraisal project. Prints of these black & white photographs can be ordered online.
Landmarks Preservation Commission —The Landmarks Preservation Commission oversees the designation of landmarks and historic districts and all changes or repairs to those buildings and districts. The Commission's website includes historic district maps, PDF files of district and individual reports that can be downloaded and a glossary of architectural terms.
National Register of Historic Places —The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation's official list of cultural resources deemed worthy of preservation. Properties listed in the Register in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture. The almost 2500 properties in the register can be searched online.
Digital Library Collections
Brooklyn Daily Eagle —Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1941-1902, available through the Brooklyn Public Library.
Duke University: Sheet Music —A selection of over 3,000 pieces of sheet music, published in the United States between 1850 and 1920.
Library of Congress: American Memory— Printed text, manuscripts, maps, sheet music, posters, prints and photographs. Reproductions of most items are available for purchase.
Making of America: Cornell University — Cornell University's contributions to the digital library of primary sources in American social history. The MOA is a collaborative effort of Cornell University and the University of Michigan to preserve and provide electronic access to historical texts covering the period from the antebellum through reconstruction. This site provides access to 267 monograph volumes and over 100,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints from Cornell's collections.
Making of America: University of Michigan —The University of Michigan's contributions to MOA. This site provides access to approximately 8,500 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints from the university's collections.
New York Public Library: Digital Collections — Images of African-Americans in the 19th century, Hudson River views, small-town America stereoscopic views, maps of the middle Atlantic region to 1850, treasures of the American Performing Arts, 1875-1923 and the Mid-Manhattan Picture Collection are just some of the NYPL collections available in digital format.
The Papers of John Jay — The Papers of John Jay, 1745-1829, is an image database and indexing tool comprised of thousands of pages scanned from photocopies of original documents gathered by the John Jay publication project staff during the 1960s and 1970s. The database, coordinated by Columbia University, is fully searchable and includes more than 750 documents from the New-York Historical Society's manuscript collections related to John Jay.
Association of Professional Genealogists — Includes a directory of members as well as a "How to Hire a Professional" section. Board for Certification of Genealogists List of certified genealogists; also genealogy resources, including online articles on such topics as "Analyzing City Directories."
Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — An important vocation of the Mormons is identifying, and making available, genealogical resources for people of all religions, ethnicities and races. Their Family History Centers are located throughout the United States, including one Near Lincoln Center in New York City.
Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet— A gateway to hundreds of genealogical websites
New York City's Department of Health & Vital Records —For birth certificates after 1909; death certificates after 1949. Go to The Municipal Archives for information about birth certificates prior to 1909 and death certificates prior to 1949.
Ellis Island Records —Passenger lists, with indications of home towns, destinations, occupations, and physical descriptions, for immigrants arriving in New York City between 1892 and 1924.
The Municipal Archives —The Municipal Archives has records of births reported in the five boroughs of New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten Island), prior to 1910; deaths reported prior to 1949, and marriages reported prior to 1930. Go to New York City's Department of Health & Vital Records for births after 1910 and deaths after 1949.
National Archives and Records Administration/Northeast Division — For U.S. census, immigration and naturalization records. Federal census records for all states, 1790-1900, are also available at the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center.
New York Genealogical & Biographical Society — One of the principal genealogical reference libraries in the country. Numerous online research guides available.
New York Public Library-Milstein Division of U.S. History, Local History and Genealogy —Look under "genealogical research" for lists of recommended resources available at New York Public and elsewhere.
Historical Societies & Organizations
Bronx Historical Society— For those interested in Bronx history specifically.
Brooklyn Historical Society —The library is still closed for renovation but links and PDF and SGML files for some manuscript collections are available through this site.
The Gotham Center —See especially "Resource Directory" and "Calendar/Events."
Queens Historical Society — Includes a research service "Queens Family Cemeteries."
Wisconsin Historical Society —Contains a growing digital library, including Freedom's Journal, 1827-29.
A selection of libraries that are open to the public.
Archives of American Art — Contains numerous digital finding aids and transcripts of oral history interviews.
Brooklyn Public Library —See especially The Brooklyn Collection, housed in the Central Branch at Grand Army Plaza
Library of Congress —Here you will find, in addition to the Library of Congress catalogs and Thomas, gateway to U.S. legislative information, the American Memory project, historical library collections, including highlights from the Civil War collections of the New-York Historical Society, presented in digitized format.
Municipal Archives —Among the municipal archives' many holdings are records of the coroner and office of chief medical examiner, 1823-1939; docket books from Manhattan's department of buildings, 1866 to 1959; ledgers records for the city cemetery on Hart's Island (aka "Potter's Field"); New York City court records, 1684 to 1966 and mayors' papers. Information about these and other collections is available on this site.
New York Public Library —Catalogs and collection descriptions for the Research And Humanities Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. See especially the Division of U.S. History, Local History and Genealogy for collections overview, information about genealogical research, and selected Internet resources for U.S. and local history, including digital collections and finding aids.
New York State Archives —The FAQ section of this website is a good place to start. See also "Records and Research" which lists collections according to subject, agency and medium.
Queens Public Library—See especially the Long Island Division
Manuscripts & Archives
Manuscript Division of the Library of Congres s—The Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress holds more than fifty million items in eleven thousand separate collections, and includes some of the greatest manuscript treasures of American history and culture. Collections support scholarly research in many aspects of political, cultural, and scientific history.
Manuscripts and Archives Division of The New York Public Library—The Manuscripts and Archives Division of the NYPL holds approximately 29,000 linear feet of archival material in over 3,000 collections, dating from the third millennium BCE to the current decade.
National Archives —The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections — NUCMC is a free-of-charge cooperative cataloging program operated by the Library of Congress. Search for archival and manuscript collections at participating repositories using RLG and OCLC.
New York History
African Burial Ground — See "History" section for historical background, references and information about the site and interpretive center.
Central Park — Look under "History" for an historical overview of the park, descriptions of statues, and list of movies filmed in the park.
Five Points —Where was Five Points and who lived there? These and other questions answered on this website. Includes photographs of unearthed artifacts.
Lower East Side Tenement Museum —Information about visiting the museum, as well as essays on topics such as sweat shops yesterday and today and current immigration issues.
Prospect Park, Brooklyn — Go to "History," for information about the history, geology and architecture of Prospect Park. Under "Park Archives" you will find over 2,000 digital images of Prospect Park.
Seneca Village — Link to the Education Department at N-YHS to find out more about the history of Seneca Village and the ongoing excavation there.
Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History —Find out more about the citizens, churches and homes of Weeksville, a nineteenth century community of African-Americans in Brooklyn.
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire — This comprehensive website on the topic includes testimonials, photographs, audio streams, lists of victims and witnesses and a bibliography.
Tours & Transportation
Big Onion Walking Tours — Big Onion specializes in walking tours of ethnic neighborhoods and historic districts of New York City.
Cultural Walks— Private and public walking tours of specific neighborhoods with an emphasis on architecture and public art.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority—Maps, schedules and service advisories, along with Information about visual arts and music in the subways.
Municipal Art Society —Walking and bus tours focusing on architecture.
Radical Walking Tours—Public and private walking tours of neighborhoods with an emphasis on events and monuments relating to labor and radical history.
Shorewalkers, Inc. — Since 1982, Shorewalkers has led invigorating walks exploring varied and extensive shore areas in and around New York City.
Researching Slavery and the Underground Railroad at the New-York Historical Society Library
The New-York Historical Society Library holds many different types of resources relating to the study of slavery and the underground railroad: manuscripts; books and pamphlets; broadsides; songbooks, song sheets and sheet music; newspapers and periodicals; maps; photographs and prints.
This research guide, intended as an introduction to the numerous resources available at the N-YHS Library, lists materials advocating the abolition of slavery as well as those in support of slavery. All are primary sources. Researchers will also want to search the library’s online catalog (www.bobcat.nyu.edu/nyhistory) to find additional sources, both primary and secondary.
SOME USEFUL SEARCH TERMS:
Fugitive slave law
Slavery and the church
Please contact a librarian (firstname.lastname@example.org) for assistance with the online catalog or to find out more about the library’s collections and services.
Sections of this Guide
II. Books & Pamphlets
III. Written by Slaves and Former Slaves
V. Songbooks, Song Sheets and Sheet Music
VI. Newspapers & Periodicals
VIII. Photographs & Prints
IX. Digital Collection
Following is a comprehensive list of manuscript collections relating to slavery:
Association for the Benefit of Colored Orphans Records, 1836-1972 (bulk 1850-1936)
The records of the Colored Orphans' Asylum, document the activities of the institution from 1836 to 1965, with the bulk of the records falling between 1850 and 1936. The records include minutes of general meetings, the Executive Committee, the Indenturing Committee and the After-care Committee; volumes recording indentures; administrative correspondence; financial records; admission and discharge reports; newspaper clippings; reminiscences; visitor registers; and building plans. These records document the internal workings of an institution dedicated to educating and training African-American orphans in New York City. The Association for the Benefit of Colored Orphans was founded in 1836, and originally located on Fifth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets in Manhattan. In 1884, the institution was renamed the Colored Orphans' Asylum and Association for the Benefit of Colored Orphans; sometime after 1944, the name was again changed, this time to the Riverdale Children's Association. The institution was also relocated to Riverdale-on-Hudson. The Asylum was among the earliest organizations in the country to provide housing, training and employment specifically for African-American orphans. In the late 1880s, the Asylum adopted the "cottage-home" system, in which residents of varying ages lived in small groups under the supervision of a matron. The children in each cottage performed domestic chores. The system was thought to promote a less institutional atmosphere (Ashby, 1984). During the Draft Riot of July 14, 1863, the Colored Orphans' Asylum was attacked by a mob, whose size was estimated by the New York Times at several hundred, mostly women and children. At that time, the Asylum housed some 600 to 800 homeless children in a large four story building surrounded by grounds and gardens. The crowd plundered the Asylum, looting even donated baby clothes, then set fire to the first floor despite the pleas of administrators. The building burned to the ground.
Finding aid: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/coloredorphan.html
Bolton, Dickens & Co.
Account book, 1856-1858, kept by the prominent slave trading firm of Bolton, Dickens & Company of Lexington, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; New Orleans, and elsewhere, and chiefly recording slaves purchased and sold by the firm, with entries giving the name of the slave, purchase and selling price, profit, names of suppliers, and occasional remarks. Some persons involved in the firm's recorded transactions were Washington Bolton, Isaac Bolton, Samuel Dickens, and slave trader G. L. Bumpass. Of additional note is a copy of an 1857 letter to Isaac Bolton, probably written by his brother Washington Bolton while Isaac was in prison awaiting trial for the murder of slave dealer James McMillan of Kentucky following a dispute in Memphis concerning McMillan's sale to Bolton of a 16 year old slave who was later revealed to a be a free man. Also included is a copy of a statement given by G. L. Bumpass as a witness to the events preceding the death of McMillan. The copy of Bumpass's testimony is followed by related financial accounts between Bumpass and the firm of Bolton, Dickens & Company. Volume was additionally employed as a daybook by "B. B. W." (possibly B. B. Wadell) and contains accounts for money received and various expenses for the year 1865.
ðMicrofilm copy available
Buckhingham Smith Papers, 1613-1910
Lawyer, politician, antiquary, diplomat employed as secretary by the United States Legation to Mexico, and author and editor of works on the history of Florida and the Spanish colonies of North America; resident of Florida. Summary Collection, ca. 1613-ca. 1941, of miscellaneous papers related to Buckingham Smith or from his collection of historical documents. The bulk of the collection consists of Buckingham Smith's own notes and correspondence, but there is also a typed biography of him, and miscellaneous historical documents from his collection, mostly relating to the history of Florida. The correspondence, 1852-1872, pertains to Smith's researches, personal matters, public affairs and legislation in Florida in 1870, his library of books and manuscripts after his death, and includes a 12-page draft of a letter about the political convulsion in Spain, written July 28, 1856. It includes letters from George H. Moore, George W. Atwood, and Francis Parkman. His other papers include a prospectus and subscription list for his "Collecion de varios documentos para la Historia de la Florida y Terras Adyacientes"; proofs of his "Relation of Alvar Nuñez Cabeça de Vaca"; notes, including a transcript of the life story of "Uncle Jack," an African slave, describing his childhood in Africa and his experiences in the U.S.; passports, clippings, scrapbooks, and miscellaneous ephemera, including some Confederate paper money issued by the Fairmont Bank, Virginia and other items related to the Confederacy. There are also some maps, including a printed map of the Mexico City area, probably eighteenth-century, and ninetenth-century watercolor copies of early maps of North America. The earliest printed document is a four-page pamphlet entitled La prodigiosa nauegacion de la naue Santa Elena, que venia de la India de Portugal. Malaga: Antonio René, 1613. Manuscripts in Spanish related to the history of Florida include legal documents, some with sixteenth-century dates but perhaps transcribed later, and a number of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century documents related to Franciscans in Santa Elena, Florida. Manuscripts in English include diaries of John Hambley, an Indian agent, interpreter, and trader in Florida. One section of the diary, January 14, 1794 - April 2, 1794, was kept while he was on a mission from Governor Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada to deliver letters to John Kinnaird, one of the chiefs of the Lower Creeks, and to Don Pedro Oliver, informing them of an impending expedition against Florida. He writes of meetings with Indians, the reaction and attitude of James Seagrove, the Indians' opening of Seagrove's mail, word that Americans were coming, and distrust of Seagrove. In the other part of the diary, June 29, 1794 - August 27, 1794, written while delivering letters from Governor Quesada to John Kinnaird and other Creek chiefs, he writes of the uneasiness of the Indians at the incursion of General Elijah Clarke and some men, the robbery and humiliation of James Seagrove, meetings with the chiefs, the murder of George Welbank, and travel difficulties. The correspondence of John Leslie, a merchant in St. Augustine, Florida, 1781-1800, deals with such matters as trade with soldiers and Indians; conflict between Indians and Georgians; activities of William Augustus Bowles; driving and sale of cattle and horses; trade with England and the West Indies; runaway slaves; disputed land titles; local shipping; supplies for the Indians; traveling difficulties; personal and family matters; and politics in Nassau. Correspondents include Thomas Forbes, Alexander McGillivray, Robert Leslie, William Pengree, John Wells, William Panton, James Taylor, and John Hambley. The correspondence of Joseph M. Hernandez, a militia general in Florida, 1815-1838, includes several letters from Zephaniah Kingsley, Fort George, Florida, in 1821, mostly about efforts to break the will of the deceased John Fraser. Many others pertain to the war with the Seminole Indians during 1835-1838, including letters from Major Benjamin A. Putnam, orders and instructions from General Thomas Sidney Jesup, and Lieutenant Colonel J.W. Mills's report of the battle of Withlacoochy. Other miscellaneous documents include: a letter in Spanish, from the Conde de Revilla Gigedo to Antonio Porlier, dated November 30, 1789, and describing the panic caused by the sight of the aurora borealis in Mexico City on November 14 of that year; and two letters in Greek to Ioannes Xenos, one, undated, addressed to him in care of Pierre Paradis, the other, dated 1781 from a correspondent in Livorno, Italy, addressed to him in London.
ð Microfilm copies of John Hambley's diaries, 1794 and John Leslie's correspondence, 1781-1800 are available
Undated petition, probably ca. 1862, to United States President Abraham Lincoln from citizens of New York requesting that the governor of New York be authorized to raise a number of regiments composed wholly or partly of African American troops, including the signatures and addresses of petitioners. In scroll form, approximately 25 feet long.
Clarkson, John, 1764-1828.
Manuscripts, 1791 Aug. 6-1792 Aug.4.
ðMicrofilm copy available
Day, Mahlon. Journal of Voyage Among the West India Islands
Quaker, publisher of children's books, printer, and bookseller of New York City. Contemporary copy of a diary kept by Day while on a tour of the West Indies (Nov. 1839-Apr. 1840) in company with Joseph John Gurney, the English Quaker philanthropist, minister, and writer. In most of the places they visited, they did considerable sightseeing, held religious services for all faiths, and were entertained by many residents. They were particularly interested in education, religion, and the condition of the Black population especially on the free islands as compared to those which still permitted slavery. Day also includes many rhymes composed by Gurney to commemorate particular occasions. Persons whom they visited include: Sir W.M.B.G. Colebrooke and Nathaniel Gilbert of Antigua, and John and Maria Candler of Jamaica.
ð Microfilm copy available
Francis L. Hawks Collection, 1726-1854
Episcopal clergyman and historian. Collection of original and transcribed letters, petitions, bonds, proclamations, and various legal and financial documents, 1726-1854, concerning the history of North Carolina, assembled by historian and clergyman Frances Lister Hawks during his researches into the history of that state. Collection includes original architect's plans and elevations, 1766, for a governor's palace to be built in New Bern, North Carolina, along with articles of agreement between Governor William Tryon and John Hawks for the building of palace at New Bern; specimens of counterfeit money of North Carolina printed during the Revolution; various
acts and proclamations issued by the governor's of the state, many concerning riots and rebellions in North Carolina; petitions and letters concerning ecclesiastical matters in the state; original lists of books belonging to the Mecklenburg and Rowan libraries, ca. 1772; original trial record of a slave tried and condemned to death for theft in Mecklenburg; letters written and received by state governors Edward Hyde, Arthur Dobbs, George Burrington, William Tryon, and Richard Everard; copy of a petition of Sarah Drummong concerning the death of her husband William at the hands of the British army; original bond of 1790 signed by Seth, Hezekiah, and Joel Alexander and Charles Harris for construction of a cotton jenny; original accounts totaling the costs for construction of a college at Mecklenburg; and account of the battle of Elizabeth Town, dated March 1844; and correspondence between Frances Lister Hawks and friends, colleagues, and associates concerning the history of North Carolina and the various counties of state.
Granville Sharp Papers
Copies of letters received, 1763-73.
English abolitionist, reformer, and philanthropist. Copies of letters and related documents, 1768-1773, sent to English abolitionist and reformer Granville Sharp, transcribed in his own handwriting and concerning such matters as slavery, the slave trade, its evils, legal and social aspects, etc. Included are letters from Anthony Benezet, William Blackstone, Francis Hargrave, John Fothergill, Jacob Bryant, Arthur Lee, Benjamin Rush, and Joseph Banks. Volume also contains a copy of an outline of the court case of Thomas Lewis vs. Robert Stapylton, in which an alleged slave brought charges against his master for assault and imprisonment; a well as a copy of Lord Mansfield's decision in the case of James Sommersett.
ð Microfilm copy available
Indentures (New York City), 1718-1727, 1792-1915
Indentures for apprentices and indentured servants, 1718-1727 and 1792-1902, and foundling records, 1838-1841 and 1902-1915, issued in New York City under the successive authorities of various departments of city government, including the Commissioners of the Alms-House and the Department of Public Charities; later incorporated into the Department of Public Welfare. Indentures include contracts binding small children and young people of both sexes to periods of domestic servitude, agricultural labor, or apprenticeship with practitioners of a wide variety of trades and occupations. Of particular note is the inclusion of indentures and deeds of manumission, 1801-1814, for free and manumitted African American city residents. Foundling records created by the Department of Public Welfare record the circumstances of the child's abandonment, case history, and placement in the care of a family member, private home, or public or private institution. Foundling records, 1838-1841, additionally record the placement of infants in the care of paid nurses with comments noting the child's adoption, return to parental care, or death. Many volumes individually indexed. An abstract of the volume of indentures of apprentices, 1718-1727, originally labeled Liber 29 of conveyances, has been published in the "Collections of the New-York Historical Society," 1909.
Finding aid: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/indentures.html
Inventories, New York State, 1680-1844.
Subjects: Decedents' estates -- New York (State); Material culture -- New York (State) ; New York (State) -- Social life and customs ; Inventories. Collection of estate inventories from New York City and vicinity, 1680-1844.
ð Microfilm copy available
James Brown Papers, 1827-1864
The diaries are not entirely chronological as in several instances the entries for a year have been copied into a later volume. James F. Brown (1793-1868) was the ex-slave gardener of the Verplanck family at Mount Gulian, Fishkill, New York. Brown was a runaway slave from Maryland, and the Verplancks purchased his time after he was found by his master. The collection consists of 8 diaries, 1829-1864, during which time Brown was gardener for the Verplanck family; 1 receipt book, 1832-1857, recording some personal and household expenses, although most entries are unspecified; and 1 memorandum book, 1827-1843. Entries in the diaries are brief, with little elaboration, and pertain to such matters as the weather, local deaths, his gardening activities, the passage of boats on the Hudson, etc.
ð Microfilm copy available
Joseph Goodwin Diary, 1820-1827
Diary presumably kept by plantation manager Joseph Goodwin, though it might possibly have been kept by a brother of his (1820-1827). After leaving home in Hudson, N.Y., Goodwin goes to work for Gen. George De Wolf, first in Bristol, Rhode Island for a few months and then on De Wolf's plantations near Mantanzas, Cuba as a manager or overseer. The plantations seemed to grow mainly coffee though other crops are mentioned and are worked by Black slaves. Diary entries are mainly routine and record weather, plantation activities, people met, and local news. Mentioned often are George and William De Wolf. While in Cuba, Goodwin stayed first at the home of John Line and later at the plantations Buena Esperanza and Arca de Noe.
Lloyd Family Papers, 1654-1822
Merchant family of New York and Rhode Island; landowners in colonial Long Island and early settlers of Lloyd Neck, now in the vicinity of Huntington in Suffolk County, Long Island, and Oyster Bay in Queens County. Correspondence, land papers, deeds, bonds, memoranda, maps, indentures, wills, and miscellaneous legal and financial documents, 1654-1822, of the Lloyd family of Long Island, Boston, and Rhode Island.
Correspondence, 1654-1822, consists of letters recieved by members of the Lloyd family, generally from other family members, and principally concern financial and legal matters, disposition of family property, inheritances, management of farm and domestic affairs (including the appraisal and sale of slaves), and news regarding the health, welfare, and conduct of family members. Other topics addressed include current events such as conflicts between Native Americans and colonists during the French-Indian Wars and involvement of family members in the American revolution. Other materials include family legal and financial documents and papers pertaining to the history and administration of the Long Island property of Lloyd's Neck, also known as Queens Village, from the time of its original acquisition by European colonists in 1654. Transcribed and original documents include deeds, indentures, bonds, accounts, estate papers, quit claim deeds comprising early lists of the inhabitants of Lloyd's Neck and vicinity, and various legal records concerning the taxation of the Lloyd property and boundary and property disputes with neighboring communities. Included is a volume of transcribed documents, begun in 1690 by James Lloyd and continued by members of the Lloyd family to the mid 19th century, containing transcriptions of early deeds and memoranda relating to Lloyd's Neck (Queens's Village), as well as hand drawn maps of Long Island and the Lloyd property. Also includes genealogical information, notes, and tables for the Lloyd family and related branches of the Nelson and Temple families. Correspondents include: Henry Lloyd, James Lloyd, John Lloyd, Joseph Lloyd, John Eastwicke, John Nelson, Aaron Burr, Robert Temple, Melancthon Taylor Woolsey, Rebecca Taylor Woolsey, Samuel Fitch, Ebenezer Pemberton, William Henry Smith, and many others. Published index available at repository.
Lysander Spooner Papers, 1844-1886
Lawyer and abolitionist of Boston, Massachusetts.
Correspondence, 1844-1886, including letters received and copies of letters sent by Boston lawyer and abolitionist Lysander Spooner. Many of the letters pertain to Spooner's activities as an abolitionist and author of works opposing slavery. Included are 100 letters to or from George Bradburn, 106 letters to or from Gerrit Smith, 7 pieces of correspondence with Charles D. Cleveland, 7 with Daniel Drayton, 19 with Richard Goodell, 10 with Charles D. Miller, 9 with John A. Thomson, 11 letters from Daniel McFarland, and 4 letters from Lewis Tappan. Descriptions of individual items available in the card catalog of the Society library.
ðMicrofilm copy available
Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society records, 1850-1858.
Correspondence and papers, 1850-1858, of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.
Included are petitions to the legislature, resolutions, donations to the Liberator, lists of members and supporters, letters about slavery, editorials, meetings, a list of fugitive slaves aided by the Vigilance Committee, accounts of fugitive slaves, including the narrative of Jonathan Thomas, a fugitive slave from Kentucky; and lists, letters, editorials, and other papers pertaining to the notorious case of Anthony Burns. Persons whose names appear frequently include: Francis Jackson, Wendell Phillips, Ellis Gray Loring, Edmund Quincy, William Lloyd Garrison, and Samuel E. Sewall.
Misc. Mss. Castletown (NY)
Records births and related information, of black children born in Castletown after July 1, 1799. The records relate to the gradual abolition laws instituted in New York State during the period 1800-1827.
Microfilm copy available
Misc. Mss. Riots of 1834
Communications from various persons to Cornelius W Lawrence, mayor of NYC, July 1834. Includes lists of volunteer aides, reports about homes and churches which the mob threatens to burn, disposition of militia, requests for protection for certain Negroes.
Microfilm copy available
Moses Greenwood Papers
Letterpress copies, 1850-1852 and 1860-1861, and a few papers, 1844-1856, of New Orleans cotton trader Moses Greenwood of the firm Moses Greenwood & Co. Letterpress copies include letters sent to fellow merchants and business associates and concern sales and shipments of cotton, trade conditions, political news, Greenwood's views on politics and the growing threat of war, impact of the conflict on the cotton trade, etc. Papers also include a handful of legal and financial documents concerning shipments of cotton, claims outstanding accounts, slave bills of sale, and correspondence and financial statements concerning the school accounts of a Miss Barton, daughter of Judge Barton, and pupil at the Misses Wood Demopolis Female Academy, Demopolis, Alabama.
New-York African Free School Records, 1817-1832
The records are in four volumes: Vol. I includes regulations, by-laws, and reports (1817-1832); Vol. II includes reports of the visiting committee (1820-1831); Vol. III includes addresses and pieces spoken at public examinations (1818-1826); and Vol. IV includes penmanship and drawing studies (1816-1826).
Historical Note: The African Free School was started by the Manumission Society in 1794.
ðMicrofilm copy available
Website: https://www.nyhistory.org/web/afs/ (Volume IV only)
Finding aid: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/africanschool.html
New-York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves, and Protecting Such of Them as Have Been, or May Be Liberated. Records, 1785-1849.
Society established 1785 to publicly promote the abolition of slavery and manumission of slaves in New York State. The society, which was dissolved in 1849, provided legal and financial assistance to individual slaves seeking manumission and supported efforts to enforce laws erected banning the sale of slaves in New York State. Summary Meeting minutes, commission reports, financial records, indentures, registers, and miscellaneous records of the New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves, commonly known as the New York Manumission Society, dating from the year of the Societies organization in 1785 to that of its dissolution in 1849. Minutes of the Society's quarterly meetings, standing committee, and ways amd means committee concern such topics as political activities of the Society, Society finances, efforts to enact legal reforms aimed at abolishing the slave trade in New York and preventing the exportation of slaves, reports on individual cases of slaves in need of assistance in negotiating their freedom, the protection of manumitted slaves, reports and decisions concerning the Society's sponsorship and operation of the African Free School and houses of refuge for the benefit of New York's African American population, appointments, elections, etc. Records also include an account book, 1819-1849, kept by the treasurer of the Society; a register of manumissions of slaves in New York City, 1816 Jun. 18-1818 May 28; indentures, 1809-1829, drawn up for slaves granted the status of indentured servants with the assistance of the Society; and miscellaneous minutes and reports, including papers pertaining to the American Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. Some of the Society's active members were: Robert C. Cornell, W. W. Woolsey, Nehemiah Allen, Melancton Smith, William T. Slocum, Samuel Bowne, Adrian Hegeman, Willet Seaman, Thomas Burling, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, James Duane, John Murray, Jr., William Dunlap, Alexander McDougall, Noah Webster, Egbert Benson, and many others.
Microfilm copy available
New York State Inventories
Collection of estate inventories from New York City and vicinity, 1680-1844.
Most available on microfilm
Nicholas Low Papers, 1728-1893 (bulk ca. 1784 - ca. 1826)
Banker, merchant and land speculator, New York City. Papers include correspondence, bonds, indentures, bills of sale (including some for ships), vouchers, receipts, powers of attorney, other legal and financial papers, and a few miscellaneous pieces of printed ephemera, such as prices current at Livorno and New Orleans, and a blank form for a bill of exchange. Most of the material consists of letters from merchants and business associates in New York City, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, about the settlement of accounts, trade, land speculation,
introductions, and personal matters. Individual correspondents include Samuel Ogden and other members of the Ogden family; Peter Collins; Nicholas and Henry Cruger; Josiah Hardy and James Rivington, Jr.; John Wilcocks; and Thomas Lawrence and Jacob Morris. Subjects include Low's mercantile activities, especially the import of Madeira wine; his purchases of land in upstate New York and Canada, some in partnership with Samuel Ogden; the closing of the firm of Lawrence & Morris; and occasional references to politics and personal affairs. A 1788 letter from Peter Collins alludes to Low's work as a member of the state constitutional convention. A letter from Samuel Ogden discusses financial issues arising from his use of the labor of slaves belonging to Low's brother Isaac. A letter from John Smithson to a correspondent named Irwin, written in 1807, includes a detailed discussion of how to deal with having had a vessel seized, apparently passing on advice from Low's business partner Wallace. Personal material includes a letter from his daughter, Henrietta Low, and some invoices for her schooling and other expenses. Later material includes letters, telegrams, and miscellaneous papers, some pertaining to Augustus Fleming, others members of the Beekman family.
Papers of Rufus King
Papers, 1783-1826, of Federalist statesman Rufus King, including official and private correspondence, letterbooks, account books, notebooks, financial documents, diaries, memoranda, essays, and miscellaneous printed and manuscript materials documenting the many facets of King's lengthy political career and private interests. Correspondence, 1786-1826, concerns his activities as a New York Assemblyman, United States Senator, Minister to Great Britain, and Federalist candidate for the United States vice presidency and presidency, pertaining to such matters as the Constitutional Convention of 1787; his opposition to the War of 1812; United States finances; the Navigation Act of 1818; negotiations between the United States and Great Britain over articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty of Peace of 1794; administration and sale of public lands; South American independence; personal business matters; Barbary affairs; and British-French negotiations in 1803. Additionally included are account books, 1783-1825, recording household accounts and accounts with the firm of Bird, Savage & Bird; memorandum books containing abstracts of correspondence; notebooks relating to historical and political topics containing extracts from books read by King along with his own comments and observations; essays, written in French and English, on political and historical subjects; miscellaneous receipts; volumes of notes recording events, conversations, and observations on King's acquaintances and contemporaries, a diary, 1802, kept while traveling in Europe; an inventory of his library in 1827; and miscellaneous news clippings and printed materials. Correspondents include: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Wm. Henry Cavendish Bentinck, Fisher Ames, Francis Baring, George Cabot, Elbridge Gerry, Christopher Gore, Wm. Grenville, Alexander Hamilton, William Hindman, Charles Jared Ingersoll, John Jay, John Alsop King, Charles King, Nicholas Low, James Madison, Gouverneur Morris, Timothy Pickering, Thomas Pinkney, Philip Schuyler, Granville Sharp, Robert Troup, John Trumbull, Nicholas Vansittart, George Washington, Noah Webster, Wm Wilberforce, Oliver Wolcott, and many others. Historical Note: Federalist statesman, New York State senator, and minister to Great Britain; originally from Massachusetts, later a resident of New York City.
Microfilm copy available
Finding aid: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/king.html
Ramage family papers, 1766-1856 (bulk 1780-1830)
Family correspondence, receipts, bills, poems, and miscellaneous papers, 1766-1856 (bulk 1780-1830), relating to the miniature painter John Ramage, his wife Catharine Collins Ramage, and their sons, Thomas A. Ramage, George Collins Ramage, and John Ramage, Jr., as well other members of the family. Correspondence includes letters sent and received by family members, including letters by John Ramage to his wife Catharine, letters exchanged between Catharine and her sons Thomas A. and John Ramage, as well as letters exchanged between various additional members of the Ramage and related families. Additional document include a 1784 receipt and 1786 rent notice from James Duane, John Ramage's 1780 commission as 2nd Lieut. in the New York City Militia, Ramage's membership certificates for the New York Marine Society and Grand Lodge of Masons, John Ramage's will, dated Jan. 5, 1802; marriage license of John Ramage and Catharine Collins, Jan. 29, 1787; an undated 23 page typescript of a biography of John Ramage by J. H. Morgan; and a group of five documents, 1792-1815, concerning the purchase and sale of a slave named Dinah by John and Catharine Ramage, her marriage to a fellow slave named Bob (later Robert Blanchard), the conditional sale of Bob to Ephraim Sayre of New Jersey for eighteen years of service, and Robert Blanchard's purchase of his wife and three children from Catharine Ramage in 1815. Historical Note: Family of miniature painter John Ramage and his third wife Catharine Collins Ramage, with members in New York City and Orange, New Jersey.
Rhode Island (Ship)
Account book, 1748 Dec.-1749 Jul.
ðMicrofilm copy available
Riley's Narrative, .
Sea captain, born in Middletown, Connecticut, and became a sailor at the age of fifteen. Following the wreck of his brig Commerce in 1815 and his subsequent captivity in in North Africa, he resettled in Van Wert County, Ohio, in 1821, but resumed a seafaring life in 1831. Died at sea in 1840. Original manuscript, with corrections, of the published narrative of James Riley recounting the loss of his brig, Commerce, in a shipwreck on the West Coast of Africa, August, 1815, and his eighteen months spent in captivity there. First printed in New York in 1817, and in several subsequent editions. Inscription on the volume's title page reads: "Manuscript of Capt. James Riley's Narrative, published in New York in February 1917 - presented to John Pintard Esquire with a request that it may be deposited with the New York Historical Society, by his obliged & very Humble Servant [signed] James Riley New York 20th Febry 1817."
Saint-Domingue Box, 1741-1797
Documents, 1741-1797 (bulk 1770-1780), chiefly pertaining to colonial property belonging to landowner Le Seigneur de Rouvray of Petit St. Louis, Port de Paix, St. Domingue (later, Haiti). Collection is principally comprised of land titles or land papers pertaining to the use, ownership, or surveying of property in colonial Haiti. Also included is an estate inventory listing slaves, livestock, etc. belonging to the estate of the Colonel de Rouvray in Petit Saint Louis, Port de Paix; two cadastral maps of properties in Port de Paix; and an official statement registered with the French Consulat of New York by New York merchant Pierre Duchesne testifying to his capture and imprisonment by pirates during a voyage to Haiti and the resulting loss of his ship and cargo; dated year six of the Republican calendar . In French. Historical Note: Colonial landowner and military officer of Petit St. Louis, Port de Paix, St. Domingue (i.e. Haiti).
Saint-Domingue Letterbooks, 1774 May-1780 Jun
Letterbooks, 1774 May-1780 Jun., containing copies of official correspondence of the government of the French colony of Saint-Domingue in Haiti. Volumes contain letters sent during the administrations of M. de Valière, gouverneur général, and M. de Vaivre, intendant; M. de Reynaud, commandent en chef par interim; M. Le Comte d'Argout, gouverneur Général; and M. de Reynaud, commandant par interim. The letters treat such diverse matters
as the actions of the conseils superieurs of Port au Prince and Cap Français, disposition of soldiers, appointment of officers, treatment of slaves and smugglers, imposition and collection of taxes, and establishment of fishing and trade agreements with other countries and colonies. Many of the letters are addressed to private citizens and deal with such matters as payment of monies for services rendered, settlement of estate and inheritance claims, collection of monies due the crown, etc. Each volume contains and index of the letters by name and subject matter. In French. Historical Note: Government of the French colony of Saint-Domingue on the island of Haiti.
Samuel Gilford Papers, 1754-1842
Sea captain and shipping merchant Samuel Gilford of New York City, including business correspondence, bills of lading, bills and invoices, receipts, shipping manifests, lists of ship's passengers, records of debts owed, records of seamen's wages, freight lists, marine insurance policies, accounts, promissory notes, bills of exchange, bills of sale for vessels and a slave, etc,; along with assorted personal accounts, commercial correspondence, clippings, and business papers relating to merchant Samuel Gilford, Jr. and various other relations and descendents of the Gilford family. Correspondence includes letters from merchants in the United States, Great Britain, the West Indies, and elsewhere concerning shipment, purchase, and sale of various trade goods, including rum, spirits, and sugar, as well as market and trade conditions. Later materials include business letters and papers of Gilford's son, Samuel Gilford, Jr., along with similar materials pertaining to the younger Gilford's father-in-law, New York merchant and importer Thomas Buchanan, George Buchanan, and the merchant firm of Thomas Buchanan & Sons. Also included are clippings, cards, programs, postcards, and a few photographs, ca. 1890-1951, evidently pertaining to the Riker family of New York City.
Finding aid: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/gilford.html
Schenck family papers, 1720-1837
Correspondence, deeds, wills, accounts, military orders, receipts, estate papers, etc., 1720-1837, of various members of the Schenck family of Flatlands, Kings County, New York. Papers include 40 deeds to property in Flatlands; letters and papers pertaining to the activities of Capt. Nicholas Schenck (1732-1810), a loyalist officer, during the Revolutionary War; Nicholas Schenck's account of a boat trip to Albany and back, in company with John Remsen, in October, 1783; and letters, will, and papers relating to Stephen Janse Schenck (1685-1767) and to the settlement of his estate. Individual items include lists of British Army officers and soldiers in Flatlands during the Revolutionary War, returns of military equipment, provisions, and supplies provided to the British troops in Flatlands; correspondence and military orders addressed to Capt. Nicholas Schenck by Col. William Axtell, Maj. Jeremiah Vanderbilt, and George D. Ludlow; slave indentures, 1811 and 1819, recording the conditional sale of slaves into indentured servitude; probate copy of the will of Nicholas Schenck, 1808; local records relating to roads and military notices in Flatlands; documents pertaining to the estate of David Cooper a "free indian" of New Utrecht, Kings County, New York; and other assorted land, legal, and Schenck family papers. Historical Note: Of Flatlands, Kings County, New York.
Slavery Collection, 1709-1864
Diverse collection of materials, 1709-1864, containing correspondence and legal and financial documents related to the North American slave trade, slave ownership, abolition, and political issues pertinent to slavery.
Series I, 1751-1799, and II, 1805-1807, contain correspondence and business papers for Rhode Island merchants Samuel and William Vernon and the Rhode Island firm of Gardner and Dean (formerly Phillips and Gardner) documenting thier involvement in the slave trade and the shipping and sale of slaves in the West Indies and southern United States. Vessels employed by the two firms include the Othello, Ascension, and the Sloop Louisa. Series III consists of various legal and financial documents, 1785-1864, related to slavery in Kentucky, including estate inventories, receipts, and deeds of gift and manumission. Series IV contains papers, 1859-1862, of E.H. Stokes of Richmond, Virginia; including correspondence and receipts pertaining to the sale of slaves in Virginia and Alabama. Series V contains correspondence, 1766-1861, concerning the abolition movement in the United States and individual slaves. Individual correspondents include eminent abolitionists Theodore Weld, Gerrit Smith, and Angelina Grimke. Of additional note is the inclusion of letters to the Governor of Maryland requesting clemency for a slave condemned for theft, and an 1826 letter from a black man, Richard Moran, to his uncle apologizing for his marriage to a white woman. Series VI consists of manifests, 1835-1855, listing persons taken aboard various vessels to be sold as slaves. Series VII is composed of legal documents related to slavery in the United States, 1709-1858, including birth certificates, depositions, petitions, indentures, deeds of manumission, and estate inventories. Series VIII contains financial documents, 1736-1862, pertaining to the sale and ownership of slaves such as accounts, receipts, and returns of taxable property. Series IX contains two poems, 1823 and undated, on the subject of slavery. Series X consists of notes and memoranda, 1790-1855, evidently recorded for newspaper advertisements and articles. Series XI contains newspapers clippings, including advertisements for rewards for return of runaway slaves,
most not attributable to particular newspapers.
Finding aid: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/slavery.html
Southern Famine Relief Commission Records, 1867
The Commission's correspondence and papers, January 1867 - September 1867, contain appeals for help for the South and descriptions of conditions there from clergy, government officials, and other prominent Southerners; personal appeals for help; letters to and from benefactors and other societies with related aims in various states, including the New York Ladies' Southern Relief Association; letters to and from government bodies, such as the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands; arrangements to ship supplies to the South on the Navy ships Memphis and Purveyor, as well as on commercial vessels; and requests to the Commission to provide information about the famine and speakers to publicize it. Most of the boxed material is correspondence, but it also includes some acounts, bills of lading, and miscellaneous printed ephemera and clippings, as well as treasurer's reports and minutes of the executive committee. The bound volumes consist of two letter books, one of letters sent by the corresponding secretary, Edward Bright, the other of letters sent by the general agent, John Bowne; one volume containing one-line summaries of letters received January 29, 1867 - March 4, 1867; one volume of newspaper clippings; one volume of telegrams received; one volume of the minutes of the executive and standing committees; and six volumes of records of finance and supplies, including a daily cash book, volumes listing supplies donated and purchased, one volume of receipts, memoranda, etc, and two small subscription volumes listing donors who contributed $250 or more. Other officers of the Commission included Frederick Law Olmsted and Archibald Russell.
Historical Note: New York City organization formed for the relief of the 1867 famine in the Southern states.
Finding aid: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/southernfamrelief.html
The Story of My Life from Year to Year: My Own Story, the Life and Sufferings of a Wandering Greenlander
Autobiography in which Weeks writes about his youth in Greenland, New Hampshire, his preoccupation with hunting and fishing, even when aboard ship, and his friendship with Stephen Decatur in 1830. Weeks gives accounts of his voyage aboard the merchant vessel "Susan & Mary" (W.F. Parrot, Captain) to Liverpool in 1833, and a voyage to Savannah, Georgia. He includes an account of his acquaintance with a slave couple in Savannah and his effort to help them escape aboard the ship on which he was employed. He records voyages to Calcutta, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Apalachicola, St. Ubes (St. Ybes), Portugal, and a voyage to Belfast aboard the "Huron" in 1846. He also gives an account of the wreck of his ship "Marion" on a Florida reef. Loose material in the volume consists of a newspaper clipping giving the history of the Ship "Granite State", on which Weeks served as captain, and two photographs of sailing ships, one of the vessels being identified as the "Governor Goodwin".
ðMicrofilm copy available
Sumner, Charles. [The anti-slavery enterprise]: draft, ca. 1855
Senator for Massachusetts and campaigner against slavery.Draft, ca. 1855, of a version of the speech delivered in New York on May 9, 1855, and published that year under the title "The anti-slavery enterprise." Internal evidence indicates that it was to be delivered to a Boston audience, probably on May 15, 1855. It is accompanied by a printed petition, "Memorial of the citizens of Virginia to the General Assembly, asking for certain reforms in the law concerning slaves and persons of color," and a holograph letter to Sumner from J.J. Flournoy, dated January 24, 1855.
Van Hoesen, Haviland, and Van Valkenburgh family papers, 1759-1889
Deeds, leases, releases, bonds, receipts, wills, mortgages, indentures, printed invitations, letters, etc., 1759-1889, pertaining to various members of the Van Hoesen, Haviland, and Van Valkenburgh families of Greene, Cortland, and Albany Counties in New York State. Individual documents include a 1770 bill of sale for a slave woman sold to Catharine Van Valkenburgh of Albany County; 1807 indenture for a destitute African American child named Susan contracted to serve James Van Valkenburgh of Catskill, New York; poems by Miss Sarah Jane Haviland (later, Mrs Richard Van Hoesen), along with an 1839 letter addressed to her and written in reverse script;1794 will of Lambert Van Valkenburgh of Catskill, New York; copy of the 1893 will of John L. Haviland; and a copy of the 1896 will of Sarah Jane Van Hoesen of Preble, New York. Historical Note: Related families of of Greene, Cortland, and Albany Counties, New York.
Walker Family Papers, 1775-1876
Correspondence, accounts, and legal papers, 1775-1876, of various members of the Walker and Rockwell families, especially William Walker (1751-1831), William Perrin Walker (1778-1858), Julius Rockwell (1805-1888), Reuben Rockwell, and Lucy Walker Rockwell, including: papers relating to William Walker's Revolutionary service, especially his records, 1779-82, as a recruiting officer for Berkshire County; a 1775 orderly book; records of the Lenox Committee of Safety, 1778; papers, mostly receipts 1777-78, relating to Major Isaac Goes' service as a commissary dealing in wheat and flour at Kinderhook, New York, many having to do with his dealings with Theodore Sedgwick (1746-1813); material relating to Shays' Rebellion; a Lenox tax roll, 1794; correspondence of William Perrin Walker, 1801-51, concerning such subjects as the War of 1812, relations with France, slavery, and Mass. politics; correspondence, 1818-83, of Julius Rockwell concerning such matters as national and Mass. politics, slavery, the Mexican War, and family matters; and correspondence and papers, 1819-24, relating to William Cullen Bryant's law practice in Great Barrington, Mass. --Frequent correspondents include many prominent Mass. men - Barnabas Bidwell, George Briggs, Rufus Choate, Caleb Cushing, Edward Everett, Josiah Quincy, Leverett Saltonstall, and Charles Sumner. Historical Note: Active in Lenox, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
William Lux Letterbook, 1763-1769
Merchant of Baltimore, MD
Letterbook of merchant William Lux of Baltimore Maryland, containing copies of his letters sent to fellow merchants and business associates in England and America.
Lux's letters concern business dealings, including the sale of individual slaves; ships and shipping ventures in the West Indies; collection of debts; family news; the fortunes and conduct of other merchants; insurance payments; bad relations between England and America; and the delivery and sale of trade goods such as tobacco, flour, spirits, salt, sugar, molasses, etc. Principle correspondents include: Lux's brother Darby Lux, James Russell, Thomas Dicas, Reese Meredith, Aitcheson & Parker, Robert Tucker, Paul Loyall, Roert Sanders, Archibald Ritchie, Silvanus Grove, Samuel Bowne, William Mollesan, and many others.
ðMicrofilm copy available
II. Books & Pamphlets
Following are just a few examples of the books and pamphlets in the library’s collection representing both pro-slavery and anti-slavery positions, listed in chronological order. Search the library’s online catalog (www.bobcat.nyu.edu/nyhistory) to identify additional sources.
Gorton, John. The Negro Suicide: A Poem / by John Gorton. [1st. ed] London : Printed and sold (for the Author) by W. Kemmish, No. 17, King-street, Borough ... , M DCC XCVII .
Call No.: Y1797 .Gorton
Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery—Committee for Improving the Condition of the Free Blacks. Address of the Committee for Improving the Condition of the Free Blacks to the Members of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, and to the Public in General. Philadelphia : Printed by J. Ormrod, No. 41, Chesnut-street, 1800.
Call No.: Y1800 .Pen
Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth. An Address Delivered in Charleston: Before the Agricultural Society of South-Carolina, At Its Anniversary Meeting, on Tuesday, the 18th August, 1829.Charleston : Published by order of the Society, printed by A. E. Miller, no. 4, Broad Street, 1829.
Call No.: Pamphlets E446 .P53 1829
Bolling, Philip A. The Speeches of Philip A. Bolling, (of Buckingham,) in the House of Delegates of Virginia, on the Policy of the State in Relations to Her Colored Population: Delivered on the 1th and 25th of January, 1832. Richmond, Printed by T. W. White, 1832.
Call No.: E441 Box .B6926 S5 1832
Garrison, William Lloyd. Address Delivered in Boston, New-York and Philadelphia: Before the Free People of Color, in April, 1833. New-York : Printed for the free people of color, 1833.
Call No.: E449 .G24 1833
Jay, William, 1789-1858. An Inquiry into the Character and Tendency of the American Colonization, and American Anti-Slavery Societies / by William Jay. 2d ed. New York : Leavitt, Lord & co.; Boston : Crocker & Brewster, 1835.
Call No.: E448 .J42 1835
Child, Lydia Maria Francis. The Evils of Slavery, and the Cure of Slavery: The First Proved by the Opinions of Southerners Themselves, the Last Shown by Historical Evidence. Newburyport: published by Charles Whipple, 1836.
Call No.: E441 Box .C5365 E7 1839
Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women. An Address to Free Colored Americans / Issued by an Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, Held in the City of New-York, by Adjournments from 9th to 12th May, 1837. New York: printed by William S. Dorr, 1837.
Call No.: E441 Box .A6295 A17
The American Anti-Slavery Almanac, for 1839: Being the Third After Leap-Year, and the 63d of American Independence. Calculated for New York ; Adapted to the Northern and Middle States. New York : Published for the American Anti-Slavery Society. S.W. Benedict, 143, Nassau St., 
Call No.: Y1838.American
Abolitionism Exposed Corrected. By a Physician, Formerly Resident of the South. With a Plan for Abolishing the American Anti-Slavery Society and Its Auxiliaries. By a Tennesseean. Philadelphia, J. Sharp, 1838.
Call No.: E441 Box .A1546
Carey, John L. Some Thoughts Concerning Domestic Slavery: In a Letter to…Baltimore: Joseph N. Lewis, 258 Market St.:John D. Toy, printer, 1838.
Call No.: E449 .C27
Ballou, Adin. Non-Resistance in Relation to Human Governments. Boston : Non-Resistance society, 1839. Notes: "This tract contains the remarks of Adin Ballou at the first annual meeting of the Non-resistance society, held in Boston, Sept. 25, 1839."
Call No.: E449 .B19 1839
Colton, Calvin. Colonization and Abolition Contrasted. [Philadelphia]: Published by Herman Hooker, corner of Fifth and Chesnut streets, Philadelphia, 1839.
Call No.: E441 Box .C7255 C5
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. On Receiving Donations from Holders of Slaves.
Boston: Printed by Perkins and Marvin, [1840?]
Call No.: E441 Box .A5124 O3
Smith, Gerrit. To the Proslavery Ministers of the County of Madison: So You Are Really Afraid That Our County Will Declare Herself for the Slave, at the Approaching Election! God be Praised, That You Have Reason to Be! ....
[Peterboro, N.Y.?: s.n., 1843].
Call No.: SY1843 no.13
Smith, James McCune. The Destiny of the People of Color: A Lecture, Delivered Before the Philomathean Society and Hamilton Lyceum, in January, 1841. New York: Published by request, 1843.
Call No.: E441 Box.S6532 D3 1843
Garnet, Henry Highland. The Past and the Present Condition, and the Destiny, of the Colored Race: A Discourse Delivered at the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Female Benevolent Society of Troy, N.Y., Feb. 14, 1848. Troy, N.Y.: Steam Press of J.C. Kneeland and Co., 1848..
Call No.: E29 .N3 Box 2
Brookes, Iveson L. A Defence of the South Against the Reproaches and Incroachments [sic] of the North: In Which Slavery Is Shown to be An Institution of God Intended to Form the Basis of the Best Social State and the Only Safeguard to the Permanence of a Republican Government. Publisher Hamburg, S.C.: Printed at the Republican Office, 1850.
Call No.: E441 Box .B8727 D3
Bryan, Edward B. The Rightful Remedy Addressed to the Slaveholders of the South. Pub. for the Southern Rights Association..Charleston, Press of Walker & James, 1850.
Call No.: E441 Box .B9152 R6
Garnett, Muscoe Russell Hunter. The Union, Past and Future: How It Works, And How to Save It / by a citizen of Virginia. Charleston [S.C.]: Steam-power press of Walker & James, No. 101 East-Bay, 1850.
Call No.: E423 .G23 1850
Beecher, Henry Ward. Great Speech, Delivered in New York City, by Henry Ward Beecher, On the Conflict of Northern and Southern Theories of Man and Society, January 14, 1855. Rochester : Steam press of A. Strong & Co., cor. of State and Buffalo streets, 1855.
Call No.: Y1855.Beech
Douglass, Frederick. Two Speeches, by Frederick Douglass: One on West India Emancipation, Delivered at Canandaigua, Aug. 4th, and the other on the Dred Scott Decision, Delivered in New York, on the Occasion of the Anniversary of the American Abolition Society, May, 1857…Rochester, N.Y.: C.P. Dewey, printer, .
Call No.: E441 Box .D7377 T8
Phillips, Wendell. The Lesson of the Hour: Lecture of Wendell Phillips, Delivered at Brooklyn, N.Y., Tuesday evening, November 1, 1859. [S.l. : s.n., 1859?].
Call No.: E449 .P55 1859
Clarke, James Freeman. Secession, Concession, Or Self-Possession: Which? Boston: Walker, Wise, and Company, 245, Washington Street, 1861.
Call No.: E440.5 .C59 1861
Channing, William Ellery. Tribute of William Ellery Channing to the American Abolitionists, for their Vindication of Freedom of Speech. New York, American Anti-slavery Society, 1861
Call No.: E441 Box .C4585 T6
Tappan, Lewis. The War: Its Cause and Remedy. [New York : s.n., 1861].
Call No.: E453 .T35 1861
Van Evrie, John H. Negroes and Negro "Slavery:" the First An Inferior Race: the Latter Its Normal Condition.
New York, Van Evrie, Horton & co., 1861.
Call No.: E449 .V25
III. Written by Slaves and Freed Slaves
Following are just a few of the materials written by slaves and freed slaves in the library’s collection. Search the online catalog (www.bobcat.nyu.edu/nyhistory) to identify additional sources.
Hammon, Jupiter. An Evening’s Improvement: Shewing, the Necessity of Beholding the Lamb of God.: To Which Is Added…Written by Jupiter Hammon, a Negro Man Belonging to Mr. John Lloyd, of Queen’s Village, on Long-Island, now in Hartford. Hartford: Printed for the author, by the assistance of his friends, .
Call No.: SY1760 no.2
Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African / written by himself. First American edition. New-York : Printed and sold by W. Durell, at his book-store and printing-office, No. 19, Q. Street, M,DCC,XCI. .
Call No.: Y1791 .Equiano
Wheatley, Phillis. Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. / By Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston, in New England. London: Printed for A. Bell, bookseller, Aldgate; and sold by Messrs. Cox and Berry, King-street, Boston., MDCCLXXIII. 
Call No.: Y1773.Wheat Poems
Williams, James. Narrative of James Williams, an American Slave, Who Was for Several Years A Driver on a Cotton Plantation in Alabama. New York: Published by the American Anti-Slavery Society, no. 143 Nassau Street.; Boston: : Isaac Knapp, 25 Cornhill., 1838.
Call No.: E444 .W73 1838
Brown, William Wells. Narrative of William W. Brown, a fugitive slave /written by himself… Boston : The Anti-slavery office, 1847.
Call No.: E444 .B88 184
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave/written by himself. Boston: Anti-Slavery Office, 1849.
Call No.: E441 Box .D7377 N3 1849
Henson, Josiah. The life of Josiah Henson,formerly a slave, now an inhabitant of Canada,as narrated by himself. Boston, A.D. Phelps, 1849.
Call No.: E441 Box .H5265 A3
Watson, Henry. Narrative of Henry Watson, A Fugitive Slave. Boston: Published by Bela Marsh ..., 1848.
Call No.: E441 Box.W3386 N3
Green, William, former slave. Narrative of Events in the Life of William Green. Written by himself..
Springfield [Mass.] L. M. Guernsey, printer, 1853.
Call No.: E441 Box .G7986 N3
Northup, Soloman. Twelve years a slave :Narrative of Solomon Northup, a citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River, in Louisiana. Auburn [N.Y.] : Derby and Miller ; Buffalo : Derby, Orton and Mulligan ; London : Sampson Low, Son & Company, 1853.
Call No.: E444 .N87
Gilbert, Olive. Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a northern slave, emancipated from bodily servitude by the state of New York, in 1828. Boston: Printed for the author, 1850.
Call No.: CT.T8745 G5
Wilson, Harriet.Our Nig, or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, in a Two-Story White House, North : Showing that Slavery's Shadows Fall Even There / by "Our Nig." Boston: Printed by Geo. C. Rand & Avery, 1859.
Call No.: Y1859.Wilson Our
Jacobs, Harriet A. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl / Written by Herself.; Edited by L. Maria Child.
Boston: Published for the author., 1862, c1860. ([Boston] : Stereotyped at the Boston Stereotype Foundry.)
Call No.: Y1862.Jacobs
Keckley, Elizabeth. Behind the Scenes, Or, Thirty Years A Slave, and Four Years in the White House. New York : G.W. Carleton & Co., publishers, 1868.
Call No.: CT.L7 K35
Following are just a few examples of the broadsides in the library’s collection representing both pro-slavery and anti-slavery positions, listed in chronological order. Notices of slave sales and rewards for runaway slaves are included in the broadside collection. Search the library’s online catalog (www.bobcat.nyu.edu/nyhistory) to identify additional sources.
Boston, April 20th, 1773. : Sir, The efforts made by the legislative [sic] of this province in their last sessions to free themselves from slavery, gave us, who are in that deplorable state, a high degree of satisfacton [sic]. ... We cannot but wish and hope sir, that you will have the same grand object, we mean civil and religious liberty, in view in your next session. ... [Boston, Mass. : s.n., 1773]
Call No.: SY1773 no.22
Colonization Aid Society. Constitution of the Colonization Aid Society. Whereas, we deeply lament the existence of slavery in any part of the American republic, we are unwilling to encroach upon the rights, or do violence to the feelings, of any of our fellow-citizens of the slave-holding states, by an interference with that species of property ...[United States. : s.n., 18--].
Call No.: SY18-- no.106
New York (State). -- Legislature. An act to prevent frauds and perjuries at elections, and to prevent slaves from voting. Passed April 9th, 1811. [Albany, N.Y. : s.n., 1811]
Call No.: SY1811 no.32
20 dollars reward. : Ran away from the subscriber, living near Big Spring, within ten miles of Hagers-town, on the road leading to Hancock-town, on the 25th inst. a bright mulatto man named Ned ...
[Washington County, Md. : s.n., 1811] Signed: Hugh M'Calley. Dated: Washington County, December 27, 1811.
N-YHS copy: manuscript annotation at foot of text reads: [fist] 3 times in N.Y. 13 masters of vessels ferrymen etc. are hereby cauted from taking him on bord [initialed] H. M. paid $1.25.
Call No.: SY1811 no.38
Anti-slavery Convention (1833 : Philadelphia, Pa.) .: Declaration of the National Anti-Slavery Convention :held in Philadelphia on the 4th, 5th, & 6th of December 1833.. New York, N. Y.: P.A. Mesier's Lith 28 Wall St., [1833?].
Call No.: SY1833 no.25 Oversize
Emancipator.---Extra : The Abolition of Slavery: A Plea for the Oppressed. Addressed to Christians of All Sects, and Philanthropists of Every Distinction. [New York, N.Y.: s.n., 1833]
Call No.: SY1833 no.52
Turner, Thomas B. 100 dollars reward. Ran away from me on Friday morning the 20th instant, my negro man Henry… [Charles Town, W. Va.] : Printed at the Free Press Office, Charlestown, Va., .
Call No.: SY1837 no.18
A Startling fact!! : a coincidence. [United States : s.n., 1844] Notes: "In the year 1819 a bill passed the House of Representatives in Congress, providing that all slaves which should hereafter be born in Arkansas, should become free on arriving at the age of twenty-five. The vote, however, was reconsidered, and the provision finally rejected by the casting vote of the speaker, Henry Clay ..."
Call No.: SY1844 no.76
Facts for the intelligent voters of Old Essex. [Massachusetts : s.n., 1849]
Notes "Stephen H. Phillips, the son and principal ally of the Free Soil candidate for governor, stated at a Free Soil meeting in Lynn, on Friday evening last, that he had written to Robert Rantoul, Jr., asking his view on the subject of slavery ..." November 10, 1849.
Call No.: SY1849 no.24
Commissioner's sale. : On Tuesday, the 12th day of November, 1850, pursuant to a decree pronounced at the September term of the Lincoln Circuit Court, in the case of Montgomery Lytle, guardian, &c. against Lytle's heirs, &c., I will, as commissioner, sell at public sale to the highest bidder, on the premises, the tract of land on which Robert Lytle, deceased, resided ... Danville, Ky.: Jno. F. Zimmerman & Son, prs.--Tribune Printing Office, Danville, Ky.,  Notes "... Said land lies in Lincoln County, 7 miles from Danville, 4 1/2 from Stanford and 6 from Lancaster. The land is first rate, and the improvements comfortable. Also, at the same time and place, I will sell 13 negroes, likely, consisting of men, women and children ..." Signed and dated: Hayden J. McRoberts, com.r. Lincoln County, October 18, 1850
Call No.: SY1850 no.38
To the Honorable the members of the Senate and Assembly of the State of New-York: :The undersigned were much surprised to learn that a committee from the Honorable, the Senate of this state, had reported favorable to the petition presented by a body calling themselves "The New-York and Liberia Emigration and Agricultural Association," which petition prays for the appropriation of a large amount of money from the state funds, in aid of said association. .... [New York, N.Y. : s.n., 1852].
Call No.: SY1852 no.120
Sectionalism defeated forever. [New York, N.Y.] : Fitzgerald's Steam Printing Works, New York. 
Notes Satirical anti-Frémont and anti-abolitionist broadside illustrated with fourteen relief cuts.
"... Steamer black Republicanism! for Salt River direct! Col. John C. Fremont, master. Will leave Sugar Alley dock for Salt River direct, on Wednesday, Nov. 5th, 1856, at 3 o'clock, P.M. Also, on the first Wednesday of each month, until the 4th of March next, to accommodate all. List of officers ..."
Call No.: SY1856 no.59
New York City and County Suffrage Committee of Colored Citizens. The Suffrage Question: In Relation to Colored Voters in the State of New York / [respectfully submitted by the New York City and County Suffrage Committee of Colored Citizens ; James M’Cune Smith, chairman]. [New York, N.Y.? : s.n., 1860?]
Call No.: SY1860 no.140
V. Songbooks, Song Sheets and Sheet Music
Following are just a few examples of songbooks, song sheets and sheet music in the library’s collection representing both pro-slavery and anti-slavery positions, listed in chronological order. Search the library’s online catalog (www.bobcat.nyu.edu/nyhistory) to identify additional sources.
Bruce, Helen. Song of the slave bride. / By Helen Bruce. Alternate title Home, home, oh weary soul, haste to thy lover's breast. Publisher [United States? : s.n., 18--]
Call No.: SY-B18-- no.41
Lincoln, Jairus. Anti-Slavery Melodies: for the friends of freedom. Hingam, MA: Elijah B. Gill, 1843.
Call No.: M168 1843. L56
Anti-slavery hymns and songs, for the convention at Abington, July 4, 1848. Abington, Mass.: s.n., 1848.
Call No.: SY1848 no.50
Hymns for the Liberator soiree, Friday evening, January 24th, 1851. [Boston, Mass. : s.n., 1851].
Call No.: SY1851 no.43
Foster, Stephen Collins, 1826-1864.: Massa's in de cold ground. Philadelphia : A.W. Auner's Song and Stationery Store, No. 5 N. Tenth Street, above Market, [1853 or 1854].
Call No.: SY-B1853 No. 39
Dig, dig, dig, or Hush-a-bye baby. [New York : J. Andrews?, between 1853 and 1859].
Call No.: SY-B1853 No. 54
Wood, Henry. Poor Uncle Tom. :This song was suggested by the incidents to be found in Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe's celebrated work, entitled "Uncle Tom's cabin," and sung nightly, with tremendous applause, by Wood's celebrated Minstrels, at 444 Broadway, N.Y.. [New York, N.Y. : s.n., 1852].
Call No.: SY-B1853 no.325
All hail, ye gallant freemen true! :for the mass meeting at Oyster Bay, September 20, 1856.. [Oyster Bay, N.Y.? : s.n., 1856].
Call No.: SY-B1856 no.3
Fremont & Dayton. United States: s.n., 1856
Call No.: SY1856 no.134
Hymns and songs for the celebration of British West India emancipation, at Abington, August 1,
1856. Boston, Mass.: Prentiss & Sawyer, printers, 19 Water Street, Boston., 1856.
Call No.: SY1856 no.70.
Emancipation ode. [United States : s.n., 1863?].
Call No.; SY-B1863 no.27
V. Newspapers & Periodicals
Following is a comprehensive list of newspapers and periodicals relating to slavery in the library’s collection.
New York Evangelist
National Anti-Slavery Standard
New York Weekly Caucasian
New York Day Book (daily)
New York Weekly Day Book
New York National Advocate
1824-1825; scattered issue only
Friend of Man
1836-1837; scattered issues only
African Methodist Episcopal Church Magazine. [Brooklyn, N.Y.: s.n., ].
Call No.: BX8440 .A5
N-YHS library holds Volume 1, Nos. 7-12 (July 1843-May 1844).
Douglass’ Monthly. Rochester, N.Y.: [s.n.].
Call No.: E449 .D75 Oversize
N-YHS library holds Volume 3, Nos. 8 & 11 (January & April 1861) and Volume 4, Nos. 1, 3 & 6 (June, August & November 1861).
The Mirror of Liberty. New-York: David Ruggles, 1838.
Call No.: Y Period.M Oversize
N-YHS holds Volume 1, No. 1 (July 1838).
The Students’ Repository: A Quarterly Periodical, Devoted to Education, Morality, and General Improvement. Indiana : S.H. Smothers.
Call No.: L11 .S933
N-YHS library holds: Volume 1, No. 1-Volume 2, No. 2 (July 1863-October 1864).
The American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter. New York: American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society
Call No.: E449 .A491 Oversize
N-YHS library holds: Vol. 2, no. 1 (Sept 1844)
The Anti-slavery examiner. New York: The American Anti-Slavery Society.
Call No.: E449 .A623
N-YHS library holds: Vols. 1-14 (Aug. 1836 to 1840)
The Anti-Slavery Record. New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1835-38.
Call No.: E449 .A623
N-YHS library holds: Vols. 1 – 3 (Jan 1835 - Dec 1837)
The Antisavery Reporter and Aborigines' Friend. London, L. Wild [etc.]
Call No.: HT851 .A7 Oversize
N-YHS library holds: Vols. 1-6; New ser. 1-7 (1840-1852)
The library holds a small number of maps relating to slavery. Search the library’s map database (http://dlib.nyu.edu/nyhs/maps/) to identify printed maps; to find manuscript maps, the majority of which are contained within the manuscript collections listed above, use the library’s online catalog (www.bobcat.nyu/nyhistory). Following are examples of the types of maps available at the library.
Reynolds, William C. Reynolds's Political Map of the United States, Designed to Exhibit the Comparative Area of the Free and Slave States, and the Territory Open to Slavery or Freedom by the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise [of 1820], 1856.
Bloss, William C. Map of the United States and Territories, Showing the Possessions and Aggressions of the Slave Power, 1856. Note: Text includes anti-slavery appeals by Charles Sumner and Henry Ward Beecher, and quotations from Jefferson, Madison et al.
VIII. Photographs & Prints
Daguerreotype of Caesar, a slave.
Call No.: Cased Photograph File, PR-012-2-323
Carte de visite photograph file
Call No.: PR-011
Includes carte de visite of Sojourner Truth
Civil War stereographs
1861-1865, some published later
Call No.: Stereograph File, 771-815
For more information: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/stereocw.html
Collection includes images of “contrabands,” escaped slaves who fought for the Union.
Note: many of these stereographs may be viewed at the Library of Congress’ American Memory website:
Photographs of the War of the Rebellion [graphic]
Photographs 1861-1865, some printed later.
31 vol. (photographic prints)
Call No.: PR-088
Collection includes images of slaves and Southern plantations.
Call No.: PR-065
For more information: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/stereograph.html
African Americans, including slaves, are depicted in a range of settings.
Subject file [graphic]
ca. 30,000 items (prints and photographs).
Call no.: PR-068
For more information: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/subject.html
The many images of slavery include an albumen print showing the interior of a slave pen in Alexandria, Virginia, and a French engraving of a slave sale in America. A number of prints cut from newspapers in 1858-9 detail the story of 200 captured slaves who were taken to Liberia on the steam-frigate Niagara. Also included here are group photographs of African American Civil War soldiers and a set of albumen photographs from 1863-1864 of paintings by T. Waterman Wood of African American soldiers titled "The Contraband," "The Recruit," and "The Veteran."
IX. Digital Collection
Manuscript Collections Relating to Slavery
The 14 collections on this website are among the most important of the manuscript collections relating to slavery, held by the New-York Historical Society Library. 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.
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 forty 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 N-YHS has launched a comprehensive Web site, 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.
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street)
New York, NY 10024
Phone (212) 873-3400
TTY (212) 873-7489