Women in the Archive: By Era

These broadly chronological categories focus primarily on highlighting the narratives of individual women who lived during the periods under consideration. They are designed to align with the ten units of the Women & the American Story (WAMS) online curriculum, the flagship educational initiative the Center for Women’s History which seeks to integrate the experiences of diverse women into mainstream curricula. We hope this alignment will empower students and educators, alongside researchers, to utilize the New-York Historical archives to their fullest capability.

  • 1492-1734: Early Encounters

    The American Indian Collection, 1651-1878

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    This collection is composed of various documents relating to the history of American Indians from the early period of European settlement up to the late 19th Century, particularly covering their relationship with European and American settlers, and the colonial and American governments. Size: 0.3 Linear ft.

    Evert Wendell Account books, 1695-1758

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    Accounts recording Evert Wendell’s trade in hides and skins with Native American men and women of various New York and Canadian groups. It also includes some physical descriptions of them as well as rough drawings, and their name, tribe or nation. He also describes, through his own understandings as a Dutch man, Native American women working in Dutch households. Size: 6 vol.

    Register of baptisms, marriages, communicants & funerals begun by Henry Barclay at Fort Hunter, January 26, 1734/5

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    Digitized >
    Register of baptisms, marriages, communicants and funerals among the Mohawk people from January 1734/5 through February 1745/6. These events were recorded by Reverend Henry Barclay, who was appointed catechist to the Mohawk people in 1736. Size: 1 vol. (69 pages)

  • 1692–1783: Settler Colonialism and Revolution

    Alexander Papers, 1668-1818 (bulk 1717-1786)

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    Finding Aid – Series 3 >
    Series 3 documents the business affairs of Mary Alexander, a prominent female merchant specializing in haberdashery. It includes correspondence, receipts, bills and papers relating to her land holdings and estate. Invoices sometimes feature samples of fabrics requested or purchased by Alexander. Papers concerning other female family members appear throughout the collection. Size: 28.0 Linear ft. (60 boxes) Series 3: 2 boxes.
    See Also: Mary Alexander Letter/account book, 1756-1766
    See Also: Mary Alexander receipt, 1752 August 6

    Charlotte Browne Diary, 1754-1757, 1763-1766

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    Charlotte Browne was matron of the general hospital in North America. Her diary describes her life aboard a ship sailing from Virginia to London. It also includes accounts of Braddock's campaign during the Seven Years’ War, as well as some financial notes dated 1763-1766. This diary is probably a fair copy transcribed by Browne from her original notes. Size: 1 vol. (77 pages)

    Joseph Reed and Esther De Berdt Reed papers, 1757-1874

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    Documents and correspondence pertaining to the lives and politics of Esther De Berdt Reed (1747-1780) and husband, lawyer and Revolutionary War soldier Joseph Reed (1741-1785). During the Revolution, Esther organized aid for the Continental Army. The collection includes several lists of donations raised by the ladies of Philadelphia for the benefit of the soldiers of the American Army collected under Esther’s leadership.

    Nicholson family papers, 1759-1846

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    Frances Witter Nicholson (1744-1832), wife of naval officer James Nicholson, is well-represented in the collection, which includes approximately 144 letters addressed to her, as well as legal and business correspondence regarding her estate and real estate holdings. Size: 1 box (ca. 320 items)

  • 1783-1828: Building a New Nation

    The John Pintard Papers, 1750-1925 (bulk 1770-1890; emphasis 1816-1833)

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    Digitized Published Correspondence >
    Series I contains numerous letters written by New-York Historical founder John Pintard to his daughter Eliza Noel Pintard between 1816 and 1833. The letters, published in 1940 and available digitally, offer insight into daily activities, financial matters, religious life, and family relationships, including advice Eliza received from her father. Other materials include family papers of another daughter, Louise Hall Pintard. Size: 6.8 Linear ft.

    Martha Bradstreet papers, 1772-1868 (bulk 1815)

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    Finding Aid >]
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    Mainly consists of correspondence and legal documents relating to Martha Bradstreet's attempts to regain the title to land in Utica, NY, originally part of the property of her father’s stepfather General John Bradstreet, and which she believed to be rightfully hers. The case was complicated by ambiguous documentation of sale and the terms of her aunt’s will, and was ultimately decided against Bradstreet in 1831. Size: 1.0 Linear ft. (2 boxes)

    Aaron Burr papers, 1777-1836

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    The papers of Aaron Burr, third Vice President of the United States, contain the correspondence of and information on his daughter, Theodosia (1783-1813). Her intelligence and passion for learning are seen at a young age through her letters – a testament to her own abilities, as well as to her father’s commitment to the education of women.
    Museum Collections: Theodosia Burr Portrait, oil on canvas, ca. 1815-1820
    Museum Collections: Theodosia Burr Portrait, oil on canvas, 1802

    Mary Guion diary, 1800-1852 (bulk 1800-1808)

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    Diary kept by Mary Guion Brown beginning when she was 17. She records, in considerable detail, the personal and social life of a young girl in Westchester County, NY, including daily activities, involvements with suitors and courtship, visits to friends and relatives, local news, social events such as balls and spinning bees, and reflections on life. Size: 1 vol. (387 pages)

    Judith Crommelin Verplanck Receipt book, 1801-1856

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    Receipt book kept by Judith Verplanck and other members of the Verplanck family. Records kept in Judith Verplanck's lifetime are dated New York, and include a receipt for state and corporation tax on the family's house at 15 Wall Street and a receipt for medical services to Judith Verplanck. Many of the later receipts are for servants' wages. Size: 1 vol (ca. 154 pages)
    Museum Collection: Silver Tankard, ca. 1760

    Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton papers, 1805-1829

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    Correspondence concerning Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (1757-1854), wife of Alexander Hamilton and a founder of the New York Orphan Asylum Society. This collection contains personal and professional correspondence, including two letters to her brother Philip Jeremiah Schuyler and an agreement permitting the transfer of Alexander Hamilton’s papers in support of a biographical work. Size: 5 items.
    See also: Eliza Hamilton Schuyler letters, 1836-1854.

    Catherine Van Schaack papers, 1806-1836

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    Correspondence, including letters to her mother discussing religious matters, friends and family. There are also several letters to Sarah Louisa Jay and other friends of her own age. A diary kept while attending school discusses sermons, experiences at school, travel to Bridgeport and New Haven, and social life in Albany. Size: 22 items.
    See also: Catherine Van Schaak Account Book, 1802-1813

    Abigail Belden Whelpley Papers, 1807-1921

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    Primarily consists of manuscripts written by the Protestant author Abigail Belden Whelpley (1817-1880) in the mid-1800s, including prose and poetry pieces on Christian thought and scripture, contemporary social issues, and the godliness of the natural world. Size: 0.42 Linear ft. (1 box)

    Account of seven American Indians of the Seneca Nation who visited York during three weeks in the month of May, 1818

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    An account of a visit to York, England made by seven representatives of the Seneca Nation, 1818-1819, written by Elizabeth Fothergill, who was in frequent contact with them during their stay. She writes in detail of their activities, appearance, mannerisms, personal characteristics, local reactions to their visit, etc. This volume is a transcript made by Fothergill from her journal at a later date; probably ca. 1835 or 1836. Size: 1 vol. (174 pages).

  • 1820-1869: Expansions and Inequalities

    New-York African Free-School records, 1816-1832

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    Digitized Collection - Partial >
    The African Free School was founded in 1787 by the New York Manumission Society with the primary goal of educating black children. The majority of students were the children of enslaved people, and they were educated in a variety of practical subjects. Over its existence, the school educated thousands of children. The collection contains work by students, including a poem by Adeline Groves and a sampler stitched by Rosena Disery. Size: 4 vols.

    Elizabeth H. Wilson papers, 1834-1874

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    Letters received by Elizabeth H. Wilson, of Clermont, NY. Almost all the correspondents are women and they mostly discuss domestic and family matters. A few letters written in the 1830s refer to the education of Elizabeth and her cousins, one describing a typical day of study. A printed flyer from the Clermont Academy, dated 1837, describes their fees and their curricula for boys and girls. Size: 1.2 linear ft. (3 boxes)

    Abby Kelley Foster letter to Nathaniel P. Rogers, 1841 July 3

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    Lengthy and impassioned letter about the evils of slavery and the efforts to be made by abolitionists to speed slavery to an end. Abby Kelley Foster was an active abolitionist, pacifist, and supporter of women's rights and temperance. She lectured widely against slavery in the 1830s and 1840s, though she was condemned by some for speaking to male groups. Size: 1 letter.

    Louisa Fancher letter, 1842 August 22

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    Letter from Louisa Fancher, a schoolteacher at a New York State mission school, to her brother and sister. She describes her experience with a severe illness which has obliged her to leave her work teaching Native American children. The letter also provides insight into the mission and school, and Fancher’s personal life. Size: 1 letter.

  • 1832-1877: A Nation Divided

    Sarah R. Blunt correspondence, 1862 March 4-1865 July 24

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    Sarah R. Blunt was a nurse during the Civil War. This collection is Sarah Blunt's letters to her mother and sisters in Brooklyn, New York, written from hospitals in Point Lookout, Mary and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. She writes of her living conditions, duties, and the wounded soldiers. Size: 31 items.

    Amelia Bloomer collection, 1851-1894

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    Writer, editor and activist Amelia Bloomer (1818-1894) was active in the temperance movement and later in the women's rights and women's suffrage movements. Collection includes newspaper clippings, including an obituary, and several letters from Bloomer. Size: 11 items.

    Angelina Post papers, 1864-1868 (bulk 1864-1865)

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    Papers and correspondence mostly relating to her work with the Woman’s Central Association of Relief, a branch of the Sanitary Commission, during the Civil War. A letter book contains lists of letters received and sent; there are also drafts of letters, as well as a few pages of notes, one containing a long list of household objects, perhaps donations for a fund-raising fair. Size: 15 items.

  • 1866-1898: Industry and Empire

    Helen Miller Gould Shepard Papers, 1814-1941

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    Helen Miller Gould Shepard (1868-1938), eldest daughter of railroad financier Jay Gould, was a prominent philanthropist and a graduate from the NYU Law School for Women. This collection contains correspondence, ephemera, scrapbooks, published materials, visual material, and writings by Gould. The bulk of the collection centers on her social, philanthropic, and religious occupations. Size: 4.5 Linear feet (11 boxes)
    Museum Collections: Riding Whip, 1860-1889

    Butler-Laing Family Papers, 1804-1892 (bulk 1864-1871)

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    The Butler-Laing Family Papers come from three generations of an American family from the northeast. These papers chiefly shed light on the daily lives of women of the Butler Family. The bulk encompasses Mrs. Laing's detailed diaries and letters from travels in Europe and correspondence with her grown daughter Mary. Size: 2.5 Linear ft.

    Martha J. Lamb Papers, 1756-1892 (bulk 1876-1892)

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    Contains a variety of material relating mostly to Martha Lamb's professional life as historian, author, and editor. Much of this collection pertains to Lamb's tenure as editor of the Magazine of American History (1883-1893), but also contains letters received by Lamb regarding her work as an historian and author, a journal (1878-1879), and material for a number of Lamb's articles and addresses, including clippings, reviews, drafts, notes, correspondence, and proofs, and drafts of her History of the City of New York. Size: 7.5 linear ft. (18 boxes, 3 oversize folders)
    Museum Collections: Mrs. Charles A. Lamb Portrait, 1878

  • 1889–1920: Modernizing America

    Emma Thursby Papers, 1706-1940 (bulk 1880-1920)

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    Documents the career and personal life of internationally-known concert singer Emma Cecilia Thursby (1845-1931), including her financial dealings and family relationships. She toured widely and was famous for her soaring soprano voice and unusually-talented pet mynah bird. Size: 8.0 Linear ft. (16 boxes)
    Graphic Collection: Emma Cecilia Thursby photograph collection, ca. 1820- 1940
    Museum Collections: Portrait, 1879Presentation Tray, 1879Decorative Jewelry Box, 1872Music Stand, ca. 1875

    Susan B. Anthony letters, 1862-1895

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    Seven letters from Susan B. Anthony (1820-1888), a key figure in the women's suffrage movement in the United States. Letters detail her speaking engagements, as well as speeches by Frederick Douglass, Theodore Tilton, Julia Ward Howe, and Mary L. Booth. Other letters regard remaking a dress and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 80th birthday celebration. Size: 7 letters.

    Katherine Duer MacKay collection, 1882-1909, undated

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    Collection of documents related to Katherine Duer Mackay (1880-1930) and to the Equal Franchise Society, an organization that worked to secure women's suffrage. Duer Mackay was the founder and first president of the Society. Size: 7 items.

    Emma C. Juliand Papers, 1897-1905 (bulk 1903-1905)

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    Juliand was a real estate broker and resident of New York City. This collection contains correspondence and papers related to her real estate business, as well as her attempts to secure a widow's pension for Sarah J. Copeland. Size: 0.25 Linear ft. (1 box)

    Florence Nightingale Levy Papers, 1899-1946 (bulk 1908-1926)

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    Materials related to Levy’s career as an arts administrator, curator, and educator. Levy held numerous prominent positions in the art world, including founder and editor of the American Art Annual and general manager of the Art Alliance of America. Size: 0.4 Linear ft. (1 box)

    Mabel Newton Betticher papers, 1903-1948

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    The papers of Mabel Betticher, a public-school teacher of East Orange, New Jersey, consist of three sets of contemporaneously kept diaries: a diary of daily activities, a diary of poems, and a diary of spiritual meditations. The diaries focus largely on spiritual and religious matters, with limited personal information. Size: 3.4 Linear ft. (8 boxes)

    Eva Costello Lavin letters, 1914-1917

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    Correspondence between Eva Costello, a teacher in New York City, and future husband John Lavin. The letters provide descriptions of a young woman living in the city and working as a teacher during World War I. Topics include teaching issues, women's suffrage, social commentary, family matters, and Lavin’s Red Cross work. Size: 19 items.

    Helen Schechter letters, 1918, undated

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    Letters from Helen Schechter, a New York City resident of Eastern European Jewish origin, to Ellen T. Gould. Gould taught Schechter English at Christodora House, a settlement house on the Lower East Side. The letters discuss Schechter's frustration at not knowing English better, the education of her four children, and time at a summer camp affiliated with Christodora House. They also describe her unrequited love for Gould, and her refusal to see these feelings as "sick" or as unreal idealization. Size: 33 letters.

  • 1920–1948: On the World Stage

    Helen Maria Turner Papers, 1904-1957

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    Documents painter Helen Maria Turner’s artistic career, including diaries of trips to Europe; photographs of her work; and correspondence written by and to dealers, museums, and purchasers. Also included is a scrapbook of memorabilia, letters to her mother, family photographs, and Turner’s 1922 passport. Size: 0.92 Linear ft. (3 boxes)
    Museum Collections: Portrait of Augusta Brown, signed H.M. Turner, c. 1879
    Museum Collections: Portrait of Laurette Pintard Turner, signed H.M. Turner, 1901
    Museum Collections: Cragsmoor Studio, painted by Turner, n.d.

    Grace Avery Lillard papers, 1915-1990 (bulk, 1943-1945)

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    Documents the World War II military experiences of Grace Avery Lillard (1919-1990), technician, 5th grade, Women's Army Corps (WAC) Detachment, 1st Tactical Air Force (Provisional), who served in Europe doing cryptography and clerical work dealing with signals. Includes her pocket Bible, some letters sent home from Europe, a detailed scrapbook of photographs and ephemera, and Lillard's typed account of the activities of her detachment between 1944 and 1945. Size: 1.25 Linear ft.

    Halbreich Papers, 1941-1946 (bulk 1944-1945)

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    Correspondence of nearly 600 letters between Shirley Halbreich and her husband Lester during his time serving as a dentist in the Navy during World War II. Lester and Shirley were both Jewish natives of Brooklyn, New York. While her husband was deployed, Shirley and their son lived with her parents and sister in Crown Heights. Size: 1.67 Linear feet.
    Library Blog: “The Wartime Letters of Lester and Shirley Halbreich

    Papers of Leonard Larsen, 1942-1945

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    The majority of the collection is correspondence between Helen Larsen and her husband Leonard, a U.S. Army officer serving in Europe. During her husband’s deployment, Helen supported herself as a factory worker in Buffalo, NY and gave birth to a son, Kurt Larsen. Like many other wartime women workers, Helen was fired in 1945 to make room for returning servicemen. Size: 2.0 Linear ft. (4 boxes)

    Martha L. Mills Papers, 1943 Aug-1943 Dec

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    Forty letters written by Martha L. Mills to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. James N. Mills of Statesville, NC, while she was serving with the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps and Women's Army Corp in Florida. Letters describe, often in candid detail, her training, duties, surroundings, social life, and daily routine as a member of the Women's Army Corps, in addition to relating her observations and opinions of other women in the corps. Size: 0.25 linear ft.

    Janet Shapiro collection of the W.I.V.E.S. (Wives Insure Victory, Equality, Security),1944-1946.

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    Collection relating to Brooklyn resident Janet Shapiro’s membership in the W.I.V.E.S, an association of World War II-era spouses of men in the United States armed forces and maritime service founded in Brooklyn in 1943. Shapiro was an active member and served as a delegate to the national convention in November 1945. The collection includes her delegate’s lapel ribbon, felt armband, membership card, some correspondence, and a typed speech, as well as copies of the organization’s publications. Size: approx. 33 items.
    Library Blog: “Remembering the W.I.V.E.S. of World War II”

    Herman R. Brown papers, 1946-1985 (bulk 1946-1951)

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    Correspondence involving Herman R. Brown, an African-American soldier, and Mary K. Groom, married name Cox. Brown and Groom sent love letters to each other, which continued even after each was married to other people. The majority of the letters are from Brown to Groom from 1946-1951. Included are some letters from friends and others. Size: 0.43 linear ft. (1 box)

  • 1948–1973: Growth and Turmoil

    Henry R. Luce papers, 1894-2004 (bulk 1932-1967)

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    Finding Aid – Series VII >
    Series VII of the collection consists of materials on Luce’s wife, Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987). Luce was twice elected to the United States House of Representatives (D-CT) and served as ambassador to Italy from 1953-1956. She was also a successful writer, having served as managing editor of Vanity Fair and authored the play “The Women.” Size: approx. 8 boxes in Series VII; entire collection is 101.2 Linear Feet (205 boxes).
    Library Blog Series: “Clare Boothe Luce – The Playwright” ; “Clare Boothe Luce – The Congresswoman” ; “Clare Boothe Luce – The Ambassador”
    Library Blog: “Introducing the Henry R. Luce Papers”

    The Billie Jean King Collection, 1901-2019 (bulk, 1940-2019)

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    In 2016, Billie Jean King donated her archive to the New-York Historical Society, as part of its Center for Women’s History. Divided between New-York Historical's museum collection and its Patricia D. Klingenstein Library collection, the Billie Jean King archive includes clothing, athletic equipment, documents, scrapbooks, publications, photographs, memorabilia, and artifacts generated and collected by BJK throughout her life and career as an athlete, founder of Women's Tennis Association and Women's Sports Foundation, advocate for equality, and public figure. Size: 80 Linear ft.
    Exhibition: Collecting Billie Jean King
    WAMS: Billie Jean King
    Women at the Center Blog Post: “Take a Look Inside Two Special Installations of Memorabilia”
    Women at the Center Blog Post: “Billie Jean King’s Dream of Peace in the Battle of the Sexes”

    Shirley Hayes Papers, 1948-2001 (bulk 1952-1979)

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    Shirley Hayes (1912-2002) was a long-time resident of Greenwich village, where she was active in numerous community organizations. During the 1950s, Hayes successfully led the battle for a car-free Washington Square Park, defeating Robert Moses' plans for a four-lane highway. This collection contains information on her many local activities, her political involvement, and her job at WNYC. Size: 9.03 Linear ft.
    Library Blog: “The Battle of Washington Square Park”

    Jane Bannerman Travel Sketchbooks Collection, [graphic], 1955-2011

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    74 sketchbooks recording the domestic and international travels of Jane Bannerman between 1955 and 2011. Bannerman studied illustration and advertising at Parsons School of Design (then known as the New York School of Fine & Applied Art). She traveled extensively abroad throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, continually chronicling her experiences through her drawings. She also completed several sketchbooks of New York City. Size: 4.17 Linear ft. (10 boxes).
    Library Blog: “Jane’s Jaunts”: The Travel Sketchbooks of Jane Bannerman

    Eugene Gordon Photograph Collection, 1970-1990 [graphic]

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    Photographs by Eugene Gordon depicting street life, religious groups, buildings, and public events in New York City. The photographs show New Yorkers going about their lives in a vibrant city, but also document specific events including the August 1970 Women's Strike for Equality demonstration and parade and the 1988 Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade. Size: 0.417 Linear ft. (149 photographs)

    Bettina Cirone Photographs and Papers, 1965-2002 [graphic]

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    Photographs and ephemera created and collected by New York City photographer Bettina Cirone. Her work documents the cityscape, street life, and nightlife of New York City in the 1970s, '80s and '90s. After working as a model with the Ford agency in the 1960s, Cirone began her photography career with the New York City Planning Commission. In the late 1970s, Cirone began to focus on capturing images of celebrities, events, and NYC nightlife, and continued to do so for the next four decades. Size: 1.67 Linear ft.

    Joyce Matz Papers, 1969-2017

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    Papers of PR consultant and historic preservationist Joyce Matz (1925–2017). As chair or co-chair of the Landmarks Committee of Manhattan Community Board 5, Matz fought to protect iconic New York City structures like Town Hall and St. Bartholomew’s Church from alteration or demolition. She often provided pro bono publicity for various groups that lobbied to oppose outsized developments. Size: 22 Linear ft.

    Westbeth Playwrights' Feminist Collective, 1971-2015 (bulk, 1971-1975)

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    Records of the short-lived but groundbreaking Westbeth Playwrights' Feminist Collective (1972-1976), one of the earliest feminist theater groups in the United States. The collection includes scripts, publicity material, articles and reviews, some correspondence, ephemera, and photographs of select production scenes and WPFC members. Size: 1.04 Linear ft. (3 boxes)

  • 1974-2018: The Information Age

    Elizabeth and Felix G. Rohatyn papers, ca. 1900?-2017 (bulk 1975-2012)

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    Finding Aid – Series V >
    Series V documents the philanthropic efforts of Elizabeth Rohatyn, focusing on her work on the boards of three organizations: French Regional & American Museum Exchange (FRAME), Teaching Matters Inc. (TMI), and the New York Public Library (NYPL). Additional series include numerous personal photographs as well as schedules and event materials, providing insight into the role she played in diplomatic relations as the spouse of a U.S. ambassador. Size: 14.75 Linear ft.

    The Bonnie and Richard Reiss Wall Street Oral History Archive, 1950-1980

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    Includes interviews with five women who built their careers at a time when women and other marginalized groups were notably absent from the top tiers of the financial world. Female interviewees are Beth Dater, Jane Gould, Alice Jarcho, Doreen Mogavero, and Bernadette Bartels Murphy.

    Hannah Campbell Papers, 1958-1997

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    Correspondence and papers of Hannah Campbell, a writer and magazine editor who lived in New York City from 1958 to 1982. Campbell worked for publications including Cosmopolitan and Reader’s Digest, and in 1964 authored a book on the history of brand names. Size: 4.73 Linear ft.

    Margot Gayle Papers, 1959-2005 (bulk 1975-1990)

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    Margot Gayle was an inveterate preservationist and journalist, active in many New York City endeavors to preserve historic areas and buildings. This collection contains her research materials, newspaper columns, photographs, and various publications related to her efforts as a preservationist. Size: 9 Linear ft. (11 boxes)

    Westside Crime Prevention Program records, 1981-2006 (bulk 1990-1996)

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    Documents the aims, internal workings, and external outreach of the Westside Crime Prevention Program, a community-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to making life on the West Side safe and secure. Freelance writer Marjorie Cohen organized and led the program as Executive Director, helping develop a Neighborhood Watch and Safe Haven program. Size: 2.0 Linear ft.

Top image: Mrs. Charles A. Lamb (Martha Joanna Nash, 1829–1893). Cornelia A. Fassett. 1878. Bequest of Mrs. Charles A. Lamb