Behind The Scenes

Author Archives: Jaya Saxena

Interview With Photographer Stephen Somerstein

On January 16, the New-York Historical Society will open a new Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein. This exhibit features the stunning and historic photographs of Stephen Somerstein, documenting the Selma-to-Montgomery Civil Rights March in January 1965. We spoke to Mr. Somerstein about traveling to the march, the art […]

How Did FDR Serve Four Terms As President?

On November 7, 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented fourth term as President. Now we know that Presidents may not seek more than two terms, so what let FDR serve for thirteen years before he died in office in 1945? President George Washington famously refused to seek a third term in office. […]

Check Out These Spooky Halloween Costumes From 1916

I appreciate a good, scary Halloween costume. These days it’s all too easy to go as a celebrity, some sort of pun, or something like Superman, but I’m all for bringing Halloween back to it’s terrifying roots. When else do you have free reign to cover yourself in fake blood and gross makeup and really […]

1915: Women March For Suffrage in New York City

On October 23, 1915, over 25,000 women marched up Fifth Avenue in New York City to advocate for women’s suffrage. At that point, the fight had been ongoing for more than 65 years, with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 first passing a resolution in favor of women’s suffrage. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t find success for another […]

What The General Slocum Victims Wore

This may look like an ordinary child’s shoe, but it has a much darker history. The above shoe belonged to the then nearly six year old Helen Liebenow as a baby, sister of the donor, Adella Liebenow Wotherspoon. Wotherspoon was the last survivor of the General Slocum steamer disaster. On June 15, 1904, fire broke out […]

What Was In The Time Capsule?

Yesterday, historians and researchers at the New-York Historical Society opened this elegant bronze time capsule, entrusted to the New-York Historical Society by the Lower Wall Street Business Men’s Association in 1914. So 100 years later, what’s in the box? Given that this was a Wall Street Business association, the contents often reflected that. There was […]

When America Opened Its Doors Again: The Immigration Act of 1965

Our new exhibition Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion focuses much on the question of immigration in America: who is allowed, who isn’t, how many people should come, and why. These issues are extremely apparent in the passing of the Chinese Exclusion act of 1882, which barred Chinese immigration into America, and required that all Chinese entering or […]

How To Choose 101 Objects That Represent New York

 Sam Roberts took on a lot when he decided to whittle down the essence of New York to 101 objects. How could a city with hundreds of years of history, millions of residents, and countless cultural contributions be defined in such a way? We spoke with the author about his inspiration, his process, and what […]

What New York Slang Did We Get From The Dutch?

Today is the anniversary of the colony of New Amsterdam officially becoming New York, when the Dutch ceded control to the British. But Dutch influence on New York, and on America, is longstanding–Dutch values of tolerance and freedom of religion are things Americans hold dear (in 1597 The Netherlands established “no one shall be persecuted or […]

When Edison Lit Up Manhattan

On September 4, 1882, the electrical age began. That day, Thomas Edison’s Edison Illuminating Company flipped the switch on his power station on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan, providing electricity to homes at a price comparable to gas. By the end of the month, they had 59 customers. By the next year, they had 513. […]