Behind The Scenes

Category Archives: Ephemera

Revolutionary Indecision: Brooklyn during the American Revolution

Did you know that some Brooklynites fought for both sides during the American Revolution? When revolutionary rhetoric adopted an anti-slavery tone, Kings County residents renounced the “Glorious Cause” and sided the British in hopes of preserving their forced labor system. This week New-York Historical’s Bernard and Irene Schwartz Fellow Chris Minty is our guest blogger. In his […]


Unpublished Jupiter Hammon Poem Discovered at N-YHS

April is National Poetry Month, so what better time to share our exciting news! Independent Scholar Claire Bellerjeau made a miraculous discovery in the New-York Historical Society’s collections; she uncovered an unpublished poem likely written by Jupiter Hammon, the first published African American author in America. Hammon, who lived his entire life as an enslaved […]

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 […]

Henry Hudson: Voyager, Explorer, Lost At Sea

On September 3, 1609, Henry Hudson sailed into the river that now bears his name. He had departed Amsterdam on April 4 on his ship the Halve Maen (Half Moon), on a mission from the Dutch East India Company to find a passage to Asia through the Arctic Ocean. However, due to some slightly fortuitous […]

Why We Love The Chelsea Hotel

The Chelsea Hotel, in its majestic Victorian Gothic building at 222 West 23rd Street, has been a staple in many New Yorkers lives. When I was a kid, I’d look at guitars with my dad at Chelsea Guitars right underneath the hotel, and peek in the lobby. Built in 1885, the hotel (first build at […]

Monopoly: Causing Family Fights Since 1935

In February 1935, Parker Brothers began selling their classic board game Monopoly, a game of money and real estate that has become an American favorite. It has also caused numerous screaming matches in my household. How many of your readers have flipped a table when your friend has blocked you from being able to build […]

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Who’s ready for the St. Patrick’s Day parade?  New York City has longstanding Irish heritage, with the first known reference to any celebration of St. Patrick’s Day found in a 1756 issue of the New-York Post-Boy. The first reference to a parade was in a March 1766 New York Gazette. Then, homesick Irishmen serving in the British […]

A Look At Some Of Our Favorite Vintage Food Toys

Every kid remembers that magic moment of getting to the bottom of your cereal or Cracker Jack box and finding a prize. It could have been a plastic ring, or a puzzle, or a toy of a cartoon character. It was the best part of the morning. So here are a few of our favorite […]

A Tomahawk With A Past

Many objects in the Luce Center, where nearly 40,000 objects from the New-York Historical Society’s permanent collection are displayed, are beautiful to look at. But they are also intriguing portals into the past, making us wonder “Why these objects? What makes them so important?” The answer lies in not what they are, but the story […]