Kathleen Hulser: History in 100 Objects

1853 Singer Sewing Machine

Material culture stormed the British airwaves several seasons back when the BBC broadcast &#8220A History of the World in 100 Objects.&#8221 Accompanied by a popular website which actually allows listeners to see images of the objects selected from the world class collections of the British Museum, the series fed an untapped appetite for history in small bites. Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum observed &#8220Telling history through things is what museums are for.&#8221 Read more

Silver Stories at the New-York Historical Society

The pharaohs commissioned their pyramids, the wealthy and powerful today emblazon their names on buildings, philanthropies and great estates. But in earlier times in America, a convenient way to stamp your ambitions and achievements in the permanent record was to call on the silversmith.

The silver collection at the New-York Historical Society has taste, ornament, style, luxury, sparkle – and permanence. But it also has some quirky and memorable tales associated with its dazzling objects. The exhibition Stories in Sterling showcases some outstanding pieces, with richly detailed annotations in the accompanying catalog by curators Margaret K. Hofer and Debra Schmidt Bach. Read more

N-Y Historical Society Planning WWII & NYC Exhibit

The most widespread, destructive, and consequential conflict in history will be the subject of WWII & NYC, a major new exhibition planned for the New-York Historical Society from October 5, 2012 through May 27, 2013. The exhibit is expected to feature New York City’s multifaceted role in the war, and commemorate the 800,000 New Yorkers who served in combat while also exploring the many ways in which those who remained on the home front contributed to the war effort.

WWII & NYC will examine a metropolis massively mobilized for war, requiring unprecedented cooperation among government, business leaders, and average working citizens and affecting vast areas of the urban landscape.

A sprawling exhibition, installed throughout all floors of New-York Historical, is expected to include feature more than 300 objects, including artifacts, paintings, maps, models, photographs, posters, and other graphic materials, film footage, music, radio broadcasts, and newly recorded eyewitness accounts. Through these materials, themes ranging from the mobilization of workers to the struggles over civil rights, from the frenzy of rapid shipbuilding to the celebration of V-J Day in Times Square will be explored.

“If the American men and women who fought and won World War II can be described as the Greatest Generation, then New York’s unsurpassed contributions to the war effort can be said to have earned it the title ‘Greatest City,’” stated Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of New-York Historical. “What award-winning WWII & NYC curator Marci Reaven will show in this fascinating, and often astonishing exhibition, is how central the city was to a war whose battles were fought thousands of miles away—a story little known by most people today.”

The exhibition team for WWII & NYC also includes Kenneth T. Jackson, former president of the New-York Historical Society, who is chief historian for the project. The exhibition will draw upon New-York Historical’s extensive collections and on important loans from the U.S. Navy, Smithsonian Institution, the Mariners’ Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other institutions.

Plan of the Exhibition

WWII & NYC begins in the years before Pearl Harbor, when New York had already become the most important industrial metropolis on earth, the busiest port anywhere, the center of the world’s financial markets and the largest, richest city on the planet. As a result, New York was also at the center of both isolationist and interventionist sentiment as Americans debated whether to enter the war.

Among the materials in the exhibition bringing these debates to life are a 1941 “Wanted” poster produced by Fight for Freedom, Inc., an interventionist group, depicting Adolf Hitler as a criminal, and an October 1941 editorial cartoon in the leftist New York newspaper PM by Theodore Seuss Geisel—better known as Dr. Seuss—criticizing the isolationists.

Following the passage of the Lend-Lease bill in 1941, which enabled the United States to supply the Allies, New York became one of the chief ports for war materiel shipments to Europe. A photograph from September 9, 1941 shows more than 100 British, Dutch, and Norwegian merchant ships passing through the Narrows to start their voyages across the Atlantic.

When the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor at last propelled the U.S. into the war, New York City’s maritime, industrial and transportation infrastructures would be entirely mobilized. The urban landscape took on a martial air, as defenses in the harbor were strengthened, old forts were updated and docks became high security zones. A painting by Thomas Hart Benton, Embarkation—Prelude to Death (Year of Peril, 1941-1942), was based on sketches the artist made in Brooklyn in August 1942, as the first American troops prepared to depart for Africa.

The presence of troops, refugees, and the wartime industries gave New York’s creative and commercial bustle a military tone. A photograph of Pennsylvania Station in August 1942 shows the concourse crowded with soldiers arriving from points across the United States, on their way to embark for North Africa and Europe. Also on view is Irving Boyer’s painting Prospect Park (ca. 1942-1944), which captures the raucous, sensual mood of the wartime city through a scene of soldiers and sailors enjoying a night on the town, which the artist glimpsed from a subway train at the Prospect Park BMT station.

The publishing and advertising industries instilled a sense of national purpose among Americans during wartime, convincing them to stay the course. Target No. 1 New York City, a 1942 poster designed by the influential graphic artist E. McKnight Kauffer, evokes the atmosphere of fear and urgency in the city after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Macy’s suspended its Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1942, consigning the balloon materials to a salvage yard to be used in the war effort, and a Macy’s advertising poster expresses confidence that the balloons will return in the future. A 1943 advertisement for Maidenform bras, created in reaction to threatened government restrictions on fabric and metal supplies, emphasizes that women workers are essential to the war effort and that brassieres are “a vital necessity to women at work.”

As husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers left their homes to serve, their wives, mothers and sisters mobilized for the war effort on the home front. Among other materials illustrating this theme, the exhibition will include recruiting posters, a dress uniform and photographs of the Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES), established in June 1942 as the female branch of the U.S. Naval Reserve, its members serving on shore duty to free men for duty at sea. The WAVES’s training headquarters was at Hunter College in the Bronx (now Lehman College), where more than 90,000 WAVES were trained from 1943 to 1945.

Jobs stemming from the wartime economy helped many New Yorkers escape from poverty, offered new opportunities for minority groups, and inspired movements for fair employment and civil rights. An exhibition highlight is Jacob Lawrence’s painting No. 2, Main Control Panel, Nerve Center of a Ship (1944), one of a series of paintings inspired by his service on the USS Sea Cloud as part of the first racially integrated Coast Guard unit in the U.S. armed forces. The exhibition also will feature a dozen profiles of individuals from various backgrounds in the Armed Forces, representing the nearly 800,000 New Yorkers who served in World War II.

Public Programs and Publications

In conjunction with WWII & NYC, New-York Historical will present a range of evening lectures and conversations that illustrate the dramatic effect of the war on all facets of American life. Among the speakers who will be participating in the series are Madeleine Albright, on her new memoir of growing up in Europe during WWII- Ken Follett, on his new historical fiction novel about the experiences of five families during the war- and Robert Morgenthau, in conversation with Tom Brokaw, on his WWII experience.

In addition, the lectures and conversations series will be supplemented by musical performances and New-York Historical’s inaugural film series. Among the special guests who will deliver opening remarks before the film screenings are Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker- Ron Simon, Curator of Television and Radio at the Paley Center for Media- and Catherine Wyler, Producer of the film Memphis Belle.

An 80-page essay with the
same title as the exhibition, will be written by Kenneth T. Jackson and published by Scala Publishers Ltd (October, 2012).

Photo: Massed infantry units march up Fifth Avenue in June 1942.

Historic New York Beer Tastings Set in NYC

To celebrate its summer exhibition Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History, the New-York Historical Society will host a series of beer tastings that showcase the thriving brewing culture in New York City and State.

Beer Here will examine the social, economic, political, and technological history of the production and consumption of beer, ale, and porter in the city from the seventeenth century to the present day. The beer tasting program, run by Starr Restaurants catering group, will take place in the exhibition’s beer hall on most Saturday afternoons from May 26 through August 25, 2012.

The half-hour beer tastings, which will occur at 2 pm and 4 pm, will offer visitors the chance to hear directly from brewers and brewery founders about the history and process of making beer. In addition to tasting local artisanal creations, visitors also will experience first-hand the hops, whole leaf flowers and other ingredients used to make beer. Tickets for the tastings are $35 (Members $20) and may be purchased online. A six pack special discount (purchase by telephone or in person only) is offered to visitors who purchase tickets to six separate tastings for only $150 (Members $100). A complete tasting event schedule follows below.

In addition to the beer tastings, New-York Historical also will host Beer Appreciation Night on Tuesday, July 10 at 6:30 pm, featuring Beer Here curators Debra Schmidt Bach and Nina Nazionale- Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery- Steve Hindy, co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery- and Gabrielle Langholtz, editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. A special tasting of Brooklyn Brewery beers will follow the program. Combined tickets for the program and beer tasting are $49 (Members $37), and program-only tickets are $24 (Members $12).

Beer Tastings Schedule & Participating Breweries

The Matt Brewing Company
Saturday, May 26, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm, Saturday, August 4, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm

The Matt Brewing Company has prospered at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in Central New York for over a century. Under the leadership of the third and fourth generations of the Matt Family, the Brewery has earned the reputation as one of the most respected specialty brewers in the country and continues its family tradition with the celebrated Saranac family of beers. The tasting will feature Saranac White IPA, bursting with Citra hops, and the refreshing fruitiness of orange peel & coriander and the softening characters of wheat malt and oats, and other special selected beer.

Kelso Beer Co.
Saturday, June 2, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm

Kelso Beer Co. was founded by Kelly Taylor, also a brewmaster at Heartland Brewery, and wife, Sonya Giacobbe, in 2006 to create fresh, flavorful, low-alcohol session beer. The tasting will feature Saison, a Belgian style ale- Recessionator, a big bold doppleback- India Pale Ale, a punchy, bright and unique beer- and Pilsner, a classic European pils, with a floral nose, slightly sweet with a dry finish.

Keegan Ales
Saturday, June 9, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm, Saturday, August 18, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm

Keegan Ales was founded in early 2003 when Tommy Keegan learned about an empty building in Kingston that nobody would buy because there was a defunct brewery stuck in it! The Keegan Ales tasting will feature Mother’s Milk, a dark and creamy milk stout with hints of oatmeal, chocolate and milk- Hurricane Kitty, a coppery and heavily hopped India Pale Ale- and Barley Wine.

Bronx Brewery
Saturday, June 16, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm, Saturday, August 11, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm

Bronx Brewery is a craft brewer and distributor based in the South Bronx. It was launched in 2011 by a small team with two things in common: a maniacal focus on creating high-quality beer and a passion for the Bronx. Bronx Brewery will serve its Bronx Pale Ale, a deep amber, American-style pale ale. A second, yet-to-be released, spring beer may be available as well.

Harlem Brewery
Saturday, June 23, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm

The Harlem Brewing Company story starts about 86 years ago. Legend has it that during Prohibition a special beer was being made and this secret brew could be found in Speakeasies and after-hours spots all over Harlem. This tasting will feature Sugar Hill Golden Ale, a medium bodied golden ale known for its drinkability, with a subtle citrus accent and a finish of hops and malt flavor.

Blue Point Brewing Company
Saturday, June 30, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm

Blue Point Brewing Company is Long Island’s only microbrewery. It was founded in 1998 by two long-time friends, Mark Burford and Pete Cotter. The brewery’s unique direct-fire brew kettle imparts a lightly toasted, complex taste to produce a line of ultra-premium microbrews.

Captain Lawrence Brewing Company
Saturday, July 7, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm

Captain Lawrence Brewing Company was started by Scott Vacarro, an avid brewer from the young age of 17. The brewery opened in 2006, and is named after Captain Lawrence Drive, the street where Vacarro grew up. After much success, Vacarro recently expanded the brewery into a new location in Elmsford, NY with more brewing capacity and a large tasting room. The tasting will feature: Captain Kolisch, Liquid Gold, and Pale Ale.

Genesee Brewing Company
Saturday, July 14, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm

Genesee Brewing Company, based in Rochester, New York, is one of the largest and oldest continually operating breweries in the United States. The Brewery makes the Genesee line of beers, including the original Genesee Cream Ale, Dundee Pilsner, the award winning Dundee Pale Bock, Dundee Stout, and Dundee India Pale Ale.

Heartland Brewery
Saturday, July 21, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm

Heartland Brewery opened as New York’s first American style brewpub on Union Square in 1995 and has been igniting New Yorkers’ passion for craft beers ever since. Heartland has consistently brewed New York’s freshest craft beers, including Heartland’s classic six as well as a wide range of unique seasonal brews.

Ithaca Beer Company
Saturday, July 28, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm

In December 1998, Dan Mitchell, founder of Ithaca Beer Company, created the first local brewery in Ithaca that exemplifies “The Spirit of the Finger Lakes.” Ithaca Beer Company was recently awarded two medals at the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado in 2008. The tasting will feature Nut Brown, with subtle hints of both chocolate and coffee- CascaZilla, a red ale- and Apricot Wheat Ale, an easy-drinking wheat beer.

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company
Saturday, August 25, 2012: 2 pm & 4 pm

Founders John Liegy and Rich Vandenburgh met in college and dreamed of opening a microbrewery. That dream became a reality when in in July of 2009, the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company was founded. Today, Greenport’s beer is served in over 200 places on Long Island and NYC.

Lecture: Secret Journeys from Black to White

In America, race is a riddle. With the widespread availability of DNA testing and the boom in genealogical research, it has become even harder to view race neatly in black or white. Daniel J. Sharfstein, in conversation with Brent Staples, unravels the stories of three families who represent the complexity of race in America and force us to rethink our basic assumptions about who we are at an event on Thursday, April 12, 6:30 PM [note, new date] at The Robert H. Smith Auditorium at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, NYC.

&#8220The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White&#8221 is part of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Distinguished Speakers Series. Daniel J. Sharfstein is an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt University and the author of a book by the same name. Brent Staples (moderator) has been a member of the editorial board of The New York Times since 1990 and is the author of Parallel Time, which won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.

The cost of the lecture is $24.00 (members $12). To purchase tickets to public programs by phone, call the New-York Historical Society’s new in-house call center at (212) 485-9268. Call center is open 9 am–5 pm daily. Advance tickets may also be purchased on site at the New-York Historical Society admissions desk. Advance purchase is required to guarantee seating.

New-York Historical Announces Fellowships

The New-York Historical Society has announced five fellowship recipients for the 2012-2013 academic year. New-York Historical offers fellowships to scholars dedicated to understanding and promoting American history. Basing their work on New-York Historical’s museum and library collections of more than 350,000 books, three million manuscripts, and collections of maps, photographs, prints, art objects and ephemera documenting the history of America from the perspective of New York, these scholars extend and enrich their previous work to develop new publications that illuminate complex issues of the past.

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow

Kevin Butterfield, currently Assistant Professor of Classics and Letters at the University of Oklahoma, is the 2012-2013 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. Butterfield received a Ph.D. in History in 2010 from Washington University in St. Louis. He is an active member of his profession who has published articles and reviews in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, and Common-Place, as well as the New York Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He has been a Gilder Lehrman Fellow at the New-York Historical Society (2006) and has won numerous fellowships and awards. His research project, an expansion of his dissertation, is entitled “Membership in America: Law and Voluntary Association in the Early Republic.”

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowships

Andrew C. Lipman, Assistant Professor of History, Syracuse University, received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, in 2010. Lipman, who will develop his dissertation, “The Saltwater Frontier: Indians and the Colonization of Long Island Sound,” while in residence, has also published in the journals William and Mary Quarterly and Early American Studies. An experienced tour guide in Philadelphia, he has also reviewed books for scholarly journals and taken part in professional activities in his field.

Robin Cheyne Vandome is currently a Lecturer in American Intellectual and Cultural History in the Department of American and Canadian Studies, the University of Nottingham, U.K. He received a Ph.D. in the Faculty of History, Cambridge University in 2005 and has been a doctoral exchange student the Boston University. His 2012-2013 project at the New-York Historical Society will be the conversion of his dissertation into a book manuscript, provisionally entitled The Romance of Knowledge: American Endeavors in the Natural and Human Sciences, 1850-1900. An intellectual history of the development of attitudes toward science in the late nineteenth century, the work will draw on the resources of the New-York Historical Society’s Patricia D. Klingenstein Library in a variety of fields.

Bernard & Irene Schwartz Fellowships

Dael A. Norwood, Ph.D. Candidate in History, Princeton University, expects his degree in the spring of 2012. His dissertation, “Trading in Liberty: The Politics of the American China Trade, c. 1784-1862” investigates the relationship between trade with China and its impact on the politics of slavery, states’ rights, commerce and global relations. His work at the New-York Historical Society will draw heavily on the resources of the Naval History Society collection and the papers of Gustavus Fox, as well as family papers, logbooks, correspondence, and printed materials from the early nineteenth-century. Mr. Norwood has made many scholarly presentations and comes with strong recommendations from his dissertation advisers.

Catherine McNeur expects to receive her Ph.D. from Yale University in the summer of 2012. Her background in urban design and architecture studies, the subject of her undergraduate major at New York University has contributed to her current work, “The ‘Swinish Multitude’ and Fashionable Promenades: Battles over Public Space in New York City, 1815-1865.” By exploring how the struggle to define public spaces in the city during a period of rapid expansion affected the lives and livelihoods of New Yorkers, McNeur hopes to demonstrate how the decisions made during these years had an impact on subsequent urban planning and city life. Her work will draw on the resources of the Children’s Aid Society, the papers of John Randel, Jr., and documents relating to the development of the Croton Aqueduct and Central Park as well as related materials. McNeur has published in the Journal of Urban History, Louisiana History, and Common-place and has acted as a teaching fellow at Yale.

Fellowship positions at the New-York Historical Society are made possible by the generous support of Bernard & Irene Schwartz, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. All fellows receive research stipends while in residency- Bernard & Irene Schwartz Fellows each teach two courses at The New School during their year as resident scholars.

John Lewis Gaddis Wins American History Book Prize

The New-York Historical Society has announced that historian John Lewis Gaddis, recipient of the National Humanities Medal in 2005, will receive New-York Historical’s seventh annual American History Book Prize for George F. Kennan: An American Life (Penguin Press, 2011). He will be presented with a $50,000 cash award, an engraved medal and the title of American Historian Laureate on April 13, 2012, during the Weekend with History event of the New-York Historical’s Chairman’s Council.

Roger Hertog, Chairman of the New-York Historical Society’s Board of Trustees, stated: “A master historian vividly tells the story of the grand strategist who shaped foreign policy over the last sixty years.”

George F. Kennan was an eminent diplomat whose writings were key to establishing the containment strategy that defined U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union for forty years. In writing this biography, John Lewis Gaddis drew from exclusive access to Kennan’s archives and extensive interviews with Kennan himself over thirty years.

Considered one of the most important biographies of the year by a Prize Committee comprised of historians and New-York Historical leadership, George F. Kennan: An American Life was selected from a field of 120 submissions. The American History Book Prize was previously awarded to Doris Kearns Goodwin for Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln- David Nasaw for Andrew Carnegie- Daniel Walker Howe for What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848- Drew Gilpin Faust for This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War- Gordon S. Wood for Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815- and Ron Chernow for George Washington: A Life.

John Lewis Gaddis is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of History and Director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy at Yale University, where he teaches courses on Cold War history, grand strategy, biography, and historical methods. Educated at the University of Texas in Austin, he has also taught at Ohio University, the United States Naval War College, the University of Helsinki, Princeton University, and Oxford University. His most recent books include The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past (2002)- Surprise, Security, and the American Experience (2004)- The Cold War: A New History (2005)- and a new edition of Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy (2005).

“No organization has been more successful than the New-York Historical Society in finding new ways to encourage the study of American history. I am honored, therefore, to have received its 2012 American History Book Prize, and to find myself in the company of so distinguished a group of previous winners. George F. Kennan was himself a prize-winning historian, and I know he would have been pleased.”

Pam Schafler, Vice Chair of the New-York Historical board and Chair of the Chairman’s Council, noted: “John Lewis Gaddis is a deeply respected teacher who has inspired countless students of history through his books about the Cold War and International Relations. Members of the Chairman’s Council will comprise the fortunate audience when Professor Gaddis makes remarks upon receiving this year’s New-York Historical Society American History Book Prize.”

Now in its seventh year, the Weekend with History is organized by the Chairman’s Council of New-York Historical and features two days of informal conversations and presentations by leading scholars and cultural figures.

The Chairman’s Council is comprised of New-York Historical’s most committed supporters. Individuals may be invited to join the Council by New-York Historical Trustees and senior staff and by existing members of the Council. Annual dues are $5,000 (Member), $10,000 (Vice Chair), and $25,000 (Co-Chair). For more information on Weekend with History or the Chairman’s Council, please contact Alyssa Venere at (212) 485-9221 or alyssa.venere @nyhistory.org.

Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14, 2012

Columnist, Bloomberg View

President, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Columnist, New York Times

Robert A. Lovett Professor of History, Yale University

Associate Professor of History, Yale University

J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History, Yale University

Editor, the Weekly Standard

Author and human rights activist

Dennis Weatherstone Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government, Harvard University

Professor of History at the University of California at Davis

Senior Editor, the New Yorker


Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University

Photo: Former U.S. President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush stand with 2005 National Humanities Medal recipient John Lewis Gaddis on November 10, 2005 in the Oval Office at the White House. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Camilo Jose Vergara Exhibit Features Harlem

Photographs by MacArthur Foundation &#8220genius award&#8221 winner Camilo Jose Vergara, will be on display at the New-York Historical Society in two rotations — Harlem: The People on view through June 10 and Harlem: The Place, from June 13 through September 16. The photographs in both exhibitions, part of the original 2009 exhibition Harlem 1970-2009, explore the effervescent neighborhood of Harlem by showing the transformation of the area over the past 40 years.

The images in Harlem: The People and Harlem: The Place show streetscapes that the photographer visited repeatedly over the course of thirty-eight years, so he could create a composite, time-lapse portrait of a vibrant, world-famous neighborhood seen as a place of ongoing transformation. The series has become a living historical record of Harlem. Vergara has been photographing this vital neighborhood of New York City since 1970, and in doing so he demonstrates, with powerful “before” and “after” images, how one of New York City’s most important neighborhoods has been redefined. As such, Vergara also captures the social and cultural changes in Harlem as he returns to photograph the same street corners and storefronts year after year. He continues to photograph these locations today and writes about his process:

&#8220For a long time I have thought of myself as more a city builder than as a photographer. I think of my images as bricks which when placed next to each other give shape and meaning to a place. I see the images of neighborhoods arranged according to time and location, each one … linking the hundreds of stories that are a place’s history. This is how photographs tell how Harlem evolved and what it gained and lost in the process.&#8221

Selected from the artist’s archive on the Invincible Cities website, the exhibition includes a sequence of photographs showing the evolution of Harlem, its buildings and its people—from the murals that used to condemn racism to advertisements for sports cars, liquor and young rappers- from shops owned by Koreans and West Indians to corporate franchises- from an incubator for struggling churches to famous landmarked churches that attract busloads of visitors from around the world.

All of these historically compelling photographs were donated to the New-York Historical Society by Camilo Jose Vergara in 2009.

N-Y Historical Black History Month Offerings

The New-York Historical Society has a number of exhibits and programs planned for Black History Month. All exhibitions are presented at the New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West, New York, N.Y., unless otherwise noted. Phone (212) 873-3400 or visit www.nyhistory.org for more information.

February 1 through April 1, 2012

The New-York Historical Society displays a rare handwritten copy of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution&#8211the measure that abolished slavery—signed by President Lincoln himself. The document, which was recently acquired by David Rubenstein, managing director of The Carlyle Group, will be on loan to the New-York Historical Society until April 1, in the new Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History.

Until April 29, 2012

This installation of large-scale images by the celebrated photographer Platon, gives the historic struggle of the 1950s and 1960s a stirring contemporary presence. Julian Bond—statesman, professor, writer and a leader in the Civil Rights movement—has written a personal introduction to the exhibition. Among the subjects of the photographs are the Little Rock Nine, whose attempt to enter Little Rock Central High School in 1957 became a national cause celebre- Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain, participants in the 1960 Greensboro lunch-counter sit-in- Southern Christian Leadership Conference members Joseph Lowery, Fred Shuttlesworth, C.T. Vivian and Andrew Young- Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee leaders James Lawson, Robert Moses and Diane Nash- Chris and Maxine McNair, parents of Denise McNair, murdered in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church- Black Panthers Kathleen Cleaver, Emory Douglas and Bobby Rush- Muhammad Ali- Harry Belafonte- Congressman John Lewis- and Jesse Jackson, Sr.

Until April 15, 2012

The path-breaking exhibition Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn, is the first exhibition to relate the American, French and Haitian struggles as a single global narrative. Spanning decades of enormous political and cultural changes, from the triumph of British imperial power in 1763 to the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815, Revolution! traces how an ideal of popular sovereignty, introduced through the American fight for independence, soon sparked more radical calls for a recognition of universal human rights, and set off attacks on both sides of the Atlantic against hereditary privilege and slavery. Texts and audio guides are in English, French and Haitian Kreyol. Highlights on view: the original Stamp Act as it was passed by Parliament in 1765, setting off the riots that led to the American Revolution, on loan from the Parliamentary Archives, London, displayed for the first time outside the U.K. the only known surviving copy of the first printing of the Haitian Declaration of Independence (1804, National Archives, London), recently discovered and exhibited here to the public for the first time.

Napoleon’s authorization to French negotiators to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States (1803, New-York Historical Society), as a direct consequence of the Haitian rebellion

Thursday, February 16, 6:30 PM
David Levering Lewis, Khalil Gibran Muhammad (moderator)
Location: Robert H. Smith Auditorium at New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West

In this powerful program, two experts reflect on the successes and setbacks in the struggle for civil rights and the changing ways in which the story of the Civil Rights Movement is told, from early writers and activists like W.E.B. DuBois, to the turbulent years of the 1950s and ’60s, to the present. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Freedom Now: Photographs by Platon. A collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

President’s Day, Monday February 20, 2012, 1 pm

Award winning artist and author, Maira Kalman, reads from the historical gem Looking at Lincoln. From his boyhood in a log cabin to his famous presidency and untimely death, Kalman shares Lincoln’s remarkable life with young readers. Her charming text and bold artwork make history come alive in a fresh and exciting way.

February 20 &#8211 24, 2012

Show off your presidential history skills at our daily family quiz show- drop in for some art making, or join our presidential history scavenger hunt. Best for ages 4 – 14. No preregistration required. Free with museum admission.

Family Presidential History Quiz, 2 pm

Where did George Washington take his first oath of office? Team up, sharpen your pencils, and enter our family quiz! Prizes for participation and grand prizes for high-scorers.

Presidential Art making, 1 – 4 pm
Make and decorate your own election button or poster.

Join the Hunt! Presidential Scavenger Hunt, 11 am – 4 pm

We don’t know if George Washington had a cat, but we do know he had a cot and we’ve got it! Find amazing memorabilia when we let you loose in the museum looking for everything presidents! Prizes for participation, and everyone can enter our Liberty the Dog raffle!


Sunday, February 5 and February 19, 2012 11 am – 5 pm

As one of the earliest regiments in America to actively enlist African Americans, the 1st Rhode Island Regiment was assembled into service in late 1776 and early 1777. The Regiment fought in the battle of Newport in 1778, spent the infamous winter at Valley Forge, and participated in the Yorktown campaign without receiving any post-war compensation for their efforts. Since 2002, the 1st Rhode Island re-enactors have portrayed the regiment by recreating battles and encampments and presenting programs to audiences in an attempt to educate them about the role of African-Americans in the war effort.

Photo: Platon for The New Yorker, Emmett Tills’ cousins: the Reverend Wheeler Parker, Jr. and Simeon Wright, November 2009. Light jet print. Courtesy of the artist.

New Crossing the Delaware on Display Amid Debate

The New-York Historical Society is displaying Mort Kunstler’s &#8220Washington’s Crossing at McKonkey’s Ferry&#8221 until January 17, 2012. Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting &#8220Washington Crossing the Delaware&#8221 commemorates General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River on December 25 in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War. His original painting is part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mort Kunstler, a New York artist known for his historical paintings, has created what he considers a more historically accurate version of Washington crossing the Delaware River. The painting was unveiled at the New-York Historical Society on Monday, December 26, the date in 1776 that Washington led his troops into battle in Trenton after crossing the Delaware.

David Hackett Fischer, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Washington’s Crossing, and featured speaker at the unveiling, says Kunstler’s version is &#8220quite accurate&#8221 and &#8220got more right than any other image.&#8221

The original painting shows the Betsy Ross flag flying, however that flag was not adopted until 1777- Mr. Kunstler’s version has no flag. The original painting depicts the action taking place in the middle of the day, though the actual crossing took place during a stormy night. Based on historical research, the new painting shows Washington and company in a flat-bottomed ferry boat rather than on a row boat.

On that last detail however, there has been some debate. Rick Spilman, writing in the Old Salt Blog, noted:

&#8220The problem is that most historians think that the American crossing of the Delaware used Durham boats, large flat-bottomed boats which hauled cargo such as ore, pig-iron, timber, and produce from upcountry mines, forests and farms down the Delaware River to Philadelphia’s thriving markets and port. Robert Durham, an engineer at the Durham Iron Works in Reiglesville, Pennsylvania, reputedly designed a prototype for these large cargo boats as early as 1757. Washington wrote to Governor Livingston of New Jersey, directing him to secure “Boats and Craft, all along the Delaware side…particularly the Durham Boats” for his anticipated crossing.&#8221

In any event, you’ll have just one day to compare the two paintings first hand. The newly restored Luetze painting will be unveiled in a new frame in the New American Wing Galleries for Paintings, Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum on January 16, the day before the new Kunstler painting comes down at the New-York Historical Society.

Illustrations: Above, Mort Kunstler’s &#8220Washington’s Crossing at McKonkey’s Ferry&#8221- below, Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 &#8220Washington Crossing the Delaware&#8221.