Draft Riot sketches from sketchbook, ca. 1863.
This collection of thirteen sketches (graphite, and black ink and wash on paper) has been digitized from a small sketchbook (approximately 4 3/4 x 7 1/4 inches) from the New-York Historical Society's Museum Department. Most of these Civil War-era sketches were done by a person identified only as "J.H.W." with other sketches inscribed "Bart del." Presumably, the artists were amateurs, and the sketches can be seen as representative of the popular nineteenth-century pastime of recording one's surroundings through drawing. Although there are other subjects, including New York City street scenes and depictions of various types of people, only those sketches depicting New York during the Civil War at the time of the Draft Riots are included in the digital Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society collection.
The Draft Riots of 1863 began when angry laborers took to the street, destroying African American neighborhoods, recruiting offices, and churches, and killing 105 people. They were frustrated by the draft, and especially over the regulation stating that people could buy their way out of the draft for three hundred dollars, money that scarcely anyone had. The entire sketchbook was donated by N-YHS trustee George A. Zabriskie in 1943. The volume itself may be dated approximately to between 1858 and 1869, since the sketchbook was purchased from a business which is listed in New York city directories for that period. It was filled with drawings from the 1860s until approximately the 1880s.