Welcome to New York Historical Society | Digital Collections

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Museum & Library Highlights

Manuscript copy, probably contemporary, of John Winthrop's sermon 'A Modell of Christian Charity,' 1630. Gift of Francis B. Winthrop, 1809., John Winthrop (12 January 1587/8 26 March 1649) led a large group of emigrants from England across the Atlantic in 1630, and served as the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Drawn from several manuscript collections at the New-York Historical Society, Abraham Lincoln drafted, signed, endorsed, or received the 192 documents presented in this digital collection during his presidency. They range from correspondence with his Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, to proclamations and other official documents signed by Lincoln, to letters, telegrams, and petitions received by him from government officials, military leaders, and ordinary citizens. These documents reveal Lincoln's eloquence and his deep engagement in the affairs of state as he writes, comments, signs off, and makes decisions on numerous issues relating to war, politics, and government. Together they provide unique insights into the arduous role of the presidency as Lincoln guided the nation through its most difficult time.

A record book, dated 1791-1798 and 1800-1806, kept by Abraham Varick of New York City. The book contains copies of letters to merchants in England and Germany and lists of merchandise ordered from them. The letters discuss business matters, including the difficulties of transatlantic trade in wartime and the risk of seizures of ships. Commodities ordered are mainly textiles and metal goods (scissors, cutlery, hand tools, etc.)., Abraham Varick was a New York City dry goods merchant, and brother of jurist and politician Richard Varick.

Photographs by Worsinger Photo (or Worsinger Window Service), Nick Malan Studio and Freedman Photo of window and store displays at Oppenheim Collins, Bonwit Teller, and De Pinna; includes World War II images with the motto 'Bomb Tokyo'; primarily advertising clothing, also included are advertisements for cosmetics.

Correspondence, drafts of essays and speeches, drawings, and autobiographical writings of Alexander Jackson Davis, a successful New York City architect. Includes letters to Davis and miscellaneous papers, 1835-1859, chiefly about building residences. The correspondents include Francis H. Smith of the Virginia Military Institute, Joel Rathbone, W.J. Rotch, and H.K. Harral. The collection also includes numerous examples of autobiographical writing, and notes and essays on the philosophy of architecture, all in draft form, many scribbled in pencil on the backs of advertisements or old letters.

Notebook, 1772-1774, of Alexander Watson, a landowner and resident of New York City who was nephew and heir of John Watson (1685-1768). Contains receipts, lists of deeds and properties, and a note of a lease assigned to him in New York to build a church; notes on taxes; excerpts from "A new system of agriculture, by a Country Gentleman," with references to other writers on agriculture; prayers; versified psalms; music for the "Old Hundredth" and "God Save the King"; secular poems and songs; moral, religious and economic reflections; and genealogical notes.

The New-York Historical Society's manuscript collections contain over two million items of archival materials, including family papers and organizational and business records. This website presents a selection of collections that document the lives of important New Yorkers and Americans as well as average citizens.

Asher B. Durand (1796–1886), a central artist of the Hudson River School, spent nearly twenty-four years as a successful commercial engraver. His talent as an engraver was based on his drawing skills, explaining his insistence on the importance of outline, the precise renderings in his sketchbooks and drawings, and his devotion to sketching with graphite outdoors. The artist’s empiricism and dedication to Nature is evident in ten sketchbooks (two fragmentary from sketchbooks now disassembled) held by the Historical Society. Although Durand's drawings, including those in the sketchbooks, were primarily for personal study, they played a central role in his aesthetic process.

Luis de Carvajal the Younger (1567?-December 8, 1596) was the nephew of Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueva, the governor of León, Mexico. The Carvajals are the best known conversos (‘New Christians’) in colonial Mexico, largely owing to Luis the Younger’s testimony at his trial before the Inquisition in 1595. He denounced more than 120 individuals as crypto-Jews—people who secretely practiced their old faith while publicly purporting to follow another faith—including members of his own family. He and many of his family were burned at the stake in 1596. These three documents bound together in one volume are believed to be the only extant writings by a Jew in Mexico during the Spanish colonial period. They include Carvajal’s autobiography (written under the pseudonym Joseph Lumbroso), Maimonides’s 13 principles of the faith, the Ten commandments, and a prayer manual drawn from the Old Testament. The volume is owned by the Archivo General de la Nación (Mexico).

Autograph letters from members of the Bartram family. Two letters, both by John Bartram (1699-1777), are of particular interest: the first to Cadwallader Colden, describing his recent expedition up the Susquehanna River; the second to William Bartram, which begins "Dear Billy, I have now a most grievous cough that teaseth me night and day yet I have sent thee six likely young negroes among which is [sic] two young breeding wenches..." John Bartram was a prominent botanist who established a successful garden in Kingsessing, Pa. and led numerous expeditions throughout the Eastern United States.