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    Helen Levitt (American, 1913–2009), Untitled, ca.1940, gelatin silver print The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. © Estate of Helen Levitt

    Helen Levitt was one of this century’s great photographers. Were I to say this about her great friend Walker Evans, it would seem like a tautology, rather like saying that Shakespeare was an important writer. Readers can judge for themselves why this should be the case, why one should need to say this about Helen.

    In 2000 I was asked to write an introduction to Helen's book, Crosstown. It was among the best jobs—possibly the very best job—I’ve ever had. We were introduced by our mutual friend, the gifted photographer Judy Linn. Also Helen was an avid and serious reader, and another dear mutual friend, Richard Deveraux, who has worked for many years at the Strand bookstore, used to bring her my books. I was enormously flattered that she liked my work.

    Every Sunday for several months I would climb the steps to the top-floor apartment on 12th Street where she lived with her cat, and we would look at her photos, going through her work in chronological order. No adjective is strong enough to convey the excitement of studying those images while Helen recalled the circumstances in which they were taken, and talked about photography in general. Year later I wrote a novel that included, among its characters, a photographer loosely based on Brassai. But much of what he says in my book were things I’d heard from Helen, statements that I could still hear, uttered with Helen’s utterly individual mixture of toughness, certitude, curiosity, and glee. “You have to do your legwork” was her typically terse and telling verdict on what it takes to be a street photographer.

    The images in the library’s exhibition Public Eye are characteristic of what was so marvelous about her work. The deceptively effortless sense of composition, the bold diagonal at which the children cross the overgrown lot, the eloquent way in which each child’s individual self expresses itself in that child’s walk, in that child’s place in a line of children—even when we are seeing the children from behind. And oh, the gladiatorial drama of those boys re-enacting some mythic or Hollywood combat! Few photographers—few artists—have so gracefully conveyed their deep interest in, and respect for, the complication and the beauty that accrues to children simply by virtue of their being children. Few artists have demonstrated such compassion, such appreciation—and such a profound sense of amusement—for the sort of ordinary people who had the good fortune to be there when Helen Levitt was doing her legwork on their street.

    Helen Levitt (American, 1913–2009), Untitled, ca.1940, gelatin silver print The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. © Estate of Helen Levitt

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    In 1848, 15-year-old Willow is a slave, euphemistically referred to as a 'servant'. 17-year-old Cato is a free Black man. Worlds of difference separate them. Willow lives with her father and Rev Jeff, whom she loves and who is a fair master, but he believes that African slaves need less than Whites. Willow strives to please these older men, but she also fancies marrying a man whom she loves, not simply someone who her father chose for her.

    This is the result of too much reading, of the likes of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and other such stories that simply put dreams into Willow's impressionable head and make her long for things that she does not need, according to the Rev.

    Willow gets into trouble for reading anything other than the Bible... and she is also not supposed to know how to write. Therefore, she hides her diary in the woods. Cato has been living in the woods lately, and he stumbles across the diary.

    Willow voraciously acquires new words from her reading but also from the speech of white people. She reiterates the words in her mind in order to recall them, and she discerns possible meanings of the words from the context in which they were read or spoken.

    Willow by Tonya Hegamin, 2014

    It would have been neat for me to have lived in a time and place where most people had horses for the purpose of transportation.

    Willow loves riding her horse Mayapple.

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    The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James  is an erotic series that tells the love story of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.  Anastasia meets Christian by accident. She travels to his office to interview him as favor to her best friend, Kate. As Christian develops an interest in Anastasia  they begin to fall in love and change each other forever.Fifty Shades of Grey is followed by Fifty Shades Darker and concludes in Fifty Shades Freed. The much anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey film will be released February 13, 2015. 

    Here are some Fifty Shades of Grey read-alike recommendations:

    The Breathless Trilogy begins with RushFever and concludes with Burn by Maya Bank. The novels tell the stories of "Gabe Hamilton, Jace Crestwell and Ash McIntyre—who are best friends and business partners. The men dominate both in the boardroom and in the bedroom. Each novel in the trilogy will explore the relationship of one of the men as he discovers the woman he will love."

    The Crossfire quintet by Sylvia Day begins  Bared to You,  Reflected in You,  Entwined with You, Captivated by Youand concludes with One With You.  Bared to You is the story of millionaire Gideon Cross and the beautiful Eva Tramell. Eva and Gideon are survivors of childhood abuse that grow into very successful yet haunted adults. As they get to know each other they fall in love and change for the better while forming an unbreakable bond.    

    Bound(Available as an ebook)by Lorelei James Amery Hardwick moves to Denver, Colorado to successfully work as a graphic designer, there she meets Ronin Black. Amery gives herself willingly to his sensual domination… however she senses that he is hiding something. Something makes her question her trust for him...

    Driven by K Bromberg Rylee Thomas is used to being in control until she meets Colton Donavan. A man who always gets what he wants. As they get to know each other secrets threaten to tear them apart..

    The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice "The Prince awakens Sleeping Beauty and brings her to his castle, where she has a series of erotic adventures." The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy continues with Beauty's Punishment and Beauty's Release

    Belong to Me by Shayla Black Tara Jacobs’s is an FBI analyst working undercover as a submissive in a BDSM club called Dominion. There she sees Navy SEAL Logan Edgington once again, he was the man who stole her innocence… Tara will never forgive him but Logan is dark, alluring and hard to resist. 

    Her Forbidden Hero (Available as an ebook) by Lauren Kaye Former Army Special Forces Sgt. Marco Vieri protected Alyssa Scott from her abusive father when she was a child. Marco has many demons inside him from his time in the war. Marco wants to keep her at bay but Alyssa wants to heal him...

    Hardwired by Meredith Wild is followed HardpressedHardline and Hard Limit. Hardwired chronicles the relationship between a recent college graduate named, Erica Hathaway  and a high-powered billionare investor,Blake Landon. 

    Release Me  by Julie Kenner is followed by Claim Me and Complete Me. The Spin-off series contains Take Meand Tame Me. The Stark follows Damien Stark.   

    Wanted  is followed by Heated and Ignited by Julie Kenner The series focus on three enigmatic and powerful men, and the striking women who can bring them to their knees. 

    Because You Are Mine by Beth Kery "From a private jet to an interlude in Paris, Francesca and Ian have had a whirlwind relationship, but once Francesca discovers something about Ian—and herself—everything changes."

    Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren Chloe Mills is a brilliant and ambitious intern. Her boss, Bennett Ryan is a beautiful bastard expected to fall for Chloe. Bennett breaks his own rule of not dating in the office to be with Chloe and things begin to get complicated...

    Unzipped  by Noire "Pearl Baines is a straight Harlem stunna. She and her twin sister, Diamond, are chased by some of the most notorious ballers in New York City. But while their father, ex-gangsta Irish Baines, devotes his life to rehabilitating young thugs, his sexy twin daughters fall hard for the glamour and glitter of strip clubs and street life. Unlike Diamond, though, Pearl is able to shake off the trappings of the hood in seach of a better future. After graduating at the top of her class, Pearl becomes an FBI agent and plans to get as far away from the grime of Harlem as possible. But fate is cruel and the streets always get their due. On what should have been the happiest night of her life, Pearl's family perishes in a ball of merciless flames-- flames intentionally set on the orders of Mookie Mason, her father's archenemy and the most ruthless gangsta in Harlem. Crazed with grief, Pearl becomes unzipped. Hell-bent on retribution, she prepares for battle in New York's urban jungle. With the help of Menace, an ex-lover who once trampled all over her heart but was deeply loyal to Irish Baines, Pearl puts her FBI training and tactical skills to work in a murderous mission designed to do what her father wasn't able to: take down Mookie Mason, and his entire crew, one at a time."
    Candy Licker by Noire "Candy Raye Montana gets more than she had bargained for when she signs up with the House of Homicide, the hottest recording label on the east coast, and its CEO "Hurricane" Jackson, a man as talented as he is cruel, who gives her a painful lesson in the price of success. By the author of G-Spot. Original. 50,000 first printing."
    The Other Side of the Pillow by  Zane "Burned by love in the past, Jemistry Daniels has decided to have strictly physical relationships, until Dr. Tevin Harris, who has his own relationship scars, asks her out after a poetry slam."
    The Hot Box by Zane "Best friends Milena and Lydia are playing their own game of "Hot box" with Jacour, Yosef, Glenn, and Phil. The only problem: the men do not realize that they are playing."
    Story of O by Pauline Réage "How far will a woman go to express her love? In this exquisite and taboo novel of passion and desire, the answer emerges through a daring exploration of the deepest bonds of sensual domination. “O” is a beautiful Parisian fashion photographer, determined to understand and prove her consuming devotion to her lover, René, through complete submission to his every whim, his every desire. It is a journey of forbidden, dangerous choices that sweeps her through the secret gardens of the sexual underground. From the inner sanctum of a private club where willing women are schooled in the art of subjugation to the excruciating embraces of René’s friend Sir Stephen, O tests the outermost limits of pleasure. For as O discovers, true freedom lies in her pure and complete willingness to do anything for love."
    Eve of Darkness by Sylvia Day "Cursed by God, hunted by demons, desired by Cain and Abel... All in a day's work. For Evangeline Hollis, a long ago fling with a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks just became a disaster of biblical proportions. One night with a leather-clad man of mystery has led to a divine punishment: the Mark of Cain. Thrust into a world where sinners are drafted into service to kill demons, Eve's learning curve is short. A longtime agnostic, she begrudgingly maneuvers through a celestial bureaucracy where she is a valuable but ill-treated pawn. She's also become the latest point of contention in the oldest case of sibling rivalry in history... But she'll worry about all that later. Right now she's more concerned with learning to kill while staying alive. And saving the soul she'd never believed she had." Eve of Darkness is followed by Eve of Destruction and Eve of Chaos.

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    Elizabeth is Missing cover

    Emma Healy's 2014 debut novel, Elizabeth is Missing has an unlikely sleuth/protagonist. Maud Horsham is 82, struggling with dementia, and determined to find her missing friend, Elizabeth. Healy was inspired by her own grandmother who suffered from dementia and would often insist somebody was missing. Elizabeth Is Missing is a highly polished, well-crafted gem of a book. It links two mysteries together and is also a clear but compassionate look at sisters and friends, mothers and daughters. It illuminates, without judgment, how we treat the helpless elderly, those suffering from emotional disorders, and people with dementia. The story travels between the present and post WW2 Britain and the reader has to keep up with Maud's condition as she flits between the past and the present. It is a book of contradictions. What could have been a sad, bleak story about loss is actually about heroism and is infused with humor and spirit.

    The prologue reveals Maud, standing in the dark garden, clutching an old compact that has been lost for nearly seventy years:

    "Elizabeth?" Maud asks, "Did you ever grow summer squash?"

    Certain key images are introduced in the prologue. Their significance becomes clearer as we progress. The memories follow erratically but surely as Maud starts to seek two missing women—Sukey, her sister, who disappeared in 1946, and Elizabeth, her friend, who seems to have gone missing recently:

    "Elizabeth is the only friend I have left; the others are in homes or graves. ... I have an idea there was something I had to remember about Elizabeth."

    As her grip on the present gradually weakens, Maud writes little notes to herself to aid her memory. "My paper memory. It's supposed to stop me forgetting things. But my daughter tells me I lose the notes. I have that written down, too.  ... And then I have this piece of paper tucked into my sleeve: No word from Elizabeth."

    Armed with her notes and her fear that something may have happened to Elizabeth, Maud sets out to investigate. 

    Please join me as we read Elizabeth Is Missing and feel free to post your comments and questions. See you next week!

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    Enrollment Now Open - SAGE Boot Camp.  This two-week long, intensive training course will provide participants with esssential skills to lead them toward job placement.  The first session starts on Monday - Friday from 3/2/15 - 3/13/15, 9 am - 2:00 pm.  Participants must attend every day at the SAGE Center, 305 7th Avenue, 15 th Floor, New York, NY 10001.

    New Partners, Inc. will present a recruitment for Home Health Aide (5 openings) Certified and Non-certified, on Tuesday, February 10, 2015,  10 am - 1:30 pm, at Flushing Workforce 1 Career Center, 138-60 Barclay Avenue, 2nd Floor, Flushing, NY 11355.

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    St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development provides Free Job Training and Educational Programs in Environmental Response and Remediation Tec (ERRT).  Commercial Driver's License, Pest Control Technician Training (PCT), Employment Search and Prep Training and Job Placement, Earn Benefits and Career Path Center.  For information and assistance, please visit St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development, 790 Broadway, 2nd Fl., Brooklyn, NY 11206, 718-302-2057 ext. 202.

    Brooklyn Workforce Innovations helps jobless and working poor New Yorkers establish careers in sectors that offer good wages and opportunities for advancement.  Currently BWI offers free job training programs in four industries: commercial driving, telecommunications cable installation, TV and film production, and skilled woodworking.  BWI is at 621 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217.  718-237-5366.

    CMP (formerly Chinatown Manpower Project) in lower Manhattan is now recruiting for a free training in Quickbooks,  Basic Accounting, and Excel.   This training is open to anyone who is receiving food stamps but no cash assistance.  Class runs for 8 weeks, followed by one-on-one meetings with a job developer.  CMP also provides Free Home Health Aide Training for bilingual English/Cantonese speakers who are receiving food stamps but no cash assistance.  Training runs Mondays through Fridays for 6 weeks, and includes test prep then taking the HHA certification exam.  Students learn about direct care techniques such as taking vital signs and assisting with personal hygiene and nutrition.   For more information for the above two training programs, please Email:, call 212-571-1690 or visit 70 Mulberry Street, 3rd Floor, NY, NY 10013. CMP also provides tuition-based healthcare and business trainings for free to students who are entitled to ACCESS funding.  Please call CMP for information.

    Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) trains women and places them in careers in the skilled construction, utility, and maintenance trades. It helps women achieve economic independence and a secure future.  For information call 212-627-6252 or register online.

    Grace Institute provides tuition-free, practical job training in a supportive learning community for underserved New York area women of all ages and from many different background.  For information call 212-832-7605.

    Please note this blog post will be revised when more recruitment events for the week of February  8  are available.

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    As Valentine's Day rolls around, we're looking back at amazing vintage cards in the Digital Collection that celebrate the holiday. Some are greetings for dear feline friends. Others are about as cute as scorned love gets. And, of course, we have cards for longterm sweethearts and first loves alike. So put down the doilies, and show your valentine some love from NYPL. 

    Valentine greetings.

    Heres a wireless telegram that I will send to you ...
    Heres a wireless telegram
    that I will send to you
    I'm in love with you - I am
    I love you 'deed I do
    Be my valentine 
    To my Valentine.
    To my valentine
    If she be
    not fair
    for me what
    care I how fair
    she be.
    Valentine greetings.
    Valentine greetings
    The world is ours
    If you'll be mine
    Greetings to my Valentine.
    Greetings to my Valentine
    The world is filled
    with flowers,
    The flowers are filled with dew,
    The dew is filled with love,
    For me, and Kitty, and you.


    Youst bane ma best fine girl.
    Youst bane ma
    best fine girl.
    To my Valentine.
    To my Valentine
    All a-tiptoe I will be
    Until my Valentine
    I see.
    You is my best girl.
    You is my
    best girl.
    My valentine.
    My valentine
    Don't keep me on the fence
    darling. Just say the word.


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    The Schomburg Center's first Wikipedia Edit-a-thon will give patrons the tools to edit the popular online encyclopedia, with the goal of making black life more visible within its pages. We hope to see you there or at one of the sister events during Black History Month, but if you can't attend in person there are still ways that you can participate wherever you are.

    This Saturday, make it a goal to log in and find one underrepresented person or topic that you can add more information about.

    Harlem WPA Street Dance. Image ID: 5180674

    How to Edit Wikipedia

    How to Improve Articles on Black Life

    Contains support and suggestions of places where you can contribute.

    Our suggested topics for the day based on resources available at the Schomburg Center. Feel free to add to this list.

    How to Find Reference Materials from the Library

    In addition to the many reference books you will be able to pull from our shelves on the day of the Edit-a-thon, you will also have access to hundreds of specialized online databases as long as you are connected to the NYPL network. Databases with an asterisk can also be used, with your library card, from any location.

    General Reference

    Gale Virtual Reference Library*
    Online library of reference titles.

    U.S. History in Context*
    Variety of historical data from primary sources and reference documents. Includes photographs, illustrations, and maps.

    African American Experience*
    Full-text digital resource exploring the history and culture of African Americans, as well as the greater Black Diaspora. Geared toward middle school, high school, and undergraduate users. Browse by type of content and by era. 

    Black Studies Center
    Includes scholarly essays, periodical literature, historical newspaper articles, reference books, and more.

    Encyclopedia of African American history, 1619-1895
    3 volumes, open shelf  Sc *973.04-E

    Encyclopedia of African American history, 1896 to the Present
    5 volumes, open shelf:  Sc *973.04-E

    News and Periodicals

    Proquest Historical African American Newspapers*
    Simultaneous search of the Atlanta Daily World (1931-2003), Baltimore Afro-American (1893-1988), Chicago Defender (1910-1975), Cleveland Call and Post (1934-1991), Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993), Norfolk Journal and Guide (1921-2003), Philadelphia Tribune (1912-2001), and the Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002).

    New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993)*
    Searchable full-text and page images of the leading Black newspaper of the 20th century.

    Ethnic NewsWatch
    Collection of ethnic, minority, and native newspapers, magazines, and journals published in America.

    African American Periodicals, 1825-1995 (Newsbank)
    Searchable full-text and page images of over 170 periodicals, published in 26 states, by and about African Americans. Includes academic and political journals, commercial magazines, institutional newsletters, organizations' bulletins, and annual reports. 

    African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 (Newsbank)
    270 U.S. newspapers chronicling a century and a half of the African American experience from more than 35 states.


    Biography in Context*
    Provides biographical information on 600,000+ people from throughout history, around the world, and across all disciplines.

    Marquis Who's Who on the Web
    Basic biographical information on over 1 million of the most accomplished individuals worldwide from all fields of endeavor.

    American National Biography
    In depth biographies of more than 18,000 deceased men and women whose lives have helped shape the United States.

    Biography and Genealogy Master Index
    Indexes biographical listings in print dictionaries and encyclopedias covering millions individuals, both living and deceased, from every field of activity and from all areas of the world. A good resource for researching those who are less well-known or famous. 

    African American National Biography
    10 volumes, open shelf: Sc *920-A

    How to Find Free Online Reference Resources

    • Schomburg Recommended Links is a collection of web resources including book databases, articles, oral histories, images, maps, interviews, and television programs.
    • Online Exhibitions from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
    • Online Books are books digitized from In Motion, The Abolition of the Slave Trade, and African-American Women Writers of the 19th Century.
    • NYPL Digital Collections contains 815,396 items digitized from The New York Public Library's collections.

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    The New York Public Library’s Digital Collection includes Yiddish theater posters dating back more than a hundred years. These ephemeral pieces, with their bold titles, portraits of actors, and exuberant descriptions of plays, illustrate the dynamic Yiddish theater tradition in two major centers: New York and Buenos Aires. Together with hundreds of manuscripts, photographs, books, periodicals, and sheet music, they comprise one of the largest Yiddish theater collections in the world.

    “Hell and Heaven”

    The earliest posters utilize detailed illustrations, such as this one for  “Gehenem un gan-eydn” (literally, “hell and heaven”) by Abraham Goldfaden, starring Morris Finkel (pictured), who was also the director and business manager. This “famous comic opera” of January 8, 1891, at the Romanian Opera House in New York, promises new decorations, costumes and scenery. Sheet music for a duet from the opera was published in 1897. In a truly hellish twist, Finkel later shot and disabled his wife, Emma Thomashefsky Finkel (sister of Boris Thomashefsky) and then killed himself in a grisly real-life tragedy that shocked the Yiddish theater world.

    “Gehenem un gan-eydn” starring Morris Finkel, January 8, 1891, at New York’s Romanian Opera House. Image ID: 435120

    “Positively the last production”

    The placard below advertises “Kidesh ha-shem” [literally, “sanctification of the name”], a historical drama about Jewish martyrdom by the Yosef Latayner, an ever-prolific playwright known for the quantity, rather than the quality, of his work.  Starring Sigmund and Dina Feinman (pictured), the cast included other heavyweights like Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, Bertha Kalich, Sophia Carp, Rudolph Marks and [Max] Rosenthal. This was “positively the last production”, with performances scheduled for Friday and Saturday, October 30 and 31, [1891?].

    Kidesh ha-shem, starring Sigmund and Dina Feynman. Image ID: 435096

    Pioneering Prima Donna

    The benefit advertised above was held on Thursday, January 5, 1893 at the Thalia (formerly Bowery) Theatre, a popular early Yiddish venue at 46-48 Bowery, whose gallery is home today to the Jing Fong Chinese restaurant. The beneficiary, Sophia Karp (1859-1904), was probably the first Yiddish actress, starting her career at age 16 with Abraham Goldfaden and being the first to sing the famous “Eli, eli, lomo azavtoni” (later recorded by Belle Baker). The brochure’s extremely Daytshmerish text (a prententious Germanic style of the time meant to convey sophistication)  proclaims Karp’s status as a prima donna of the “Yiddish-German” theater of New York and invites audience members to an (unnamed) opera. The benefit performance—both for actors and for charitable organizations—was a frequent occurrence and helped to guarantee an audience on weekdays.

    January 5, 1893 benefit poster for Madame Sophie Karp. Image ID: 435095

    For “Appreciators of True Art”

    Speaking of Daytshmerish, this next poster for “Di zilberne hokhtsayt” [The silver wedding] use the German “hochzeit” instead of the Yiddish “khasene” for the word “wedding”. The text admonishes “appreciators of true art... not to miss this evening….which each person can only enjoy once in a lifetime”.

    “Di zilberne hokhtsayt” was based on a popular Russian melodrama, Vtorai︠a︡ molodostʹ [Second Youth] by  P.M. Nevezhin and featured Boris Thomashefsky, Sophia Karp, the comic Berl Bernstein, Madame Epstein, Mr. Conrad, Dora Dubinski and Sabina Weinblatt.

    The “Fereynigte Idishe Shoyshpiler Gezelshaft” [United Yiddish Actors’ Society] sponsored this benefit performance on January 30, 1894 for the play’s author/adapter, Yaakov Ter (1850-1935, pictured) who sold tickets at his home at 39-41 Suffolk Street. Ter, whose name stamp appears on the right, donated Yiddish theater ephemera to NYPL, along with Chonon Jacob Minikes and Boris Thomashefsky.

    “Di zilberne hokhtsayt” Image ID: 435134

    Rosh Ha-Shanah Openers of 1898

    From Friday night and Saturday performances, to High Holiday openers, the Yiddish theater mirrored (and for some, replaced) the synagogue. The poster below contains the traditional Rosh Ha-Shanah wish “Leshone toyve tikoseyvu” [May you be inscribed for a good year] and uses rhymed verses, like the Rosh Ha-Shanah cards of the time, to describe the performances scheduled on the holidays.

    Shloyme ha-meylekh - Shelomoh ha-melekh, September 17, 1898. Image ID: 435106


    Legendary actors Bertha Kalich (pictured) and David Kessler appeared in a performance called “the new and old Kol Nidre” by A. Sharkanski, named after the Yom Kippur prayer.  Bertha Kalich had already sung for Yom Kippur services in Bucharest, a terrifying and elating experience she describes in her memoirs in the newspaper Der Tog on July 8 and 11, 1925.  As for Sharkanski’s play, you can read it online and find associated sheet music by Louis Friedsell at NYPL and the Library of Congress.

    The busy holiday season also included performances of “Shloyme ha-meylekh” [King Solomon] and “Hizkiyahu ha-meylekh, oder, di roze fun Kavkaz” [King Hezekiah, or, the Rose of the Caucasus] by another mass-market hack, “Professor” Moyshe Hurwitz; plus “Di Yudishe Vitse-Kenig” [The Jewish Viceroy]  by Sigmund Feinman and “Khanele di finisherin” [Khanele the Finisher]. Participating stars included Sigmund and Dina Feinman, Shmuel Tabatshnikov (Samuel Tobias), Hayne, Mary Wilensky, and Moshkovitsh.

    For more Yiddish theater ephemera, visit these sites:

    Read a previous blog post about NYPL's Yiddish theater collection: "The Yiddish Broadway and Beyond."

    Learn more about the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project, an initiative involving NYPL.

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     The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League

    Hey! All right so February has arrived, and all month long on the first floor of the Grand Central branch, we’ll be showcasing various books pertaining to the Negro Leagues. We’ll also have a daily spotlight on Negro Leaguers who have been elected to the Hall of Fame. It’s all interesting stuff to read about, so do be sure to stop down and check out a book on the subject. Now while we’ll be highlighting certain ballplayers whose numbers and accomplishments have deemed them worthy of a bronze plaque in Cooperstown, let’s not forget baseball also has its share of individuals who’ve left a mark on the game without enshrinement. That being said, ever heard of Toni Stone?

    St. Paul, Minnesota native Marcenia Lyle “Toni” Stone was the first of three women to play professional baseball in the Negro Leagues. Ever the tomboy, Stone (who was a second baseman) played baseball all throughout her youth on local boys teams. Stone’s career officially got underway in 1949 when she signed  with the San Francisco Sea Lions, a semi-pro barnstorming team. She subsequently had stints with the New Orleans Black Pelicans and the New Orleans Creoles, before finally being approached by Syd Pollack, then owner/promoter of the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League. Now here’s the thing about the Clowns, they’re commonly regarded as the Harlem Globetrotters of baseball. They played believable baseball, but there were a lot of “comedy routines” mixed in, giving the crowd both an athletic and amusing performance. The Clowns were actually the first team to tender Hank Aaron his first professional contract in 1951. But after dominating the Negro League pitching (as a shortstop no less!), Aaron’s contract wound up being sold to Major League Baseball’s Boston Braves three months later. The rest was history.

    But anyway, Stone’s scrappy style of play piqued the interest of Pollack in 1953, who felt that having a woman play ball for his team would both keep the Clowns “publicity stunt” reputation intact, as well as put fans in the seats. Stone agreed to terms with Indianapolis, and thus became the first woman to play professional baseball in the Negro Leagues. Her time there however was not long; she spent the 1953 season with the Clowns, and the 1954 season with the Kansas City Monarchs before hanging up her cleats. Regrettably, it was always a struggle for Stone amongst her male teammates and coaches. She rarely played (her primary reason for retiring) and had a lot of abuse thrown her away on account of her gender. Stone wasn’t allowed to change in the locker room, and was even humiliated by Pollack when he asked her to play in a skirt, a request she refused. Following her baseball career, Stone became a nurse and lived out her days in Oakland, California before passing away of heart failure in 1996.

    Even with all of the hardships Stone faced, there was plenty of skill on display within her brief professional career. She collected a hit off the legendary Satchel Paige at one point. She also opened up the door for two other female ballplayers in the Negro Leagues, Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan. Stone simply made history, and was rewarded in 1985 when she was inducted into the Women’s Sports Foundation’s International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. Her story is a fascinating one. You can read all about her journey here, and for more Negro League literature, please visit our catalog.

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    As we begin Black History Month, The New York Public Library Podcast welcomes the great American playwright and poet Ntozake Shange, creator of the Obie-Award-winning play “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf.” At the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Shange celebrates the 40th anniversary of her landmark work with a panel discussion about its inspiration, Harlem, and her enduring legacy.

    Ntozake Shange podcast

    Shange attributes the genesis of her artistic work to her early upbringing, especially her immersion in black culture:

    "The most significant part of my background I think is that I was raised in absolutely colored neighborhoods until I was fourteen years old, so the neighbor, the dry cleaning man, the pharmacist, the dentist, the grocer, the school guard: everyone was colored. So it never occurred to me that we were illegitimate in some way because we were a whole world. And I think that that has given me a kind of strength that pulls me through the moments that I otherwise might not know how to get through... My parents were very interested in the arts and culture of the black people from all over the place. My father collected drums from Cuba and Haiti. My mother recited poems from the Harlem Renaissaince. She read us Paul Laurence Dunbar. The first poem I knew was not 'O Captain! My Captain!' but was 'Speak up, Ike, an' 'spress yo'se'f!' That's a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem. So I was immersed in black culture without having to be told that I was having something done to me, and that's where the richesse of my work I think comes from."

    Harlem itself has played an important role in Shange's body of work. She explained:

    "I was living in a boarding house with merchant seamen, and the toilets were all in the hall and they had urinals in them and toilets, and there were just all these clomping feet all the time in the hallway.  I would go down to the Lower East Side Monday nights to do my poetry at the Old Reliable Cafe on East 3rd Street and then have to drive myself back to 149th Street and Amsterdam and sometimes on that last trek around the block to find a parking space, guys just decided to try to take liberties with me, and so I got a fairly bitter attitude toward nightstalkers in Harlem on 149th Street. But that's also where I found Dianne McIntyre's Sounds in Motion that led me to incorporate choreography into my work even more."

    In response to an audience question, Shange spoke about artistic bravery:

    "Being an artist is a scary thing. When they say you take your life in your hands or write a poem like you took your life in your hands or say a line like it's the last breath you'll ever use or jump in the air until you feel like you're gonna reach Jupiter, we say things like that; we really mean it. So when it gets scary for you; it was scary for me. When it gets joyful for you, it was joyful for me. If it seems sacred to you, it was sacred to me. If it seems miserable and sadistic to you, it was miserable and sadistic to me. So I'm not asking my readers to go through anything I haven't gone through already."

    You can subscribe to the New York Public Library Podcast to hear more conversations with wonderful artists, writers, and intellectuals. Join the conversation today!

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    Beginning in November 2013, The New York Public Library's Community Oral History Project has collected over 300 oral histories of people throughout the city. Volunteer interviewers have participated in collecting these personal accounts that document, preserve, and celebrate the rich history of the city's unique communities by collecting the stories of people who have experienced it firsthand.

    The following nine highlights are selections from four distinct NYPL oral history projects—stories of the past and present history of these communities. Interviews will eventually be available in a preservation archive at The Milstein Division for U.S. History, Local History, and Genealogy, as well as on the New York Public Library website.

    Enjoy listening to these stories representing our city's diverse and changing history and then visit our website,, to listen to the full-length oral histories.

    Interested in getting involved? For more information about this project, please contact Alexandra Kelly at Outreach Services and Adult Programming, or 212-621-0552.

    Listen to highlights below...

    Your Village, Your Story: Greenwich Village Oral History Project

    Chris Billias is interviewed by Evdokia Sofos. Chris describes his experience as a teenager sneaking into bars and clubs in Greenwich Village. He also mentions bringing dates to the Staten Island Ferry at the time.

    Sharon D'Lugoff is interviewed by Laurel Lockhart. Sharon describes how her father, Art D'Lugoff began the historic Village Gate and her memories working there as a teenager.

    Michael Urgo is interviewed by Marilyn Stevenson. Michael tells the story of starting his own sausage stand at St. Vincent's Feast in 1959 when he was 16 years-old.

    Josephine Vasta Astarita is interviewed by Marilyn Stevenson. Josephine describes growing up on Thompson Street, and how her imagination turned a little park into a faraway world.

    A People’s History of Harlem: Our Neighborhood Oral History Project

    Charlsie Bodie is interviewed by Pat Williams. Charlsie describes going to the Apollo Theater and the Savoy Ballroom for entertainment when she was younger.

    Kenneth Daniels is interviewed by Angela Brown. Kenneth talks about growing up in the Lincoln Projects and the sense of community he had there with friends and neighbors.

    Visible Lives: Oral Histories of the Disability Experience

    Nooria Nodrat is interviewed by Monica Diaz. Nooria describes an incident on a subway in Manhattan that left her blind overnight. She is the President of the Afghanistan Blind Women and Childrens Foundation and recently received her MA in Disability Studies at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.

    Frank Senior is interviewed by Joel. Blind since birth, Frank grew up in Harlem. He talks about what it was like to learn how to navigate the city with a cane for the first time.

    Voices from East of Bronx Park: An Oral History Project of the Allerton, Van Nest, Pelham Parkway, and Morris Park Communities

    Vincent Prezioso is interviewed by Jeremy Warneke. Vincent moved to Morris Park with his family in 1939 and describes what it was like to live in the neighborhood during the Great Depression and WWII era, when Morris Park was mostly farmland.

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    Hudson County Atlas, Bayonne.
    Atlas of Hudson County, Bayonne, NJ. 1919. Image ID: 3991145

    “: a local pride; spring, summer, fall and the sea; a confession…” - William Carlos Williams, Paterson.

    In 1609, Dutch explorer Henry Hudson sailed west from the port of Galway Bay in search of a northwest passage to Indo-Russia. Crossing the Atlantic, Hudson instead found northeast passage to New Jersey. The explorer sent men inland who returned with red and green tomatoes the size of bowling balls which they had seized from the food supplies of the Seminole indigenous tribes who inhabited the stretch of Pine Bogs along the Union City River. Returning to Europe, Hudson and his men distributed their booty of tomatoes on the black markets of the Midlands and the Andalusian steppe, where the fruit eventually found its way to Southern Italy. So goes the genealogy of the pasta sauce.

    Confused? Alarmed? Enlightened? If the truth of these facts provokes questioning, the local history resources related to New Jersey available in the New York Public Library's Milstein Division might prove a useful pursuit. The division holds an abundance of genealogical and historical material related to the state once known as a “barrel tapped at both ends,” given the migratory magnetism of the neighboring Big Apple and City of Brotherly Love.

    Perhaps familiar to New Yorkers as a garden state of smokestacks, or surrogate playing field for the Jets and Giants, or otherworld of childhood memory, New Jersey bucks understanding from without and blinkers perspective from within. It is where Albert Einstein died and Joe Pesci was born; during the American Revolution, the colony was defended by the rebel father of Robert E. Lee and governed in exile by the Tory son of Benjamin Franklin; South Mountain Reservation in West Orange served as the shooting locale for The Great Train Robbery (1903), the archetype of movie westerns, produced by Thomas Edison, whose 60,000 square foot lab was down the hill off Northfield Avenue; and in 1981 Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco along Kittatinny Ridge in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area was the setting of grade-Z slasher franchise Friday the 13th. “The Voice” turns 100 this year, and the ref desk in Room 121 is ready for questions on The Chairman’s family history or his history with the Family.

    My Jersey Lily.
    Image ID: 1257088


    While New Jersey was the first Mid-Atlantic state to legislate the registry of vital record information, in 1848, and the third in the U.S., it also has been lamented as infamously underdocumented, with gaping holes in the record because of British destruction of courthouses, churches and county repositories in the Revolutionary War, in addition to patterns of delinquent recordkeeping. 19th century Boards of Freeholders have been known to sell off pension documents as waste paper, and county clerks to chuck out marriage records over 20 years old. In 1997, using a calculation based on the ratio of historical publications to state population, the Task Force on New Jersey History determined that New Jersey ranked the lowest of the original thirteen states. However, as noted by legion NJ genealogist Kenn Stryker-Rodda, NYPL, in combination with the NY Historical Society and Brooklyn Historical Society, contains more “unofficial documents” on New Jersey than all the collections within the state itself.

    “New Jersey genealogy,” says Stryker-Rodda, “is not for the lazy minded, the unimaginative, or those who demand quick results.” Collections in the Milstein Division now include the humongous addition of the unique Jersey resources formerly housed at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. Yet, while the NYPL catalog lists 121 entries under the subject heading “New Jersey—History,” searching “New York (N.Y.)–History” brings up 781 entries. The spike in curatorship of New York City’s past since the 1970s has yielded hundreds of documentaries, microhistories, neighborhood blogs, targeted guidebooks and revisionist museum exhibits, while in comparison New Jersey has benefited briefly from the best show in TV history, The Sopranos, to the worst, Jersey Shore.

    New Jersey materials have been a highlight of research collection policy at the Local History and Genealogy Division since the inception of the New York Public Library. Whether appreciated or unfairly deprecated, the proximity to New York City, a symbiotic early colonial history, and a major legacy of cross-migration and industrial connections, qualifies New Jersey’s past at NYPL as local history.

     a proposed double-deck vehicular tunnel under the Hudson River (1919).
    Proposed NYC-NJ Tunnel. 1919. Image ID: 810062

    Local History

    With a total area of 4.8 million acres, and 1,200 inhabitants per square mile, New Jersey is the most densely populated state in America. In land area only larger than Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island, New Jersey tallies 8.8 million people within 7,355 square miles; roughly twice the amount of residents of Ireland but nearly one-fourth the size.

    New Jersey is a peninsula, with only 48 miles of border out of a total 480 that are land-based. Traditionally, migration to New Jersey was aquatic; into the ports of Newark and Perth Amboy from Long Island and New England, down the Passaic River from New York State , and up or across the Delaware River from Pennsylvania.

    What colonial proprietors in the 17th and 18th centuries once officially delineated as East and West Jersey is today perceived in the idioms of North and South Jersey. North Jersey is roughly the seaport crook of hyperpopulation and industry that converges with New York City, with the stretch of Highlands bordering New York State that includes a patch of the Appalachian Trail. South Jersey is anchored in Delaware Bay by Cape May, flanked at the ocean by Atlantic City and coordinated east of Philadelphia across the Delaware River by the city of Camden. The state capital of Trenton is too equatorial to easily fit in either domain, and the New Jersey coastline, “down the shore,” from Sandy Hook Bay down to Cape May, straddles both sections, whether proprietary or imaginary. Summerers in Belmar, N.J. refer to Union County as “up north,” while on a clear day the Rockaways in Queens might be visible from the beach, and Atlantic City is still a two hour drive south.

    Bayonne Bridge
    Bayonne Bridge. Image ID: 730854F

    New Jersey was known as the “Corridor State” in the American Revolution, the “connector of North and South.” If the Mason-Dixon line had extended to the Atlantic Ocean, six counties in New Jersey would fall south of the border. Conversely, between 1685-1692, Boston was the capital of New Jersey, when King James, the former Duke of York, corralled all the New England colonies under one short-lived dominion. In the Civil War era NJ was sometimes referred to as a “border state” because of its strong Democratic politics and softness on slavery. When George McClellan, former Major-General of the Union Army, ran against President Lincoln on the Democratic ticket in 1864, he lived in West Orange, NJ.

    In the late 18th and early 19th century, Jersey gave women and blacks suffrage rights equal to white male property-owners, on an alleged typographical error that was soon revoked, and was “the last state in the north to abolish slavery.” However, the inductive Quaker presence in early East Jersey led to the subtle initiation of free African-Americans as landowners in the Shrewsbury area south of the Navesink River. Monmouth County Deed Books show multiple real estate transactions involving free blacks, dating just before passage of the Gradual Abolition Act (1804) through the end of the Civil War. The town of Fair Haven was a viable active black community where locals organized as trustees of schools and the Methodist Episcopal Mount Zion Church.

    Land Use

    Colonial land transactions are the key but controversial legacy around which much of the local and genealogical history of early New Jersey revolves. As recounted in numerous writings on early Jersey history, the territory formally originated as an English colony with two separate claims to the land.

    In 1664, anticipating the submission of the Dutch West India Company to British forces, King Charles II granted northeast regions in the New World to his brother, James, Duke of York, while those areas were still known as New Netherland. New Amsterdam and Fort Orange upstate were increasing in size and consequence, while the central areas west of the lower Hudson River were inhabited by the Unami, the Turtle Clan; north by the Minsis, the Wolf Clan; and southwest by Unalachtigo tribes, the Turkey clan. These Delaware Indians outnumbered the additional handful of Germans and Scandinavians in 1660s NJ. The Pavonia Massacre in 1643, when Dutch marauders slaughtered Lenni Lenape men, women and children in modern Jersey City, was one of several imperial acts which disposed the Indian tribes in Jersey lands as violently intolerant of Dutch colonists, whom generally stayed out of in fear of attacks.

    Massacre of Indians at Pavonia.
    Massacre of Indians at Pavonia. Image ID: 834404

    The Duke of York, also known as the Duke of Albany, was appointed lord high admiral after the Restoration, and fervently supervised the operations of the English navy to out-contend the supremacy in world trade of the Dutch, with whom England feuded in 1652, then 1665, and again in 1672. In the New World, King Charles assumed the right to overrule colonial authority, alter boundaries, and seize territory by conquest. The King granted James “an astonishing assortment of lands extending from the St. Lawrence to the Delaware.” Before the Dutch surrendered their port colony, having been promised English citizenship under royal oath in exchange for sustaining the well-established Dutch court system, the Duke of York conveyed land-granting powers to incipient Governor Richard Nicholls, who issued the “Duke’s Laws,” renamed the colony, and referred to New Jersey as “Albania.”

    Nicholls validated the 1664 purchase between Long Island settlers John Ogden, John Bailey, Daniel Denton and Luke Watson, and Lenni Lenape real estate agents Mattano Manamowaouc and Couesccoman, for 500,000 acres of land in what was once a scarcely colonized sprawl of New Netherland between the Raritan and Passaic Rivers, and which would later form the counties of Essex and Union. The men were now freeholders of the flatlands west of the Hudson River, and formed what would be known as the Elizabethtown Associates.

    Meanwhile, soon after the departure of Nicholls from English ports, the Duke of York, flush with the megalomania of impending conquest, was seized with magnanimity. Having just empowered Nicholls to issue land patents in his new domain, the Duke, apparently without any sense of contradiction, bestowed the lands of Albania to loyal friends from the Admiralty, Sir George Carteret and Lord John Berkeley, who received the vast acreage in the form of a proprietorship. Sir George got “East Jersey” and Lord John “West Jersey,” which divisions, in various permutations, would characterize the state through the 21st century.

    Map of East and West Jersey. 1682.
    Map of East and West Jersey. 1682. Image ID: 433742

    The divisions were split by a roughly 45 degree boundary line between Little Egg Harbor and Minisink Island in the Delaware River, today in Sussex County.

    Lord Berkeley had been loyal to the Stuart brothers when Cromwell drove out the monarchy, and joined Charles and James in exile on the Isle of Jersey, near the coast of France, which was the domain of Sir George Carteret, later to hold the office of Treasurer of the British Navy.

    His Royal Highness James Duke of York and Albany.
    His Royal Highness, James, Duke of York and Albany. Image ID: 423111

    Sir George and Lord John were invested with shareholding rights within their divisions, the authority to collect remunerations for the use of the property, and the ability to transfer proprietorship to other parties. However, this arrangement would have voided any title obtained in the manner of the freeholders who purchased land under the Nicholls grant, known as “headrights,” and instead would have beheld the settlers to “quit-rent” payments to the proprietors rather than ownership.

    Hopefully, so far, this geo-narrative sounds perplexing, and that any inquiries or requests for clarification will be directed to the reference desk in Room 121 of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

    The years 1664 to 1702 form the first period of dispute and civic upheaval over the proprietary claims to the lands of East and West Jersey. Before Nicholls was finally made aware of the Duke’s deal with the Carteret and Berkeley, due to the lumbering dispatch of letters via oceanic passage, the Governor had authorized the sale of numerous Jersey lands both East and West. An increasing amount of settlers claimed that the Duke had never properly owned the land, the proprietorship was false, and no rent should be due.

    Little resolution was achieved, including the name of the settlement. The proprietors claimed that Elizabethtown was named for the wife of Sir George, while the ex-Long Islanders claimed the provenance in honor of the Queen. Still, the territory acquired its etymological ancestor from the isle birthplace of Sir George Carteret, Nova Caesarea, New Caesarea, New Jaesarea, New Jersey.

    The “Concessions and Agreements” issued in 1665 by the Jersey proprietors provided for a registry of land transactions and the guarantee of “liberty of conscience” and freedom of religion. Persecuted and ambitious Quakers settled rampantly in West Jersey, and Newark was founded by Congregationalists sailing into the Passaic River from the puritanically constricted settlements of Connecticut. Though a more indiscriminate mandate on religion was proffered in order to attract more settlers, whom arrived chiefly from Long Island and New England, atheists were not tolerated. It may be that today atheists are better tolerated in New Jersey than settlers from Long Island or New England…

    Original trustees such as the Elizabethtown Associates were ineluctably forced to reckon the political and economic disposition of the proprietary system, which was rooted in English plantation laws and the feudal relationship between owners and tenants. But little had been codified in distinguishing the right to political office and legislative decision in relation to the conveyance of land title. Both sides invested their own idea of land rights with political consequence, and confusion between the act of land-holding and the right to govern was sustained. The trustees contended that the Duke’s gift to the Lords was simply a “grant of the soil,” with no transfer of governmental powers. The Council of Proprietors sought to enforce laws and create political bodies while collecting quitrent payments, akin to dues for occupation and husbandry of the land, often in the form of barrels of pork.

    In 1670, Philip Carteret, a young cousin of Sir George, debarked at New Jersey as a representative of the proprietors, assumed the role of governor of both East and West Jersey, yet, ironically, soon bought into the Elizabethtown Associates, which group was disputing the claims of the proprietors. Complicating the gnarled network of antagonisms, New York Governor Sir Edmund Andros demanded that Carteret yield all Jersey authority to New York. Philip balked and asserted that Jersey, though in adherence to the “Duke’s Laws,” garnered its own independent jurisdiction, and as a result, vessels trading in Jersey ports were exempt from paying customs to New York. Governor Sir Edmund Andros did not agree with this, and subsequent to further brinkmanship, ordered gubernatorial henchmen to invade the home of Carteret, drag the Jerseyman from his bed, imprison him in New York State, and administer a vicious drubbing that caused permanent and eventually fatal wounds to New Jersey’s first governor.

    The Landing of Governor Carteret in New Jersey.
    The Landing of Governor Carteret in New Jersey. Image ID: 1207338

    The Crown sought to equalize these disagreements in 1702 with the appointment of a Royal Governor of both New York and New Jersey, Lord Cornbury, to whom the proprietors relinquished governmental power. However, disputes continued into the 1730s and 1740s, with land riots in West Jersey and the successful jailbreak in Newark of dispossessed yeomen Robert Young and Thomas Sergeant, orchestrated by a determined gathering of three-hundred citizens armed with cudgels and staves. The militia cocked their muskets, the sheriff drew his sword, but the jailbreakers were not attacked and the two men went free.

    In the ensuing years, lawsuits neared a resolution, but appeals to the king, claims of errors in the proceedings, and overruled verdicts stalled both clarity and closure.

    In Historical and Genealogical Miscellany; Data Relating to the Settlement and Settlers of New York and New Jersey (1903), one of the many compilations of NJ local history available in the Milstein Division, one finds the brief “Discourse By Way of Dialogue between an old Inhabitant of the County of Monmouth and a Proprietor of the Eastern Division of New Jersey.” The succinct dialogue between “William” and a nameless proprietor is contemporary to the 17th century and demonstrates the convictions of landowners against the claims of the proprietors:

    Pro. You Will not allow then that King Charles had a Right to the Soil. Therefore the Proprietors none.

    Will. No because he never had it by Discovery Conquest Gift nor Contract. Therefore no right to the Soil.

    Pro. Pray by what title Do you Pretend to hold your Land if not by patent from the Proprietors, Wee hold our Land by an honest Purchase and Consideration paid for.

    Will. A Title Derived from a Charter Granted to the Sons of Adam by the Great and Absolute proprietor of the Whole Universe God almighty and has Stood Recorded In the best record on Earth 3,198 years…

    Pro. Then you Deny that there is any acknowledgement due to the Proprietors?

    Will. Yes Wee Do.

    William’s glib Jersey-style comeback merges a Protestant eco-evangelism with the minutiae of early U.K. land laws.

    The Tombstone of Aaron Burr, Princeton, NJ.
    The Tombstone of Aaron Burr, Princeton, NJ. Image ID: 420481

    Library Resources

    When searching the NYPL classic catalog for genealogy materials that relate to a specific region, it is always most useful to conduct subject searches by county name to yield the most comprehensive results:

    • [NAME OF COUNTY] (N.J.) -- Genealogy.
    • [NAME OF COUNTY] (N.J.) – History, Local.
    • [NAME OF COUNTY] (N.J.) -- History.
    • [NAME OF COUNTY] (N.J.) -- Maps.
    • [NAME OF COUNTY] (N.J.) – Description and Travel.

    For example:

    For a broader sense of Jersey genealogical items in the catalog, start with the below subject headings:

    • New Jersey -- Genealogy.
    • New Jersey -- Genealogy -- Indexes.
    • New Jersey -- History, Local.
    • New Jersey -- History.
    • New Jersey -- Description and travel.
    • New Jersey -- Biography.
    • New Jersey -- Population -- Statistics.

    Materials will include local histories, periodicals, estate records, business information, family trees, travelogues, guidebooks, and anecdotal miscellanea, in addition to official reports on potentially relevant subjects such as environmental conditions, municipal projects, transportation, demographics, and agriculture. Also, the Map Division is abundant with NJ collections:

    • [COUNTY] (N.J.) -- Maps.
    • New Jersey -- Maps.
    • Atlantic Coast (N.J.) -- Maps.

    Subject headings are highly useful for grouping together materials on a specific topic, but sometimes are not all-inclusive. Hours could be spent browsing the results of a simple subject search using “New Jersey,” or pairing the state with a topical search term in a keyword search, like “transportation” or “Muslims” or “oysters.” For instance, if a researcher were interested in 19th century sources on NJ fraternal organizations, a potentially rich avenue of genealogy or local history, one will not find subject headings which group together the many items in NYPL collections on this subject. Keywords are needed. Pairing the phrase “New Jersey” with keywords like “proceedings” or “organization” or “minutes” will yield more heterogeneous results on private groups, political clubs, and legislative actions.

    Below is a sample list of New Jersey resources that highlight the subject collections at NYPL:

    Many of the Family Files and Locale Files in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Collection are relevant to New Jersey subjects, and can be especially fruitful when searching a particular family name.

    Jersey materials authored or organized by the Roosevelt-era Works Progress Administration and Federal Writers’ Projects include America: The Dream of My Life, oral history selections from the NJ Ethnic Survey; the New Jersey Historical Records Survey Project; the WPA Guide to the Garden State; the 32 volume Newark Civic and Social Agencies, edited by the FWP of NJ (1939-1941) in conjunction with the Newark Public Library; the Inventory of the Municipal Archives of New Jersey (1939); and “The New Deal Art Projects in New Jersey,” a 1980 article published in New Jersey History.

    Sharpening axes used by the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine. Bloomfield, New Jersey. 1938.
    Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine. Bloomfield, NJ. 1938. Farm Security Adminstration photographs. Image ID: 4001201

    Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society. Full-text of volumes 1-9 (1846- 1916) are on available on HathiTrust; volumes 10-26 (1927-1993) are available by request.

    Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey / New Jersey Historical Society. 1880-1928. Newark, NJ: Daily Journal. Available in NYPL digital databases, the full run of the Documents is arranged chronologically and each volume is indexed.

    The contents of the four volume Genealogical and Memorial History of the State of New Jersey (1910), edited by Francis Bazley Lee, is summed up by its subtitle, “a record of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the founding of a nation.” The first entry is for the Frelinghuysen family, described as having given New Jersey “more great and distinguished men in proportion to their numerical strength as a body of individuals than almost any other family.” Patriarch Theodorus Jacobus was born in 1691 in East Friesland, ordained a minister in 1715 and three years later charged with leading the congregations of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Raritan Valley. A number of constituents accused Frelinghuysen of heresy because of the askew interpretations of church teachings in his sermons. “Evangelical fervor” combined with a habit of “autonomous actions” characterized the minister’s tenure, along with official complaints, threats of excommunication, and demands for “Peace Articles” that would reckon the domine to the church status quo. Frelinghuysen was an independent but strict mind. Family descendants would include Senator Joseph S. Frelinghuysen, at whose country home in Somerset County President Warren G. Harding signed the 1921 treaty to formally end World War I. Today, an avenue is named for the family out by Newark International Airport.

    The Milstein Division holds multiple boxes of historic travel and promotional brochures, arranged by city. This evocative collection is uncataloged and undigitized, but easily accessible by visiting Room 121 in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and inquiring with a reference librarian.

    The NYPL online digital gallery features thousands of finely zoomable photos, illustrations, cartographic and atlas collections, portraits, and stereographs. Search the online Picture Collection for images pulled from books, magazines and newspapers among the 30,000+ visual materials collected at the Mid-Manhattan Library.

    It is advisable to search the NYPL Archives and Manuscripts Home Page for potential New Jersey primary sources. A related stand-out trove is the Stryker-Rodda collection, comprising the papers of the F.Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald of tri-state area genealogy.

    Marriage document. 1782. Manuscripts and Archives.
    Jersey Marriage document. 1782. NYPL Manuscripts and Archives. Image ID: 4005164

    In addition, the digital databases available at NYPL are serendipitous sources of regional Jersey history, as the below three examples might illustrate:

    A spike in New Jersey scholarship over the last fifteen years is well reflected in the volumes made available through the library’s account with Project Muse, where numerous books and academic anthologies regarding NJ subjects are available to patrons in the research libraries. Most notably invaluable are A New Jersey Anthology (2010) and New Jersey: A History of the Garden State (2012), both published by Rutgers University Press and edited by Maxine N. Lurie, professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Seton Hall University.

    Sand Artist, Atlantic City. Brochure Collection, Milstein Division.
    Sand Artist, Atlantic City. Brochure Collection, Milstein Division.

    Vital Records

    NYPL holds a multitude of sources for early vital records dating prior to 1848, the year NJ passed vital records laws:

    Geological Map of NJ.
    Geological Map of New Jersey. NYPL Map Division. Image ID: 3991172

    Land Records

    The controversy over proprietorship versus patent is well-recounted in books, local histories, and the Guide to the Records of the East and West Jersey Proprietors, only recently processed and made available by the NJ State Archives. Plenty of land records and transcribed primary sources are published in Jersey serials like New Jersey History and the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey. Because of the thorny, abstruse, multi-lapping and contradictory predicament of early Jersey land records, cross-referencing among primary and secondary resources is recommended. Use the below subject headings as points of entry for NYPL collections:

    Also, the below three sample titles are prized subject resources:

    Centuries back, roads were scarce and the capitals distant. It was common for land transactions to remain unrecorded for many years because of travel difficulties, which is ironic for a state later stereotyped for its manifold mandala of interstates, parkways, highways, skyways and turnpikes, which toll roads in NJ trace back at least to the first decade of the 19th century in boosting transit and generating cash. The first Public Roads Act was passed in 1673 by the East Jersey Assembly, the local governing body organized by the landowners under the Nicholls grant.

    The land records of the East Jersey and West Jersey Proprietors have only recently migrated to the collections at the NJ State Archives in Trenton. In 1998, the East Jersey records moved from their 300+ year old home in the former colonial capital of Perth Amboy, and not until 2005 did the West Jersey Proprietors do likewise from the former capital at Burlington. “The main purpose of proprietary records,” says NJ State Archivist Joseph R. Klett, “is to document land surveys and the initial severance of title from the proprietors.”

    Numerous resources in the Milstein Division are available for tracking the shifting county boundaries and emergence of new counties from former territories, as in the creation of Union County from a chunk of Essex in 1857. Three in particular:

    Newspapers & Periodicals

    In 1777 New Jersey founded one of its earliest newspapers, the New Jersey Gazette, in South Jersey, while two years later East Jersey found the New Jersey Journal. Both were funded by the state as instruments of “war measure,” though the Journal was a paper for the military while the Gazette was espoused by the State Legislature and Governor William Livingston. “I can assure you,” the Governor wrote to printer Isaac Collins, a Quaker from Trenton, “that the blaze of our Eastern Comet the New Jersey Journal has not diverted my attention from the western light the Gazette…” Unlike New York City across the Hudson from East Jersey and Philadelphia across the Delaware from West Jersey, the “Cockpit of the Revolution” operated a state-funded press unthwarted by Tory command, but belabored by lack of paper and the routine capture of post-riders who dispatched the issues and collected subscriptions.

    Collins was continuously struggling for funds, often printing his news using old army “tent-bags,” and supplemented the state money by operating a general store, selling paper and printing goods, and hosting slave traders. Dependent on the state for finances, Collins maintained his publication’s independence of opinion. Collins printed a caustic and tasteless attack on Governor William Livingston, the benefactor of the Gazette, under the alias Cincinnatus, and when the Legislature demanded Collins reveal the true name of the author, the printer refused, publishing under his own byline two pieces titled “Liberty of the Press.”

    Gordon Printing Press Works. Seminary Street. Rahway, N.J.
    Gordon Printing Press Works. Seminary Street. Rahway, NJ. Image ID: 105795

    New Jersey is currently represented somewhat marginally by digitized newspaper resources, most of which early printings are found in the database America’s Historical Newspapers, including the Gazette, and in America’s Historical Imprints, a useful database of distributed printed matter that may serve as an indirect point of entry for business information, city directories, or local history information.

    NYPL collections include many obscure, older, or short-run NJ newspapers on microfilm. A major exception is the Hudson County succession of newspapers that evolved into The Jersey Journal, which, though a major publication in the industrial, commercial, and highly residential metro peninsula of Hudson County, the paper is only available in full on microfilm at a handful of Jersey repositories, and digitally by subscription online. In addition, the New Brunswick Public Library has begun a newspaper digitization project.

    As with searching New York and U.S. newspapers, historical newspaper publications in NJ are best found by subject searches:

    • [TOWN] (N.J.) -- Newspapers.
    • [COUNTY] (N.J.) -- Newspapers.
    • [ETHNIC GROUP] -- New Jersey -- Newspapers.
    • [ETHNIC GROUP -“Americans”] -- New Jersey -- Newspapers.

    As a result of the absence of comprehensive or complete collections of New Jersey genealogy sources, and the scattershot predicament of NJ records, the use of serials and publications may yield tractable results. The open stacks in the Milstein Division, Room 121, feature extensive runs of the two most valuable NJ genealogy journals, New Jersey History and the Genealogy Magazine of New Jersey (GMNJ).

    GMNJ, issued triennially by the Genealogical Society of New Jersey, publishes the commonly sought but not always found genealogical timber that builds family history research. A surname index provides the point of entry for family notes and lineage histories, baptismal rolls and registers of vital information, gravestone inscriptions, 18th century loan office records, tax ratable lists, church records, county census schedules, an ongoing series reprinting New Jersey Supreme Court Cases (1704-1760), and likewise information. Issues on the open stacks in the Milstein Division run to 2004 and current issues can be accessed in Room 119.

    New Jersey History, the successor publication to the Proceedings of the NJ Historical Society (first published 1845), is a Willowbrook Mall of niche articles covering a multivalence of historical NJ subjects, with titles like “Strikes and Society: Civil Behavior in Passaic (1875-1926);” “Ezra Pound’s Tribute to Newark;” and “Oraton, Sachem of Hackensack.” Issues can be navigated using a bibliographic index (1845-1992) of subjects, names, and authors, or a subject index (1845-1919). Many issues of the Proceedings and NJH can be accessed at NYPL research libraries using the digital database HathiTrust, and all issues are available either in the Milstein Division open stacks or by request. Current issues are made available freely online by Rutgers University Libraries (2009-present).

    New Jersey Genesis and The Jerseyman: A Quarterly Magazine of Local History & Genealogy are two additional genealogy journals offering much research fodder for the Garden State. Issues of The Jerseyman are in copyright and available in NYPL digital databases.

    All serials and periodicals devoted to NJ subjects can either be searched using the NYPL search platform for electronic journals, or using the below sample catalog searches:

    • Genealogy New Jersey Periodicals.
    • New Jersey -- Genealogy -- Periodicals.
    • New Jersey -- Economic conditions -- Periodicals.
    • New Jersey -- Politics and government -- Periodicals.

    It is also suggested to use the state and county advanced search function to search periodicals at the PERSI archive at HeritageQuest Online.

    Symphony Hall, Newark, NJ.
    Symphony Hall, Newark, NJ. Image ID: TH-57106

    Census Records

    Often incomplete and unindexed, state censuses were taken in New Jersey every ten years between 1855-1915. NYPL collections include Jersey state census schedules on microfilm in Room 119 of the Schwarzman building. Locate these materials in the catalog using the below suggested subject headings:

    • [NAME OF COUNTY OR CITY] (N.J.) -- Census, [YEAR].
    • New Jersey -- Census, [YEAR].

    Rarely are indexes available for these census records. NJ state censuses are arranged by local township, borough, precinct or ward district, and searchable by municipal subdivision. Once the locality is identified, one must browse the pages for the subject name or address. If an address is unknown, NYPL holds numerous NJ city directories, which are described in a subsequent section below. It can be a foggy procedure and patrons should inquire with Milstein librarians beforehand about research steerage in Jersey census records.

    Up to 1895, the state census did not list address. Columns indicating nationality are divided by German-born, Irish, or “other,” suggesting the high populations of Germans and Irish, and the marginalization of New Jersey’s abundant first and second generation ethnic populations. The 1905 state census is the first to list a street address, and includes the birthplace of parents, with the exclusive nativity columns for German and Irish removed. The 1915 schedules include occupations and the school attended by enumerated children. Sometimes the school will be named, but often the column will simply indicate “grammar” or “high school,” with a column for public, private or parochial.

    In addition, for Federal census indexes that zero in on a particular NJ county or city, use the above census subject headings for population schedules and indexes as well as nonpopulation schedules like mortality, manufacturing, or Merchant Seaman schedules.

    Tax ratables abstracted and indexed by genealogist Kenn Stryker-Rodda act as a “census of the heads of families and of bachelors who had a source of income outside the family.” Cattle, horses and swine are enumerated, but not children; families might have been taxed according to horned animals and fatback, but not kids. These tax lists are published in multiple issues of the Genealogy Magazine of New Jersey and in the microform series County Tax Ratables, 1778-1822 [New Jersey]. Also useful is Revolutionary Census of New Jersey; an index, based on ratables, of the inhabitants of New Jersey during the period of the American Revolution / Kenn Stryker-Rodda.

    5-Year-Old Cranberry picker in Brown Mills, NJ, 1910.
    Cranberry picker from Browns Mills, NJ. 1910. Image ID: 464525

    Some alternative NJ census resources:

    In addition, for demographic data, use the American Fact Finder, a census resource; Statistical Abstracts of the United States, available at NYPL research locations; and any number of myriad and cross-referenceable NJ gazetteers.

    City Directories

    The earliest Jersey directories date back to circa 1830. NYPL collections, accessed on microfilm, can be located in the catalog using the below subject headings:

    Directories include basic residential listings, business, the county farm journal, and railroad directories, and specialized reference publications like The Classified Directory of Negro Business Interests, Professions of Essex County, compiled by Ralph William Nixon for the Bureau of Negro Intelligence, Newark, New Jersey (1920). For digitized directories, Ancestry has dozens of towns and counties dating up to the late 1950s, for both major hubs like New Brunswick or small exurbs like Verona.

    Greater details on the scope and history of these Jersey resources is found in the 1993 edition of Guide to New Jersey City Directories / Michael Brown. Non-NYPL repositories of city directories are highlighted by the collections at Newark Public Library and the New Jersey State Library.

    Indigenous Peoples

    The pre-proprietary landowners recognized binding real estate transactions with Delaware tribes, which, though civilized and nonviolent, slowly extinguished the peoples from the territory. At the time of first European contact, the indigenous population of New Jersey is estimated between 8-12,000; by 1700, the number was around 2,400-3,000; in 1763 had dwindled to less than 1,000; and by 1800 diminished to fewer than 200 (Lurie, 2010). These tribes migrated out of the state with little traces of assimilation into New Jersey culture. East Jersey laws in the 1660s allowed tribesmen to collect the bounty on killed wolves, but white men were fined heavily for sharing liquor with any indigenous people. In 1832, Delaware professor and Revolutionary War veteran Shawuskukung, or “Wilted Grass,” known to whites as Bartholomew S. Calvin, successfully petitioned the state legislature for $2,000 in land reparations. The speech was published in The Daily Union History of Atlantic City and County, New Jersey.

    Subject headings for indigenous history:

    • Delaware Indians -- History.
    • Delaware Indians.
    • Delaware Indians -- Folklore.
    • New Jersey Indians Of North America.
    Russian church and orphanage.
    Russian Church and Orphanage. Image ID: 490751

    Religion, Racial and Ethnic Subjects

    NYPL collections should be mined for materials that support the multiethnic and polysectarian identity of Jersey, a subject whose scope demands its own research guide. As usual, key subject headings are a springboard:

    • [ETHNICITY] – New Jersey – History.
    • [RACIAL GROUP] – New Jersey – [ COUNTY OR TOWN].
    • [RELIGIOUS GROUP] – New Jersey – [SUBJECT].
    • [RELIGIOUS GROUP] – New Jersey – [COUNTY OR TOWN].
    • Immigrants -- New Jersey -- History.

    For example:

    Many of the materials related to houses of worship are transcriptions of primary sources. Also, a thorough overview of the Jersey melting pot is found in The New Jersey Ethnic Experience / edited by Barbara Cunningham.

    Friendly Sons of St. Patrick
    Friendly Sons of St. Patrick dinner at Essex County Country Club, menu. 1895. Image ID: 4000002958


    Explore the NYPL catalog for NJ research handbooks and guidebooks:

    • New Jersey -- Genealogy -- Bibliography.
    • New Jersey -- Genealogy -- Sources.
    • New Jersey -- Genealogy -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
    • New Jersey -- History -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
    • New Jersey -- History, Local -- Guidebooks.

    The below two items are notably inspired and synapse-inducing:

    Other Resources

    Rounding out NYPL collections is the salmagundi of external resources available for Jersey research. Birth, marriage and death certificates can be accessed by contacting the New Jersey State Archives. Select vital information is made available online at the
    New Jersey Vital Records Searchable Databases, plus population schedules for Passaic County and Atlantic City in the 1885 state census, along with additional digitized collections including the Federal Writers' Project photographs, Civil War Service Records, and Early Land Records (1650-1801) of the East and West Jersey Proprietors.

    The affiliated New Jersey State Library has an extensive Genealogy & Local History collection and a thorough search portal and links page of NJ research resources.

    The myriad collections in the New Jersey Information Center at Newark Public Library include several rooms of Jerseyana, NJ newspapers on microfilm, and an arable photo collection on the Garden State. The New Jersey Historical Society, also in Newark, advocates the research advantages of its manuscript collections and library catalog with the NJ Digital Highway.

    Substantial digital collections are available freely online at the Bayonne Public Library; the plentiful Special Collections at Rutgers University Libraries feature bulk genealogy materials; and no NJ genealogy research is practicable without consulting the resources, publications, and events series at The Genealogical Society of New Jersey.

    Hopefully, many things have been left out, unexplained, forgotten, glossed over, or abandoned to the Meadowlands off Route 3 in Secaucus. Librarians in the U.S. History, Local History & Genealogy Division encourage researchers to reach out to the reference desk in Room 121, where New York City collections, like the Statue of Liberty, share land borders with New Jersey.

    Holland Tubes, Jersey City, NJ.
    Holland Tubes, Jersey City, NJ. Image ID: 1630055


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  • 02/09/15--08:50: SIBL Salutes Its Volunteers
  • From the left: career coach Sue Mozian, Marzena Ermler, the Job Search Central Manager and librarian Magdalene Chan.

    More than 70 volunteers were invited to the Science, Industry and Business Library on January 20, 2015 for a belated New Year's toast, so that SIBL's director and staff could thank them first hand for the time and talent that they contribute to SIBL. This much appreciated cohort of expert practitioners offer presentations in SIBL's lunch time and after-work seminar series. They also provide confidential one-on-one counseling/coaching to SIBL's patrons and New York's population at large.

    These volunteers' dedication and drive account for the excellence of SIBL's public programming which complements and extends the hands-on information and instructional services that SIBL's professional librarians provide. In fact, it is the prominence of its advisory services and its expert educational presentations that have helped build SIBL's reputation as a unique, award-winning business research library. So this was an occasion to honor both individuals who volunteer on their own as well as the dedicated professionals who make possible the extraordinary pro bono initiatives of the Library's strategic partnerships such as the Financial Planning Association of New York, the Financial Women's Association of New York, the Community Services Society of New York, SCORE - New York City, the AARP, the HIICAP and the Five O'Clock Club, highlights of which include:

    • Career Coaching is available to job seekers who wish to focus an existing job search strategy and/or to gain insight on how to craft an effective self-marketing plan. This Job Search Central service is by appointment for both onsite face-to-face coaching as well as coaching by Skype. SIBL's roster of volunteer career coaches and presenters include technology experts, executive recruiters, outplacement specialists, members of the Five O'Clock Club experts with academic experience, a staffing specialist who focuses on placing veterans, a former actor and an ordained minister. There are also coaches who target the 50+ job seeker.
    • SCORE NYC provides free, in-depth business counseling for business owners and small businesses. A volunteer, non-profit association affiliated with the Small Business Administration, SCORE has a branch office onsite at SIBL. Appointments can be made any time that SIBL is open. For further information call 212-592-7033. SCORE mentors have a depth of experience in a wide range of industry sectors that include accounting, fashion, food and hospitality, financial services, international trade, law, public relations, real estate, and retail. Some have built corporate careers, others have run their own enterprises. Some are generalists, others specialize in operations or logistics and have used their technical know-how to help developing economies abroad. All share the same goal: to help launch startups and to help operating businesses expand and grow.
    • Financial Counseling, provided largely by members of the Financial Planning Association of New York, helps to answer questions about personal financial affairs that range from saving for college and retirement to portfolio diversification. Again, please make an appointment—and keep it! SIBL's financial advisors represent diverse professional experience. Some work in large firms like Merrill Lynch and MetLife while others run their own wealth managment practices. What they share is a commitment to demystifying and clarifying personal finance options without making any product pitch.
    • Credit Crisis Counseling helps its clients set financial goals, review credit reports, prioritize debt, open bank accounts and learn to budget and save. Please call 212-614-5413 for an appointment with a counselor from the Financial Coaching Corps of the Community Service Society of New York.
    • MEDICARE Counseling. A representative from the NYC Department for the Aging's Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP) will answer your MEDICARE questions. Please call HIICAP at 212-602-4392 to request an appointment for counseling at SIBL.

    Midway through the celebratory occasion the SIBL's director office was packed with volunteers who also include the Libary's welcome desk receptionists as well as members of the judges panel for the New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition. StartUP! judges hail from a range of sectors including business support services such as credit unions and business outreach centers, attorneys, bankers, angel investors, former StartUP! winners, and entrepreneurs. While the ever-networking guests enjoyed bubbly and hors-d'oeuvres, Kristin McDonough in her remarks underscored the value of their pro bono efforts, as a result of which SIBL in FY14 offered

    • 339 expert practitioner presentations,
    • 600 hours of financial counseling,
    • 1,600 hours of career coaching,
    • 1238 hours of small business advisory.

    In a wonderful turn of events, a toast that was intended as a tribute to its volunteers ended up the occasion for high praise of the Library staff who diligently coordinate, orient, advise, and schedule all this pro bono talent. During a round robin of introductions, the career coaches could not say enough about the support they receive from Marzena Ermler, the Job Search Central Manager and librarian Magdalene Chan, blogger extraordinaire, who posts regularly about opportunities for job seekers. The financial advisors followed suit, expressing their gratitude to Kathleen Kalmes, SIBL's financial resources specialist, and librarian Weiben Wang who books the Money Matters advisors and presenters. SCORE mentors, many of whom have served SIBL since our inception in 1996, expressed deep appreciation for the effectiveness with which SIBL's administrative team—operations manager Anne Lehmann, and assistant director Madeleine Cohen—accommodates the SCORE office and the 30+ seminars it runs at SIBL annually.



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    The scarlet ibis is known to the slaves as the Ever-After bird. Legend has it that once a slave sights this bird, he or she will be free. This is also a highly sought-after bird by Alex McGill, bird painter and abolitionist.

    13-year-old Cecilia, aka CeCe, goes to live with her Uncle Alex. Luckily, she is allowed to take her horse, Pelican, with her. Living with her uncle is a bit different than dealing with her father. And Earline, slave-turned-free Oberlin student, throws her for a loop.

    Helping slaves on the Underground Railroad, telling them how to run and cross the stream in order to cut off the scent so that the dogs cannot track them. Uncle Alex is devoted to visiting Southern plantations, fraternizing with the rich folks who feast on luxury, playing the part. Sick and pregnant slaves merely exist in filth and squalor; Doctor McGill treats their bodies and talks to them about the North Star.

    Alex and CeCe cherish each other.

    Slave Angus wears a 15-pound metal contraption around his head that rings like a cow bell in order to thwart his chronic runaway behavior. Earline and white carriage driver Ralph get a bit too cozy with one another. Interracial relationships result in death in 19th Century Southern United States. Whippings designed to cause unconsciousness run rampant.

    Alex and CeCe circulate among the slaves, educating them, struggling to contain their revulsion.

    The Ever-After Bird by Ann Rinaldi, 2009

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     Printed by W. Wilson, 4, Greville-Street, London.

    This project started as a comparison of copies of a series of beautifully illustrated books on fashionable dress, trades’ dress, and ethnic costume at New York Public Library held in both the Art and Architecture Collection and the Rare Book Division. The books in the NYPL collections were originally published beginning in 1800 with The Costume of China and continuing through 1804 with the Costume of the Hereditary States of the House of Austria. (NYPL does not hold all the books in this series). A popular but peculiar volume, The Punishments of China (1801), is also considered part of this series—the format is the same and though not credited on the title page the author is generally acknowledged to be George Henry Mason, author of The Costume of China. Punishments continued its life in print in various dated editions until 1830 (although, as we will see, so did other books though this was not indicated on their title pages). An 1801 copy of Punishments which was part of the library of George III is now part of the British Library collection, a gift of George IV. As with most of the books in this series there are abundant full page hand-colored engravings by J. [John] Dadley with accompanying descriptive text on the facing page in English and French.    

    After seeing a title page which reads “Printed for William Miller, Old Bond Street; by W. Bulmer and Co., Cleveland-Row, St. James’s. 1801.” it is not unreasonable to assume that this book was printed in 1801. The catalog entries of many libraries and special collections, not just NYPL, assume this as well. However this is not necessarily the case. A recent closer inspection of a number of books from publisher William Miller indicated as “printed” between 1800 and 1830 present a different story. This story is also complicated by the fact that most resources report that William Miller sold his publishing house to John Murray II in 1812 although the books in question still indicate William Miller as the publisher on title pages printed years later with no mention of John Murray to be seen.

     with explanations in English and French. (Printed for W. Miller by W. Bulmer, 1801)The difference between the copies in the Art and Architecture Collection and the Rare Book Division is mainly the source of the books—the Rare Book Division copies are originally from the Lenox Library and the Art and Architecture copies are from the Astor Library and other sources. The Rare Book copy of The Costume of Turkey also has an original loose watercolor illustration which is tucked into the preface. Unfortunately none of the copies have the original bindings.

    The inconsistencies between indicated printing date and what was likely the actual printing date became obvious on closer inspection of the books. Watermarks throughout almost all of these volumes indicated different printing dates from the information that appeared on their title pages. A watermark can be a date, name, or design device made of copper or brass wire incorporated in the paper making tray which produces an impression in “the pulp as it settles during the process of papermaking, and is visible in the finished product when held against the light” (John Carter). For example among the five copies of The Punishments of China that NYPL holds only one of the 1801 copies and the 1830 copy, both in the Art and Architecture Collection, have watermarks consistent with the date indicated on the title page. The 1804 A&A copy has watermarks dated 1816, 1818 and a Bulmer colophonwatermark from papermaker J Whatman dated 1819; the 1808 RB copy has watermarks from Edmeads & Pine 1804, E & P 1807 and Turkey Mills J Whatman 1817.  The second “1801” A&A copy not only has J Whatman  1822 watermarks on a few plates but a colophon at the bottom of the last text page which reads “Printed by Howlett & Brimmer, 10, Firth Street, Soho”. Complicating matters here is the fact that Howlett & Brimmer did not even open for business until 1821. The text font of this copy is different from the 1801 William Miller/W. Bulmer and Co. edition as well - obviously a later printing with type that had been reset. What is also very peculiar is that William Miller had left publishing in 1812 and by 1822 his publishing house had been owned by John Murray II for A later “1801” edition with J. Whatman 1822 watermarks and a Howlett & Brimmer colophon on the last text page. ten years. Why maintain “William Miller” on the title page especially if the type had been reset? William Miller did have a reputation as a publisher of high quality books but Murray’s reputation was good as well. In “A Publisher and His Friends: Memoir and Correspondence of John Murray” there is a letter dated May 1, 1812 in which John Murray II discusses his purchase of the business—the lease of the house, copyrights, and stock. He writes that “Miller’s retirement is very extraordinary for no one in the trade will believe that he made a fortune… but it is clear that he has succeeded”. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography the business was sold for £3822 12s. 6d., a “considerable sum in its day”. Miller was only 43 at the time of the sale and lived for another 32 years.

    It is difficult to imagine the manufacturing process for some of these books. Often different printers were used for illustrated plates and for the text pages but the watermarks in these editions are often years apart in both cases and inconsistent with the title page date. Were some printed and/or colored plates and text pages part of William Miller’s stock which had been stored for a number of years, or were these editions the product of odd lots of paper stock cobbled together and printed at a later date?Howlett colophon An “1803” copy of The Costumes of the Russian Empire has watermarks from 1796 (W Elgar), 1809 (Edmeads & Co), 1811, 1813 (J. Whatman), 1818, and 1829. That’s six different watermarks spanning 33 years. While it was not unusual for printers to use different lots of paper for a single book, this situation seems extreme. It is especially puzzling since Philip Gaskell writes that “printers regularly bought paper from particular wholesalers, and that… they rarely used paper that was more than about two years old.”  Although not foolproof—John Carter advises “caution as evidence of date” with watermark—Gaskell describes the value of watermarks, in some cases, as dating aids “to within fine limits.” I believe these are W. Elgar 1796 watermark from the 1800 The Costume of China printed by S. Gosnell.just such cases, especially when dating irregularities are also supported by colophon evidence of later printing dates.

    The paper used in all of these books is wove paper, the invention of James Whatman the elder, and much of it is from the Whatman paper mill, Turkey Mills in Maidstone, Kent. (Wove paper does not have chain lines or wire lines like laid paper.) By the mid-1700s Whatman was one of the largest paper suppliers in Europe producing good quality paper. In 1759 William Balston and the Hollingsworth Brothers became the main papermakers at Turkey E & P watermark from the 1801 Punishments of China printed by W. Bulmer.Mill and they were given rights to the Whatman name after 1807. The Whatman countermark the Hollingsworth Brothers used to distinguish their paper from Balston’s included the inscription ‘TURKEY MILLS’ or ‘TURKEY MILL.’

    What started as a simple comparison of copies between collections turned into an open-ended bibliographic exercise with many rabbit holes to get lost in. All title page information need not be suspect, however, the lesson in all of this is that there are many paths to bibliographic enlightenment regarding dates in late 18th and early 19th century books. These factors include but are hardly limited to knowing the active years of the publisher and printer(s), and when available, the paper makers and their watermarks. Good luck.

    The Howlett & Brimmer “1801” copy of The Punishments of China is available online in the NYPL Digital Collections (illustrated plates only) and the full version is available via Hathi Trust.

    Copies inspected:

    Art and Architecture Collection:

    Mason, G. H. (1800). The costume of China. London: William Miller. Printed by S. Gosnell. Watermarks: 1796 W Elgar; 1796 VF

    [Mason, G.H.], (1801). The punishments of China. London: William Miller. Printed by W. Bulmer. Watermarks: 1796; E & P (Edmeads & Pine, Ivy Mill?); also Magnay & Pickering 1800 watermarks on the tissue between the plates and the text pages.

    [Mason, G.H.], (“1801”). The punishments of China. London: William Miller. Printed by Howlett & Brimmer. Watermarks: 1822 J. Whatman

    [Mason, G.H.], (1804). The punishments of China. London: William Miller. Title page reads: Printed by W. Bulmer, last text page colophon reads: Printed by W. Wilson, 4, Greville-Street, London. Watermarks: 1816; 1818; Turkey Mills J Whatman 1819

    [Mason, G.H.], (1830). The punishments of China. London: William Miller. Printed by W. Bulmer. Watermarks: Turkey Mill J Whatman 1830; Incomplete marks: Wis…18...; …& Co…29

    [Alexander, W.], (1802). The costume of Turkey. London: William Miller. Printed by T. Bensley. Watermarks: 1811 J Whatman; 1817 J Whatman

    [Alexander, W.], (1803) The costume of the Russian empire. London: William Miller. Printed by S. Gosnell. Watermarks: 1811; 1813 J Whatman; 1815 W Spear; 1817 J Whatman; 1817 Turkey Mills J Whatman

     [Alexander, W.], (1803) The costume of the Russian empire. London: William Miller. Printed by S. Gosnell. Watermarks: 1796 W Elgar; 1809 Edmeads & Co; 1811; 1813 J Whatman; 1818; 1829 fragment: Wis…& Co 1…29

    [Alexander, W.], (1804) The costume of the Russian empire. London: William Miller. Printed by W. Bulmer. Watermarks: 1818; 1819 J Whatman; 1820 J Whatman

    Rare Book Division:

    [Alexander, W.], (ca.1802) The costume of Turkey. London: William Miller. Printed by W. Bulmer. Watermarks: 1811; 1817 J Whatman

    [Alexander, W.], (1803) The costume of the Russian empire. London: William Miller. Printed by S. Gosnell. Watermarks: 1796 W Elgar; 1817 J Whatman

    [Bertrand-de-Molleville, A.F.], (1804) The costume of the hereditary states of the house of Austria. Watermarks: 1811; 1817 J Whatman;  1817 Turkey Mills J Whatman

    [Mason, G.H.], (1808) The punishments of China. London: William Miller. Printed by S. Gosnell. Watermarks: 1804 Edmeads & Pine; 1807 E & P; 1817 J Whatman;  1817 Turkey Mills J Whatman


    Balston, T., James Whatman, father & son. London: Methuen (1957)

    British Book Trade Index

    Brown, P.A.H., London publishers and printers, c.1800–1870. London: British Library (1982)

    Carter, J. and Baker, N., ABC for book collectors. Delaware: Oak Knoll Press; London: British Library (2004)

    Gaskell, P., A new introduction to bibliography. Delaware: Oak Knoll Press (1995)

    Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entries for: William Miller; John Murray II; James Whatman

    National Gallery of Australia

    Smiles, S., A Publisher and His Friends: Memoir and Correspondence of the Late John Murray. London: J. Murray (1891) available on HathiTrust     

    Thanks to:

    Charles Cuykendall Carter of the Pforzheimer Collection for help with London publishing resources, the Rare Book Division, and the Rare-Books Reference Service of the British Library for their assistance. 

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    Sports - Archery - Group of women aiming at heart shaped targets. Image ID: 1682803

    St. Valentine’s Day is not a holiday that I usher in with much fanfare. Professionally, I decorate the adult display center in my branch with St. Valentine’s Day items and arrange books and DVDS on said display relevant to the immediately aforementioned holiday as well as material related to heart health. On a personal level, aside from placing a paper St. Valentine’s Day decoration on my door and dispatching one of the Library's vintage St. Valentine’s Day e-cards to my nephew and niece, respectively, I do not engage in any form of celebration of the holiday. I am also past the age where I lament the absence of flowers and candy being presented to me on that day. (My niece finds it simply incredulous that there was ever a time when I was the recipient of roses and male amorous attention. At seventeen years of age, Amanda is apparently convinced that I entered this planet in my forties, with a rather ample girth.)

    I was shopping in the supermarket, attempting to recall if I required any additional diet soda (I like to delude myself into believing that diet soda washes away any calories I ingest), when my cart inadvertently collided with another shopper’s. I began to murmur an apology for my culpability in said collision, when the operator of the other shopping cart exclaimed, “Muriel! How nice to, well, literally run into you!” Lisa is a fellow parishioner at my church.

    "I am so happy that I encountered you here, as I wanted to express my appreciation for your providing me with the information on the 'Books-by-Mail' program! After my husband's minor cardiac incident a few months ago, he represented the living embodiment of the term 'stir-crazy!' Scott was unable, because of certain restrictions imposed on him by his cardiologist, to perform household repairs or even vigorously exercise. While he was in the cardiac rehabilitation center, he was quite relieved to know he could read e-books and access databases (he assiduously used the MEDLINEplus database for further edification of the tests his MD proposed for Scott), free of charge courtesy of the Library, on his computer tablet. However, I inadvertently dropped Scott's tablet while escorting him home from the cardiac rehabilitation center one afternoon, and he morphed into a petulant schoolboy! Muriel, he was so bored, he actually offered to help organize my pocketbook!" (Lisa and I shared a collective shudder at the mere thought!) After you provided me with the Books-by-Mail application, Scott's visiting nurse completed her portion of the form. She shot me a quizzical look as I sprinted out of my front door before the ink had a chance to dry on said form, but, after all, she is not the one who had to gently albeit forcibly restrain her husband from rearranging her jewelry box! Scott adored receiving one of those packages from the NYPL containing his requested books, CDs and DVDs. And, I loved the fact that the Library provided a postage paid, pre-addressed envelope with each shipment, as well as a form to request additional items to borrow from within the NYPL's Circulating collection, saving me both time and money. Two precious commodities, to be sure! Thankfully, Scott is now able to again visit our local branch."

    A message of true love. Image ID: 1588522

    Loquacious Lisa continued. "The information that you provided solved one problem that hovered over my marriage, but now St. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and I just do not know how to properly celebrate the day with my husband! I don’t dare risk causing too much overt excitement over the day in light of Scott's heart ailment, but I’d like to avoid rendering our marriage a lackluster union.” One of life’s greatest enigmas is the fact that a simply staggering number of entities during my life have approached me for advice (which I resolutely eschew dispensing) on all matters amorous. The immediately aforementioned occurrences are inexplicable when one considers the fact that I am a woman who resides with a passel of felines. Hence, it remains incomprehensible to me as to why I am apparently, as adjudged from the surfeit of inquiries I receive on the topic, considered the Oracle of Delphi on all matters romantic. The situation is analogous to Mother Teresa seeking child care advice from Joan Crawford. “Lisa,” I diplomatically began, “you know I never interfere in anyone else’s marriage or even romantic relationship.” Seizing me by my upper arms, Lisa looked me earnestly in the eyes and implored, ‘Please, Muriel?!? What if I end up living alone with a bunch of cats…” Lisa sensed her social faux-pas as she released her grip on my upper arms and then brushed a cat hair off my coat, pasted a transparently false cheerful look on her countenance and inquired, “So, how are your darling cats?” After assuring Lisa that my ego and cats were fine, I again attempted to leave, only for Lisa to dramatically bite her lip to forestall the tide of tears that threatened to flow. She sniffed, "That's okay, Muriel. I'm sure my heart patient husband will comprehend if I do not demonstrate my love to him on St. Valentine's Day with a special event. After all, what can a paucity of demonstrable affection do—induce his death?"

    Not wishing to bear even the least bit of culpability for another's death, I sighed and cast my mind back over the list of upcoming events scheduled to convene at different library branches. "Well, I recall reading that the 115th Street branch is hosting a crochet/knitting circle at noon on St. Valentine's Day with a viewing of a movie to follow. And, the Library contains the highly relevant book, Crochet Red: Crocheting for Women's Heart Health in its collection. Perhaps Scott would like to learn how to crochet, maybe creating something for your birthday in May? And, one of the great American classic movies directed by Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity, is scheduled to be viewed at the Mid-Manhattan Branch on the day after St. Valentine's Day at 2 pm. The Library contains a large number of cookbooks laden with heart-healthy recipes in its collection, so you shouldn't experience any dilemma in securing ideas for a cardiac salubrious meal for your husband on St. Valentine's Day." Lisa inquired as to the admittance fee for the above programs, and was overjoyed when I explained that all programs, events, exhibitions and classes are free of charge. "Just access the Now! publication on-line or pick up a physical copy of Now! from any NYPL branch to view a listing of activities occurring within the library system." After profusely thanking me for the hopefully marriage-enhancing information, Lisa bid me adieu in the snacks aisle, where I noticed a display of the limited edition Red Velvet Oreos...


    The human heart. Image ID: 409737



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    Family History
    Hungarian Family at Ellis Island, all of whom were deported. 1905. Image ID: 417071

    If you have done any family history research, such as looking for records on and or conducting interviews with older family members, you may have pondered writing about your genealogy research. Here are 20 reasons why you should cease pondering and start writing:

    You’ll feel wiser.

    In 2014, ⅓ online adults used the Internet to learn more about their family history.
    67% said that knowing their family history has made them feel wiser as a person.
    72% said it helped them be closer to older relatives.
    52% said they discovered ancestors they had not known about., Global Study of Users, 2014

    First person narratives and family histories are important historical documents.

    “You are doing a service by leaving a legacy, no matter how small or large.”
    “The interesting stories in your life have become familiar to you… The novelty of these stories is most apparent to someone hearing them for the first time.”
    The Story of You: A Guide for Writing Your Personal Stories and Family History, John Bond, 2014

    You are an important person. You have things to pass on, to your children, to your local history society, to unknown future generations.

    “The entire story of mankind has come to us from individual voices from the past.”
    Family Focused: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your Autobiography and Family History, Janice T. Dixon, 1997

    You and your family are important to somebody, probably many somebodies.

    “Just watch... ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ to see how many ways one life touches so many others. The few families on the Mayflower probably produced more than 20 million descendants.”
    The Story of You: A Guide for Writing Your Personal Stories and Family History, John Bond, 2014

    Family trees are abstract. Stories add depth.

    “It makes names into real, live people. Family stories help you and your family become more than a birth and a death date.”
    The Story of You: A Guide for Writing Your Personal Stories and Family History, John Bond, 2014

    Jeter Family
    The Jeter Family in 1901. Image ID: 1235217

    Memories over time become fragmented and distorted. People may not remember the things you told them but did not write down.

    “I am not famous or rich, but I still want to be remembered.”
    Family Focused: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your Autobiography and Family History, Janice T. Dixon, 1997

    Writing your family history gives you the chance to depict your ancestors how you see fit.

    “You cannot write our story. You have no right.”
    In 2004, Native Americans react to depictions of their ancestors in documents about Lewis & Clark.
    History News, Summer 2014

    There is a need for diverse family histories about those who have not been represented well in history texts.

    “For members of marginalized groups, speaking personally and truthfully about our lives plays a small part in erasing years of invisibility and interpretation by others.”
    Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, Judith Barrington, 1997

    There is a need for more family histories documenting female lines.

    “The traditional descendants-of genealogy usually begins with the immigrant and follows descendants for some number of generations. Often they have a paternalistic bent and follow only male descendants who bore the surname….In the future we hope to see less short-changing of maternal lines and collateral lines in published material.”
    Producing a Quality Family History, Patricia Law Hatcher, 1996

    There is a need for more family histories about families who are not affluent.

    “Genealogical publishing [in the past] was accessible primarily to the affluent…. Modern genealogists are researching ancestors who are relatively recent immigrants, landless, illiterate, living on the frontier or migrating. There seems to be a trend away from idealizing our ancestors.”
    Producing a Quality Family History, Patricia Law Hatcher, 1996

    Paiute Family in Yosemite, circa 1900. Image ID: 1690994

    Family histories humanize the people you know or knew and remember for those who did not know them.

    “The generations slipped away as I shared her grief for a moment. In reading her words I felt closer to my grandmother than I ever have.”
    Family Focused: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your Autobiography and Family History, Janice T. Dixon, 1997

    Information raises questions. Genealogy research has brought new facts into your life.

    “They research and write down when and where mom and dad were married. I don’t want to say accurate facts aren’t important, but I do question priorities here. The facts, or at least the important facts, of mom and dad’s marriage were not where and when it took place but what they made of it.”
    For All Time: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History, Charley Kempthorne, 1996

    It may help you understand your current family dynamics.

    “I spent a year writing my story which is also my mother’s story and the story of our family. It was a most enlightening time for me, one I treasure, because it forced me to look at my life, re-shape it in many ways, and to laugh at things that I had taken so seriously before. I matured in many ways and became more tolerant and caring. It also freed me from some of my doubts and fears.”
    Family Focused: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your Autobiography and Family History, Janice T. Dixon, 1997

    It will help you build or solidify a sense of family.

    “I suggest that family history is more important than any other history simply because family is the fundamental, rock-bottom unit of society.”
    For All Time: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History, Charley Kempthorne, 1996

    Writing is reflective. Writing is investing in yourself.

    “In writing your personal history, you put perspective and purpose in your life. You begin to understand yourself better than you ever have.”
    Family Focused: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your Autobiography and Family History, Janice T. Dixon, 1997

    Cowboy writing
    Cowboy writing in a notebook, 1909. Image ID: 5027900

    It can be therapeutic.

    “Studies show that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory…. Writing -- and then rewriting -- your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.”
    New York Times, "Writing Your Way To Happiness," Tara Parker-Pope, January 19, 2015

    Don’t take for granted that the lives of your ancestors are lost. Evidence of the people they have been exists somewhere and is discoverable.

    “Virtually all my finds have been made from old manuscripts in public repositories and have been of the family moving, not in the company of celebrities…, but among people as little known to fame as themselves.”
    How to Write a Family History: The Lives and Times of Our Ancestors, Terrick FitzHugh, 1988

    “It will have a wider impact than you might imagine.”

    After publishing some of her family histories and donating to libraries and archives, author Penny Stratton heard from other researchers that they had found leads and data in her writings.
    American Ancestors, Spring 2014

    Family members and even distant cousins may become more forward in contributing documents, photos, and stories for your genealogical research.

    “It’s cousin-bait.”
    Genea-Musings, “Why Do You Write About Your Personal Research?” Randy Seaver, January 2015

    You will be encouraged to archive and preserve the documents on which your family history research is based: certificates, letters, diaries, etc.

    “These documents function within the family in the same way that important documents of our common history function within the nation.”
    For All Time: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History, Charley Kempthorne, 1996

    Writing Your Family History is a class offered by the Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy. Please check our website for upcoming dates. If you have a family history that you would like to donate to libraries, consider the New York Public Library (details on our FAQ) and the Library of Congress.

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    Eleven-year-old Harriet Whitehead is hired to write letters for a blind woman on a Virginia cotton plantation in 1830. There, she meets 14-year-old Violet, a half-black and half-white girl who becomes her soul sister. Family abounds; Pleasant helps smooth out Richard's rough edges, and Baby William charms everyone with smiles and toddling cuteness.

    There is talk of buying slaves because they "do a good day's work" or for any other reason. Abide by the treatment that slaves receive? Nat Turner begs to differ, and he spearheads one of the largest slave rebellions ever in 1831. Fifty people are killed by the out-of-control slaves, and there is an even harsher community backlash. Someone will hang Nat. Slitting people's throats, the few survivors hiding in mortal fear for their lives. Two-year-old William's cries reverberate in the house because babies turn into men who seek revenge.

    Harriet has only her hope, her intelligence, and the cooperation of her staff to keep the family business afloat. Harriet learned how the plantation was run, from talking with staff and from the letters she wrote. Forty acres of cotton to be plowed in thirteen days. A pickup day to be determined.

    The Letter Writer by Ann Rinaldi, 2008

    I thought it was neat that the book consisted of letters interspersed with prose. I recently saw a PBS documentary about David Livingston, who sought to end the slave trade in Africa, and the horrid instruments of torture that were used on Africans.

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    Ce mois de février on célèbre l’Histoire des Noirs aux États-Unis. C’est en février 1926 que l’historien Afro-américain Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) a proposé d’honorer les réalisations des Noirs américains en instituant le Mois de l’histoire des Noirs aux États-Unis. 

    Pour commémorer cette occasion on vous propose des titres dont vous trouvez dans le catalogue de NYPL. Réservez-les et cherchez-les à votre bibliothèque de quartier la plus proche.


    Des fourmis dans la boucheDes fourmis dans la bouche par Khadidjatou Hane

    «Gratteurs d'écailles dans une poissonnerie, vendeurs ambulants de montres de pacotille ou de statuettes en bois, journaliers payés au noir pour décharger des sacs d'un camion, hommes à tout faire d'un commerçant pakistanais qui revendait des pots de crème à l'hydroquinone censés procurer aux nègres l'éclat d'une peau blanche, la leur ne faisant plus l'affaire. Sur le marché Dejean, on trouvait de tout... 
    Née au Mali, Khadîdja élève seule quatre enfants à Paris, dans le quartier de Château-Rouge. Pétrie de double culture, musulmane mais le doute chevillé au corps, elle se retrouve exclue de sa communauté du fait de sa liaison avec Jacques, le père de son fils métis. Cercle après cercle, depuis ses voisines maliennes jusqu'aux patriarches du foyer Sonacotra et à ses propres enfants, Khadîdja passe en jugement. 
    Mais cette absurde comparution, où Africains et Européens rivalisent dans la bêtise et l'injustice, réveille en elle une force et un humour inattendus. Tableau intense de Château-Rouge, Des fourmis dans la bouche est porté par une écriture inventive au ton très singulier, fondée par la double appartenance. Un roman qui dit la difficile liberté d'une femme africaine en France.»

    Home par Toni MorrisonHome

    «L’histoire se déroule dans l’Amérique des années 1950, encore frappée par la ségrégation. Dans une Amérique où le « White only » ne s’applique pas qu’aux restaurants ou aux toilettes, mais à la musique, au cinéma, à la culture populaire. L’Amérique de Home est au bord de l’implosion et bouillonne, mais c’est ici la violence contre les Noirs américains, contre les femmes qui s’exprime. Les grands changements amorcés par le rejet du Maccarthisme, par la Fureur de vivre ou le déhanché d’Elvis n’ont pas encore commencés.

    En effet, les Noirs Américains sont brimés et subissent chaque jour le racisme et la violence institutionnalisés par les lois Jim Crow, qui distinguent les citoyens selon leur appartenance « raciale ». Pour eux, le moindre déplacement, même le plus simple, d’un état à l’autre, devient une véritable mission impossible. En réponse à cette oppression, l’entraide et le partage – facilités par l’utilisation du Negro Motorist Green Book de Victor H. Green qui répertorie les restaurants et hôtels accueillant les noirs dans différents états – sont au coeur des relations de cette communauté noire dans une Amérique à la veille de la lutte pour les droits civiques. La guerre de Corée vient à peine de se terminer, et le jeune soldat Frank Money rentre aux Etats-Unis, traumatisé, en proie à une rage terrible qui s’exprime aussi bien physiquement que par des crises d’angoisse.»

    La mort du lendemainLa mort du lendemain par Jérôme Nouhouaï

    «Quelque part en Afrique… Une manifestation populaire, hostile au pouvoir en place. Une balle meurtrière qui va infléchir le destin d’un jeune homme. C’est à une formidable odyssée vengeresse, riche en rebondissements que nous convie l’auteur de ce surprenant récit. C’est aussi, sur fond de guerre civile, le tableau d’une société rongée par la misère et ses conséquences : exploitation, répression, corruption … » Source: Présence Africaine



    La Rose dans le bus jaune par Eugène Ebodé La Rose dans le bus jaune

    «Young Man,

    J'ai reçu votre charmante lettre. Il m'aurait plu de m'entretenir avec vous, même un court instant, de l'année du boycott à Montgomery que vous avez joliment appelée notre "odyssée de l'égalité". Hélas, la médecine m'oblige à garder la chambre. Non, votre question sur ma résistance dans le fameux bus jaune ne m'agace pas. Ce geste ne fut pas prémédité. Je suis simplement restée assise pour tenir debout. Nous avons, Blancs et Noirs, bravé férocité, intimidations, crachats et intempéries au nom de la dignité humaine. Ah! si vous saviez combien les images des chiens aux yeux luisants, aux babines rouge sang, et lancés à nos trousses lors des marches pacifiques ont mis du temps à s'effacer de ma mémoire. Mais le "I have a dream" de Martin Luther King, ponctué de vibrants "Yes sir!" devant le Lincoln Memorial à Washington, résonne encore en moi comme un puissant hymne de fraternité. J'ai côtoyé des êtres exceptionnels et des gens haineux et stupides! Ils venaient de tous les camps, y compris du nôtre. Dans le texte que je vous envoie, je parle enfin de Douglas White junior, ce Blanc qui voulut s'asseoir à ma place et que l'histoire a ignoré. Il fait partie de ces incroyables personnages que le combat pour les droits civiques m'a aussi permis de découvrir. Lisez-moi, young man, et n'oubliez pas de me répondre, ne n'oubliez pas.

    Rosa» Source: Éditions Gallimard.


    Barack ObamaBarack Obama: le premier président noir des Etats-Unis par Guillaume Serina

    «L'élection de Barack Obama était "une première dans de nombreux domaines", ainsi qu'il l'a reconnu au soir du 4 novembre. Le jeune sénateur noir de l'Illinois, avant même d'entrer à la Maison Blanche, s'est ainsi inscrit de lui-même dans la légende américaine. Et pourtant, qui le connaissait voici seulement deux ans? Ses adversaires le disaient inexpérimenté, pas assez patriote, trop à gauche, excessivement "cool". Mais Obama a su devenir l'icône d'une génération neuve, avide de nouvelles frontières. Le 44e président américain est-il vraiment le "Kennedy noir"? Saura-t-il donner un nouveau souffle au "rêve américain"? Comment entend-il sortir le pays du bourbier irakien? Réagir aux provocations, qu'elles viennent d'Iran ou de Russie? Combler le fossé qui se creuse entre riches et pauvres? Guillaume Serina a suivi jour après jour la campagne du candidat démocrate, interrogeant les témoins de sa jeunesse et de sa marche vers le pouvoir. Du caucus victorieux de l'Iowa au triomphe de Grant Park à Chicago, il livre les instantanés d'une ascension et esquisse ce que pourrait être le nouveau visage de l'Amérique.» Source:

    Le doux parfum des temps à venir par Lyonel TrouillotLe doux parfum des temps à venir

    «Sans précision de heu ni d'époque, une mère parle à sa fille. En fuite, marquée au fer d'une fleur de honte, elle revisite les parfums violents de ses haltes et de ses errances. Voyage dans le souvenir de cités délabrées, de paysages désertiques, de musiques barbares, de corps défaits et de rêves interdits, mais, naissant en elle, comme après chaque épreuve, par la promesse de l'enfant à naître, à qui elle raconte aujourd'hui leur histoire, le doux parfum des temps à venir. Source:


    Haïti noirHaïti noir

    «Tragiquement connue pour son histoire violente et chaotique, ainsi que pour la catastrophe qui l’a frappé en 2010, Haïti est le pays le plus pauvre des Amériques – et l’un des plus riches sur le plan littéraire. Cette anthologie de dix-huit nouvelles, projet lancé avant le tremblement de terre, réaffirme le talent des auteurs contemporains haïtiens, qu’ils vivent sur place ou qu’ils soient issus de la diaspora, sur un terrain où ils ne sont pas forcément attendus : le genre noir.

    Sont représentés des auteurs aussi bien francophones qu’anglophones. Auteurs : Kettly Mars, Gary Victor, Evelyne Trouillot, Madison Smart Bell, Edwige Danticat, Louis-Philippe Dalembert, Yanick Lahens, Rodney Saint-Eloi, Marvin Victor, Marie Lily Cerat, M.J. Fievre, Mark Kurlansky, Josaphat Robert-Large, Nadine Pinede, Patrick Sylvain, Marie Ketsia Theodore-Pharel, Katia D. Ulysse, Ibi Aanu Zoboi. » Source:


    I have a dream par Martin Luther King Jr. 1929-1968I have a dream

    «Le 28 août 1963, Martin Luther King réunit des centaines de milliers de personnes à Washington. Sur les marches du Mémorial Lincoln, il prononce un discours fondamental : un appel à la liberté et à l'égalité de tous, quelle que soit la couleur de la peau, qui fait toujours écho dans le coeur et l'esprit de toutes les générations. Kadir Nelson illustre magnifiquement les passages les plus emblématiques du discours, qui figure dans son intégralité à la fin de cet ouvrage unique. Martin Luther King (1929-1968) est une des figures américaines les plus importantes du XXe siècle. Pasteur, écrivain et infatigable militant des droits civiques, son discours I Have A Dream fut un moment décisif de cette lutte. En 1964, il reçoit le prix Nobel de la paix pour son combat non violent contre le racisme, la ségrégation et les discriminations. La même année la ségrégation devient effectivement illégale aux Etats- Unis et, en 1965, les Noirs américains obtiennent le droit de vote.» Source:

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    Hasta ahora, el origen del Día de San Valentín, el 14 de febrero, continúa siendo un misterio. Algunos opinan que San Valentín fue un romano martirizado por negarse a renunciar a su fe cristiana. Otros historiadores sostienen que  fue un sacerdote encarcelado por desafiar las normas durante el reinado de Claudio. También sabemos que los antiguos romanos celebraban la fiesta de Lupercalia, un festival de primavera, el 15 de febrero. Con la introducción del cristianismo, la fiesta se trasladó al 14 de febrero - el día santo que celebra varios mártires cristianos llamados Valentín. Pero en algún lugar a lo largo del camino, el Día de San Valentín llegó a representar el romance (America’s Story from America’s Library)

    Mientras tanto podemos seguir disfrutando de la tradición regalando afectos por doquier y por supuesto, no deben faltar ¡historias  para leer!

    Esta lista también está disponible en formato PDF


    Anhelos del corazón

    Jude Deveraux

    Gemma Ranford revisa los documentos de la Familia Frazier y descubre una piedra legendaria que tiene fama de conceder los deseos de sus familiares.  pero cuando busca la ayuda de Colin Frazier, se da cuenta de que se está enamorando de él.



    La cazadora de almas

    Alyson Noël

    Después de descubrir su destino como cazadora de almas navegando entre los vivos y los muertos, Dace conoce al chico de sus sueños.



    Cómo perdonar cuando no puedes

    Jim Dincalci

     “La guía más avanzada para liberar tu corazón y tu mente de las ofensas.”



    El corazón del caimán

    Pilar Ruiz

    En el año 1897, Ada está convencida de que su marido, Victor no desapareció en combate y con la ayuda de Pompeya, una santera destacada, Ada inicia una larga búsqueda a través de una guerra en la isla de Cuba.



    Un corazón sin fronteras

    Nick Vujicic

    “La fe que necesitas para una vida ridículamente positiva.”



    La dicha del alma

    Ramiro A. Calle

    Carlota emprende viajes a países lejanos para reponerse de sus recientes tragedias y encuentra los guías espirituales que la ayudan a encontrar la serenidad que busca.



    Los dones de la imperfección

    Brené Brown

    “Libérate de quien crees que deberías ser y abraza a quien realmente eres: guía para vivir de todo corazón.”



    Una fiesta para el alma

    Zaira Leal

    “Guía espiritual para los nuevos tiempos.”



    Piensa con el corazón:

    Arthur Rowshan

    “Historias inspiradoras para encontrar la paz interior.”




    Siete mil maneras de escuchar

    Mark Nepo

    “Aprende a percibir al otro y descubre tu papel en el mundo.”



    Tan lejos como tu corazón puede ver

    Mark Nepo

    “Historias que iluminar el alma.”



    Yo te quiero

    Irene Cao

    En esta historia, parte de la trilogía de Yo te miro,  y Yo te siento, Leonardo quiere salvar a Elena de ella misma, pero Elena parece ser la única que puede salvarlo a él.

    Esta lista también está disponible en formato PDF. Algunas de estas y otras obras también pueden estar disponibles en diferentes formatos. Para más información sírvase comunicarse con el bibliotecario de su biblioteca local. Síganos por ¡Twitter! Para información sobre eventos favor de visitar: Eventos en Español. Más Blog en Español.

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