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    When you're watching the most fit people on the planet compete for love and glory in Rio, you need a good book to really help you settle into the couch.

    And just as with fine wines and meals, you need the right book to pair with the right sport! Here are some book pairings for the top three most popular and the bottom three least popular events, as determined by the IOC.

    Most Popular Events


    Nimble and quick and complex; short, fragmented fiction that makes you think.


    Powerful, methodical works of nonfiction that show persistence pays off.


    Athletics (a.k.a. Track & Field)
    Linked short stories, all different but with a thread of commonality.


    Least Popular Events


    Modern pentathlon
    Graphic novels for adults: Cool books that don’t get nearly enough attention.


    Long classics that take patience and hard work.


    Offbeat science fiction in a world that plays by its own rules.


    Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

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    It's prime beach-reading season! Romance and thrillers climb to the top of the list this week.

    girl train

    #1 Recommendations for readers who enjoyed The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, more stories told from multiple perspectives:

    And Then There Was Oneby Patricia Gussin

    Murder on the Orient Expressby Agatha Christie

    Fates & Furiesby Lauren Groff



    black widow

    #2 Recommendations for readers who enjoyed The Black Widow by Daniel Silva, more juicy spy series:

    The John Corey series, starting with Plum Island, by Nelson DeMille

    The Stone Barrington series, starting with New York Dead, by Stuart Woods

    The John Wells series, starting with The Faithful Spy, by Alex Berenson




    after you

    #3 Recommendations for readers who enjoyed After You by Jojo Moyes, more character-driven romance:

    Shopgirlby Steve Martin

    One Dayby David Nicholls

    P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern




    boss man#4 Recommendations for readers who enjoyedBoss Man by Vi Keeland, more steamy stories set in New York City:

    Entwined with Youby Sylvia Day

    The Husband List by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

    Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin




    me before you

    #5 Recommendations for readers who enjoyed Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, more British love stories:

    Other People's Childrenby Joanna Trollope

    One Dayby David Nicholls

    The House We Grew Up Inby Lisa Jewell





    Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

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    Being nice may actually help people get ahead in business. After all, staff are more willing to stay and help the company if they feel that they are being treated well. This attitude filters down to the customers. Of course, happy customers are good for business.

    Traits of enlightened leaders, according to Shankman:

    1. Enlightened self-interest: Serving customers well drives increased revenues.
    2. Accessibility: Receiving valuable ideas from staff can help sales.
    3. Strategic listening: Listening for the best options helps decision making.
    4. Good stewardship: Giving to charity makes the community more positive about the company.
    5. 360 loyalty: Staff can evaluate their managers, colleagues and subordinates.
    6. Glass half-full: Optimism is good, but not blind optimism.
    7. Customer-service centric: Some companies will not promote individuals with poor customer service skills.
    8. Merit-based competitor: If you are awesome at what you do, you do not need to undercut your competitors.

    Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over and Collaboration Is In by Peter Shankman, 2013

    It seems like a benevolent idea to encourage ethical business practices.

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    by Elizabeth Cronin and Zulay Chang, Photography Collection.

    First Picture taken in absolute darkness
    The “First Picture taken in absolute darkness,” dated October 7, 1931 on verso. Used with permission from Kodak. Accession number/Call no.: MFY 03-4850

    At first glance, this photograph may not seem like much. The photograph depicts a group of men in suits, sitting in a theater. We don’t know what they are viewing and there doesn’t seem to be anything happening… that is until you learn the title of the image: 

    “First Picture taken in absolute darkness.”

    How could this photograph be taken in “absolute darkness” if the space appears lit? And furthermore, photographing in the dark seems an impossible task. After all, the word photography means drawing with light. How then was this photograph made? 

    Letter dated October 8, 1931 on Eastman Kodak Co. letterhead.
    Letter dated October 8, 1931 on Eastman Kodak Co. letterhead. Accession number/Call no.: MFY 03-4850

    Accompanying the photograph in the library’s collection are three documents: two letters and a newspaper article. In a letter dated October 8, 1931, Eugene Chrystal, the Public Relations Director from the Eastman Kodak Company, writes to Will H. Hays, the first President of the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America, expressing his delight and amazement of photograph. Chrystal gifts the photograph to Mr. Hays and encloses it along with a clipping. The enclosed clipping informs us that invisible infra-red light flooded the theater and Kodak’s new sensitized film responded to it.

    The Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, N.Y. was one of the leading companies that made photographic equipment, film negatives and photographic papers. They invested heavily in research and development of their products. A new sensitized film, along with the “flood of infrared light” made this photograph possible. Kodak viewed it as a great success. The company soon introduced the film commercially and infrared photography became more common. Motion pictures even began using infrared film, which blocks the visible spectrum, to simulate night scenes during the day.

    "New Sensitized Film Penetrates Darkness in Photography Triumph" clipping
    News clipping from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Oct. 8, 1931.
    Accession number/Call no.: MFY 03-4850

    Less than a month after the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America received the photograph and clipping, they donated it to the New York Public Library. In the donation letter, Frank Wilstach writes he thinks the library would want it “as a curiosity” and a curious photograph it is indeed.

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    This is the second in a series of of posts highlighting some of the fascinating stories from the historical Staten Island newspapers now being digitized and uploaded to the web.  Find out more about this project at .

    America's first, and now iconic, aerial photo of the lower Manhattan skyline was nearly lost to a Staten Island clothesline.

    After waiting for several days for a favorable wind, Prof. Leo Stevens made a balloon ascension from Stapleton on July 21, 1906, that proved to be thrilling.  When the balloon first started about 3 o'clock it tried to go through a nearby tree. Then it got tangled up in some woman's clothes line and smashed into the side of a brick building, nearly upsetting the basket containing the occupants.  After a while it got clear of the island. Hovering over the waters of the bay, it sailed speedily toward Manhattan. The route was over Governor's Island and then Lower Manhattan where 100,000 people watched it with breathless interest ...

    Albert Leo Stevens, a Pioneer

    Albert Leo Stevens
    Albert Leo Stevens , c. 1910-1915  (Library of Congress)

    Albert Leo Stevens (March 9, 1877? – May 8, 1944) was a pioneering balloonist and parachute designer.  He began making balloon ascensions in 1889 at age 12, and started manufacturing balloons and dirigibles in 1893.  In 1895, he made his first parachute jump from a church spire in Montreal, Canada.  He flew one of the first dirigibles in the U.S.  He helped develop the new "manual free type" parachute design that allowed the jumper to release the chute when desired. The chutes would first be tested in airplane jumps over Oakwood Heights, Staten Island in 1911. The design, for the Switlike parachute company of Trenton, N. J.,  is still in use today.

    Under the auspices of the Aero Club of America, Stevens teamed up with the Parisian balloonist Charles Levee of the Aero Club of France. On July 7, 1906 Levee told the New York Times: "Stevens and I had succeeded in making a high altitude record in ... Pennsylvania ... but no one seems to have heard about it.  We had ascended three and a half miles...Then a bottle of champagne was thrown out, and we timed it, learning that it took three and a half minutes to hit the ground."  The Times also reported that they would be testing a new "water anchor" in New York City—a bag designed to be dropped on a rope which would then fill with ocean water and hold the balloon fast for a rescue by ships at sea. The two aeronauts were joined by veteran Collier's Weekly photographer James H. Hare in an attempt to capture the first-ever aerial view of lower Manhattan.

    The easiest way to get a balloon over lower Manhattan was to find a source of lighter-than-air gas upwind from the Battery.  The New York and Richmond Gas Company was just that place.   However, their gas was not helium, as one might expect in a modern weather balloon, but the heavier "natural" gas (methane) leading to considerable difficulties— and thrills—for this trio of daring balloonists.

    New York and Richmond Gas Company
    In this advertisement the  New York and Richmond Gas gas tank is visible.  The company was located in the Stapleton/Clifton area, and so the balloonists began their journey nearby.  Richmond County Advance., August 28, 1909, Page 10


    New York and Richmond Gas at Stapleton/Clifton
    The Gas Works (with circular storage tanks) at Stapleton/Clifton, near Bay St. and Willow Ave.  
    (Complete map in the NYPL Digital Collections )

    Photographer James Hare Picks up the Adventure

    Balloon Launch, Stapleton, Staten Island, 1906
    James H. Hare, Charles Levee and Leo Stevens  (Photograph by James Hare/Collier's)

    "It was with the object of making the first photographs of the heart of the skyscraper section of New York from a balloon that I engaged Mr. Charles Levee and Mr. Leo Stevens, and the balloon Aero Club No. 2, for an ascent for Collier's. I got the photographs, but I also had an experience, concluded by a ducking in the Sound, which was more thrilling than any I had as a photographer in either the Cuban or the Russo-Japanese wars.  Previous ascents of the Aero Club had been made from One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Street, where the proper gas could be had and the facilities generally were good. As the winds almost invariably carried the balloon when it rose from One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Street away from Manhattan Island I had to seek another point of departure. Governor's Island was the ideal spot, but out of the question, as the military station there has no gas. Finally, we chose the station of the New York and Richmond Gas Company at Clifton, Staten Island.  It was not the fault of the company, which was most accommodating in every way, that their illuminating gas was poorly suited to our purpose.  My expectation was that the winds would carry us straight across the bay and over the Battery. The pilot balloons we sent up, however, seemed to bear out the skepticism of the fisherman on this score, for they went in every direction but the one we wanted. Day after day we waited for a favoring current until one of the patient crews of sightseers, which gathered each morning, expressed the opinion that I was a fake working in the interest of the passenger service of the Staten Island ferries.  

    Balloon Launch Stapleton, Staten Island
    The Balloon Colliding With a House at The Start  (Photograph by Burton/Collier's)

    On Sunday, the 15th, we had partially inflated the bag when I decided that the light was too unfavorable for photography. We left the bag inflated overnight at some hazard of having it carried away by the wind. On Monday, the 16th, the currents were not flowing straight toward New York, but I gave word to let go. But we did not budge. Our gas was weak. We had over six hundred pounds of ballast in the basket, Mr. Levee maintaining that the amount was necessary in order to rise out of contrary currents of air.  We kept dumping out the sand till we had only fifty pounds left. Then as we rose the basket caught on a clothes-line, which Mr. Stevens cut with his balloon knife just in time to save us from a spill. What became of the wash I never looked down to inquire, for the next minute we were hanging to the cornice of a tenement while the bag stirred with the breeze over the roof.  My film  camera was smashed, and I was left with only my large camera and about twenty plates when, the balloon disengaging itself from the house, we went up so gently that it seemed to me as if we were still and the earth was sinking away from us.

    Balloon over the Staten Island Ferry
    Crossing New York Harbor (Photograph by Burton/Collier's)

    I have suffered from vertigo when I looked down from steeples or high buildings, but at no time on this trip did I feel the slightest dizziness. At first as we shot up it looked as if we would go to New Jersey instead of toward New York. Mr. Levee said that on account of insufficiency of ballast we should have to descend at once,otherwise&be driven out to sea. His viewpoint was that of the aeronaut; mine was that of the photographer. I had been to three weeks of bother and a good deal of expense, and I proposed to remain up a little longer. I told him that we might throw out our sea-anchor to the tug which Collier's had engaged to follow us, and the tug might tow us to a point off the Battery, at any rate.

    Then the wind suddenly favored us.  We were carried straight over Governor's Island to Battery Park, passing a little to the northeast of the new Custom House.  I could not have had a better position for the photographic effect I sought than at that moment, only the light was unfavorable, there being a slight haze. The tops of the skyscrapers were a thousand feet below us.  I could distinguish easily the individual figures like so many pencil dots on the pavement. A group of dots directly beneath was the curb-brokers at their buying and selling. Not one sound of the hum and roar, of the clanging of electric cars or the whistling of the tugs, could I hear. New York was remote; it was a picture rather than an organism. You see it in the photograph as I saw it.  North of the Produce Exchange another current gently carried us across the East River. When I exposed my last plate on the Brooklyn Bridge my work was done, and I told Mr. Levee he might descend whenever be pleased.

    Aerial View of Lower Manhattan from a Balloon, 1906
    The lower end of Manhattan Island photographed from a height of about 800 feet.  Battery Park with the elevated railroad winding through it occupies most of the lower portion of the picture' the small park slightly above it is Bowling Green with the new Custom House facing it.  The little dark spot to the right is Corlears Hook Park.  The blurs around the corners of the pictures are due to the action of the salt water when the plates fell into Long Island Sound  (Photograph by James Hare/Collier's)


    Brooklyn Bridge from a balloon, 1906
    Directly above the Brooklyn Bridge.  To the right of the pier are the Roosevelt Street Ferry slips; to the left, the first long wharf is that of the New Haven boats, with the "C. H. Northam" lying alongside; the dark rectangle farther on is Fulton Market, and beyond it are the Fulton Ferry slips.  The comet-like streak across the right half of the water was caused by a dangling rope.  This picture was taken at an altitude of about 1000 feet. (Photograph by James Hare/Collier's)

    We had a glimpse of Brooklyn and then we were shot back to Manhattan again in the region of the Williamsburg Bridge, only to cross over to Long Island once more, where we passed over Calvary Cemetery.  When we saw a big vegetable garden Mr. Levee decided to descend there, and he opened the escape valve, but a burst of the sun from behind a cloud rarefied the gas and we went on to Flushing Bay, where Mr. Stevens threw out the sea-anchor. It occurred to me that all my pains would have been for nothing, of course, if my plates got wet. I wrapped them in a rubber cloth I had with me and packed them in my leather bag, and it was well that I did. We had now thrown out everything in the way of ballast we had, including the mineral water and the lunch, and we were already slowly descending when we threw out the sea-anchor. Once the anchor took hold and the rope drew taut the effect was like lowering your forearm from the elbow. The anchor was the elbow and the basket was the hand. We were completely submerged not once but twenty times, at least, I should say. I was too occupied to keep count. On each occasion we came to the surface gasping and spluttering. I emptied the water out of the leather bag and prayed that it had not soaked through the rubber cloth on to the plates. The anchor was spasmodically taking us down, and the bag of the balloon, wind-driven, was spasmodically lifting us up. We skittered along like an artificial fly on a leader. We were jerked and twisted about until I was covered with bruises. It was in the midst of the flying-fish flight that my fingers touched a small flask in the basket. Mrs. Stevens had sent it along in case of need. We judged that the psychological moment for its use had arrived. 

    All three had life-preservers on. We might have let go the basket and saved ourselves further immersion. But I held on, because I wanted to save my plates, and Levee and Stevens because they did not want to be separated from the balloon. Meanwhile ferryboats and tugs passed us by without offering assistance. You see, everybody had read the report in the newspapers that the object of our ascension was to try a sea-anchor, and the captains and pilots thought that they were witnessing the test, and that we did not want to be disturbed. As a matter of fact, the sea-anchor was an incident, and the whole object of our effort was the plates which were being doused again with each fresh plunge. Finally a rowboat with two young men in it came alongside, and I tossed my plates to them. As they were safe I did not mind sticking to the balloon. A sailing boat with auxiliary motor power which took the balloon in tow later on had a busy time after it had punctured the bag with its bowsprit and mast and its propeller got caught in the ropes. When the propeller was disentangled, the balloon was drawn into Classon Point and I jumped into the row-boat and hastened home with my precious plates and found on developing that some of them had been water-soaked only around the edges.

    Staten Island Balloon Rescue
    The End of An Eventful Voyage In the Air  (Collier's

    The Legacy of the Trip

    There is no view of New York City more iconic than the aerial view of lower Manhattan.  The skyline has changed through the years but the image of skyscrapers with the Island of Manhattan spreading out behind has made the city instantly identifiable in countless news reports, travel ads, movie scenes, etc. The Battery hums all summer long with packed tourist helicopters overhead.  Staten Island itself is transforming as "The New York Wheel," soon to be the world's largest observation wheel, begins to rise from St. George.  Millions are being spent there, in hopes that even more tourists will want to view lower Manhattan from on high.  Since 1906 it has been the visual shorthand for our city.

    Staten Island is filled with these fascinating, but little known, places and stories: More to come.

    The Richmond County Advance was digitized  uploaded to the web from the collections of Historic Richmond Town.  Funding for the digitization of Staten Island newspapers was provided through The New York Public Library's Innovation Project, which is made possible by a generous grant from the Charles H. Revson Foundation.

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    The importance of pretentiousness... Mark Twain's late-life globetrotting... secrets of the Nordic way of life... specialty recipes for bartering, sharing and gifting... the history of the U. S. Postal Service... the need for sustainable development... meaningful ways to remember lost loved ones... the Jewish Ghetto's five-hundred year history ... the true story of the Santa Claus Man... the exploitation of America’s most vulnerable citizens... the fascinating history of Jewish Punk musicians... an economist's take on the history of Manhattan’s skyline... a Jewish genealogical journey... New York City’s role in the Civil War... a scientific look at similarities between humans and animals.

    We've got a selection of engaging author talks coming up this month at the Mid-Manhattan Library. Come listen to scholars and other experts discuss their recent non-fiction books on a variety of subjects and ask them questions. Author talks take place at 6:30 PM on the 6th floor of the library unless otherwise noted. No reservations are required. Seating is first come, first served. You can also request a library copy of the authors' books from the catalog by using the links below.

     Why It Matters
    Monday, August 1, 2016

    Pretentiousness: Why It Matters with Dan Fox, a British writer, musician, editor, and filmmaker.

    This illustrated lecture explores the etymology and history of pretentiousness.
    Chasing the Last Laugh
    Tuesday, August 2, 2016

    Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour with Richard Zacks, bestselling author of "Island of Vice and The Pirate Hunter".

    This illustrated lecture presents a rich and lively account of how Mark Twain’s late-life adventures abroad helped him recover from financial disaster and family tragedy—and revived his world-class sense of humor.
    The Nordic theory of everything
    Monday, August 8, 2016

    The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life with Anu Partanen, a Finnish journalist based in New York City.

    This illustrated lecture shows Americans how to draw on elements of the Nordic way of life to nurture a fairer, happier, more secure, and less stressful society for themselves and their children.
    Food Swap
    Wednesday, August 10, 2016

    Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing & Giving with Emily Paster, co-founder of the Chicago Food Swap.

    This illustrated lecture captures the fun and the flavors of the emerging food swap movement.
    Neither Snow Nor Rain
    Thursday, August 11, 2016

    Neither Snow Nor Rain: A History of the United States Postal Service with Devin Leonard, a staff writer at Bloomberg Businessweek.

    This illustrated lecture is a rich, multifaceted history, full of remarkable characters, from the first letter carriers through Ben Franklin’s days, when postmasters worked out of their homes and post roads cut new paths through the wilderness, to stamp-collecting FDR, to the revolutionaries who challenged USPS's monopoly on mail, to the renegade union members who brought the system—and the country—to a halt in the 1970s.
    The Age of Sustainable Development
    Monday, August 15, 2016

    The Age of Sustainable Development with Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University.

    This illustrated lecture explains the central concept for our age, which is both a way of understanding the world and a method for solving global problems—sustainable development.
    Passed and Present
    Tuesday, August 16, 2016

    Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive with Allison Gilbert, author of the critically-acclaimed "Always Too Soon: Voices of Support for Those Who Have Lost Both Parents," in conversation with Bill Ritter, anchor of WABC Eyewitness News. This dialogue showcases creative and meaningful ways to keep the memory of loved ones alive. Please join New York City legend and anchor of WABC-TV Bill Ritter in conversation with author Allison Gilbert about her new and groundbreaking book, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive. Passed and Present has been featured in People magazine and Arianna Huffington and Maria Shriver have tweeted about it. The discussion will focus on ways we can honor, remember, and celebrate the family and friends we never want to forget while recognizing what Bill Ritter calls “estate planning for the heart” — ways we can strengthen our relationships with loved ones before they die. Ritter will reveal aspects of himself most viewers never see— the myriad ways he pays tribute to his father’s memory and how the loss of his dad fueled a sweeping two-part series for ABC’s World News Tonight, one of the proudest achievements of his career. There is science behind these joyful acts: the more we celebrate loved ones who have passed, the happier and more fulfilled we are in the present.
    Wednesday, August 17, 2016

    Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea with Mitchell Duneier, the Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and the author of the award-winning urban ethnographies "Slim's Table" and "Sidewalk."

    This illustrated lecture traces the idea of the ghetto from its beginnings in the sixteenth century and its revival by the Nazis to the present.
    The Santa Claus Man
    Thursday, August 18, 2016

    The Santa Claus Man: The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New York with Alex Palmer, a freelance writer and researcher whose work has appeared in "Smithsonian," "Vice," and "Mental Floss," among other publications.

    This illustrated lecture spotlights the true story of John Duval Gluck, Jr., who in 1913 founded the Santa Claus Association, which had the sole authority to answer Santa's mail in New York City.
    The Poverty Industry
    Monday, August 22, 2016

    The Poverty Industry: The Exploitation of America's Most Vulnerable Citizens with Daniel L. Hatcher, Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore.

    This illustrated lecture details how state governments and their private industry partners are profiting from the social safety net, turning America’s most vulnerable populations into sources of revenue.
    Oy Oy Oy Gevalt!
    Tuesday, August 23, 2016

    Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk with Michael Croland, an editor for books about music and has written about Jews and punk for "Forward" and "New Voices."

    This illustrated lecture describes the fascinating world of Jews who relate to their Jewishness through the vehicle of punk―from prominent figures in the history of punk to musicians who proudly put their Jewish identity front and center.
    Building the Skyline
    Wednesday, August 24, 2016

    Building the Skyline: The Birth and Growth of Manhattan's Skyscrapers with Jason M. Barr, an associate professor of economics at Rutgers University-Newark.

    This illustrated lecture covers the economic history of the Manhattan skyline from 1626 to the present.
    Because of Eva
    Monday, August 29, 2016

    Because of Eva: A Jewish Genealogical Journey with Susan J. Gordon, author of "Wedding Days: When and How Great Marriages Began" and many magazine and newspaper articles.

    This illustrated lecture describes the author's journey to Eastern Europe and Israel to solve mysteries in her family’s past by delving into World War II and Holocaust history.
    City of Sedition
    Tuesday, August 30, 2016

    City of Sedition: The History of New York City during the Civil War with John Strausbaugh, a journalist and cultural commentator based in New York City.

    This lecture tells the story of the huge—and hugely conflicted—role New York City played in the Civil War.
    Not So Different
    Wednesday, August 31, 2016

    Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animals with Nathan H. Lents, professor of molecular biology and director of the biology and cell and molecular biology programs at John Jay College of the City University of New York.

    This illustrated lecture shows that the same evolutionary forces of cooperation and competition have shaped both humans and animals and that Identical emotional and instinctual drives govern our actions.

    Don’t miss the many interesting films, book discussions, and computer and technology classes on our program calendar. The theme for Story Time for Grown-ups this month is Homages-Sherlock Holmes and Alice in Wonderland. If you enjoy talking about books, join us on Friday, August 12 for Open Book Night. The theme this month is World Literature.

    All of our programs and classes are free, so why not come and check one out! Hope to see you soon at the library!

    Download flyers for the Mid-Manhattan Library's August 2016 book related programs here:

    PDF iconFLYER -Author Talks & More AUGUST 2016.pdf

    PDF iconFLYER - BOOK DISCUSSION August 2016 Accidental Tourist.pdf

    PDF iconopen book night August 2016.pdf

    PDF iconStorytime August 2016.pdf

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    Hamilton Burr Duel illustration

    The Brochure

    The brochure below was printed in association with the New York Public Library exhibition Alexander Hamilton: Striver, Statesman, Scoundrel, on display in the Wachenheim Gallery in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, June 24 - December 31, 2016. It has been made available here in PDF format for anyone to view and download, and especially for educators planning  field trips to the exhibition and teaching the subject of Alexander Hamilton's life and influence in their classrooms.

    To download the PDF

    Move your mouse over the cover image until two icons appear in the top right corner. Click the one that features a box with an arrow. This will open the PDF in a separate web browser tab. From there you can follow your browser's instructions to downolad.

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    Kevin Young
    Kevin Young

    I am happy to report that Kevin Young will be joining NYPL as Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He will begin his tenure at the Library in the late fall. Kevin succeeds Khalil Gibran Muhammad, who led the Schomburg with great distinction for the last five years.

    Kevin joins NYPL from Emory University, where he was both Curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library and Curator of Literary Collections at the newly named Rose Library. He simultaneously held the Charles Howard Candler Professorship of Creative Writing and English. Under Kevin's leadership, the Danowski Poetry Library and the Rose Library have both enjoyed remarkable success, increasing their holdings, expanding public programming and access, mounting innovative exhibitions, organizing conferences and fellowship competitions, and enhancing their digital presence. Among his notable curatorial acquisitions were the Lucille Clifton, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Marie Ponsot, Sarah E. Wright, and Nathaniel Mackey archives, and in collaboration with his colleagues, the addition of W.E.B. Du Bois's copy of David Walker's Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World.

    During his 11 years at Emory, Kevin produced a wide-ranging corpus of poetry and cultural criticism. He has published 11 books and edited eight others. In February, Knopf published Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems 1995-2015. His influential volume of cultural criticism, The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, won the PEN Open Book Award, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, and was named a New York Times Notable Book. His Book of Hours (Knopf, 2014) was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award and winner of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Jelly Roll (Knopf, 2003) was a finalist for the National Book Award.

    The roster of Kevin's honors and awards is extensive and includes, among many other laurels, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Award, and Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships.

    Kevin is widely recognized as a distinguished teacher, scholar, and public voice. He has held named professorships at Princeton, Indiana University, and Beloit College. His poetry, reviews, and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, and The American Scholar.

    Across his writing, his curatorial work, and his teaching, Kevin has mapped a deeply textured account of American life. From his Amistad poems through his trenchant accounts of the lives and languages of both ordinary men and women and public figures such as Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali, and Billie Holiday, to his insightful analyses of jazz, blues, and hip-hop forms, Kevin has described the trajectory of 400 years of national experience. His syncretic accounts of American social, musical, and cultural history are notable both for the breadth of their vision and for the vertiginous pleasures they afford.

    We look forward to having Kevin among us.

    I want to thank the members of the Schomburg search committee for their dedication and unfailing good counsel, and take particular note of the leadership of Co-Chair Gordon Davis. In addition to Gordon and myself, the Committee members were Elizabeth Alexander, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Raymond McGuire, Arva Rice, and Aysha Schomburg. I also want to thank Alvin Starks and Mary Yearwood for their continuing and exemplary work as the Schomburg's Interim Co-Directors. 

    William P. Kelly
    Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Research Libraries
    The New York Public Library

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    Subscribe on iTunes.

    Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, The Laws of Medicine: Field Notes from an Uncertain Scienceand, most recently, The Gene: An Intimate History. The cancer researcher and physician won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for The Emperor of All Maladies. For this week's New York Public Library Podcast, we're proud to present Mukherjee discussing genetic innovations, storytelling, and the majestic formula.

    Siddhartha Mukherjee
    Siddhartha Mukherjee LIVE from the NYPL

    Developments in genetic research have picked up pace in recent years. Mukherjee spoke of the attendant moral considerations for which we have no precedent:

    "We are at a quickening for a particular kind of genetic intervention in humans. We are trying to find out how these interventions can be managed, what their future might be, we don’t know, we don’t have any precepts to know what to do about it but the technology marches right on. Just to give you an example, this week, I didn’t anticipate all this in the book, this week, as you very well know, in the news, there’s an attempt to artificially synthesize, based from chemicals alone, a full human genome...  and the idea is that what if I could take that thing that makes David Remnick David Remnick and synthesize, not all of it, but one quarter of it, from scratch, I would string together the chemicals, and in principle, we don’t know, in principle, if I were to introduce those chemicals into a cell, into an embryonic cell that I’d unhusked, taken its own genetic material away, would that now cell become your clone? Would that be you in what way, similar ways, dissimilar ways? We have no moral or personal or literary or scientific precepts to know what the hell to do with that kind of idea."

    While many might be tempted to simplify the importance of genetics, equating genetics with fate, Mukherjee offers a more complicated formula for the relationship between genetics and destiny:

    "There’s a majestic formula in the book which is so simple. I didn’t write the majestic formula, so I can be excused for calling it majestic. Which is a very simple idea and, again, if we could get it into our brains it would be helpful. The formula is that our beings are equal to genes, or genotypes, plus environment, plus triggers, plus chance. That’s it. So that means that some aspects of our being will be powerfully influenced by genotypes or genes... you can take two identical organisms, simple organisms, like worms. Make them exactly identical, they’re exactly the same, and put them in exactly identical environments. And take one of these genes that is chance dependent, okay? And ask the question: why is it that one of these worms develops one phenotype, it’s like two twins. One of these worms develops one and the other one does not develop that same feature or phenotype, right? And the answer is that right at the molecular level, there are stochastic variations in molecules, molecules are rising and falling like stochastically just like, you know, like atoms are moving in the air. When they rise above a certain level, they kick off a threshold and that worm goes in one direction. When they rise below that threshold, that worm goes in the other direction. You can make it rise above that certain level of the threshold by environmental influences, you can force it to rise and therefore push one animal in one direction, but it’s a beautiful explanation, number one, and number two, it’s a giant plea, I think, ultimately that we are very similar and that our lives are knitted together in similar ways and what we’re really experiencing is the I think profound interplay between chance and genes, and environments."

    Mukherjee began working as a physician and researcher but has gained much reknown for his prose on medicine. He explained that his patients helped bring him to writing:

    "I felt as if I needed to do more storytelling. I was keeping a journal—this is how Emperor grew, I was keeping a journal, I was a cancer doctor, sort of nose to the ground, doing my things and then people, not people, my patients, kept saying to me, 'Why is it that I’m fighting this thing. What does it look like? Why am I here?' that’s what started the book. I had a journal, I was keeping a journal, and there were five pages at first. And then I would write every evening in the journal, I would come back and I would some things about it. It became ten pages and then fifteen pages and then twenty pages and then finally it was a full mammoth document, and that was how Emperor, how that book was born."

    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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    Now Screening highlights NYPL's recent electronic resource acquisitions. This month: the digital runs of several national and international newspapers and magazines. Publishers Weekly Digital Archive is available at any NYPL location. All other titles are available at any NYPL location, or remotely using your library card.

    This summer, the New York Public Library added a bevy of new magazine and newspaper titles to its collection of online resources. These new acquisitions are international in scope, covering nine cities, six countries, and three continents. Whether you're interested in WWII-era Russia or last year's Chanel couture runway, the only passport you'll need is your library card.

    See the map and list below for more details and related resources.

    Chinese Newspapers Collection (1832-1953)
    English-language newspapers, mostly from Shanghai and Beijing, including the North China Herald, Peking Daily News, and Shanghai Times. For coverage of Hong Kong, see the South China Morning Post (1903-1996).

    Harper's Bazaar Archive
    New York, NY, 1867-present. And for more fashion content, be sure to browse the Vogue Archive and Women's Wear Daily Archive. Note: Because this resource is newly-released, not all issues have been loaded thus far.

    Japan Times Archives
    Tokyo, Japan, 1897-2015. Japan's oldest English-language newspaper.

    Pravda Digital Archive
    Moscow, Russia, 1912-2015. This is the digitized Moscow edition, in the original Russian language and Cyrillic characters. For information on other Russian publications, try Russian National Bibliography.

    Publishers Weekly Digital Archive
    New York, NY, 1872-2016. Includes reviews, contemporary prices, bestseller lists, and feature articles. For additional coverage of the historical book trade, see The Bookman. You can also find more book reviews in titles like the New York Review of Books and London Review of Books. Note: Because this resource is newly-released, not all issues have been loaded thus far.

    The Scotsman
    Edinburgh, Scotland, 1817-1950. NYPL has several UK-based historical newspaper collections, such as the Irish Times, Guardian and Observer, Telegraph, and Times of London.

    The Toronto Star
    Toronto, Canada, 1894-2011. See the Globe and Mail (1844-2011) for additional historical news coverage from Toronto.

    Looking for something else? For more international periodicals, browse NYPL's historical newspaper, international newspaper, and magazine/journal/serial databases. Or, search for a particular title in our online catalog.

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    I recently began reading graphic novels and my current favorites are  Ms. MarvelThe Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act, Batgirl Volume 1, Batgirl of Burnside, Black Canary and Starfire.


    Ms. Marvel is hilarious! Kamala Khan is just a regular girl living in New Jersey who gets amazing super powers! Now can Kamala handle her new powers and all the responsibility that comes with them?

    1. Ms. Marvel 1, No Normal
    2. Ms. Marvel 2, Generation Why
    3. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3, Crushed
    4. Ms. Marvel Volume 4: Last Days 
    5. Ms. Marvel Vol. 6: Civil War II

    The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act "Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead."

    1. The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act
    2.  The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 2: Fandemonium
    3.  The Wicked + The Divine Volume 3: Commercial Suicide 
    4. The Wicked + The Divine Volume 4: Rising Action

    Batgirl Volume 1, Batgirl of Burnside is action packed and very beautifully drawn. After Batgirl becomes a viral vigilante the trouble begins because many villains want her trending fame...

    1. Batgirl Volume 1, Batgirl of Burnside
    2. Batgirl Volume 2: Family Business
    3. Batgirl Vol. 3: Mindfields

    Black Canary Vol. 1: Kicking and Screaming Dinah joins  a band that quickly  becomes known as "the most dangerous band in show business" because trouble follows the band. The band is called Black Canary and they are traveling with a youngster named Ditto who needs protection...

    1. Black Canary Vol. 1: Kicking and Screaming
    2. Black Canary Vol. 2

    Starfire Vol. 1: Welcome Home is Starfire's first series as a solo hero. Starfire moves to Florida where she is trying to start a new life while helping the people of Florida...

    1. Starfire Vol. 1: Welcome Home 
    2. Starfire Vol.2

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    Winnie the Pooh
    Winnie the Pooh is back! 

    “Pooh was mine, and probably, clasped in my arms not very different from the countless other bears clasped in the arms of countless other children. From time to time he went to the cleaners, and from time to time ears had
    to be sewn on again, lost eyes replaced and paws renewed.”

    —The Enchanted Places by Christopher Milne aka Christopher Robin

    Winnie the Pooh is back in The New York Public Library’s Children’s Room, and he brought his friends!

    The beloved bear, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga and Tigger were GON OUT BACKSON BISY BACKSON for the past year as they got meticulously preserved for the next generation. But now they’re back on display against a map of the Hundred Acre Wood, that fuzzy space between make believe and Sussex, England, where author A. A. Milne lived with his family.

    All of the toys were first sent “to the cleaners” when they were donated to the Library in 1987.

    Winnie the Pooh and Friends
    Eeyore, Kanga, Tiger and Piglet are back, too.

    But now, thanks to this latest round of treatment, they “resemble their original selves,” according to Evelyn Frangakis, assistant director of preservation for the Library—pretty good considering dear, old Pooh Bear will celebrate his 95th birthday later this month. Both children and adults have been busy making him birthday cards online and in the Children’s Room to celebrate the occasion.

    Winnie the Pooh got a nip/tuck during his recent trip: Some stuffing and stitches were pushed back in; his paws and snout were covered with a thin, protective mesh; and his butt was steamed and fluffed so it’ll look top-notch hanging out of a HUNNY tree, maybe in nearby Bryant Park.

    This is where Piglet chimes in. We’re getting to you, Piglet!

    Piglet had his snout adjusted; Kanga had her head straightened; Tigger had his bottom fluffed.

    No surprise, Eeyore needed the most work. OH, BOTHER. He is by far the biggest doll and also one of the oldest. A whopping 52 of his patches were removed—some were cleaned, treated, and sewn back on. Others were replaced, and the rest were sent back to the Library for safekeeping.

    All of the dolls were vacuumed and put on new mounts so they can sit up and greet their hundreds of thousands of guests each year, many of whom leave happy fingerprints on the glass.

    ONew York Times ad for Winnie the Poohne caveat: Alterations made when the dolls were in the care of the Milne family were carefully evaluated and preserved, said Michael Inman, the Library’s caretaker of the Winnie-the-Pooh dolls.

    “We take conservatorship of the dolls very, very seriously,” said Inman. “We work to ensure these things survive indefinitely.”

    Milne first bought Edward Bear, or Teddy, at Harrods of London and gave him to his son Christopher Robin for his first birthday. As the boy grew, he became known as Billy; the bear, as Winnie. Billy renamed his toy for a bear he met at the London Zoo. The name stuck, and it is now a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a testament to how much Pooh is loved.

    Milne, illustrator Ernest H. Shepard, and other FRENDS AND RALETIONS also gave the British boy Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, and Roo as presents. (Owl and Rabbit were entirely fictional.) Before long, Milne was writing and Milne was illustrating the stories that have captured children’s and adult’s imaginations.

    Roo, the tiniest toy of all, got lost in an apple orchard early on, but the rest went on a tour of America with publisher E.P. Dutton & Co. in 1947 and were later donated to the Library, where they are as cherished now as they were when Winnie the Pooh was first published in 1926.

    When the book debuted, the New York Times recommended it as the perfect Christmas gift, hailing it as “a wholly charming little tale” about a bear, who is “constantly having unexpected adventures and going off on exciting trips.”

    Going to “the cleaners” is just one of many.

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    Working in luxury retail can mean changing jobs occasionally. Salesman Paul Couvertier figured he might need a half hour to prepare a resume when he stopped in one day at Aguilar Library. However, by the time he was finished, he had spent two hours getting all the forms together for his application. Fortunately, library staff accommodated his needs and gave him encouragement, as well as training to improve his computer skills. Since then, Paul has returned multiple times to take advantage of the services, and the friendships, he found at the library branch, and always gets the job.

    Library Stories is a video series from The New York Public Library that shows what the Library means to our users, staff, donors, and communities through moving personal interviews.

    Like, share, and watch more Library Stories on Facebook or YouTube.


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    Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC),Inc.'s mission is to serve the Chinese-American, immigrant and low-income communities in New York City by providing services, skills and resources leading to economic self-sufficiency.

    As one of the largest Chinese-based social services agencies in the northeastern United States, the Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc. provides culturally sensitive programs for all ages.  CPC currently serves over 8,000 people daily through 50+ contracted programs in 33 locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.


    Hospitality careers training program at Chinese-American Planning Council

    Learn skills necessary for obtaining various positions in hotels, such as Room Attendant and Houseman.

    Job placement assistance for graduates

    Monday to Friday, 9 AM - 3:30 PM

    240 hours (about 9 weeks of class)

    Program includes:

    • Introduction to Hospitality Industry
    • Housekeeping Skills
    • Workplace Communication skills
    • Job Readiness Skills

    Minimum Eligibility:

    • At least 18 years old
    • 8th grade education level
    • Legally able to work in the U.S.
    • High School Diploma/GED/TASC or education equivalent required
    • Able to lift 50 lbs. and perform other physical duties
    • Prior work experience preferred

    Scholarships Available for those who qualify  (Training offered at no charge for qualifying individuals who are unemployed or underemployed)


    Monday, August 8 and August 15, 2016
    9:30 AM sharp.  No one will be admitted after that time.

    Address: 165 Eldridge Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10002.
    Directions:  Take B, D train to Grand Street, or F train to Delancy Street.

    For more information,  please call 212-941-0041.

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    The following titles on our Recent Acquisitions Display are just a few of our new books, which are available at the reference desk in the Dorot Jewish Division.

    Sweet Burdens
    Mapping Jewish Loyalties
    Looking Jewish

    Between Tel Aviv And Moscow: A Life Of Dissent And Exile In Mandate Palestine And The Soviet Union by Leah Trachtman-Palchan
    Can A Seamless Garment Be Truly Torn?: Questions Surrounding The Jewish-catholic Löb Family, 1881-1945 by Peter Steffen
    Double Diaspora In Sephardic Literature: Jewish Cultural Production Before And After 1492 by David A. Wacks (also available as an e-book)
    Eugenio Montale, The Fascist Storm And The Jewish Sunflower by David Michael Hertz.
    Forging Shoah Memories: Italian Women Writers, Jewish Identity, And The Holocaust by Stefania Lucamante.
    How Was It Possible? A Holocaust Reader by edited by Peter Hayes (also available as an e-book)
    Jewish Space In Contemporary Poland by Erica T. Lehrer (ed.) (also available as an e-book)
    Kabbalah: A Neurocognitive Approach To Mystical Experiences by Shahar Arzy (also available as an e-book)
    Leo Strauss On The Borders Of Judaism, Philosophy, And History by Jeffrey A. Bernstein.
    Looking Jewish: Visual Culture And Modern Diaspora by Carol Zemel. (also available as an e-book)
    Mapping Jewish Loyalties In Interwar Slovakia by Rebekah Klein-Pejšová. (also available as an e-book)
    Obligation In Exile: The Jewish Diaspora, Israel And Critique by Ilan Zvi Baron.
    Origins Of Organized Charity In Rabbinic Judaism by Gregg E. Gardner. (also available as an e-book)
    Psalms Of Solomon: Language, History, Theology by Eberhard Bons (ed.)
    Rabbinic Discourse As A System Of Knowledge: "The Study Of Torah Is Equal To Them All" by Hannah E. Hashkes.
    Recetario Light Para Una Vida Más Sana by introducción, Esther Finkenthal de Mughinstein
    Slave Labor In Nazi Concentration Camps by Marc Buggeln
    Sweet Burdens: Welfare And Communality Among Russian Jews In Germany by Sveta Roberman. (also available as an e-book)
    Women Writers Of Yiddish Literature: Critical Essays by edited by Rosemary Horowitz.

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    Welcome to The Librarian Is In, the New York Public Library's podcast about books, culture, and what to read next.

    Subscribe on iTunes!

    Up for some agony? Frank and Gwen chat about suffering in literature and movies, debate the gender politics of picture books, and hang out with one of our funniest guests ever: Genoveve Stowell, manager of the 53rd Street branch.

    The new 53rd Street branch... oooooh so pretty.


    What We're Reading Now

    Jackson, 1964: And Other Dispatches from 50 Years of Reporting on Race in America by Calvin Trillin

    Calvin Trillin on Jefferson Market.

    Iggy Peck, Architectand Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, plus the upcoming Ada Twist, Scientist

    rosie revere
    Cool illustrations in Rosie Revere. Image from

    A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara

    The Blair Witch Project: the original movie and the trailer for the sequel (DO NOT WATCH THIS. TOO SCARY.)

    Lars von Trier's Dancing in the Dark,with Bjork

    The writing of Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi

    Hot Topix

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child:

    Guest Star

    It's Genoveve Stowell from 53rd Street!

    53rd street
    The newest member of the NYPL family.

    "Total Eclipse of the Heart," "Eternal Flame," "Turn the Beat/Cart Around"

    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

    David Bowie's top 100 books

    Anything but Books

    The Veve: Orange wine

    Gwen: Orange Is the New Black on DVD, the book by Piper Kerman, and the upcoming Rocky Horror Picture Show with Laverne Cox

    Frankster: The Lobster



    Thanks for listening! Have you rated us on iTunes yet? Would you consider doing it now?

    Find us online @NYPLRecommends, the Bibliofile blog, and Or email us at!

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    Funeral for Judy Garland. 1969. NY Times.

    Impressed with the uncertainty of Life and anxious to arrange my worldly affairs…

    Probate records are often gainful resources in genealogy research, yielding core genealogical data like names, dates, locales, and family information.  The chief document in probate records is the will.  A will is a legal instrument whereby one is allowed to lawfully remain in possession of property after having been borne to the ancestral sepulcher.  A will must be “proven,” or probated, in Surrogate’s Court, where it is validated for the executors to carry out the “will” of the deceased, or “testator,” in the eventual dispossession of the property listed in the inventory provided by the will.  Surrogate’s Courts are state courts located at the county level which act as “surrogates” of the State of New York.

    In colonial New York, wills were filed in the capital, New York City.  The records were moved upstate after the Revolution, where today the bulk of pre-Evacuation probate and will records are at the New York State Archives.

    For probate records in New York City, consisting of five counties with five Surrogate’s Courts, there are three ways to go about researching a will:

    • Online databases
    • Visit the Surrogate’s Court records room
    • NYPL print and microfilm collections

    Online Databases

    Depending on the year, one should start with the digitized resources available at Family Search, where probate records for many U.S. States have been scanned, but have not been indexed by name, so one must access the material digitally the same way one would browse the physical copies. 

    Basically, the process involves two steps; first check the available index, and then use the reference in the index to find the will.

    On the homepage of Family Search, find "Search" on the toolbar and then select "Records" from the dropdown menu.  On the search screen, instead of typing in a name, look towards the bottom of the page, and click "Browse all published collections."  Then, in the search bar at the top left, where it says “filter by collection name,” type in the name of the state in which you are researching, and pair it with the term "probate."  The collections list will then filter to a particular resource; for example, Alabama Probate Records, or Ohio Probate Records.

    In this instance, one would search for the collection "New York Probate Records, 1629-1971."  Even though the name indicates a date range to 1971, a bulk of the NYS probate records in Family Search date to about the 1920s.

    Note that the Bronx County Estate Files and Queens County Probate Records also appear in the results; these collections have been digitized and organized separately, with the copious Queens materials dating to the 1950s.  There is also a similar separate collection of Kings County Estate Files (1866-1923), which has been indexed and is keyword searchable by first and last name.

    Next, select the county where the will would have been filed, likely the county where the death occurred. 

    Then browse the list of probate resources available for that county, and select the relevant index. 

    Counties will often use different indexing systems, some of which include: 

    • a straightforward alphabetical list, by last name, and within a certain date range.
    • alphabetical only by the first letter of the surname; for example, all surnames beginning with "H" will be grouped together, but in no order.
    • alphabetical only by the first letter of the surname, and then grouped in columns by the first vowel to appear after the first letter.
    • alphabetical by surname, then grouped by first letter of the first, or given, name.

    Next, find your subject decedent in the index.  Adjacent to the name, a liber number, or volume number, is listed, with a corresponding page number; this indicates where the researcher will find the text of the actual will.

    Browse the available resources to find the corresponding volume, and locate the cited page number.

    Surrogate’s Courts

    Unlike vital records, wills and probate records are accessible to the public with little privacy restrictions.  One can access probate records onsite at the records room of the Surrogate’s Court.  The clerks at the Kings County records room, at 2 Johnson Street, are affable, orderly, and helpful to researchers.  The Surrogate's Court archives for New York County, at 31 Chambers Street, are operated by a professional archivist with a Master’s in Library Science, and offer a searchable database to the probate collections.  The Unified Court System provides access info for Surrogate's Courts in New York City while the NY State Archives has an online directory for county Surrogate’s Courts.

    NYPL Catalog

    If one has still hit the brick wall, and is researching wills from the seventeenth through early nineteenth century, the complex of New York State probate records on microfilm at NYPL might be helpful.   Use the below subject heading formats to search relevant material in the NYPL catalog:

    For example:

    • Wills -- New York (State) – New York County.
    • Probate records -- New York (State) -- New York.
    • Probate records -- New York (State) – Otsego County.

    Locating an individual probate record in any of the microfilm collections, as noted above for the digital resources, first requires checking the corresponding index.


    The language of wills is archaic and abstruse—"probate" is derived from probatus, in Latin, "tried, tested, approved"—and suggests that a system of distributing  the property of the dead according to the decedent's sentient wishes is both a legal procedure and sacred ritual dating to the earliest generations of civilized societies.  That a will must be verified by a judge might also indicate that, in the history of humankind, the concept of property ownership was concomitant with treachery, dishonesty, and avarice among family members.  Note the twenty-nine people who claimed to be heirs to the estate of Minnesota rock demigod Prince, who died intestate, but were rejected as lawful relatives by a Carver County judge in the District Court Probate Division. 

    Reflecting some of the singular verbiage of probate records, there is a handful of additional paperwork that might accompany the actual will which can include significant genealogical data.  For example:

    • The executor, having been named by the decedent to administer the estate, initiates the probate proceedings by applying to the court for "letters testamentary.”  After 1830, the executor would have filed a petition. 
    • If the decedent had left no will, or died "intestate," then "letters of administration" were drafted by parties who sought to administer the estate.
    • Sometimes one finds "orders," which are made by the judge and can vary in genealogical detail.
    • A decree, or a "final decree," articulates the judge's decision and can include useful summary details of the probate case.
    • A “renunciation” is filed when an executor officially “renounces” his or her role in the proceedings.
    • “Administration bonds” are payments made by executors which the state promises to return, or void, when the probate matter is lawfully and finally administered.
    • “Estate files” usually include the will and any other paperwork filed in the case.  Some counties might refer to these bundles as “probate packets” or “proceedings.”  In Dutchess County, one finds a collection of “Ancient Documents” dated 1721-1862 and indexed by surname of the decedent. 

    All of these materials are searchable using an index, which is usually found in the front pages of the subject records, or as a separate bound volume.


    Research using probate records may be conditioned by the shifting of New York State inheritance laws, or certain idiosyncrasies in access and recordkeeping.  The Milstein Division has plenty of guidebooks; in particular, see New York State Probate Records.  

    Additional guides to probate records include:

    As always, please be encouraged to dispatch queries to the U.S. History, Local History, and Genealogy Division, at  Answering reference questions is how librarians evolve as librarians, and no answer proves a last testament.

    Death bed of Abraham Lincoln. ID: 423313


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    You think you know your neighbors. They smile at you, act friendly, and chat about the weather. Therefore, you suppose, they would never do anything to hurt you. What could be more normal? They hold respectable jobs, and their kids go to the same school as yours. You do not have to worry about them them the same way that you would worry about an unkempt, unfamiliar person walking around the block, right?


    Think that you are a good judge of character? That you can size people up based on a quick glance?

    Maybe not.

    Unfortunately, interpersonal skills or lack thereof are not a predictor of dangerousness in people. The scary truth is that many dangerous individuals are masterminds at being likable, friendly and accommodating. They specialize in assuming normalcy as a guise in order to avoid engendering suspicion. These people are psychopaths, or individuals with antisocial personality disorder. They completely lack empathy for others, and they are concerned solely with their own desires and needs. 

    Psychopaths can hurt you financially, legally, emotionally, and they may even kill you. For this reason, it is vital for you to learn how to assess risk and effectively screen people that come into contact with you. This applies especially to your closest associates, since they possess sensitive information about you that can ultimately harm you the most.

    Stay safe.

    Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us by Mary Ellen O'Toole, 2011

    This is the best book that I have read on personal safety, and it was written by a former FBI psychological profiler.

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  • 08/04/16--12:40: Gold Medal Magazines
  • Opening ceremonies are a few days away, and so the eyes of the world are turning to Rio and the beginning of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. With dozens of events, some more obscure to American viewers than others, it might be time to read up on the ins and outs of these sports. If you aren't planning on taking out twenty new magazine subscriptions, the Library is a great place to learn more. And since so many of our periodicals have digital counterparts, you can do this without leaving home, or your nearest Olympics broadcast. Here are almost thirty sport-specific magazines available right from your computer, tablet, or smartphone—all you need is a library card.

    In addition to these titles, the Library also provides online access to more general publications like Sports Illustrated. You can browse our electronic journals, newspapers, and magazines for sports and recreation content available at the Library or from home (over 300), or you can view a gallery of sports newspapers and magazines in PressReader, one of our electronic databases. And of course, the Library has many more current and historical sports periodicals available in print and microfilm. To locate these, search our online catalog.

    Images are the official Rio Olympics pictograms; learn more about these images on the Rio 2016 site.

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