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In 1973, women in the New York Police Department were assigned to patrol duty for the first time, and the term "police officer" replaced the earlier designations of "police-woman" and "patrolman." Jane Hoffer photographed a number of these women and collected their perspectives on their work. Read the words of Ann Wilson (top photo) on her experience, and see other items from our Patricia D. Klingenstein Library collections. Jane Hoffer. Ann Wilson, Sergeant Barbara Collins, [?] Walker, and Officer Peggy O’Shaughnessy. circa 1975-1978. On the Beat photograph collection. New-York Historical Society. … more
Mar 17, 2017
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The first member of the LGBT community to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Billie Jean King carries a legacy far beyond her 39 Grand Slam titles. Over her long career, she leveraged her role as a public figure to challenge discrimination and fight for gender equality.   In 2016 in celebration of our new Center for Women's History, open April 29, 2017, King donated items from her iconic career—as both an athlete and an activist—to our collection. A selection of these items will go on view in the new Center for Women's History, but until then, get a sneak peek of the Billie Jean King Archive in our special installation, now on view, highlighting her 1970s advocacy on behalf of women in sports.  (1) Photo by Michael Cole. (2) Head. Lace tennis dress, 1971. Photo by Glenn Castellano. (3) Bancroft. Tennis racket, 1975. Photo by Glenn Castellano. (4) Lunt Silversmiths (1902–2009). Essex Bowl, ca. 1951. Photo by Glenn Castellano.… more
Mar 9, 2017
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She's often remembered as a hostess who saved the White House portrait of George Washington from British vandalism during the War of 1812. But in fact, First Lady Dolley Madison was the most influential woman in the young United States—a national, almost mythic figure. Indeed, she and myriad women from all types of backgrounds shaped our democracy in its earliest years. Open today on International Women's Day, Saving Washington—the inaugural exhibition at the New-York Historical Society's groundbreaking Center for Women's History—recasts the traditional Founding Fathers narrative to consider the less-examined contributions of women whose behind-the-scenes efforts helped implement the Constitution “on the ground.” Learn more about Saving Washington.… more
Mar 8, 2017
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On February 25, 1870, Hiram Rhodes Revels became first African-American member of the United States Senate.  His swearing in drew both large crowds and significant debate. Those who objected to his being sworn in claimed that Revels did not meet the constitutional requirement of having been a citizen for nine years. They claimed that blacks had only definitively gained citizenship through the passage of the 14th Amendment in 1868, and that prior to the amendment, blacks were not American citizens according to the Dred Scott case. The senators supporting Revels, however, argued that the Civil War and Reconstruction Amendments made it impossible to refer to any discriminatory ruling of an earlier era. Ultimately, the Senate voted to seat Revels by a wide margin: 48 to 8. Learn more. Brady’s National Photographic Portrait Galleries. Hiram Rhodes Revels. undated. Carte de visite photograph file. New-York Historical Society.… more
Feb 25, 2017
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On February 25, 1964, Cassius Clay—later Muhammad Ali—defeated Sonny Liston to became the world heavyweight boxing champion. Ali went on to be an outspoken advocate for racial justice as well as a global humanitarian and philanthropist. The exhibition Muhammad Ali, LeRoy Neiman, and the Art of Boxing is now on view at the New-York Historical Society. Learn more.   (1) Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, 1965. Mixed media on paper. (2) Clay and Liston, February 18, 1964 Mixed media on paper. (3) Round 2, February 25, 1964 Mixed media and collage on paper. Courtesy LeRoy Neiman Foundation. All works by LeRoy Neiman, courtesy LeRoy Neiman Foundation.… more
Feb 23, 2017
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A century before Rosa Parks took a stand, Elizabeth Jennings sparked the end of transportation segregation in New York City. In the 1850s, horse-drawn streetcars were a common mode of transportation, and were run by private companies, giving their owners and drivers the power to decide who to serve. On July 16, 1854 Elizabeth Jennings was running late for work as an organist at the First Colored Congregational Church. She hopped on a streetcar labeled “whites only” at Pearl and Chatham Streets, but the conductor ordered her off. When she refused, the conductor and a policeman forcefully removed her. Learn more.  … more
Feb 22, 2017 • Edited
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Found within our American Historical Manuscript Collection, this note by Booker T. Washington is as powerful today, especially during Black History Month, as it was when it was written. On November 15, 1906, he wrote in a note, “The strongest and happiest men and women are those whose usefulness extends to all people regardless of race or color.” … more
Feb 15, 2017
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Happy birthday to abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery, Douglass didn't know his exact date of birth so later in life, he chose to celebrate it on February 14. Douglass was a powerful writer and orator—teaching himself to read and write in secret while still enslaved—and he believed strongly that the Civil War was a chance to end slavery and claim the rights of full citizens for black Americans. In an 1863 essay framed as an open letter, “Men of Color, To Arms!” Douglass wrote to his fellow African Americans:  “I urge you to fly to arms, and smite with death the power that would bury the Government and your liberty in the same hopeless grave….From east to west, from north to south the sky is written all over with ‘now or never.’ Liberty won by white men would lose half its lustre. Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even to die free than to live slaves.”  Read more compelling and inspiring words from black Americans of his era in this must-read blog post about what it was like to serve in the Civil War as an African American. … more
Feb 14, 2017 • Edited
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