New-York Historical Society

New York
NY

Alexander Hamilton’s duelling pistols — on view at the New-York Historical Society

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Founded in 1804 as New York’s first museum, the New-York Historical Society is both a museum and a library — with extensive collections in American painting, sculpture, books, manuscripts, decorative arts, architectural drawings, photographs, and prints. It houses an outstanding collection of items from the American Revolution and the early republic, but as the collective memory of New York, it covers the full range of New York City’s history as well.

  • The Patricia D. Klingenstein Library contains more than three million items, including books, pamphlets, maps, atlases, newspapers, broadsides, music sheets, manuscripts, prints, photographs and architectural drawings.
  • The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture displays nearly 40,000 museum objects. This publicly accessible storage space gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at a working museum collection. Highlights include Washington’s camp bed from Valley Forge, the desk at which Clement Clarke Moore wrote A Visit from Saint Nicholas, and one of the world’s largest collections of Tiffany lamps and glasswork.
  • The DiMenna Children’s History Museum encourages families to explore 350 years of American history through permanent installations geared to children ages 8 to 13.
  • The Gilder Lehrman Collection is a nationally renowned archive of more than 60,000 manuscripts, documents, diaries, maps, books, photographs, and iconography documenting four centuries of American history.
  • The Robert H. Smith Auditorium provides a space for the Historical Society’s many public programs, including its Distinguished Speaker Series. Showing throughout the day is New York Story, a multimedia presentation of the history of New York City — from a remote Dutch trading post to the present day.

A three-year, $70 million renovation was completed in November 2011. The landmark building includes a restaurant and gift shop.

But what set [Baron von] Steuben apart from his contemporaries was his schooling under Frederick the Great, Prince Henry, and a dozen other general officers. He had learned from the best soldiers in the world how to gather and assess intelligence, how to read and exploit terrain, how to plan marches, camps, battles and entire campaigns. He gleaned more from his seventeen years in the Prussian military than most professional soldiers would in a lifetime. In the Seven Years’ War alone, he built up a record of professional education that none of his future comrades in the Continental Army — Horatio Gates, Charles Lee, the Baron Johann de Kalb, and Lafayette included — could match.

Paul Lockhart
The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army (2008)