Museum of the City of New York Receives Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities
New York, NY
The Museum of the City of New York is pleased to announce the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the project Illuminating New York City History through Material Culture: A Proposal to Process, Catalog, Digitize, and Rehouse the Ephemera Collections of the Museum of the City of New York. The application, submitted to the NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant opportunity in July 2013, outlines a plan to increase public access to over 6,500 objects of material culture over the course of two years. The Museum was notified of the successful funding of this application in the amount of $125,000 by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's office in March 2014, by instruction of the NEH.
The City Museum's Ephemera Collections are a treasure trove of tangible and eloquent, but often humble items that survive from a vast range of events and organizations over the course of more than two hundred years. Collections include advertisements, handbills, pamphlets, menus, invitations, medals, pins, buttons, badges, three-dimensional souvenirs, and printed textiles, such as ribbons and sashes. These objects-the minor and transient documents and souvenirs of everyday life-provide visual and material insight into New Yorkers' engagement with the social, creative, civic, political, and physical dynamics of the city, from the Colonial era to the present day.
These collections provide extensive documentation of public events, such as the openings of the Brooklyn Bridge (1883), the Statue of Liberty (1875), and the subway system (1904); national events, such as a ceremony to mourn the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln (1865); and observances such as the centennial of George Washington's inauguration (1889), the Hudson-Fulton Celebration on the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage to New York (1909), and the 25th anniversary of the consolidation of the five boroughs (1924). In addition to such "official" occasions, these materials capture a diverse array of political, cultural, and social events on topics from woman suffrage to the AIDS epidemic; commercial entertainments, from the city's early 20th-century amusements parks to 1970s discos; and social occasions ranging from a visit to the home of "the" Mrs. Astor (1881), to a notice for the Irving Club Calico Hop (1871). The ephemera also represent professional and fraternal organizations as disparate as the Women's Press Club, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Irish Emigrant Society, as well as political organizations and reform groups ranging from the Republic Sound Money Club to Tammany Hall to the West Flushing Society of the Cadets of Temperance. Objects from the Ephemera Collections appear in many of the Museum's recent exhibitions and publications, including Gilded New York, Activist New York, A Beautiful Way to Go: New York's Green-Wood Cemetery, and Capital of Capital: New York's Banks and the Creation of a Global Economy.