Museum of the City of New York Receives Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

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.

The materials will eventually be available on the Museum's online Collections Portal -

About the Collections Portal

The Portal's photographic documentation of New York City, as well as its drawings, prints, paintings, postcards, political badges and buttons are easy to navigate. Users can search for images by collection, theme, neighborhood, street, or artist; each image has keyword associations and is coded with metadata, technology that is on the forefront of what other instructions are starting to use. When a desired image is located, visitors can use the site's magnifying glass icon to zoom in and explore a high-resolution photo's most intricate details. And, if the user so chooses, the exhibition-quality reproductions can be purchased in a variety of sizes and framed for personal décor.

About National Endowment for the Humanities

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. Because democracy demands wisdom, NEH serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. The Endowment accomplishes this mission by awarding grants for top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this release do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Museum of the City of New York

The Museum of the City of New York celebrates and interprets the city, educating the public about its distinctive character, especially its heritage of diversity, opportunity, and perpetual transformation. Founded in 1923 as a private, nonprofit corporation, the Museum connects the past, present, and future of New York City. It serves the people of New York and visitors from around the world through exhibitions, school and public programs, publications, and collections. For more information visit: