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Civil War Collection Highlights to Be Displayed in Special Installations Throughout the Museum This Summer

NEW YORK, NY, May 10, 2013The Civil War in 50 Objects (Viking; $36.00) by Harold Holzer and the New-York Historical Society, with an introduction by Eric Foner, is a fascinating examination of the event that changed the course of American history as told through fifty key relics—many rare and unpublished— from the collection of the New-York Historical Society. Released to mark the 150th anniversary of the war’s most famous encounter, the Battle of Gettysburg, The Civil War in 50 Objects explores a seminal period in the life of a tenuous young nation.

On Monday, May 13, Harold Holzer, in discussion with Eric Foner, will debut the book by offering a unique and intimate look at the history of the Civil War through the New-York Historical Society’s renowned collection, followed by a book signing. The program begins at 6:30 PM.

The Civil War in 50 Objects also will be the centerpiece of a series of summer installations of the original objects throughout the New-York Historical Society, featuring highlights from its collection of more than one million Civil War objects. Visitors will receive an installation guide to inspire their exploration of the special artifacts and artworks on display. The selection will rotate throughout the course of the summer to feature all fifty objects.

Among the highlights of the summer installations are a small pair of wrist shackles sized to fit an infant; Louis Lang’s massive and iconic post-Bull Run painting, The Return of the 69th (Irish) Regiment, N.Y.S.M. from the Seat of War (1862-63); a medieval-looking pike, one of hundreds that John Brown intended to bestow on his planned army of liberated slaves after his raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859; and framed laurel leaves from Abraham Lincoln’s bier while he lay in state at New York City Hall in 1865. Also featured—in both the book and rotating installations—are a precious copy of the surrender terms drafted by Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee at Appomattox in April 1865; a mammoth petition scroll calling on Abraham Lincoln to issue an emancipation proclamation; a complete Zouave uniform; hand-made newspapers issued in both besieged Vicksburg and a wartime prison camp; examples of dirty tricks against the Lincoln re-election campaign in 1864; and Lincoln’s own handwritten “path to victory” vote tabulations made that fall when he believed he would only barely squeak by in his bid for a second term.

Additional items from the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library collections will be highlighted in a digital series just outside the entrance to the library on the museum’s second floor. (A full list of objects and details of the display follows below.)

On Father’s Day, June 16, at noon, Harold Holzer will sign copies of The Civil War in 50 Objects, along with Lincoln: How Abraham Lincoln Ended Slavery in America, his recent young reader’s companion book for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. As “Historian in the Hot Seat,” he also will engage families in a thoughtful discussion about the Civil War, exploring issues such as how brothers and cousins fought each other on opposite sides of the war, what soldiers ate while on the march, and the origins of “Stonewall” Jackson’s nickname. Families are encouraged to explore the museum by taking a Civil War Scavenger Hunt and playing the "Choose Your Own Adventure" Civil War soldier game. Holzer serves as the Roger Hertog Fellow at the New-York Historical Society.

Commented Louise Mirrer, President of the New-York Historical Society: “The Civil War Sesquicentennial gives the New-York Historical Society a wonderful opportunity to showcase highlights from its massive and extraordinary collection of art, artifacts, documents, relics, and manuscripts related to the military, political, and social history of this convulsive period. This book, and this series of installations, will give visitors a unique chance to reflect on this era by contemplating objects related both to the leading figures of the age and the ordinary Americans who fought the battles.”

Added Harold Holzer: “Difficult as it was to winnow down New-York Historical’s unparalleled collection into a ‘top fifty,’ we really believe the book and exhibitions will offer a wide lens onto the Civil War years as only this institution can—from relics of slavery, to petitions of freedom, from portraits of real and would-be heroes, to evidence of both patriotism and treachery in wartime New York, and to relics attesting to the bravery, humanity, and technological ingenuity of the military and civilian participants, men and women, black and white, who waged war and emerged with a better New York and a more united America.”

About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America's pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.

New-York Historical is recognized for engaging the public with deeply researched and far-ranging exhibitions, such as Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America; Slavery in New York; Drawn by New York: Six Centuries of Watercolors and Drawings at the New-York Historical Society; Grant and Lee in War and Peace; Lincoln and New York; The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New-York Historical Society; and WWII & NYC. Supporting these exhibitions and related education programs is one of the world's greatest collections of historical artifacts, works of American art, and other materials documenting the history of the United States and New York.

Ongoing Display

  • Slave Shackles Intended for a Child, The Robert H. and Clarice Smith Gallery
  • The Slave Auction (sculpture), The Luce Center
  • John Brown's Blessing (painting,) The Luce Center
  • Right Hand of Abraham Lincoln (sculpture,) The Luce Center
  • Return of the 69th (Irish) Regiment, N.Y.S.M. from the Seat of War (painting), Grand staircase
  • The Lincoln Family in 1861, The Luce Center
  • Snare Drum, The Luce Center
  • Thoughts of the Future (Thoughts of Liberia, Emancipation) (painting), The Luce Center
  • Half Model of the U.S.S. "Monitor", The Luce Center
  • An Episode of the War-the Cavalry Charge of Lt. Henry B. Hidden (painting), The Luce Center
  • Draft wheel, The Luce Center
  • Footlocker with Belongings, The Luce Center
  • Colored Troops Before Richmond; Medal, The Luce Center

On View Mid-Summer

  • "John Brown" Pike, The Luce Center, June 14, 2013 - ongoing
  • Flag, The Luce Center, June 14, 2013—ongoing
  • Confederate Palmetto Flag, The Cabinet Gallery, June 14—September 1, 2013
  • A Great Rush. Cost what it may, the Nation must be Saved! 36th Regiment New York Volunteers (lithograph poster), Library Display, August 19—September 15, 2013
  • Zouave Uniform, The Luce Center, June 14, 2013—ongoing
  • Military Buttons Mounted on Card, The Cabinet Gallery, June 14—September 1, 2013
  • Arrival at Chickasaw Bayou of Jefferson Davis' Negroes from his Plantation on the Mississippi Below Vicksburg, Mississippi (drawing), The Cabinet Gallery, June 14—September 1, 2013
  • Ulysses Simpson Grant (1822-1885) (painting), The Luce Center, June 14, 2013—ongoing
  • Campaign flag, The Cabinet Gallery, June 14—September 1, 2013
  • Framed leaves from Abraham Lincoln's Bier, The Cabinet Gallery, June 14—September 1, 2013

Digital Display

  • Daguerreotype of Caesar: A Slave, Library Display, May 13, 2013- June 23, 2013
  • To the People of Louisiana, Their Executive and  Representatives Greeting (broadside), Library Display, June 24—July 21, 2013
  • South-Western Angle of Fort Sumpter, Charleston Harbor, SC (photograph), Library Display, July 22—August 18, 2013
  • Letter from Howard Cushing Wright to His Mother, Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Cipher Key (document), Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Diary of William Rothert, Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Petition to Abraham Lincoln for Recruitment of Black Troops (document), Library Display, Dates TBD
  • By the President of the United States, A Proclamation (document,) Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Writing the Emancipation Proclamation (etching), Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Men of Color, to Arms! (broadside) Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Emily J. Semmes to Paul Jones Semmes (letter) Library Display, Dates TBD
  • The Daily Citizen (newsprint on wallpaper), Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Bible Used at Colored Orphan Asylum, Library Display, Dates TBD
  • The First Dixie Reader (book), Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Presentation Address of the Ladies of the City of New York to the Officers and Men of the Twentieth United States Colored Troops (document), Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Entry Ticket for the New York Metropolitan Fair, Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Photograph Album Presented to Major M.S. Euen by Co. C, P.P., Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Entries from the Diary of George Templeton Strong, Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Point Lookout Sketches, Library Display, Dates TBD
  • The Miscegenation Ball (lithograph), Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Projection of November 1864 Election (document), Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Prison Times (newspaper), Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Terms of Surrender (document), Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Letter from Clara Harris to Mary, Library Display, Dates TBD
  • Autograph Letter from Joe W. Mersereau to WIlliam Oland Bourne, Library Display, Dates TBD
  • The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (manuscript), Library Display, Dates TBD


Press Contacts

New-York Historical Society                    Finn Partners Arts & Communications Counselors

Laura Washington                                 Sarah Buffum

(212) 873-3400 x263                            (212) 715-1594

lwashington@nyhistory.org                   buffums@ruderfinn.com

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Creative: Tronvig Group