Stories From the Archives — 2019 Authors

Left behind: 1970s and the people of Times Square  

By: Ilma Hasan A blonde woman with bangs, sharply arched eyebrows and a scarf around her neck smiled in a photograph printed in the newspaper Daily World. It was taken in 1974, and is one of the many photos of former prostitute Xaviera Hollander found in an archive box titled “Prostitution” at the Tamiment Library […]

The Pen And Paper That Opened America’s Doors

By: Caleb Galaraga In the 1920s, Filipinos like me could easily travel to and from the United States. My country was a colony of America at that time and a good number of Filipinos migrated to fill agricultural jobs in Hawaii and California. But most people from Asia, with the exception of Japan, would have […]

Finding Nemo in the Archives

By: Karen Gritz My first date with James Grover McDonald took place on a Thursday morning on the sixth floor of Butler Library at Columbia University. It was my first time in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and I lament the fact that my winter face was photographed and filed away forever in the […]

Whining about wine, tallying teetotalers at New York City Temperance Society  

By: Emily Malcynsky To research a book about booze, you have to imbibe the soberest of materials: Temperance Society archives. Often an object of derision for modern drinking enthusiasts, the Temperance Movement was one of the first organized, public and political manifestations of anti-alcohol sentiment, eventually leading to Prohibition in 1920. To better understand the […]

Very Conservative, With Self-Deprecating Humor

By: Emlyn Cameron I approached a small desk in the anteroom of the Yale University Library’s archives section. I’d come to look at the papers of conservative intellectual William F. Buckley Jr., in hopes that the faint picture I had of his 1965 bid to be elected mayor of New York would begin to fill […]

The woman who inspired nine archival boxes of women’s rights activism

By: Kelsey Neubauer On Feb. 23, I walked into the 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library slightly out of breath. I had run over to the library after recieving an email telling me my files would be available today. Inside, the coat checker gave me a clear bag, into which I had […]

Almaty 1986 Protests: Finding the Unpublished Testimony

By: Darkhan Umirbekov On the morning of December 17, 1986, around 3,000 students in Alma-Ata, then the capital of Kazakhstan, went to the Brezhnev Square to protest the Politburo’s appointing Gennady Kolbin – a Russian outsider who had had no experience working in Kazakhstan – as the first party secretary of Kazakhstan, the de facto ruler […]

The Glorious Archives of the Communist Party USA

By: Jaiveer Mariwala The Communist Party USA files at NYU are overwhelming in both size and the breadth of media they make available to researchers; a little over five hundred boxes of notes, letters, interview transcripts, cassettes, photographs (including some negatives), videotapes, and floppy disks. My goal was to sort through all this data to […]

Uncovering the IUD’s Downfall, One Court Record at a Time

By: Kiley Roache The IUD is the most effective form of birth control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recent years, it has been making a comeback in the United States. But in other countries, it hasn’t needed a comeback; it has long been popular outside the US. To understand the […]

Love Doesn’t Conquer All

By: Laura Castro Lindarte Long before the Muslim ban, the United States had a law banning immigration by homosexuals – even if that word didn’t appear in it. In 1907, Congress passed a law stating that immigrants could be denied entry or be deported for having been “convicted of or admit having committed a felony […]