The Bliss of Archives

I spent almost an entire day at the Surrogate Court Building yesterday! I started at the Municipal Archives, then on to the City Library, and then finally up to the 7th floor, and the Division of Old Records. That’s where I took these pictures.

I was allowed to walk around and explore, which was heaven for me. The first case I pulled had Elliot Spitzer’s name on it! But all my research was focused on the 19th century. I was looking into an early 19th century execution, and a later 19th century insanity hearing.

Just walking around in halls and rooms like this, where the past is preserved and cherished, is a mood enhancer for me. The place is practically thrumming with the stories of everything that ever happened in our city, nothing every really dies here, or is forgotten, and it’s comforting for me to be there.

Historical Court Records, New York City

Historical Court Records, New York City

Historical Court Records, New York City

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

3 thoughts on “The Bliss of Archives

  1. All I can say is, “Oooooooooo!” I love rooms like that!

    In an ideal world, all those paper records would get digitized so they wouldn’t be as vulnerable to loss through things like fire, flood, or just being thrown out. But I also recognize that that’s a mammoth job, with not a lot of funding available for things like that.

  2. Hahaha.

    Tagryn, much as I love holding the records in my hand, I agree it would be better if we digitized everything as soon as possible. It’s definitely a financial issue in this case.

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