Amazing Research Race Trifecta

Yesterday I was on an Amazing Research Race. First up was the New-York Historical Society. My goal was to find the source of a great quote from someone’s doctoral dissertation. I forgot to write down the source listed in their footnotes. Unfortunately, I found the source, checked it, but the quote wasn’t in it! So, I have to take that quote out of my book, alas.

This is the first thing I saw coming up out of the subway. That’s the American Museum of Natural History on the right and Central Park on the left. The New-York Historical Society is basically right in front of me but across the street. On to the New York Public Library …


My goal at the library was to go through some early Annual Reports of the Commissioners of Public Charities and Correction to get some data to verify something kinda cool that I think I’ve discovered. BUT, one of the years I wanted is now stored off-site so I’d have to come back another day for that one. Full disclosure, they said there was a possibility that I could get it later in the afternoon, but since she couldn’t guarantee they’d be able to retrieve it in time and it was easy to return, I decided to press on. I had a race to win!

This is the first thing I saw when I came out of the subway this time. This is looking east on 40th Street and that’s the back of the library on the left and Bryant Park. On to …


… the Municipal Archives, although the picture below is actually the back of City Hall across the street. My final goal of the day was to try to find out anything I could about a Blackwell’s Island cholera victim. This is sad research, but I wanted to track down the arrest record that got her onto the Island that killed her. And I found it!

Here’s the thing. I left and was halfway to the subway when I realized they might have the Annual Report at the Municipal Library that I was unable to check at the New York Public Library. But it was nearly the end of the day. I was tired. Should I see? Or, should I call it a day and just go back to the New York Public Library some other day? How could I resist? If they had it I would have made all my stops and accomplished all my goals in one day.

I walked back. First, they thought the Annual Reports were all out being scanned because they’re falling apart. But they checked. They had it!

Second, while I was waiting I noticed all these law books around me. I’ve been trying to find out more about the history of “disorderly conduct” and I asked them if they could help me. They called down a law librarian from upstairs who gave me a quick lesson about researching old laws, and she tried to find it among her resources upstairs, but she didn’t have the one text I needed. But she told me I can get it at the Brooklyn Supreme Court Public Access Law Library.

I successfully completed my three goals of the day and totally by chance I was put well on the way to accomplishing a bonus goal. And I learned about a new research source. I WIN!!


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 “Amazing Research Race Trifecta

  1. New York looks so pretty today!

    I’m a librarian, but you take the top research award for sure!

  2. That means a lot coming from a librarian!!!!!! Thank you!! I was just crying to someone how it might take me a week to verify a few facts that will only end up being a few sentences in the book and I have to do this times a billion facts!

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