13.0159 new on WWW: NY Public Library collection

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Wed, 25 Aug 1999 22:41:08 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 159.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 22:24:59 +0100
From: hscher <hscher@nypl.org>
Subject: Digital Collection of Stereoscopic Views at NYPL

Take a Summer Trip to the 19th Century via New York Public Library^=D2s Dig=
Collection of Stereoscopic Views

Like a time machine to summer fun and small town life of more than 100 year=
ago, a remarkable group of 12,000 historic images from The New York Public
Library's Robert N. Dennis Collection of Stereoscopic Views is now
available through the Library's site on the World Wide Web. In addition
to showcasing summer frolickers in Coney Island, Atlantic City, Asbury
Park, and other seaside spots, the collection provides a remarkable
assortment of candid views of everyday life in the tri-state area
surrounding New York City. Horse-drawn carriages tearing up Chapel Street
in New Haven, Connecticut; tourists perched on the edge of Niagara Falls;
shots of a well-appointed Brooklyn living room; and a view of lavish
mansions along Fifth Avenue in New York City are among the revealing
images in the collection. "These materials will be of invaluable use to
anyone researching life in the latter part of the 19th century and early
20th century," said William W. Walker, Andrew W. Mellon Director of the
Research Libraries. The Dennis Collection is one of several research
archives that have been made available through the Digital Library
Collections site located on the worldwide web at http://digital.nypl.org/.

Stereoviews were a broadly popular form of home entertainment between the 1=
and 1930s. Much like today's mass media such as television and home video,
stereoviews featured a wide range of entertaining subjects, from depictions=
exotic locales to pedestrian images of everyday life. When seen through a
special apparatus, the two slightly different photographs on a stereoscopic=
view card are combined by the human brain into one image with the illusion
of three-dimensional depth.

The 12,000 views representing the tri-state region are only part of the mor=
than 72,000 images that make up the Robert N. Dennis Collection of Stereosc=
Views. Robert N. Dennis was a New Yorker who collected stereographs over ne=
six decades. The first part of the collection=ADnearly 35,000 images=ADwas=
purchased from Mr. Dennis in 1941 for the Library^=D2s American History
Division. Forty years later, in 1981, Mr. and Mrs. Dennis visited the
Library to see their collection. The visit inspired the Dennis's to
donate another 35,000 stereographs that they had collected since 1941. The
physical stereographs are located in the Photography Collection of the
Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at The
New York Public Library's Humanities and Social Sciences
Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.

The online collection is divided into 199 subdivisions such as
"Stereoscopic views of Brooklyn Navy Yard and harbor scenes", "views of
Sleepy Hollow and Sunnyside, home of Washington Irving," "views of Wall
Street, New York," "views of Fifth Avenue," and views of such towns as
Binghamton, Bridgeport, Freers Glen, Hartford, Lake Champlain, Long
Branch, Nyack, Syracuse, Ticonderoga, Utica and many others. "Keyword"
searching retrieves general topics such as hotels, libraries, markets and
stores, post offices, prisons, the United States Military Academy, and
also names, places, titles, and subjects. There are also alphabetical
lists of all the places, general topics, people, events, and
photographers' names in the collection.

Digital Library Collections
The New York Public Library's Digital Library Collections website (http://
digital.nypl.org) was launched in May 1998 with Digital Schomburg, a collec=
of photographs and book texts relating to African American history and cult=
Much of the material in the collection is drawn from the Library^=D2s Schom=
Center for Research in Black Culture. The site also currently links to two=
joint digital initiatives, Marriage, Women, and the Law, a collaborative
project of seven libraries coordinated by the Research Libraries Group,
and the Dance Heritage Coalition website, a united effort of seven
organizations to provide centralized information on archival dance

Upcoming digital collections available from The New York Public Library inc=
Black New York, a collection of WPA (1936-1941) manuscripts describing the
history of blacks in New York City; the Digital Library for the Performing=
Arts, which will provide access to performing arts treasures from 1875 to
1925; and Travels Along the Hudson, a collaboration among ten
organizations documenting the history of Hudson River life in the 19th

For a selection of color and black and white images from the Robert N. Denn=
Collection of Stereographic Views, please contact Herb Scher or Tina Hoeren=
z at

Humanist Discussion Group=20
Information at <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>