The Vault
Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights

Jan. 5 2017 4:17 PM

Five More Compelling Digital History Projects We Loved in 2016

Last week, I shared five of my ten favorite digital history sites from 2016. Here, without further ado, is the second half of that list.

Dec. 30 2016 3:57 PM

Five Fascinating Digital History Projects We Loved in 2016

For four years now, I've rounded up 10 interesting digital history projects, born in the 12 months previous, for your browsing fun. (Here are my 2015 picks: Part 1. Part 2. Here are the 2014 lists: Part 1. Part 2. And 2013: Part 1. Part 2.)

Dec. 16 2016 4:29 PM

Beautiful Pages of a Late Medieval Monk’s Sketchbook

In these pages, a 15th-century monk living in southwest Germany tested ideas for the creation of illuminated manuscripts. The website Public Domain Review recently featured images from this book, known as The Illuminated Sketchbook of Stephan Schriber, which is held by the Bavarian State Library in Munich.

Dec. 9 2016 12:12 PM

What Things Cost in an American Country Store in 1836

Bookseller and blogger John Ptak recently featured this page, from a pocket-sized arithmetic book published in Connecticut in 1836. The list gives sample prices for the stock that a clerk in a country store might buy in order to flesh out a typical inventory.

Nov. 18 2016 3:16 PM

How Tragedy Drove a Bellevue Doctor to Become America’s First Illustrator

After a six-year medical apprenticeship that began at the age of 14, Alexander Anderson became the resident physician at New York’s Bellevue Hospital. It was the peak of the city’s 1795 yellow fever epidemic, but Anderson was “determined to do the Lord’s work,” writes David Oshinsky in his new book, Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital.

Nov. 8 2016 3:45 PM

Some Choice Political Memorabilia, Shared via #ElectionCollection

For the past few months, the Presidential Libraries of the National Archives and PBS's American Experience have been running a Twitter and Instagram hashtag—#ElectionCollection—as a way of encouraging museums, libraries, archives, and collectors to share their election-related documents and memorabilia.

Nov. 2 2016 1:14 PM

Picky Bosses’ Pet Peeves About Secretaries, in a 1945 List

Drawn from a 1945 pamphlet, Memo: How to Be a Super Secretary, this list of bosses' pet peeves comes from research done at the behest of Remington Rand's Typewriter Division. The pamphlet, which has been digitized by the Hagley Museum and Library, is available to read in full in their its archives.

Oct. 27 2016 2:14 PM

A Harsh, but Efficient, Form Rejection Letter for Silent Film Screenwriters

Screenwriters sending scripts to Essanay Studios, a Chicago company that produced silent films between 1907 and 1917, received this form rejection letter in response to their submissions. Here Essanay identified several common problems with scripts; some ("Too difficult to produce") were probably more helpful to aspiring writers than others ("Not interesting").

Oct. 21 2016 11:43 AM

Washington’s 1776 Warning to the City of New York: “Get Out While You Can”

In this August 1776 proclamation, printed and distributed in New York City, George Washington asked vulnerable citizens—"Women, Children, and infirm Persons"—to leave the city ahead of the coming conflict with the British Army. The document is currently on display as part of the New-York Historical Society's exhibition on the Battle of Brooklyn (sometimes known as the Battle of Long Island).

Oct. 6 2016 2:50 PM

Bits and Pieces of Old New York, in a New Digital Collection

New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission has launched a new website with images of artifacts from its archaeological collections. The site supplements a new physical respository of archaeological finds, located in Midtown. The bones, shards, and bottles in the Archaeological Repository aren't on display for the general public to see (just researchers and scholars, by appointment), so the website is a good way to view the range of artifacts that archaeologists have collected in the city over the years.