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The History Department at the New York State Museum cares for and interprets over 4 million artifacts, researches the state’s history, and disseminates this history through books, articles, exhibitions, public programs, and social media.  The History Department works with scholars, municipal historians, curators, archivists, librarians, and members of the public around the state to interpret the past and collect for the future. 

The New York State Museum History Collections are vast – from an 18th century colonial Dutch armchair to a Norden bombsite from WWII to a painting by Romare Bearden.  The artifacts in our collection tell the stories of the people of New York State.  To better manage these collections, they are divided into the categories of social history, political history, cultural history, and economic history.  

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Provides resources and news for historians throughout New York State

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News Articles

Nevin’s Street, 1974  Oil on linen  23 ¾ x 19 ¼ in.  H-2020.22.3
Published April 8, 2021 | Cultural History

The NYSM History Collection recently acquired a collection of paintings by Ken Rush (b.1948). Rush divides his time between Vermont and Brooklyn producing rural and urban subjects that move between the realistic and the abstract.  In this group of quiet, almost haunting subway paintings, he...

Let’s Vote, Big Apple!, 2020  Emily Ree  Digital print on card stock, 11 in. x 17 in.
Published February 11, 2021 | Social History

Since 2017, LinkNYC Wi-Fi stations have been used to display the work of local artists on digital billboards across New York City. Hudson Valley comic artist Emily Ree’s work was one of 40 submissions chosen for the “Visualize the Vote” campaign in the fall of 2020. The project was a...

Harriet Alonso - My Autobiographical Bag  
Published December 7, 2020 | Social History

Harriet Alonso began working with embroidery in 1974. Influenced by the imagery of political posters, she soon used the medium to express her ideas about the causes she was passionate about, including women’s rights,...

1947 Tavern Television
Published August 4, 2016 | Social History

The State Museum recently acquired a fully-restored 1947 Tavern Television made by the United States Television Manufacturing Corporation (USTMC). Made in New York City, this unit is believed to be one of only five known sets left in the United States and the only one that is in operating...

Liquor Chest
Published February 29, 2016 | Political History

A liquor chest used by soldiers in the American Revolution and the War of 1812 was recently donated to the New York State Museum. The chest was donated by the descendants of Captain Abraham Swartwout (an officer on General George Washington's staff during the American Revolution) and Brigadier...

old petition
Published June 26, 2015 | Social History

The Museum recently acquired a series of 1917 Franklin County women's suffrage petitions from Jean Kubaryk, a teacher at North Warren Central School District. Ms. Kubaryk had been displaying the petitions in her classroom for years, but decided to donate the petitions to the Museum so they can...

Frog lady costume mask
Published December 9, 2013 | Cultural History

The New York State Museum’s history collections contain two frog costumes for humans and one frog costume for a dog. These costumes belonged to Harry and Friede DeMarlo, a vaudeville couple that once played circuses and vaudeville houses all over the world, ultimately retiring to a farm in...

Collections