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© 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Lantern Slide Collection
c. 1860-1942
 PR 70

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Cara McCormick; database migrated to Archivist Toolkit by Jennifer Gargiulo, 2016

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on July 06, 2016
Finding aid written in English.

Scope and Contents Note

The Lantern Slides Collection contains 4,869 items, and makes up the bulk of the Transparency File (PR-70). The majority are 3 1/4 x 4 inch lantern slide photographs, many of which resulted from N-YHS' sponsorship, from 1900 to 1950, of numerous illustrated lectures about New York and early American life. Some of the slides in this collection are also original photographs of views of such Manhattan neighborhoods as the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village and Harlem. Well-represented photographers include Charles Simpson, Richard Hoe Lawrence and George E. Stonebridge. Among the dominant lantern slide manufacturers are the Charles Beseler Lantern Slide Co., Edward Van Altena, and T.H. McAllister-Keller and Co. Slides from amateur photographic clubs, such as the American Slide Interchange, the Camera club of New York, and the Society of Amateur Photographers of New York also account for a large portion of the collection.

The collection also contains a series of Circus advertisements, several groups of Cartoons and Caricatures, and a group of World War I American Training slides. Also included are groups of slides manufactured in countries outside of the United States, including Germany, France and Italy. Most of these are tourist views, but a few were produced by unidentified amateur photographers.

The majority of the images in the collection are relevant to New York City, and include bridges, rivers and transportation (including railroad material). Borough-specific New York City material includes subjects such as Churches, Clubs, Commercial Buildings, Monuments, Parks, Residences, Schools, Streets, and Theaters. As a whole, this portion of the collection provides a thorough look at the streets, culture and history of New York city throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some of the slides are also copy work produced during that time of drawings that date as far back as the mid-17th century, functioning as examples of the sorts of images which 19th and 20th century slide makers and sponsors felt were worthy of preserving.

The Songs and Announcements sections of the collection contain slides which were used in the theaters. The announcements reminded viewers to take off their hats or go to a nearby ice cream shop after the show. The song slides were used to illustrate accompanying music, and cover such genres as religious, popular, and patriotic music.

Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into series:

  • Series I: General Lantern Slides
  • Series II: Songs
  • Series III: Announcements
  • Series IV: Special Formats