© 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Leo Hershokowitz Collection of Newspaper Illustrations and Billheads
 PR 263

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

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Kelly McAnneny and Susan Kriete

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on July 07, 2015
Description is in English

Descriptive Summary

Title: Leo Hershkowitz Collection of Newspaper Illustrations and Billheads
Dates: 1840's - 1911
Abstract: This collection includes tear sheets from 19th-century American and foreign illustrated newspapers, arranged by subject. Also includes a smaller number of illustrated trade bills.
Quantity: 8.04 Linear feet (6 boxes)
Call Phrase: PR 263

Return to Top »

Biographical/Historical note

This collection of illustrated newspapers and billheads was compiled by historian Leo Hershkowitz, long-time professor at Queens College who retired in 2005.

Newspaper illustrations with wood engravings became very popular around the mid-nienteenth century. It was at this time that a number of developments made it practical to produce a newspaper filled with illustrations. First, wood engraving was a relief process, so the images could be printed from the same presses, and even on the same page as typeface. Secondly, procedures were developed which made it quick and easy to go from a manuscript drawing to a print, and then steel facing allowed for the production of thousands of images from the engraved woodblocks.

The first newspaper to feature wood-cut illustrations was The Illustrated London News, founded in 1842. In 1851, the first American illustrated newspaper appeared. Originally called Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion, its name was changed to Ballou’s Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion in 1855. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper appeared in 1855, followed two years later by the most successful of all the American illustrated newspapers, Harper’s Weekly. Many other illustrated newspapers appeared in different countries and an article in The Graphic (London), December 6, 1890, depicted the mast heads of twenty-three illustrated newspapers from around the world.

The success of these newspapers lay in their illustrations. These images were wide-ranging in their coverage of events, places, things and persons of interest to the readers, and they were extremely timely in their appearance, often being issued within two weeks of when the images were first drawn. Readers found it new and exciting to be able to have, within days and at an affordable price, a first-hand view of a disaster from across the country, to gaze on an image of a just constructed bridge, or to see contemporary pictures of far-away cities or countries. The prints produced in the nineteenth-century illustrated newspapers were comprehensive in subject and ubiquitous, with the most successful weeklies having press runs of well over 100,000 for each issue. The quality of the engraving is generally very good and many of the drawings were by skilled artists.

In addition to their artistic quality, newspaper illustrations often provide the most accurate and current images done of their subjects, and in some cases these are the only contemporary images of the people, buildings, and events depicted. There were often separately issued prints of the most famous individuals, the most spectacular disasters, the most substantial new structures, the most significant political events, and the most populous cities, but there were thousands of people, events, structures, towns and cities for which illustrated newspaper prints were the only contemporary images ever done.

Illustrated billheads date back to the early 19th century and typically pictured the seller's place of business.

Return to Top »

Scope and Contents note

This collection consists primarily of tear sheets from American and foreign illustrated newspapers, arranged by subject. Newspapers represented include Harper's Weekly, Frank Leslie's, Gleason's Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, Illustrated London News, Illustrated News of the World, and others.

A smaller number of illustrated trade bills from New York City businesses are also included.

Return to Top »

Return to Top »

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Available by advance appointment only. To schedule an appointment, contact the Print Room Librarian at printroom@nyhistory.org. Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Use Restrictions

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to:

Department of Rights and Reproductions
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194

Preferred Citation note

This collection should be cited as: The Leo Hershkowitz Collection of Newspaper Illustrations and Billheads, PR 263, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.


Multiple gifts from Leo Hershkowitz and his son, Herbert Berger-Hershkowitz, 2007, 2015.

Return to Top »

Container List

Series I: Newspaper Illustrations -- Civil War Era

Scope and Contents note

This series spans the period from 1853-1911 and contains illustrations depicting the American Civil War from both Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspapers.

Subseries I.1: Single Sheet Illustrations

Scope and Contents note

This subseries is comprised of individual newspaper pages. The illustrations are arranged by subject, then by date. These single page tear sheets may have either one large illustration or several smaller illustrations, often showing more than one subject. When a page contains more than one subject, the most prominent image is used for arrangement.

Harper’s Ferry Raid contains illustrations regarding the raid, the arrest of John Brown and his soldiers, as well as their execution.

Battle Views contains pictorial illustrations depicting various skirmishes, battles and campaigns throughout the Civil War. These images all show soldiers in action.

Naval Views contains illustrations of naval ships and battles, as well as images of harbors and of soldiers traveling by ship or boat.

Military Life includes illustrations of soldiers in non-combat situations. These include soldiers marching, voting, and recovering from battle, views of camp life and depictions of the daily lives of these men. These folders also contain images of military prisons, prison camps, and captured soldiers, as well as hospitals and wounded soldiers and their injuries.

Civilian Life is comprised of a variety of depictions of life outside the military during the civil war. These images show everything from starving refugees to winter recreation. There are also illustrations of crimes, criminals and trials, unrelated to the war. Illustrations regarding the Harper’s Ferry Raid, John Brown’s arrest & execution can also be found here.

U.S. Government contains images of politicians and political meetings.

Geographic View includes maps, birds-eye views and general views of the United States as well as other countries. This group also includes several images of statues and monuments. Portraits contains drawn portraits of both military men and civilians. Included are “Missing Men” illustrations, portraits with a brief description of the persons last whereabouts, posted in the classified section of the newspapers.

Cartoons & Caricatures includes commentary on everything from the war to women’s fashion. The majority of these cartoons were printed among classified ads, which also reflect the needs and interests of society, even in wartime.

Post Civil War Images is comprised of illustrations from newspapers published well after the Civil War’s end. Several of these images are heroic depictions of the war. This group also contains images of Civil War veterans, with one image showing veterans reunited at the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Harpers Ferry Raid
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Battle Scenes
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Battle Scenes
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Battle Scenes
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Battle Scenes
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Battle Scenes
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Naval Views
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Naval Views
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Naval Views
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Naval Views
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Military Life
1858, 1860
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Military Life
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Military Life
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Military Life
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Military Life
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Military Life
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Military Life - Hospitals
Box: 2 Folder : 18 Military Life - Prisons/Prisoners
Box: 2 Folder : 19 Civilian Life
Box: 2 Folder : 20 Civilian Life
Box: 2 Folder : 21 Civilian Life
Box: 2 Folder : 22 Civilian Life
Box: 2 Folder : 23 Civilian Life - Crimes and Criminals
1853-1865, 1872
Box: 2 Folder : 24 U.S. Government
Box: 2 Folder : 25 Views - Miscellaneous
Box: 2 Folder : 26 Views - Georgia
Box: 2 Folder : 27 Views - SOuth Carolina
Box: 2 Folder : 28 Views - Virginia
Box: 2 Folder : 29 Monumnets and Statues
Box: 2 Folder : 30 Views - Foreign
Box: 2 Folder : 31 Portraits - Miscellaneous Military
Box: 2 Folder : 32 Portraits - Generals, A-Z
1861-1865, 1891, 1893
Box: 2 Folder : 33 Portraits - Miscellaneous Sailors
1860-1865, 1890
Box: 2 Folder : 34 Portraits - Miscellaneous, A-Z
1853-1865, 1889
Box: 2 Folder : 35 Group Portraits - Miscellaneous, A-Z
Box: 2 Folder : 36 Portraits - Missing Men
Box: 3 Folder : 37 Cartoons/Caricatures
Box: 3 Folder : 38 Cartoons/Caricatures
Box: 3 Folder : 39 Cartoons/Caricatures
Box: 3 Folder : 40 Cartoons/Caricatures
Box: 3 Folder : 41 Cartoons/Caricatures
Box: 3 Folder : 42 Post-Civil War Images

Subseries I.2: Double Sheet Ilustrations

Scope and Contents note

This subseries is comprised of illustrations spanning two full newspaper pages. The illustrations are arranged by subject, then by date. Because of their size, they are housed separately from the single sheets, in flat file drawers. Significant illustrations in this series include a graphic depiction of Andersonville Prison (in Military Life), an allegorical image entitled Uprising of the North (in Battle Scenes), and a portrayal of the House of Representatives following the passage of the thirteenth amendment, abolishing slavery (in Civilian Life).

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Oversize: Flat files Folder : FF1 Battle Scenes
Oversize: Flat files Folder : FF2 Naval scenes
1862-1863, 1865
Oversize: Flat files Folder : FF3 Military Life
1861-1865, 1910
Oversize: Flat files Folder : FF4 Civilian Life
1860, 1862, 1865
Oversize: Flat files Folder : FF5 Geographic Views

Return to Top »

Series II: Newspaper Illustrations -- Assorted Subjects

Scope and Contents note

This series includes tear sheets from American and British illustrated newspapers, arranged by subject. Images show aspects of daily life, important news and cultural events, and fanciful illustrations on a wide variety of topics.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 43-44 Disasters: Fires and Floods
Box: 4 Folder : 45 Disasters: Mississippi Flood
1858-1860, 1882-1890
Box: 4 Folder : 46 Religion
Box: 4 Folder : 47 Religion
Box: 4 Folder : 48 Religion
Box: 4 Folder : 49 Religion
Box: 4 Folder : 50 Religion
Box: 4 Folder : 51 Ships
Box: 5 Folder : 52-56 Foreign Views
Box: 5 Folder : 57 Travel and Transportation

Return to Top »

Series III: Billheads

Scope and Contents note

This series contains 19th century illustrated trade bills from New York City businesses. These trade bills were apparently exhibited at some point, and are housed with exhibition labels and color snapshots, circa 2000, of the locations depicted on the trade bills. Also included is one folder of New York City bonds.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 1 American Hotel
1833, 1851
Box: 6 Folder : 2 Astor House
Box: 6 Folder : 3 Baker & Godwin
Box: 6 Folder : 4 Carlton House
Box: 6 Folder : 5 Cushing, Bardua & Co.
Box: 6 Folder : 6 Delameter Iron Works
Box: 6 Folder : 7 DDevlin & Co.
Box: 6 Folder : Fairbanks & Co.
Box: 6 Folder : 9 Fifth Avenue Hotel
Box: 6 Folder : 10 John Florence, Jr. [Hotel]
Box: 6 Folder : 11 Garret & Green
Box: 6 Folder : 12 E.V. Haughwout & Co.
Box: 6 Folder : 13 Jacob Hay Jr.
Box: 6 Folder : 14 Thomas Hope & Co.
Box: 6 Folder : 15 Irving House
Box: 6 Folder : 16 David Jones Brewery
Box: 6 Folder : 17 Lovejoy's Hotel
Box: 6 Folder : 18 Marvin Safe Co.
Box: 6 Folder : 19 Morgan Iron Works
Box: 6 Folder : 20 New York Hotel [to Henry Clay Committee]
Box: 6 Folder : 21 Pear Street House
Box: 6 Folder : 22 St. Nicholas Hotel
Box: 6 Folder : 23 Henry Seibert Brothers
Box: 6 Folder : 24 H. Sperry & Co.
Box: 6 Folder : 25 Steinway & Sons
Box: 6 Folder : 26 Grant Thorburn & Son
Box: 6 Folder : 27 William M. Tweed [Chairs]
Box: 6 Folder : 28 B. M. Westbrook
Box: 6 Folder : 29 City of New York Stocks and Bonds
Box: 6 Folder : 30 Assorted billheads

Return to Top »

Return to Top »