Library Blog

Presidents Day 2021

Monday, February 8, 2021

The Library will be closed this year on February 14th and 15th for Presidents Day.  If you wish to celebrate the holiday with some Presidential reading, we have plenty to offer in our print collection, including the list of recent biographies and memoirs below, on our website, and in our collection of electronic resources.

You can find about 700 biographies of the Presidents in our collection by searching the subject heading “Presidents United States Biography” in our online catalog. If you prefer to browse the stacks (and we recommend it), you can find most birth-to-grave Presidential biographies in stack 7, where books are arranged alphabetically on the shelves by subject (then by author). You can also find many books about the Presidents in the American History section of stack 2. The Dewey Decimal number for American History is 973 and is further subdivided in chronological order.

  • 973.4 - 1789-1809 
  • 973.5 - 1809-1845
  • 973.6 - 1845-1861
  • 973.7 - 1861-1865 Civil War & Lincoln administration
  • 973.8 - Reconstruction period 1865-1901
  • 973.9 - 1901 - 2000 (further subdivided chronologically)
  • 973.93 - 21st century

Looking for something less weighty than a book-length treatment? Our blog has featured some entertaining and informative posts over the years featuring US Presidents: 

Presidents and Their Books

This 2018 post presents an overview of Presidential biographies in our collection, plus a look at the reading habits of past Presidents. Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt read a book a day, minimum, in addition to newspapers and periodicals? He also wrote several dozen books. (For more on the books that Presidents have written, see Author in Chief: The Untold Story of our Presidents, and the Books They Wrote, by Craig Fehrman (2020))

What Were the Presidents (and Vice-Presidents) Reading?

Using the Library's unique, rich City Readers database, in this post Events Coordinator Sara Holliday rolls up her sleeves and digs into the borrowing records of some early American political figures—including John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and George Clinton—to see what these founders were reading when we shared a building with the federal government in Federal Hall (Wall and Broad Streets).

More Reading on the Founders and The Society Library  

See this 2010 press release, "Historic Mount Vernon Returns Copy of Rare Book Borrowed by George Washington in 1789 to The New York Society Library," to read about the first President's use (and possible misuse) of the Library's collection. NYSL Cataloger Emeritus Matthew Bright took a closer, critical look at the Washington case in his 2017 post, The Curious Case of the President’s Overdue Books.  Speaking of the founders, the Library's manuscript collection includes some letters from Hamilton's widow, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, and Richard Harison, Hamilton's partner in law and the first US Attorney for the District of New York. The Harison letters chronicle an exchange of news and ideas between the early American lawyer and his peers, including Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, and others. Former Special Collections Librarian Erin Schreiner discusses the correspondence in a 2016 post, In Her Own Hand: Read Elizabeth Hamilton's Letters of Grief.  

Adam Van Doren, The House Tells the Story: Homes of the American Presidents

Watch the video of this 2016 Library event held in the Members' Room. Artist and author Adam Van Doren and preeminent historian David McCullough unite for an excursion to the celebrated homes of fifteen American presidents, past and present. 

Presidential Libraries for Presidents Day 

In 2015, Matthew Bright published this brief tour of Presidential Libraries in the Northeast. 

Libraries and Taverns: A Library Trustee, a Vigilante, and George Washington Walk Into a Bar...

This article looks at how the Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street became an important social hub in the 18th-century, a place where Library trustees were closely tied through their patronage of the tavern to President Washington’s inner circle and to other influential members of society, including revolutionaries.

Voting for Dogs!

Author, illustrator, and Society Library member Erin McGill on pets in the White House. Cats, dogs, raccoons...a surprising variety of animal friends have shared the White House with Presidents, their families, and their staff. 

The American Founding Era Collection 

Finally, the Library's collection of electronic resources includes The American Founding Era collection. Created and maintained by the University of Virginia, this database contains fully-searchable digital versions of the papers of major figures of early American history, including voluminous correspondence, administrative papers, and other primary sources that equal hundreds of volumes in print. This resource is rigorous in its scholarly editorial approach, and close to every extant relevant document is included.  Hamilton, Jefferson, Washington, Adams, they are all here to be searched and browsed. The American Founding Era Collection is available remotely to Library members signed in to our website. 

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