Collections from New York National Parks

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, this exhibit showcases one object from every national park museum collection in New York. We invite you to explore museum collections from African Burial Ground National Monument, Castle Clinton National Monument, Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Federal Hall National Memorial, Fire Islands National Seashore, Fort Stanwix National Monument, General Grant National Memorial, Governors Island National Monument, Hamilton Grange National Memorial, Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, Martian Van Buren National Historic Site, Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site, Saratoga National Historical Park, Statue of Liberty National Monument, Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, and Women's Rights National Historical Park.

From the early 1650s until 1974, both free and enslaved Africans were buried in a 6.6 acre burial ground in Lower Manhattan located outside the settlement of New York's boundaries. Lost to history over 200 years due to landfill and development, the burial ground was rediscovered in 1991. The unearthed skeletal remains revealed funerary objects placed in caskets honoring the dead and respecting African traditions. The silver pendant found in burial 254 lying near the mandible of a child may have been worn as an earrring.

African Burial Ground National Monument, AFBG 1243

This George III style teapot is part of a service that includes a cream jug and sugar bowl. Each piece is engraved with the monogram “AER”� (for Anna Eleanor Roosevelt) on one side and “1905”� on the other. This tea service was a wedding gift for the marriage of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt on March 17, 1905.

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, ELRO 5810

Image depicts George Washington's first inauguration, April 30, 1789; Chancellor of the State of New York, Robert Livingston, administering the oath of the original “Federal Hall.” Previously the New York City Hall, this building hosted the Continental Congress from 1785 to 1789 and the First U.S. Congress from 1789 to 1790 as the first Capitol of the United States. President Washington's office was located on the second floor, along with the Senate chamber.

Federal Hall National Memorial, FEHA 1790

This sterling silver paperweight, shaped like a horseshoe crab, symbolizes the natural and cultural resources of both Fire Island and the William Floyd Estate.

Horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) are abundant on the bayside beaches and saltmarshes of Fire Island National Seashore. Their protein-rich eggs are an important food source to migrating shorebirds, especially the federally protected Red Knot (Calidris canutus), which rests on Fire Island during its 9000 mile migration from the arctic to South America. While protected from harvest within the boundary of the Seashore, horseshoe crabs are used by fisherman as bait and their blood has applications within the medical industry.

This sterling silver horseshoe crab paperweight was an anniversary gift from Jolin T. Nichols to his wife, Cornelia Floyd Nichols, the great-great granddaughter of William Floyd, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Cornelia Floyd Nichols donated the William Floyd Estate on Long Island to the National Park Service, and many of the park's museum collections are associated with this estate.

Fire Island National Seashore, FIIS 269

Discovered by NPS archeologists in the west casemate of Fort Stanwix, this match case was part of a British grenadier’s uniform and attached to the shoulder belt. A grenadier was a soldier assigned the task of igniting and throwing grenades. The case kept the slow matches dry during rainy conditions and the perforations allowed for airflow to keep the slow matches burning and ready for use. Match cases from the 1700s are rare to find as archeological artifacts; this one was initially misidentified as a nozzle to a garden hose.

Curators at Fort Stanwix 'rediscovered' the object and sent it to Harper's Ferry Center for conservation in order to better preserve the artifact. The match case highlights the complex military history of Fort Stanwix and also illustrates the significance of the large scale archeological excavations that took place to uncover the remains of the original 1700s fort. The match case is currently on exhibit at the Marinus Willett Center for Collections Management and Education.

Fort Stanwix National Monument, FOST 5602

When Superintendent Linda Neal arrived at the newly established Governors Island National Monument in May 2003, she found this sign toppled over on the grounds surrounding the star-shaped, War of 1812-era fortification, Fort Jay. The sign spoke to the long military control of Governors Island, just off the tip of Manhattan in New York Harbor, first by the U.S. Army from 1794 to 1966 and the U.S. Coast Guard, the most recent occupant who closed their base there in 1996. In January 2003, the 172 acre island was conveyed to the National Park Service to establish a 22 acre national monument and 150 acres to the people of New York for redevelopment into educational, cultural and recreational purposes. Fort Jay is considered one of the best surviving examples of American defensive fortifications from the early 19th century. It's preservation was due in no small part to its surrounding defensive landscape use as a parade ground, a polo ground and finally since the 1920s, as a golf course - the only one in Manhattan and its worst 8 hole course (one hole had to be played twice). There are few parcels of real estate as sacrosanct on an army post as the golf course, even with multiple intersecting fairways that could pose hazards to even battle hardened officers. Unlike many historic army posts that lost their landscapes and structures to never ending missions during the 20th century, this golf course preserved the fort and its surrounding landscape from encroachment or destruction. Now abandoned, the old course is parkland and a rare open space, just a few minutes ferry ride from Lower Manhattan and the Financial District, which in the early years of the nation, Fort Jay defended.

Governors Island National Monument, GOIS 1

Copy of full-length portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull (original c. 1792). This copy was purchased by the New York Chamber of Commerce and Industry when the Trumbull painting was sold. It has remained in the possession on the Partnership for New York City, the successor organization, and is a gift from the Partnership for New York City.

Adrian Lamb was born in New York City. He attended the Art Students League, followed by study abroad where he developed his talent as a portrait painter. Among his many subjects are David Rockefeller and Joseph P. Kennedy. His best-known work may be his copy of an 1848 portrait of Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts. Lamb's Portrait was commissioned by the Special Committee on the Senate Reception Room and was installed in the Senate Reception Room of the U.S. Capital.

Hamilton Grange National Memorial, HAGR 899

Charles Stuart Forbes completed this portrait of young Franklin Delano Roosevelt in April 1897. Franklin was 14 years old, living away from home for the first time while attending Groton, a prestigious preparatory school for boys in Massachusetts. Classmates recalled that he was shy and possessed many characteristics of an only child. He occupied himself with solitary pursuits such as photography and collecting. Franklin was studious and found his schoolwork at Groton easy, matriculating early. He continued his education at Harvard, completing a BA degree in history in three years rather than the typical four. Roosevelt next studied law at New York's Columbia Law School and left without a degree when he passed the bar examination in 1907. He practiced law at a prominent New York City law firm for the next three years until he entered politics in 1910 when he was elected to the New York state senate.

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, HOFR 1266

Martin Van Buren (1782-1862) sat for this portrait during his only term as president. The painting now hangs in Lindenwald, his home in Kinderhook, New York.

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, MAVA 25492

This bronze bust served as the model for the face of Theodore Roosevelt carved onto Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, SAHI 5162

An Immigration Service Inspector’s job was to interview immigrants coming to the United States through Ellis Island. The inspector, sitting at a slanted, rostrum desk in the Registry Room met face-to-face with the immigrant, questioned the newcomer and consulted the official passenger list of the transporting ship called a Manifest of Alien Passengers which was open on the desk before him. The inspector had to verify that the immigrant’s answers were correct and only admit those persons who were clearly entitled to enter the United States under the country’s immigration laws. Barred from entry were contract laborers, polygamists, paupers, convicted criminals, anarchists and any one likely to become a public charge. This desk is an original inspector’s desk used on Ellis Island. The desk is made of wood and has a hinged lid, a drawer and a square inkwell. A single grooved wood block for a writing instrument is fastened near the inkwell with one center nail. “DEC-1949” is scratched into the wood finish.

Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Museum, STLI 2561

While artist and sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi depended on public commission from making commemorative monuments for his livelihood, the Statue of Liberty was a personal project consuming his time, energy, and finances. Since the direct sale of models of his work was an important source for his income, Bartholdi reproduced cast models of the Statue of Liberty for public sale. Avoiron et Cie, a French commercial foundry established in 1844 and specializing in making statuettes, candle sticks, and electric lamps, approached Bartholdi with an offer to make models of the statue. Bartholdi agreed and the company Avoiron made models for sale from 1878 to 1886. This Avoiron model was made of zinc electroplated with copper and fitted with the latest technology of electrical illumination. The 48-inch tall model stands on the foundry's distinctive circular base that is inscribed with series code letter “A”, the foundry name, and Bartholdi's signature. An etched glass flame is mounted on the torch. This model was owned by the Coca-Cola Company and presented to the Statue of Liberty National Monument for the 1251 anniversary of the statue on October 28, 2011, by the city of New York, represented by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the Coca-Cola Company.

Statue of Liberty National Monument, STLI 49142


Eyeglass case was pierced by the bullet that struck Theodore Roosevelt during the attempted assassination on October 14, 1912. The metal of this case and the folded papers of his speech combined to slow the bullet and save his life. The bullet entered the front of the case at the lower left edge of the flap, and exited the back slightly closer to the left end of the case.

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, THRB 865

Following the assassination of President William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated on September 14, 1901, in the home of Buffalo, New York, attorney Ansley Wilcox. After a somber and subdued ceremony in the library of the Wilcox home, Roosevelt is believed to have used this desk to draft his first presidential proclamation. On the same day, Theodore Roosevelt wrote to Booker T. Washington, saying, “I must see you as soon as possible.” An uproar ensued when the two men met in October; it was the first time that an African American had been entertained by a president at the White House.

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, THRI 1969.212.001

During the late nineteenth century, ink and fountain pens were the primary elements of writing. Although they could be highly decorative, inkstands were a functional part of desk furniture.The pierced, scrolling base, sinuous curves, and shells on this inkstand are typical features of the Rococo style, illustrating the popularity of the Rococo Revival during the Gilded Age. The male figure represents a popular Greco-Roman type of river god, usually posed reclining and supporting himself on one elbow. In this example, the figure leans toward the inkwell with a hinged shell-form lid.

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, VAMA 793

This bronze plaque was installed on the southwest corner of the Wesleyan Chapel on May 27, 1908 as part of the observances of the 60th anniversary of the first Woman's Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. The commemorative plaque served not only as a remembrance of that earlier convention, but as an organizing and public relations tool designed to promote suffrage in New York State. The celebration of the 60th anniversary and installation of the plaque was organized under the auspices of the equality league of self-supporting women, headed by Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The plaque quotes the words of the Declaration of Sentiments, “That it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise,” thus connecting the suffrage struggle of the early twentieth century with the early women's rights movement of the mid-nineteenth century. The plaque was designed by New York City artist, Elizabeth St. John Matthews and commissioned by a small group of the adult children of signers to the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments. Matthews was active in some of the same women's rights organizations as Harriot Stanton Blatch.

Women's Rights National Historical Park, WORI 22134

Credits: Story

Park museum staff from: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, First Ladies National Historic Site, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, and James A. Garfield National Historic Site and Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial.

National Park Service, Museum Management Program Staff: Amber Dumler, Stephen Damm, Ron Wilson, and Joan Bacharach

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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