Leo Hershkowitz Collection of Newspaper Illustrations and Billheads
Language of Materials
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.
Biographical / Historical
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.
Scope and Contents
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.
Available by advance appointment only. To schedule an appointment, contact the Print Room Librarian at email@example.com. 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.)
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
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.
About this Guide
Series I: Newspaper Illustrations -- Civil War Era
Scope and Contents
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
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.
Harpers Ferry Raid, 1859
Battle Scenes, 1861
Battle Scenes, 1862
Battle Scenes, 1863
Battle Scenes, 1864
Battle Scenes, 1865
Naval Views, 1861
Naval Views, 1862
Naval Views, 1863
Naval Views, 1864
Military Life, 1858, 1860
Military Life, 1861
Military Life, 1862
Military Life, 1863
Military Life, 1864
Military Life, 1865
Military Life - Hospitals, 1861-1865, inclusive
Military Life - Prisons/Prisoners, 1861-1865, inclusive
Civilian Life, 1860-1861, inclusive
Civilian Life, 1862
Civilian Life, 1863-1864, inclusive
Civilian Life, 1865, inclusive
Civilian Life - Crimes and Criminals, 1853-1865, 1872
U.S. Government, 1853-1860, inclusive
Views - Miscellaneous, 1858-1865, inclusive
Views - Georgia, 1860-1865, inclusive
Views - SOuth Carolina, 1860-1865, inclusive
Views - Virginia, 1859-1865, inclusive
Monumnets and Statues, 1860-1890, inclusive
Views - Foreign, 1863-1865, inclusive
Portraits - Miscellaneous Military, 1858-1865, inclusive
Portraits - Generals, A-Z, 1861-1865, 1891, 1893
Portraits - Miscellaneous Sailors, 1860-1865, 1890
Portraits - Miscellaneous, A-Z, 1853-1865, 1889
Group Portraits - Miscellaneous, A-Z, 1860-1865, inclusive
Portraits - Missing Men, 1860-1862, inclusive
Cartoons/Caricatures, 1860-1861, inclusive
Cartoons/Caricatures, 1862, inclusive
Cartoons/Caricatures, 1863, inclusive
Cartoons/Caricatures, 1864, inclusive
Cartoons/Caricatures, 1865, inclusive
Post-Civil War Images, 1868-1911, inclusive
Subseries I.2: Double Sheet Ilustrations
Scope and Contents
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).
Battle Scenes, 1862-1865
Naval scenes, 1862-1863, 1865
Military Life, 1861-1865, 1910
Civilian Life, 1860, 1862, 1865
Geographic Views, 1862
Series II: Newspaper Illustrations -- Assorted Subjects
Scope and Contents
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.
Disasters: Fires and Floods, 1843-1902
Disasters: Mississippi Flood, 1858-1860, 1882-1890
Foreign Views, 1850's-1890's
Travel and Transportation, 1850's-1890's
Series III: Billheads
Scope and Contents
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.