New York City's Gilded Ages: Spaces and Places

Figure 1: George A. Schastey, Patent model for adjustable reclining chairs, 1873, Walnut, paper labels, and original silk upholstery, 10 x 6 x 7 in., Metropolitan Museum of Art, accessed January 13, 2017,


This guide highlights key resources for conducting effective research on New York City's Gilded Ages. 

 For a full list of recommended resources for urban studies, including reference tools, article databases, books, maps, data sets, and more, please see the urban studies research guide.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

Teaching Team

Prof. Kimberley Johnson
Prof. Meredith Linn
Sarah Greene, Barnard Teaches
Melanie Hibbert, IMATS
Jennie Correia, Social Sciences Librarian


Citations & Intellectual Property (IP)
Images & Other Primary Sources
Background Info
Journal Articles
News Articles
Data & Stats

Learning about Citations and Intellectual Property (IP)

IP & Copyright Basics

Chicago Style


Finding Images and Other Primary Sources

For more detailed information on doing archival research, check out Archival Research at Barnard and Beyond

Columbia Libraries resources:

  • Artstor brings together hundreds of thousands of high-quality fine art images that have been provided by museums and libraries around the world. Through Artstor's Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) intiative, you can obtain publication quality images free for scholarly use. Simply put "IAP" in the search box along with your other search terms to find public domain images that are cleared for scholarly use.
  • The Gilded Age is a searchable collection of primary documents and scholarly commentary. When complete, the collection will contain over 50,000 pages of fully searchable text and associated audio and video material. These materials are frequently rare and hard-to-find, and include songs, letters, photographs, cartoons, government documents, and ephemera. In addition, the collection features numerous critical documentary essays that provide scholarly commentary and annotations to selected primary sources. Spanning from 1865 to 1902, The Gilded Age provides insight into the key issues that shaped America in the late nineteenth century, including race and ethnicity, immigration, labor, women's rights, American Indians, political corruption, and monetary policy.
  • Avery Library has a handy guide to Finding Online Image Collections in CLIO.
  • Proquest Newspapers is an extensive database of articles from U.S. national newspapers, international English-language newspapers, and selected regional/state newspapers. Chronological coverage of individual newspapers varies. Most articles are full text and are searchable by word, topic or newspaper title. You can search for things like advertisements, editorial cartoons, letters to the editor, etc.
  • Try using the Subject - Genre filters in the CLIO catalog. For example, search for "gilded age" and subject genre = Sources or "gilded age" and subject genre = Pictorial Works.

Cultural institutions with clear open access content:

  • The J. Paul Getty Museum makes public domain images in its collection available through their Open Content Program. No permission is required. You can search only the Open Content images by selecting "Open Content Images" in the "Highlights" section in the left sidebar. Select the image's title and click "download." View their Open Content Program page for more information.
  •  The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers high-quality images for scholarly use on its website that are designated "Open Access for Scholarly Content" (OASC). The OASC intiative gives license- and cost-free access to images in the Metropolitan Museum's collections that are believed by the museum to be in the public domain. These images are downloadable in high resolution from the museum's website, and are labeled OASC in their Collections database. The Metropolitan Museum's Open Access for Scholarly Content FAQ has more information about the program.
  • The National Gallery of Art has a lage selection of public domain images offered through their Open Access program.  For more information, see their Open Access policy page.
  • The NYPL Digital Collections can be easily limited to "Search Only Public Domain." Check out the public domain page for ways to visualize the public domain images and see creative use of the works.

Digital collections from other cultural institutions:

NOTE: Be sure to review the copyright/terms of use/rights of reproduction information for each organization before reproducing their images.

Finding Background Information

Consult scholarly reference tools to get an overview of a topic, an introduction to a theory, definitions to discipline-specific terms, and more. Urban studies is an interdisciplinary field, so both specific and broad resources may be useful.

Finding Books

CLIO is the online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and some information from the Law Library. Use the Catalog search to find books, print & online journals (not articles in journals), multimedia sources, and other materials in the Barnard and Columbia libraries. 

Catalog search tips:

If you know exactly what book (journal, video, etc.) you are looking for, you can search by Title, Author, ISBN, etc.

To find items about a specific topic, first try a keyword search in All Fields.

  • Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase: "gilded age".

  • Use * for truncation (to find variant spellings and endings of a word): wom*n will find woman, women, womyn; feminis* will find feminism, feminist, feminists, etc.

  • For more complex search, use AND and OR:

    • AND finds records that have all the search terms you entered.

    • OR finds records that have one of the search terms you entered, as well as records which have more than one of the terms. OR finds MORE.

    • For more help with using AND and OR, check our guide to advanced/Boolean keyword searching.

  • Use parentheses to group terms:  inequality AND (wealth OR income)

Subject headings: Did you find a relevant book? Look at its subject headings in CLIO and click through to find more related works.

You can also find related materials by browsing the stacks. Approximately 18,000 volumes, a tenth of our collection, are now available in Milstein rooms 406, 406A, and 409 in Butler Library. Also check the stacks in Butler as well as the collections at Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library and the Lehman Social Sciences Library.

You can also look for books in other libraries:

Finding Scholarly Articles - Journals and Databases

There are hundreds of databases available through CLIO. You can use the Articles section in CLIO to search multiple databases simultaneously, including many listed below. 

Search tips:

  • The general search tips for CLIO also apply to the article databases. 
  • Backward citation searching: If you have an article or book that is useful, the bibliography/works cited can be a useful road map to other relevant literature that was previously published.  
  • Forward citation searching: If you have an article or book that is useful, you can use Google Scholar and some other databases to find out whether other scholars cited it after it was published. Search for the title of an article/monograph and search and click on "Cited by" to generate a list of sources that have referenced that source.

Here are some database and journal recommendations for this seminar:

  • America: History and Life with full text provides access to the scholarly literature on the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. The database indexes journals from 1964 to present and includes citations and links to book and media reviews.
  • Anthropology Plus is the most comprehensive index to articles and books in the field of anthropology. You'll find references to scholarly articles, reports, commentary, and edited collections of essays in all areas of anthropology, from the 19th century to the present.
  • Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals provides citations to articles in architectural and related journals covering architecture, city planning, urban design and related disciplines.
  • Google Scholar is very useful for seeing if a book, article, etc. has been cited by other scholars. Search on the title, and then follow the "Cited by ..." link.
  • JSTOR provides the full text of back issues from core scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences from the earliest issues to within a few years of current publication. Please note that, generally, this database does not include issues published in the last few years. You can search just the journals in a specific field - such as anthropology, political science, sociology, etc. - using the Advanced Search "NARROW BY DISCIPLINE AND/OR JOURNAL" feature.
  • The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, from the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, provides original essays, including online projects, and reviews scholarly books on all aspects of U.S. history for the time period from 1865 through 1920.
  • Public Historian is sponsored by the National Council on Public History and the University of California, Santa Barbara with the support of Rutgers University–Camden. It provides the results of scholarly research and case studies and addresses broad substantive and theoretical issues in the field of public history. In addition, the journal publishes reviews of exhibits, historical films, media productions, videos, and digital projects.
  • Sociological Abstracts is the best bet when starting a search for scholarly sociological research. This core database covers sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences, including research focused in social work, human services, and related areas. The database provides citations from 1963 to the present and include references to journal articles, book reviews, book abstracts, book chapters, dissertations, and conference papers.
  • Urban Studies Abstracts features bibliographic records covering essential areas related to urban studies, including urban affairs, community development, urban history, and other areas of key relevance to the discipline. Records are selected from many of the top titles within the discipline, including Journal of Urban Affairs and Urban Studies.

Finding News Sources - Historical & Contemporary

  • Ethnic NewsWatch has a full-text collection of newspapers, magazines and journals from ethnic, minority and indigenous press.
  • Factiva provides global news and business information, including the full text of the Wall Street Journal (not available in LexisNexis). Also includes local newspapers, same-day newswires, company reports, and media programs. 
  • GenderWatch offers access to a full-text collection of international journals, magazines, newsletters, regional publications, special reports and conference proceedings devoted to women's and gender issues.
  • HarpWeek provides searchable full text and page images of Harper's Weekly, the popular illustrated 19th and early 20th-century American periodical (1857-1912). It includes a rich collection of indexing and finding aids for textual contents and illustrations.
  • LexisNexis Academic is a full-text with access to thousands of information sources including the full text of newspapers (including the New York Times), magazines, wire services, newsletters, journals, and broadcast transcripts.
  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers provides full-text and full-image articles from major American newspapers, including the New York Times.
  • Need more news?

Finding Maps

  • The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection focuses on 18th and 19th century North and South American cartographic materials and includes atlases, globes, school geographies, maritime charts, and a variety of separate maps including pocket, wall, and manuscript maps.
  • Digital Sanborn maps, 1867-1970 provides detailed historical information about New York and New Jersey locations through a collection of large-scale fire insurance maps from the Sanborn Map Company. Details include information such as street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, the size and shape and construction materials, and much more.
  • Lehman Library Map Collection has information about the different types of maps in Columbia University’s Lehman Social Science Library.  
  • Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division/New York Public Library (NYPL) is one of the world’s premier map collections in terms of size, scope, unique holdings, diversity and intensity of use. Established in 1898, holdings include more than 433,000 sheet maps and 20,000 books and atlases published between the 15th and 21st centuries. The collections range from the global to the local scale and support the learning and research needs of a wide variety of users. 
  • New York City Atlases & Land Books is a guide to resources available from Avery Library and NYPL Digital Collections.
  • NYC Open Data lets you search by type to find maps. 
  • NYPL Map Warper is a tool for digitally aligning ("rectifying") historical maps from the NYPL's collections to match today's precise maps. You can browse already rectified maps or assist the NYPL by aligning a map.
  • OldNYC provides an alternative way of browsing the NYPL's Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s collection. The creators of this site associated latitudes and longitudes to the images in the Milstein collection. This process is known as geocoding. Doing this allows the images to be placed at points on a map, which enables new ways of exploring this collection.
  • Social Explorer helps you visually analyze and understand U.S. demographic and election data using interactive maps and data reports.
  • Spatial Data on the Internet (Columbia University Digital Social Science Center [DSSC]) includes links to several NYC map resources.

Finding New York City Data & Statistics

  • from NYU's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Planning is a great source for empirical research and data on subsidized housing, land use, real estate development and other useful New York City neighborhood and housing data. 

  • Department of City Planning’s Community Portal offers resources on a variety of topics related to land use, community planning and budget processes and demographic trends for all of New York City’s 59 community boards.

  • Infoshare Online provides statistics for geographies that are unique to New York City from 1980 to the present. You can access information by assembly district, census tract, city council district, community district, congressional district, health area, health district, mental health region, NYC neighborhood, police precinct, public use microdata area (PUMA), school district, state senate, sub-borough area, United Hospital Fund (UHF) neighborhood, and zip code, back to 1980 for some geographies.  Includes population statistics, housing data, immigration trends, socio-economic indicators, birth and death data, hospitalizations, and more.
  • The Newest New Yorkers is an ongoing series of data reports on immigration and the foreign-born population in New York City. It features analysis of demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, as well as other federal and city administrative data. There is an interactive online map showing the largest immigrant groups in each of the City’s neighborhoods as well as where the City’s top ten largest immigrant populations live. 
  • New York City Census FactFinder (NYC CFF) provides access to U. S. Census Bureau population information for New York City for neighborhood tabulation areas (NTAs) and census tracts. 
  • NYC Open Data makes the wealth of public data generated by various New York City agencies and other City organizations available for public use. As part of an initiative to improve the accessibility, transparency, and accountability of City government, this catalog offers access to a repository of 1,500+ government-produced, machine-readable data sets. The data sets are available in a variety of machine-readable formats and are refreshed when new data becomes available. Data is presented by category, by City agency, or by other City organization.
  • Need more NYC numbers? Check out these other guides:

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Last updated February 3, 2017