The Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America

Please note this year lecture locations may vary, Be sure to check the listing to see where the lecture will be held.

Also please be aware that due to increased costs, we are asking our members and non-members to pay a nominal fee for lectures.

Members are asked to $5 and Non-member $10. 

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October 2018

Comfortably Explore Woodlawn Cemetery

October 27, 2018 @ 10:45 am

Photo by Jim Henderson.   Join us for a trolley tour of The Woodlawn Cemetery, a 400-acre destination in the northern part of the Bronx. Designed by James C. Sidney in the rural style on rolling hills, the nonsectarian cemetery opened during the Civil War in 1863. The ceremonial burial there of Admiral David Farragut in 1870 spurred interest in the cemetery, and it became the final resting place of many well known figures in American history. Herman Melville, Thomas…

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November 2018

Treading the Borders: Immigration and the Victorian Stage

November 6, 2018 @ 6:45 pm - 8:00 pm
Bard Graduate Center, 38 West 86th St
New York, NY 10024 United States
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Maria Bonfati in the Black Crook. Oil on Canvas. ca. 1866. “Treading the boards” is a colloquial theatrical expression that refers to the wooden planks of the stage upon which performers ply their trade. Dr. Matthew Wittmann, curator of the Harvard Theatre Collection at Hougton Library, will highlight a simple but signficant point – much of the richness and vitality of the performing arts in American derives from creative talent originating elsewhere. The Victorian stage featured a fascinating mix of…

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Walk into Weeksville

November 10, 2018

Saturday, November 10, 2 p.m.                                                                     Weeksville blossomed as one of the first free black communities in America, just a bit over a decade after New York State abolished slavery in 1827. The Brooklyn community’s name hails from its founder James Weeks, a stevedore and former slave, who…

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December 2018

Devil’s Mile: The Rich, Gritty History of the Bowery

December 6, 2018 @ 6:45 pm - 8:00 pm
Bard Graduate Center, 38 West 86th St
New York, NY 10024 United States
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Victorian times were all about the suppression of anything salacious, as Alice Sparberg Alexiou, author of the new book, Devil’s Mile: The Rich, Gritty History of the Bowery, will explain. The era’s prudery just increased the urge to experience sex and weirdness—all commodities then were readily available on the Bowery. This is where the action was, in the form of freak shows, minstrel shows, gay bars (“fairy resorts”), concert saloons with back rooms devoted to fight contests and the waitresses…

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Holiday Treats and Treasures on the Hudson

December 8, 2018

Image courtesy of NPS Saturday, December 8, Departure at 8 a.m. We visit Rhinebeck, one of the most historic and quaint towns up the Hudson River two hours from Manhattan. It began as a Dutch settle-ment on land purchased from the Iroquois in 1686. The tour includes a lecture on the town's history (a Continental Army regiment trained here) as well as a short walking tour and site visits. The grandest of these sites is nearby Wilderstein, an 1852 Queen…

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February 2019

How Victorian Valentines Made Hearts Soar

February 7 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Bard Graduate Center, 38 West 86th St
New York, NY 10024 United States
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Nancy Rosin, president of the National Valentine Collectors Association, has made a “passionate obsession” for more than 40 years out of historical love and friendship cards, keepsakes and related ephemera. Her lecture will reveal the visual and structural wonders of Victorian Valentines. Surfaces were richly textured with gilded lace and high-relief embossing, and cards were engineered to turn into three-dimensional forms including battlefield tents and steam engines. Rosin will discuss the cards’ hidden codes of floral motifs, which represented various…

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Margot Gayle Fund Application Deadline

February 14

Margot Gayle with the Jefferson Market Courthouse. Margot Gayle Fund for Preservation of Victorian Heritage Applications are due February 14, 2019. Find out more and apply for a 2019 Margot Gayle Fund grant.

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Oscar Wilde’s Valentine for America & Summer School Presentations

February 15 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

The Victorian Society in America Presents A Summer Schools Evening* “Oscar Wilde's Valentine for America: 1882 Lecture Tour” A lecture by Richard Guy Wilson Director, VSA Newport Summer School and Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History, University of Virginia FREE Friday, February 15th, 6:00 PM The Bob and Sheila Hoerle Lecture Hall The New School University Center, UL105 63 Fifth Avenue New York *Learn about the VSA Summer Schools in Newport, London and Chicago before this year’s March 1st application deadline!…

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A Victorian Dog’s Life – American Kennel Club Museum Tour

February 23 @ 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

The American Kennel Club has a new museum devoted to dogs. On our museum tour, we will learn how 19th-century artists immortalized humans’ best friends with portraiture and sculpture as well as what a dog’s life was like in Victorian times— how animals were bred, trained, housed and shown. We will also see how owners’ expectations have evolved. $25 FOR VSNY MEMBERS $35 FOR NONMEMBERS       Victorian Dog's Life Member $25.00 USD Non-member $35.00 USD

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March 2019

The Making of a Modern Museum: The Hewitt Sisters

March 7 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Bard Graduate Center, 38 West 86th St
New York, NY 10024 United States
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When New Yorkers utter the phrase “Cooper Hewitt,” it typically brings to mind the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, housed in Andrew Carnegie’s mansion on 91st Street and Fifth Avenue. Far less renowned are the institution’s 19th-century women patrons, who made their family names synonymous with achievements in art and design. Sue Shutte, the historian at Ringwood Manor in Ringwood, New Jersey (the Hewitt family’s longtime country home), will bring deserved attention back to three sisters, Amy, Sarah and Eleanor…

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Margot Gayle Fund Benefit

March 11 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Grolier Club, 49 East 60th Street
New York, New York
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To benefit the Margot Gayle Fund for the Preservation of Victorian Heritage, the Victorian art of wrapping rooms in spectacular panoramas will be the topic of scholar Nicole M. Mullen’s talk, “French Scenic Wallpaper.” Mullen, the curator of SFO Museum at the San Francisco International Airport, is working on a double-feature SFO exhibition of Zuber’s French panoramic wallpaper and late 19th-century Victorian wallpaper featuring the contemporary maker Bradbury & Bradbury, which opens July 2019. Her talk will explore how 19th-century…

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Queen Victoria’s High Tea

March 23 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Oscar Wilde Bar, 45 W 27th
New York, NY 10001 United States
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Anticipate the celebration of Queen Victoria’s 200th birthday with High Tea in a private room at the Oscar Wilde Bar, a renowned establishment that has been dubbed “the most elaborately decorated pub in New York City.”  Our High Tea begins with a glass of sherry or port. This will be followed by three courses: 1) scones with clotted cream, 2) a selection of four tea sandwiches, 3) four choices of petit-fours, tartlets, cookies. And pots of tea (four selections). A…

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April 2019

Born Too Soon, Born Too Late: Mabel Loomis Todd, Millicent Todd Bingham and Their Upside-Down Victorian Sensibilities

April 2 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen, 20 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036 United States
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This lecture is co-sponsored with and will be held at The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen.  20 WEST 44TH STREET, BETWEEN 5TH AND 6TH AVENUES RECEPTION AT 6:00 LECTURE AT 6:30 Julie Dobrow, a Tutts University professor, will speak about the mixed-up Victorian sensibilities and fascinating lives of Mabel Loomis Todd, Emily Dickinson’s first editor, and her daughter Millicent Todd Bingham. Todd lived the majority of her life in the 19th century but confided to her diary her belief…

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May 2019

Emerging Scholars

May 2 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Sotheby’s Institute, 570 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022 United States
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This lecture will be held at Sotheby’s Institute, 570 Lexington Avenue (51st Street). On May 2, at the Victorian Society New York's annual Emerging Scholars event, young historians will shed light on little-appreciated aspects of 19th-century culture. During the free lectures (6 to 8 pm with reception, Sotheby's Institute of Art, 570 Lexington Avenue at 51st Street), Christine Garnier will explore symbolism hidden in a mining tycoon's Tiffany silver dinnerware; Ayaka Sano will examine surprising connections between men's detachable shirt collars and anti-Chinese bigotry;…

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Preservation in the Hudson Highlands Tour

May 11 @ 9:00 am

The first stop on this bus tour will be Cold Spring, where an iron foundry operated from 1811-1911 supplying artillery to the West Point Military Academy across the Hudson River. A talk about the town's history will be followed by free time to explore its historic district before lunch at the Hudson House, an inn built in 1832. Afterwards, the bus will take us to Garrison to visit Boscobel. This 1804-08 house was demolished at its previous location  and then…

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Queen Victoria’s Birthday Celebration and Awards Ceremony

May 20 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Papillon Bar and Bistro, 22 East 54th Street
New York, NY 10022

The 52nd Annual Meeting this year will celebrate Queen Victoria's 200th Birthday with a lively celebration, while presenting our annual Victorian Society New York awards.  Please join us by RSVP via email @ The event is free to members, guests are welcome to attend for $40.  This admission price includes a one-year Victorian Society membership.

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June 2019

Hudson Valley House Delights Tour

June 1 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Departing by train from Grand Central Station, we will visit two prominent Victorian homes on the Hudson, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside and the Gould family’s Lyndhurst. is tour is walking intensive; we will walk from the Irvington station to Sunnyside and then Lyndhurst via the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. Walking shoes/sneakers required. Lunch can be brought from home, or purchased at Zarrilli’s Deli in Irvington. $75 FOR VSNY MEMBERS $90 FOR NONMEMBERS   Hudson Valley House Delights Member Pricing $75.00 USD…

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October 2019

Plants and Paintings in Philadelphia

October 12

Valley of Santa Ysabel by Frederic Edwin Church This tour will focus on accomplishments that preceded the Victorian era. In the morning we will explore Bartram’s Garden, the oldest surviving botanic garden in this country. It was begun in 1728 by John Bartram, a self-taught botanist who collected seeds and plants on travels that took him north to New England, south to Florida and west to Lake Ontario. Back in Philadelphia, he nurtured them in the garden surrounding his house…

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Sugar, Cigars and Revolution: The Making of Cuban New York

October 28 @ 6:15 pm - 8:00 pm
5 West 63rd Street, 5 West 63rd Street
New York, New York 10023 United States
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More than century before the Cuban Revolution of 1959 sparked an exodus that created today’s prominent Cuban American presence, Cubans were settling in New York in what became the largest community of Latin Americans in the 19th-century Northeast. Lisandro Pérez’s new book, Sugar, Cigars, and Revolution: The Making of Cuban New York (NYU Press), brings this community to vivid life, tracing how it was formed by both the sugar trade and the long struggle for independence from Spain. Professor Pérez…

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November 2019

The Bowery: New York City’s Oldest Street

November 2 @ 10:30 am

Native American footpath, Dutch farm road and site of the city’s first Free Black homesteads, the Bowery stretches 1.25 miles from Chatham Square to Cooper Square. An early social hub for the working class, gangs, gays and immigrant Irish, Italians, Chinese, Jews and Germans, it was “the most interesting place in New York” to author Stephen Crane. It has important links to Washington, Lincoln, baseball, streetcars, tap dance, tattoo, Yiddish theater, vaudeville, Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, Harry Houdini and even…

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