The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House and the National Archives at New York City

The National Archives is celebrating American Archives Month throughout October. Follow us on social media, and share your archives stories using the hashtag #ArchivesMonth. Today’s post comes from Michael J. Hancock from the National Archives History Office.

The National Archives History Office has published a new online exhibit, The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House and the National Archives at New York City. This exhibit explores the history and architectural details of the Beaux-Arts building, as well as records, programs, and activities offered by the National Archives at New York.

Alexander Hamilton Custom House, 1976. (National Archives Identifier 75315846)

The National Archives at New York City is part of the National Archives’ nationwide network of archives. Its permanent records include those created by Federal agencies and courts in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In addition to numerous records of genealogical interest, among its holdings are also the first Batman comic and records for the Titanic.

In 1969 the first regional archives in New York City was established in the Federal Office Building at the corner of Washington and Christopher Streets in Greenwich Village. After a couple of relocations, in 2009 the agency began plans to move the National Archives at New York City into the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House Building at One Bowling Green in lower Manhattan.

Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House view from third floor landing, 2018. (Photo by the National Archives)

Designed by renowned architect Cass Gilbert, the building was constructed in the early 19th century. It houses the National Museum of the American Indian and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

The opening of the National Archives at New York City was delayed by months due to the severe damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in fall 2012, but it finally opened its doors in 2013. Today it’s located on the third floor of the Custom House Building, where the public can now visit its research, education, and exhibition facility. 

Staff at the National Archives at New York City work in archives, education, and exhibits. They offer tours for school groups and educational programs for the public such as “Introduction to the Census,” “Passenger Arrival Records,” and “Student Hands-on Archives” program.

Their exhibits have included Be it Remembered, which explored treaties with native nations, New York on the Record: Remembering Vietnam, and Matthew Henson: From the North Pole to the Custom House, about the arctic explorer turned customs clerk.

Their current exhibit, New York on the Record: Rightfully Hers, highlights records from the National Archives at New York City to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and explore the struggle and diverse experiences surrounding this landmark moment in American history. The documents illustrate how family history, the rights of individuals, finance, and other unexpected stories intersect to present a fuller exploration of the fight for American woman suffrage.  

Want to learn more about the National Archives at New York City? Visit the National Archives at New York City website and the online exhibit The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House and the National Archives at New York City.

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