Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Inside the Vault

Thursday, October 29 at 7 p.m. ET

Enslaved Men, Soldiers, Freemen: The Experience of Black Patriots after the Revolution

More than 5,000 Black men served in the Continental Army. Many were enslaved men who were promised freedom for their service. But what happened to them after the war?

Join us as we explore unique documents from the Gilder Lehrman Collection that record the service of Black soldiers in the Continental Army and reveal their postwar experiences. We will also discuss the challenges of researching the lives of these men.

We will be using documents to investigate the lives and military service of:

Our curators will be joined by Mandel Holland, history teacher at Woodlands Middle/High School in Hartsdale, NY, and Meecah, principal standby in the Philip Tour of Hamilton.


Everyone who registers will be sent a Zoom meeting link and instructions in the confirmation email.

PD certificates will be sent to all who attend the entirety of the program.

For more information, please contact us at firstfriday@gilderlehrman.org.

Inside the Vault: Highlights from the Gilder Lehrman Collection is an online program that highlights unique primary sources from the Gilder Lehrman Collection. From iconic historical treasures, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Emancipation Proclamation, to personal letters that reveal the contributions of ordinary American citizens, each session will investigate primary sources and discuss their background, impact, and potential use in the classroom.

This event is for teachers, students, families, and everyone with an interest in American history.

Upcoming Programs


  • November 12, 2020: Explore speeches and letters by Abraham Lincoln including a courtship letter, the Gettysburg Address, and his last address to Congress.
  • December 3, 2020: Investigate a wide range of documents relating to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, including both American and Japanese photographs, a Japanese news report, and letters from American servicemen reflecting on the attack.
  • December 17, 2020: Examine letters and books by three women who lived during the American Revolution: Martha Washington, Phillis Wheatley, and Lucy Knox.

View full archive of past sessions