A lot of fountain pen history happened in New York City. A lot of writing implement history of all kinds happened there. (Eagle Pencil Company? Esterbrook Steel Pen Co.?)
I've gathered a few resources I use when exploring the Big Apple's history into my latest blog post.
This includes multiple sources for city directories, such as the NY Public Library's collection. These are fantastic for finding people, connecting them to others (when two people share the same address and are in the same business and were rumored to be working together, you can pretty much guess that they were) and figuring out when and where they moved. I've been able to find missing partners, change the date on founding and dissolution of companies, and all kinds of things from these terrific resources. And there are a lot of them out there.
There are several historical societies and other organizations devoted to the history of New York City. I have had very nice correspondence with some of these. The researchers and curators work there because they really enjoy knowing more about the city, and if you can educate as well as ask, that can really help get a dialogue going. I list a few in the post.
And then there's the actual geography of the city, and the buildings. I'm a sucker for maps, and Iove to look up the addresses I find. I then go to Google Maps and use street view to see what's there. Often, especially in lower Manhattan, the buildings are new, but every once in a while I find something work exploring. If you think you might be looking at the actual building where Waterman had its headquarters for a while, for example, then you want to go to NYC Landmarks Preservation Society web site where you can search any address in NYC and it will tell you all about the building, including when it was built. It's an amazing resource.
I'd love to find other resources that y'all use. If anyone has any other sites or resources for learning about NYC's past, I'd love to hear it. Thanks!