The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Institute


Times Square NASDAQ sign with the NYC Landmarks50 Logo for the 50th Anniversary of NYC Landmarks Law's passage

The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Institute for New York City History, Politics, and Community Activism is a new collecting and programmatic initiative within the New-York Historical Society. Created and supported by the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Foundation, the Institute will spearhead a diverse new historical archive, which includes materials from New York City’s marginalized communities and voices. Renowned author, historian, and journalist Russell Shorto was recently appointed the Institute’s founding Executive Director. Mr. Shorto, whose many books include Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America will lead an advisory board whose members include Joy Bivins, Carroll Bogert, Douglas Brinkley, Pamela Rubin Carter, Thomas Dyja, Adam Gopnik, Adam Hochschild, Agnes Hsu-Tang, Michael Keogh, Tarky Lombardi, Kica Matos, Robert Odawi Porter, Luc Santé, Stacy Schiff, and Brent Staples.

An important component of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Institute’s mission is to provide a repository for materials that relate to 20th- and 21st-century local history, including the civil rights movement, women’s rights, climate concerns, the drive for LBGTQ+ rights, and the historic preservation movement. The archive will reflect significant political, social, and cultural moments from the mid-1900s to the present; it will also offer scholarly programs, a resident fellowship, and short-term fellowships. Among its first archival acquisitions are Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel’s papers and the High Line archives, along with the addition of several collections currently housed at the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, including materials relating to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

A substantial outreach program will be undertaken to invite individuals and institutions to submit archival materials representing a range of voices to be preserved for future generations. Attention will be also paid to topics such as public health, municipal infrastructure, housing, and the relationship between the development of grassroots movements and the individuals whose work have impacted the city’s history.

Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel (center) and the NYC Landmarks50+ Alliance, April 13, 2015


In-Person Program
New York’s Future Is in Its Past
Wednesday, January 19, 2022 | 6:30–7:30 pm ET
$38 (Members $24;  Chairman's Council, Free)
Featuring: Russell Shorto

When the Dutch founded the city of New Amsterdam, at the tip of Manhattan Island, they brought three elements that would shape the city of New York: tolerance, trade, and water management. Four hundred years later, these issues are confounding the modern world. Questions of tolerance, race and immigration roil our politics. Rampant inequality points to the need to make capitalism work for all. Climate change demands drastic action. Russell Shorto, in his inaugural talk as Executive Director of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Institute for New York City History, Politics, and Community Activism, argues that both the roots of these dilemmas and their solutions lie in New York’s past. Join us as he takes us back and makes New Amsterdam new again. 

Russell Shorto is the bestselling author of The Island at the Center of the WorldAmsterdam, and Revolution Song. His most recent book is Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob.
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Virtual Program
NYC Landmarks50+ Alliance | Winter Convening
LIVE ON ZOOM: Thursday, February 17, 2022 | 12–2 pm ET | Free
Featuring: Judith Martin, Suzanne Nossel, John T. Reddick, David M. Rubenstein, Shanta Thake, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel (moderator)

Presented LIVE on Zoom
In 2012, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel—chair and founder of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Institute for New York City History, Politics, and Community Activism at the New-York Historical Society—established the NYC Landmarks50+ Alliance to commemorate the landmarks of New York and significant anniversaries of the NYC Landmarks Preservation law. As part of the new Institute’s initiatives, the Alliance presents a series of special virtual discussions featuring knowledgeable speakers on the past, present, and future of New York City.

The winter 2022 convening will feature Judith Martin, journalist and advice columnist, “Miss Manners;” Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America; John T. Reddick, an architectural and cultural historian and founding member of Harlem PRIDE; David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-executive chairman of the Carlyle Group and philanthropist; and Shanta Thake, Chief Artistic Officer for Lincoln Center. The discussion will be moderated by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel.
Learn more and register >

In-Person Program
The State of Global Democratic Order
Tuesday, March 29, 2022 | 6:30–7:30 pm ET | $44 (Members $32; Chairman’s Council, Free)
Featuring: Richard Haass, Yascha Mounk

Does democracy have a vibrant future across the globe? Widely embraced for decades as the form of government best positioned to ensure peace and prosperity, many nations are now seeing the erosion of their democratic institutions and the rising influence of authoritarianism. How did we get to this point? Two experts, Yascha Mounk and Richard Haass, explore the myriad of challenges facing the United States and other countries. (A program of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Forum on History and the Public Good at the New-York Historical Society.)

Richard Haass is in his 19th year as president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a veteran diplomat, and an established leader of nonprofit institutions. Yascha Mounk is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also an associate professor of the practice of international affairs at Johns Hopkins University and a contributing editor at the Atlantic.
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“Honor our Past, Imagine our Future” Banner Flown over all five boroughs on April 15, 2015, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the NYC Landmarks Law

About the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Foundation

The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Foundation was founded by Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Ambassador Carl Spielvogel to continue and extend their long-term commitment to the common good and the public interest. With this focus, deeply rooted in inclusiveness, social equity, and community service, the Foundation creates and supports original projects based on results-driven and innovative strategies. The Foundation funds projects which demonstrate creative promise in four priority areas: projects focused on civic leadership, public affairs, and diplomacy; projects of cultural merit; original educational initiatives; and initiatives in support of the advancement of biomedical sciences. Learn more at


Creative: Tronvig Group