And, from bundles of papers earmarked for disposal by the city comptrollerâs office, he saved coronerâs records from the late 18th and early 19th centuries that recorded infanticides, suicides, drownings â and the killing of Alexander Hamilton by Aaron Burr in a duel across the Hudson in Weehawken, N.J.
âIt is a lonely world,â Professor Hershkowitz told The New York Times in 1990 about his dives through archives, some of them dusty enough to require wearing a protective mask. âI donât have much company.â
Professor Hershkowitz, who taught history at Queens College for about 50 years, died on Aug. 10 in Boston. He was 92.
His son Herbert Berger-Hershkowitz said the cause was polycythemia vera, a slow-growing blood cancer.
Professor Hershkowitzâs archival adventures were put to their most renowned use in âTweedâsâ New York: Another Lookâ (1977), a revisionist look at the powerful machine politician who was memorably lampooned by Thomas Nast, the Harperâs Weekly cartoonist. Professor Hershkowitz found dusty packets of meticulously kept payrolls and vouchers that helped form his view that Tweed did not pilfer the cityâs treasury of tens of millions of dollars, as his accusers have long believed.
âSo little has been done to obtain even basic information about the man, and what is known is generally wrong,â he wrote. âPerhaps never has so much nonsense been written about an individual.â