College Basketball, Point Shaving and the Catskills


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Junius KelloggIn late February, 1951, the basketball team from the City College of New York was returning home on the train from Philadelphia where they had just trounced the Temple University squad.

The year before, the Lavender and Black had been hailed as one of the greatest college basketball teams of all time, having won both of college basketball’s biggest post season tournaments, the NCAA and the NIT, the only time that feat has ever been accomplished. The talented squad had stumbled somewhat during the current season, losing to several teams it had been expected to beat, but was seemingly hitting its stride just as the tournaments were about to begin. Continue reading

Sprucelets: An Original Adirondack Medicine


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Cold and flu season once again has sufferers scrambling for any kind of relief from all sorts of medicines. A little over a century ago, right here on Northern New York store shelves, next to cough drops by national companies like Smith Brothers and Luden’s, was a local product made in Malone.

Sprucelets were created mainly from a raw material harvested in the Adirondacks: spruce gum. Like hops, blueberries, and maple syrup, the seasonal gathering and sale of spruce gum boosted the incomes of thousands of North Country folks seeking to make a dollar any way they could. Much of what they picked was sold to national gum companies, but some was used locally by entrepreneurs who established small factories and created many jobs.

Among these was the Symonds & Allison Company of Malone, founded there in 1897 by Charles Symonds and Aaron Allison when the latter purchased half-interest in Symonds Brothers, a convenience-store operation offering food, coffee, candy, and tobacco products. Continue reading

New York History Around The Web This Week


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Saratoga NHP Announces 58% Visitation Increase in 2016


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2016 marked a banner year for visitation at Saratoga National Historical Park. Over 102,000 people visited the park during the 100th anniversary year of the National Park Service.

This was a 58% increase in park visitation from 2015. The park witnessed an increase in visitors attending ranger programs, special events, hiking and cycling, and touring the park’s historic sites, according to the Park Service. Continue reading

Boomtown: Oyster Bay During the TR Era


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roosevelt save your parkThe Thirteenth Annual Dr. John A. Gable Lecture Series, sponsored by the Friends of Sagamore Hill, continues on Thursday, March 30, with “Boomtown: Oyster Bay During the Theodore Roosevelt Era.” In his lecture, Park Ranger Scott Gurney of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site will discuss how technological advances in transportation, communication, and lifestyle at the turn of the 20th century — combined with the popularity of Theodore Roosevelt — transformed Oyster By from a quiet country town into the focus of world attention. Continue reading

Death, Suicide, & Slavery in British North America


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ben_franklins_worldEarly America was a diverse place. It contained many different people who had many different traditions that informed how they lived…and died.

How did early Americans understand death? What did they think about suicide?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Terri Snyder, a Professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton and author of The Power to Die: Slavery and Suicide in British North America (University of Chicago Press, 2015), helps us answer these questions and more as she takes us on an exploration of slavery and suicide in British North America. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/125

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Celebrating 100 Years with Desi Arnaz


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Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum has announced the 2017 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, which will take place August 3 to 6 in Jamestown, NY.

Visitors will be able to explore the life and career of Desi Arnaz through an exhibit and program that can only be seen during the 2017 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. Both the exhibit and program will tell the story of Arnaz’s journey emigrating from Cuba, and how he ultimately became one of the most influential entertainment moguls in our culture’s history. Continue reading

New Approaches for Historical Societies and History Museums


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Many of the posts in this New York History Blog report on new exhibits, public programs, outreach to schools, and other initiatives. This variety of initiatives reflects the fact that here in New York we have some of the most progressive, innovative programs in the nation.

But are there really any new ideas out there – new ways of looking at and carrying out our mission as historical societies, history museums, and other public history programs? Continue reading