‘Immoral Tendencies’: When Amsterdam Banned Burlesque


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Rose Hill FollyTwo Amsterdam clergymen had concerns and asked Mayor John Dwyer to do something about the situation. The Rose Hill Folly Company was planning to perform on Wednesday, November 6, 1889 at the Potter Opera House on Market Street.

The formidable Reverend John McIncrow of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church and Reverend Donald Sprague of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church told the mayor the company had an “immoral tendency.” The clergymen also asked Dwyer not to allow the “posting of indecent pictorial advertisements of shows” in the city. Continue reading

Lecture: NYC Carnegie and Branch Libraries History


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Untitled1The Historic District Council of New York City will present a lecture, “The History and Endurance of New York City’s Carnegie and Branch Libraries”, by Dr. Jeffrey Kroessler on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 5:30 pm at the Yorkville Branch of the New York Public Library (the first Carnegie Library built in New York City), 222 East 79th Street (between Second & Third Avenues).

In 1899, industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated the funds which would build 67 architecturally distinctive libraries in the five boroughs between 1901 and 1923. These buildings, of which 54 still function today as libraries, have been community landmarks ever since. Together with the more recently built branch libraries, and the famous main branches, they make up the three library systems that serve the dynamic population of New York City. Continue reading

Ottilia Beha: An Extraordinary NYC Educator


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OttiliaBehaclassJust a few months after losing a re-election bid as county school commissioner, Ottilia Beha accepted a position in New York City, where she began teaching in 1903. By 1909, she had taught at several public schools in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, and had served as assistant principal at two facilities, gaining valuable experience.

In fall of that year, she was among 258 teachers to take the licensing exam for elementary school principal. Ottilia finished at the top of the group, leading to a promotion as principal of a Brooklyn school with 800 students and a staff of 19 employees. Continue reading

Erie Canal Birthday Party Planned At Schoharie Crossing


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Erie Canal PartySchoharie Crossing State Historic Site will celebrate the 189th Birthday of the Erie Canal at its annual Birthday Bash on Sunday, October 26th from 1 to 5 pm.  This year will feature rides from Run by Dogs Dogsledding, a pie raffle, and a beard contest, as well as local farmers showcasing their products, a pumpkin decorating contest, cider tasting, and music. Free walking tours will be available at 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm.

Schoharie Crossing will also be exhibiting a cannon used to announce the opening of the canal in 1825 that has been loaned by the Fulton County Historical Society’s Fulton County Museum for this occasion. Continue reading

Grant Workshops Set for Arts, Culture Organizations


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Federal Grants WorkshopNonprofits and artists in New York State are invited to learn more about state and federal support for arts and cultural activities at two Federal Grants Workshops for Arts and Culture Organizations on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 near New York City.

Any organization, or individual coordinating cultural programming is invited, including museums, libraries, historical societies, artists and performing arts groups, filmmakers, community organizations and colleges and universities. Continue reading

MANY And Advocacy For The NYS History Community


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nycapitolIn this post, I wish to focus attention on recent developments involving the Museum Association of New York (MANY) and opportunities for advocacy on behalf of the history community.

MANY has undergone significant changes which are of importance to the history community, though it should be noted that the organization’s membership is not limited to historical museums, but also include art and science museums, zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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Artifact Identification Day In Clinton County Saturday


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Clinton County Historical SocietyTo celebrate International Archaeology Day, the SUNY-Plattsburgh Anthropology Department and Clinton County Historical Association (CCHA) invite community members to bring their artifacts and collections to the Museum to participate in their Annual Artifact Identification Day.

Archaeologists Chris Wolff and Andy Black from SUNY-Plattsburgh will be on the grounds of the CCHA to identify and provide more information about your artifacts from 11 am to 2 pm on Saturday, October 18th. They will also be displaying some of their findings from local excavations for visitors to view.  Guests are also encouraged to take advantage of the Museum’s free admission for this event and free family activities.  No appraisals will be given at this event. Continue reading

Jack McEneny, the Adirondacks on ‘The Historians’


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians”, Albany historian and former longtime New York State Assemblyman Jack McEneny on the Pine Hills, the Quackenbush House and the politics of history. In the second half of the show I talk with Adirondack historian Don Williams about his latest book Adirondack Tales of Tragedy and Tidings Between the Sacandaga River Bridges. (Leader Herald, 2014).

Listen to the whole program at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/

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This Week’s Top New York History News


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An Infamous Criminal’s Connection To Monticello


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RulloffEdwardH[1]Edward H. Rulloff was one of the most famous American criminals of the 19th century, believed responsible for multiple murders and sundry other crimes, and eventually being publicly hanged in Binghamton, New York. He was also a brilliant savant, obsessively seeking respectability and the approval of what he deemed “good society.”

And if not for this obsession, his crime spree would have without a doubt included the National Union Bank in Monticello, the County Seat of Sullivan County.   Continue reading

Historic Textile Exhibit Opens At Albany Institute


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image006(1)In the private space of the bedroom, the world takes center stage. Politics, international trade, social events, religion, and cultural affairs come alive in the elaborate designs and patterns displayed on American quilts, coverlets, and bed hangings.

The Albany Institute of History & Art has opened Undercover: Revealing Design in Quilts, Coverlets, and Bed Hangings, an exhibition that investigates the designs and patterns that decorate American bedcovers of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. In addition to the textiles, early illustrated books, paintings, ceramics, and more are included to show sources of inspiration for textile designs. Continue reading

Governor Hugh Carey Awards Gala November 1st


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Irish American Heritage MuseumThe Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany will honor Pulitzer Prize winning author William Kennedy and Sister Katherine Graber, RSM, and the Religious Sisters of Mercy as the 2014 Governor Hugh L. Carey Award recipients at 6 pm on Saturday, November 1, 2014, at The Desmond Hotel in Albany.

Joining the Museum for the Gala are Honorary Co-Chairs Ambassador Consul General of Ireland Barbara Jones and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. The Honorable Gerald Jennings will preside as the Master of Ceremonies. Continue reading

Cherry Hill Marks 50th Anniversary With Free Tours


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Cherry HillTo commemorate its 50th anniversary as a museum, Historic Cherry Hill will offer Behind-the-Scenes Restoration Tours free during the rest of the month of October.

Tours will highlight the ongoing restoration of the 1787 historic structure, including factors that contributed to the building’s deterioration and how the building is being stabilized. Guides will also discuss the house’s intact original fabric, its “layers of history,” and the Van Rensselaer family that occupied Cherry Hill from 1787 to 1963. Tours are offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 pm. No reservations are required. Continue reading

Report: ‘Great Estates Region’ Brings $65M in Economic Benefits


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Great Estates RegionA new study has found that New York’s historic “Great Estates Region” brought approximately $65 million in economic benefits to Dutchess County.  The study, “The Economic Importance of the Great Estates Historic Sites & Parks,” focuses on the positive economic impacts that 12 federal, state and private nonprofit historic sites and parks bring to Dutchess County and other parts of the Hudson River Valley region.

Expanding the picture beyond Dutchess County’s borders, the study finds that in 2012, nearly 1.7 million paid visitors came to the region’s historic sites, spending about $60 million in the area, including $47 million from non-local visitors. The study, which was organized by the Taconic Region of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, was completed pro-bono by Urbanomics, Inc., a Manhattan-based consulting firm. Continue reading

Newburgh And Highlands Historical Marking 130 Years


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Newburgh Historical SocietyThe Annual Meeting of the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and Highlands will take place on Sunday, October 19th starting at 3:00 P.M. at their headquarters, the 1830 Captain David Crawford House in Newburgh. Members of the Board of Managers are to come together to review 2014.

Following the meeting a panel organized by Society member Tom Kneiser will discuss local buildings they have remodeled for vibrant new uses. Continue reading

Sally Ride Biographer Keynoting Susan B. Anthony Event


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susanbThe National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House has announced that its’ keynote speaker for the 2015 Susan B. Anthony Birthday Luncheon will be Lynn Sherr, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and biographer. The 2015 luncheon theme, Thanks to Susan B., We Can Reach For the Stars!, a celebration of the impact Susan B. Anthony’s life and work has had on subsequent generations of women. Continue reading

New Chapman Museum Exhibit, Portrait Stories, Opens


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Bridget vignetteWho was Bridget? The idea behind Portrait Stories started when staff at Chapman Museum in Glens Falls, NY were doing research for the summer 2014 exhibit, At the Lake.  Their curiosity was piqued by a photo of the Ranger family, in which every individual pictured was identified by name.  Interestingly, for one woman, only her first name, Bridget, was provided.

Additional research turned up nothing about Bridget. One can assume from her name that she was Irish, and from her clothing that she was a maid. As a servant for the Ranger family, that summer she would have prepared and served meals, cleaned the cottage and cared for the young children.  But then her story ends.  Perhaps she married or moved on to another location; we simply do not know. Continue reading

NYC Historic Districts Council Opposes Frick Expansion


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Frick Expansion planAfter many thoughtful meetings and two site visits to The Frick over several months, the Historic Districts Council has determined that we cannot support the proposed institutional expansion at the individually landmarked Frick. Our thoughts are outlined in our statement below:

In a city of superlatives, The Frick is unique. One of the last remaining Millionaire’s Row mansions of the Gilded Age, The Frick residence was designed from the beginning to become a museum. Henry Clay Frick stipulated in his will that his home become “a public gallery of art to which the entire public shall forever have access…”and to this end, a separate Board of Directors for his art collection was established after his death in 1920. After the death of Mr. Frick’s wife Adelaide in 1931, architect John Russell Pope was commissioned to architecturally guide the mansion’s transition to a museum (described in its 1973 designation report as “sensitive architectural blendings of alterations and additions with the original mansion”).  From its beginnings, The Frick has been a thoughtful, considered place. Continue reading