Devin Lander Appointed New York State Historian


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Devin LanderState Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia today announced the appointment of Devin Lander as New York’s State Historian. Lander, who currently serves as the Executive Director of the Museum Association of New York (MANY), is expected to join the Education Department on May 19, 2016.

The State Education Department, the Department’s Office of Cultural Education, and the State Museum have been under fire for their handling of the State Historian’s position in recent years, including their downgrading the job to a lesser-paid position reporting to the Chief Curator of the State Museum.  Among those critical of the decision to reduce the role of State Historian have been former State Historian Robert Weible and members of the Commission on Local and Public History, convened ten years ago by Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education Carole Huxley to advise the Department of Education on the appointment of a State Historian. Continue reading

What’s New At The Old Copake Iron Works?


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copake iron works furnaceThe Roeliff Jansen Historical Society will host “What’s New at the Old Copake Iron Works,” an illustrated lecture by Edgar M. Masters, on Sunday, May 15th at 2pm at the Society museum, 8 Miles Road in Copake Falls.

Masters’ program will begin with a look back at the Copake Iron Works in 2008 when Friends of Taconic State Park first began planning the preservation of the long derelict, but historically important, 19th century industrial site. He will continue with a photo review of the work done in the ensuing years and a quick discussion of future plans, including the re-creation of part of the railroad that once circumnavigated the Copake Iron Works. Continue reading

Historical Sources of Historic Jamestown


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ben_franklins_worldHistorians research the past through historical sources.

But what are the materials that tell historians about past peoples, places, and events?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, James Horn, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation, helps us investigate historical sources by taking us on an exploration of historic Jamestown and the types of sources that inform what we know about it. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/079

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John Brown Lives! To Recognize Danny Glover, Alice Green, Brother Yu


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John Brown Day 2016 PosterActor and activist Danny Glover, Albany civil rights leader Alice Green and youth advocate Brother Yusuf Abdul-Wasi Burgess will be the first recipients of the Spirit of John Brown Freedom Award, to be awarded at the John Brown Day 2016 celebration on Saturday, May 7th, at 1 pm.

The annual event, which is organized by Westport-based human rights and freedom education project John Brown Lives!, will be held at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid. The public is welcome. Continue reading

The Heroic Age of Diving: America’s Underwater Pioneers


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the heroic age of diving book coverIn The Heroic Age of Diving: America’s Underwater Pioneers and the Great Wrecks of Lake Erie (SUNY Press Excelsior Editions, 2016),  Jerry Kuntz shares the fascinating stories of the pioneers of underwater invention and the brave divers who employed the new technologies as they raced with – and against – marine engineers to salvage the tragic wrecks of Lake Erie.

Beginning in 1837, some of the most brilliant engineers of America’s Industrial Revolution turned their attention to undersea technology. Inventors developed practical hard-helmet diving suits, as well as new designs of submarines, diving bells, floating cranes, and undersea explosives. These innovations were used to clear shipping lanes, harvest pearls, mine gold, and wage war. Continue reading

The Enlightenment of Cadwallader Colden


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the enlightenment of cadawaller coldenWas there a conservative Enlightenment? Could a self-proclaimed man of learning and progressive science also have been an agent of monarchy and reaction?

Cadwallader Colden (1688–1776), an educated Scottish emigrant and powerful colonial politician, was at the forefront of American intellectual culture in the mid-eighteenth century.

While living in rural New York, he recruited family, friends, servants, and slaves into multiple scientific ventures and built a transatlantic network of contacts and correspondents that included Benjamin Franklin and Carl Linnaeus. Over several decades, Colden pioneered colonial botany, produced new theories of animal and human physiology, authored an influential history of the Iroquois, and developed bold new principles of physics and an engaging explanation of the cause of gravity. Continue reading