A Last Chance for the New York History Blog


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After almost six years of building this New York History Blog, I’ve reached a crossroads. It’s become clear that whatever history community there is, it has little interest in supporting this effort financially. So this is the last chance – a final appeal, before I close-up shop.

I’ve worked nearly every day to build an audience to promote the news and events of the state’s historical resources, the largest audience of its kind, far larger than all the state’s history-related journals and magazines combined.

There have been successes, yes, and I am particularly grateful to those who have encouraged this endeavor and contributed essays. Notably, the Jay Heritage Center has been generous in providing a small amount of advertising support for many years. Bruce Dearstyne, Peter Feinman, and Larry Gooley, have contributed essays regularly, and others have added their voice occasionally.

But unfortunately, that’s not enough. I’m not independently wealthy (rather the opposite) and can simply no longer afford to devote days of my time each week to an unpaid effort, no matter how much I love history and want success for history organizations in New York State.

If someone in this community can come forth and offer financial support for this effort, I’d be happy to continue. Although it needs three days work each week, I’d be happy to be paid for one. $1,000 per month will keep this site going for years to come.

New York State has offered a million dollars to the history community for the Path through History project – every person reading this now knows that this site, with its daily reach of nearly 5,000 history lovers, professionals, and academics, is far more valuable to the history community than road signs.

Since I’ve made this appeal many times privately before, I’d like to be sure readers know I’m not an attorney, or even a non-profit professional – I’m a writer/reporter and an editor. I also have no time to incorporate this effort as a non-profit or write grant applications to support it. If someone out there wants to volunteer their own time to do that, I would welcome that help, but please don’t suggest that I do that. I’m far too busy producing this daily publication (and the far more successful Adirondack Almanack). Ditto, with suggestions about crowd-funding, donation buttons, and the like. I’m happy to take that help, but I simply can not do it myself. If you are not willing to actually help with your own time and/or resources, please do not suggest additional work I should do to keep the New York History Blog you enjoy alive.

If there is one person among the millions of New Yorkers, one organization among the hundreds, who see the value in this New York History Blog and has the small amount of resources required – now is the time to step up.

Thank you for reading.

John Warren
Founder and Editor
The New York History Blog

PS: Please share this widely.

This entry was posted in History on by .
John Warren

About John Warren

John Warren edits The New York History Blog and the online news magazine Adirondack Almanack. He's been a media professional for 25 years with a focus on history, journalism and documentary production. He has a Master of Arts degree in Public History, is a 2012-13 New York Public Library Research Fellow, and is a media specialist at the New York State Writers Institute. John's weekly Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report airs across the Adirondack North Country Region on the North Country Public Radio network.

22 thoughts on “A Last Chance for the New York History Blog

  1. Johanna Porr

    John,

    I’m very sorry to hear this. Thank you for all the work you’ve done to build the online community. No money to spare because I’m overwhelmed with scores of urgent historical/preservation causes down here in Newburgh. But, I’d be willing to sit down with you and see if we can come up with a creative solutions to lighten the burden and keep the effort alive.

    Johanna Porr, Historical Society of Newburgh Bay & the Highlands

    Reply
  2. Tracy Huling

    Oh no!! I had no idea you were struggling so much. (I’m relatively new to the blog) This is a great blog and thanks so much for creating it and keeping it going. Really sorry I don’t have a $1,000 a month to contribute or I certainly would. I would also contribute time if it’s still going come Fall 2014 when my own multi-job schedule lightens up a bit.

    Reply
  3. Wendy Oborne

    I thank you so much for your efforts in producing this wonderful blog; I have only recently discovered it and understand now how much time and effort it takes to execute quality writing to disseminate your message. It is so hard to relay the importance of historical knowledge to the general public, harder still to galvanize pertinent people (politicians, educators, tourism professionals) into concrete, effective educational and economic solutions to help spread the value of the history of New York State. Thank you again for how hard you have worked on this blog. I wish I was a millionaire and had some bucks to spare to give to you; alas, it is not so!

    Reply
  4. Ellen Apperson Brown

    John,
    This is particularly sad news for me. I live in Virginia and am trying so very hard to call attention to the leadership of my great uncle, John S. Apperson, and his valiant efforts protect the wilderness of the Adirondacks. Over the past 12-16 months, you have been offering me encouragement and helping me write and publish articles on your blog, and it has been a huge boost to my self confidence…and as a way to get his story out there for others to find. I have often said, down here in Virginia, how much I wish we had a similar blog. It would be a great loss if your work had to be discontinued.
    I suppose, like everything else these days, it comes down to the same problems for historians…Most of the grant money seems to go to bricks and mortar, or to support organizations that lean in the “right” direction, politically. If I weren’t such a “starving artist” myself, I sure would love to send you a nice check. All I can do is offer to pray…that people with money to spare will wake up and decide to help you continue your oh so valuable work! Let’s hope for a miracle! Ellen Apperson Brown

    Reply
  5. Susan Lewis

    This blog is great and it would certainly be a shame for it to close. I agree that it is very hard to get funding for a grass-roots endeavor like this, but do you have a way to accept contributions, small or large? For example, I’d be glad to subscribe $10 per month, as with a PBS station, or give a larger donation on an annual basis, as with Wikipedia or H-Net.

    If among all your readers you could get donations of $50 to $100 per year from 100-200 individuals, wouldn’t that be enough to keep going? You might even be able to raise more. Is there someone among our readership who could set up a donation category and see how much money can be raised? John, it sounds as if you have been doing this too long with no support, but it might take a few months to build the support you need.

    Reply
    1. Edythe Ann Quinn

      Susan Lewis has expressed my ideas here and I support hers. I too would be willing to contribute to this blog as I do to NPR, an annual contribution, e.g., $120 being $10 a month, or a small amount each month to be automatically deducted. Is there a lawyer or accountant among the readers who can set this up with legal recognition and protections? This is too valuable a blog and John too great a resource person to lose. Thank you.
      Edythe Ann Quinn, Ph.D., Edie

      Reply
  6. Carolyn Suffern

    John,
    I am sorry to read this. I hadn’t realized the financial burden on you. Other sites have Paypal “Donate now” links. MIght that work? If each of your readers donated a small amount, it might add up to be enough. Thanks for all you have done/do!

    Reply
  7. Ellen Apperson Brown

    John,
    Thanks you for speaking out against the attitudes of others in the field of history and education. We have the same problems in Virginia, where most of the professors don’t even deign to participate in public history projects and most of our museums and historical societies do very little to teach history or support appropriate blogs such as yours. I have been trying for many years to find a niche under the umbrella of one of the institutions around here, and seek grant funding for my workshops, research and writing…but so far haven’t had any luck. In New York, I wonder about the overlapping agendas of organizations such as Protect the Adirondacks, the Fund for Lake George, and others…all of them competing for the same financial donors, and creating similar (competing) blogs. It would be wonderful if all these organizations could find their common ground, and pool their resources. I’m still hoping for a miracle.

    Reply
  8. Jack Murphy

    I have been reading New York State History Blog for a few months now, and was also unaware of the financial stresses placed upon John in the production of the blog. I mistakenly thought that the blog was a product of the Jay Heritage Center, and as such, was funded. Regrettably, I too am independently poor, so I’ve decided to write to my elected New York officials, both to make them aware of the blog by including a link to this issue, and to ask them to consider funding. It is not much, but it is something. If we all spread the word, maybe john will receive funding to continue his fantastic work.
    I’m including the text of my letter for you to use as a sample for you own.
    Jack

    Dear (governor, state senator, house rep, etc.),

    As a resident of New York state I would like to bring to your attention an excellent resource which has been available for free to all, but is now faced with the possibility of disappearing. I do not know if you are familiar with the New York History Blog: Historical News and Views from the Empire State, which is compiled by John Warren, and has been published on the internet for almost six years now, so I would like to introduce you to it.

    Nearly 5,000 people subscribe to this blog, which, in John’s words, offers the readers “an opportunity to collaborate and connect history lovers and history professionals in order to help foster a sense of shared mission and purpose among New York historians of every stripe.” Every day, via email, Twitter, RSS feeds and Facebook updates, these subscribers to the New York history Blog receive links to news about the history of the New York state, what history professionals and others around the state are doing, and what educators and academics are saying about our state and local history and news about our great state’s historic resources. The Blog includes the work of 20 contributors from around the state and across disciplines, as well as links to articles from newspapers and journals from all corners of New York about the latest New York history news, events, conferences, exhibits and reviews of recent NY history books.

    If you take the time to visit the Blog, you will see how valuable it is, and what a great asset it is for New Yorkers and those interested in our history. But this is not the only reason I am writing to you.

    In today’s blog, John Warren has announced that he “can simply no longer afford to devote days of my time each week to an unpaid effort, no matter how much I love history and want success for history organizations in New York State” and that he may be forced to shut down the New York history Blog. He is not seeking much, and says that $1,000 per month will keep the blog running for years to come. This amount of funding is a pittance compared to the average cost of programs sponsored by the State, yet would be one of the best investments for New York State history, and a chance to publicize our history nationwide.

    I am asking you to look at the Blog, and consider finding funding to prevent its demise. It is such a small investment with such great returns, I do not see any reason anyone would be against this.

    You can sample the New York History Blog by following this link: http://newyorkhistoryblog.org/.

    Thank you in advance for your consideration.

    Jack Murphy

    Reply
  9. Gerry Stoner

    I have enjoyed this blog, but find that I don’t use it as you might have intended. I glance through the lines you post, but find that many “don’t relate” to my interests, and others I think are great links. (The problem is that my interests probably don’t connect to Mary’s or John’s.) Nevertheless, you would also probably do 80% of your surfing even if you did not have the blog.

    Have you ever considered linking “the top general discoveries you have made” on a weekly basis? I’m in the Hanford Mills area, but I’d suggest you drop such local items and bring to my attention on a weekly basis state-wide articles like New Map, App Feature NY Underground Railroad Sites or Professional Quandaries: Changing Academic Publishing Models.

    Reply
    1. John WarrenJohn Warren Post author

      Hi Gerry,

      Each Friday I link to ten “New York History News” and (lately Saturday morning) ten blog posts or other links around the web to sites relevant to New York History or what’s happening here. Every day I update the “Latest new York History News” column at the right.

      I didn’t do it this past Friday for the first time in more than five years, because it’s one of the things that takes a lot of my volunteer time, which I’m out of.

      By the way, because this blog has such a good Google pagerank those links help raise the Google pagerank of the blogs, organizations and the like, they link to, raising the presence in searches for all of the state’s history community.

      I should also say, that if you don’t find what you’re looking for here consider contributing, sending links, press releases or other news or information about what you are interested in.

      This is a community effort.

      JW

      Reply
  10. Claire K

    Like others, I am spread thin in both time and money, live outside NY, and only last week did this blog come to my attention. I thought it might be an interesting site to submit content to, but hadn’t yet read any “back issues” to get an idea of what was wanted, nor formulated specific ideas on what to write about.

    Reply
  11. James S. KaplanJames S. Kaplan

    From what I can see you perform a significant public service, which no one else is providing. I greatly appreciated your posting my Jewish history tour and my New York City anniversary of the American Victory at the Battle of Saratoga, both of which were highly successful from my point of view. Although I have had no idea of how or who funds your efforts, I certainly would be willing to help out. Why not ask your 4500 subscribers to donate whatever amount would be necessary for you to keep going. I assume if each subscriber donated $10 a year you would have more than enough to pay you $1000 a month. Contributors of material (particularly quasi promotional material like mine could be asked to contribute more (perhaps a set amount, such as $50, $100, or $150) I would be willing to put up at least that amount as part of an organized effort to keep you going, provided enough others did. Also there may be potential funding sources here in New York City that would be interested in helping out.
    Good Luck
    Jim Kaplan
    Herzfeld & Rubin, P.C
    125 Broad Street
    New York, New York 10004
    212-471-8546
    JKaplan@herzfeld-rubin.com

    Reply
  12. Tisha Dolton

    I have shared this on Twitter & Facebook. I too, wish I had the money to hand over right now, but my municipality has no advertising budget. I work on my own blog when I have time, usually out of the office. I would be willing to make a contribution should anyone get it up & running.

    Reply
  13. Mike RileyMichael Riley

    John, I sense your frustration with trying hard to do something good, but seeing it take so much of your time and taking so much of your own money. But your post raised a lot of questions for me.

    Was the Blog meant to become a job producing enterprise for you and other staff? If so, like any paper, advertising or sponsors need to be considered. If the Blog was meant to be a sort of internet historical society or public service, then it should be set up as a 501 so it can accept donations. Here in Port Byron / Weedsport, and 20 years ago, a local publisher much like you started a monthly newspaper called the InPort. He envisioned it becoming a money maker. Twenty years later, the paper remains alive, but only with the support of volunteers and subscribers who pay $15 a year to receive a copy. We also have at times, made appeals for help to get us out of the red, and with 400 to 500 subscribers, get enough to continue the good fight. But we are set up as a corporation and must report all these donations and fees, and pay business taxes.

    If it is meant to be a means of employment for you, then that raises questions, which are different than if you are looking for money to purchase servers, or internet, or other ways to support the Blog. I think you raise good questions about what you tried to do and the overall need for it. Is there a group that can pick this up and support it with a clearly stated and supportable mission? But form the sense of desperation in your note, I get feeling that there will be little time for this to play out.

    Best

    Reply
  14. Gayle Ann Livecchia

    Have you thought about guest bloggers? I research the Mohawk Valley, and know other historians in the state. It might relieve the burden a bit, and I too would contribute., I know the cost of travel, research time etc.

    Reply
  15. Pingback: The New York History Blog Needs Your Support | The New York History Blog

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