Author Archives: Editorial Staff

The True Tales That Inspired American Folk Songs


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hear my sad story book coverIn Hear My Sad Story: The True Tales That Inspired Stagolee, John Henry, and Other Traditinal American Folk Songs (Cornell University Press, 2015), Richard Polenberg describes the historical events that led to the writing of many famous American folk songs that served as touchstones for generations of American musicians, lyricists, and folklorists.

Those events, which took place from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, often involved tragic occurrences: murders, sometimes resulting from love affairs gone wrong; desperate acts borne out of poverty and unbearable working conditions; and calamities such as railroad crashes, shipwrecks, and natural disasters. All of Polenberg’s accounts of the songs in the book are grounded in historical fact and illuminate the social history of the times. Continue reading

Chestnut Street, Kingston: The Street That Built NYC


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the street that built a city book coverLowell Thing’s book The Street that Built a City: McEntee’s Chestnut Street, Kingston, and the Rise of New York (Black Dome, 2015) takes a look at the city of New York and the street that built it — or much of it. The street is on a quiet hilltop overlooking the Hudson River a hundred miles north of New York’s harbor.

Chestnut Street’s first resident, James McEntee, was an engineer who helped build the Delaware and Hudson Canal, which brought millions of tons of coal from Pennsylvania to the port at Rondout to be hauled down the Hudson River on barges pulled by steamboats belonging to another Chestnut Street resident, Samuel Coykendall, to fuel a rapidly growing New York City. Seven owners of brickyards lived on the street, and their hundreds of millions of bricks rose skyward in New York while bluestone slabs shipped from nearby Wilbur paved the city’s sidewalks. Continue reading

Erie Canalway Events On Tap For 2016


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hudson river cardboard boat raceThe Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and the New York State Canal Corporation have teamed up to sponsor 28 festivals and events in 2016 to showcase the Canalway Corridor’s nationally significant heritage and the recreational appeal of the waterway and trails today. Events include cycling and paddling tours, canal festivals, and concerts at the waterfront. The canal system is scheduled to open May 1, weather permitting. Continue reading

Red Hook’s Waterfront Museum Barge Hosts Port Cities Performance


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jabari brisport at port cities workshop at dixon place in 2015The Port/Cities Project will present the World Premiere of Port Cities NYC, written, directed and choreographed by Talya Chalef. This theatrical journey begins at Pier 11 in the Financial District, where audiences ferry across the harbor accompanied by an original soundscape. After docking in Red Hook’s working port, the performance continues on board The Waterfront Museum Barge. This limited engagement runs May 5 – 19. Continue reading

Lafayette: Hero of Two Worlds, Champion of Liberty


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lafayette book coverHe used civil disobedience before Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. made it a thing. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, French aristocrat and military officer, fought for the United States in the American Revolutionary War and influenced America’s founding fathers on issues like slavery and capital punishment.

Veteran journalist and self-proclaimed Lafayette historian Donald Miller’s seventh book, Lafayette: His Extraordinary Life and Legacy (iUniverse, 2015) looks in depth at one of the most influential men in French and American history. Continue reading

The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton


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prince of darkness_MECH_01.inddShane White’s book Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire (St. Martin’s Press, 2015) is the story of 19th century business man Jeremiah Hamilton, who overcame adversity and discrimination to become one of the wealthiest men of his time, earning a fortune of $2 million, valued at $250,000 million in today’s world.

This is a historical account of an African American man who held his own in the business world, bought a mansion in rural New Jersey, and owned railroad stock on trains he wasn’t legally allowed to ride. Cornelius Vanderbilt, America’s first tycoon, came to respect, grudgingly, his one-time opponent. Continue reading

Battlefield Stewardship Workshops Planned


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crown point by john warrenHistorians, museums, cultural groups and community members are invited to join one of two workshops on battlefield stewardship to be held at two locations – Wednesday April 13, 2016 from 1 to 4 pm in the Schuyler Room of Saratoga Town Hall, and Thursday April 14th from 1 to 4 PM in the auditorium of Crown Point State Historic Site.

The workshop discussion will be led by Saratoga National Historical Park Superintendent Amy Bracewell. Keynote speakers Lindsey Morrison and Kathy Robertson from the Civil War Trust will share information about Campaign 1776 – a national initiative to foster the preservation and interpretation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields. Continue reading

Utica College Local History Symposium Wednesday


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symposium posterIn the 2002 film “Spider-Man”, Uncle Ben tells his nephew Peter Parker that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

This year’s Utica College History seniors have taken Uncle Ben’s words to heart. They’ve used the power of research to fulfill the historian’s responsibility to reconstruct the past.

Moreover, each of the presentations plays with the theme “Superheroes” to discover some of the struggles and accomplishments in Mohawk Valley history. Continue reading