Many people in New York’s history community work every day to affirm, interpret, and present the stories of the distinctiveness of their communities and their histories. Local history is very powerful. “Local history allows many interpretations,” write Carol Kammen and Amy H. Wilson in the introduction to the second edition of The Encyclopedia of Local History (2013). “It is flexible and it is not just national history writ small as some have suggested. Local history is the study of past events, or of people or groups, in a given geographic area – a study based on a wide variety of documentary evidence and placed in a comparative context that should be both regional and national.”
There is considerable recent evidence of the continuing power of place. Continue reading
Readers of the New York History blog may be interested in a new report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, “The Heart of the Matter: The Humanities and Social Sciences for a Vibrant, Competitive and Secure Nation”. It explores the need for more support for the humanities and social sciences, particularly in education.
“The humanities remind us where we have been and help us envision where we are going,” says the report. “Emphasizing critical perspective and imaginative response, the humanities – including the study of languages, literature, history, film, civics, philosophy, religion and the arts – foster creativity, appreciation of our commonalities and our differences, and knowledge of all times. The social sciences reveal patterns in our lives, over time and in the present moment.”
Some of the examples are rooted in history. Continue reading
This seems like a very opportune time for an initiative to strengthen state and local history here in New York.
Carol Kammen’s response to Peter’s Feinman’s post on the “Path Through History” initiative suggests creation of an advisory board and the use of electronic communications to stay in touch and inform New Yorkers about history. That is an excellent proposal and the timing is right for a new push in the public history era for several reasons: Continue reading
Many of the posts on this New York History website highlight the programs of historical societies or raise issues about their mission, funding, and impact.
Sometimes, a look back in our own history is useful in reminding us how enduring some of the issues are, and perhaps reminding us of strategies that have been up for discussion before. Continue reading
April 11, 2013 marks the 94th anniversary of Governor Al Smith’s signing the law that established New York’s system of local government Historians (Laws of 1919, Ch. 181). Smith was a history-minded leader.
As an Assemblyman, he had sponsored the bill in 1911 that moved the State Historian’s office to the State Education Department and initiated the state’s local government records program. In 1919, his first year as governor, he was preparing to reorganize and modernize state government.
His approval of the Historians’ Law was a milestone event. New York was, and still is, the only state in the nation to declare preservation and dissemination of local history to be a public purpose so important that it is embodied in statute.
New York’s long, rich, and vibrant state and local history has long been a source of pride and inspiration. As items on this website repeatedly confirm, there are many programs that provide creative interpretation and presentation of key events and developments.
But over the years, the New York historical community, particularly in publishing books, has sometimes tended to concentrate on certain topics and neglect or minimize others.
Many of the entries and news items here at the New York History blog highlight innovative practices and initiatives to broaden public visibility and support.
Sharing information and descriptions of good practices is a useful strategy for strengthening our programs. Here are a few examples that may be of interest:
Four recent developments remind us of the opportunities to tie history to other initiatives here in New York. Doing that successfully will continue to require leadership, persistence, and imagination.
*New York pride…and history? The New York State Economic Development Corporation is running ads in business journals to attract businesses to the state. The ads link to the Development Corporation’s Web Site. The ads say, among other things: Continue reading
How important is “public history?”
The essay on public history in the newly published second edition of the Encyclopedia of Local History, provides some fresh insights. The Encyclopedia, edited by Tompkins County Historian Carol Kammen, a long-time leader in the field, and Amy H. Wilson, an independent museum consultant and former director of the Chemung County Historical Society in Elmira, is a rich source of fresh insights on all aspects of local history. Continue reading
Is November New York State History Month?
Section 57.02 of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law says that it is:
57.02 New York state history month
1. Each month of November following the effective date of this section shall be designated as New York state history month. Continue reading
If you have an opinion on whether or not New York State and local history should be taught in our public schools, now is the time to speak up.
As noted on September 17 here at the online news magazine New York History, the State Education Department has released a draft version of the “New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework” for review and comment until October 11 [online]. There is a link there for people to submit comments. After revision, the document will go to the Board of Regents for adoption as state education policy. Continue reading
New York State has approximately 17,000 highway bridges. They are essential for traveling around our state and connecting our communities. About 37% are “functionally obsolete” or “structurally deficient,” according to DOT, a reminder of the need for continuing investment to maintain valuable resources.
Bridges – old and new – are part of community and state history. The story of three historically significant bridges shows various connections to history. Continue reading
Through several initiatives and statements, Governor Andrew Cuomo has become a highly visible proponent of New York State history. Taken together, his projects constitute evidence of vision, interest, and support. Cuomo sees history as something that can be used to deepen understanding, provide perspective, and help guide us into the future. Continue reading
Several recent posts here at New York History remind us of the incredible richness and diversity of New York’s history and the outstanding programs and organizations that are responsible for it. But others demonstrate the need for more resources, visibility and coordination. Continue reading
The State Education Department has not yet released the proposed new Common Core standards for English Language Arts, which includes “Literacy in History/Social Studies.” Several previous posts have explored the implications for state and local history in our state. Continue reading
The revision of the New York State social studies curriculum should involve, or call on the expertise of, many individuals and historical groups, or they should consider proactively advancing their suggestions. Peter Feinman’s recent post included the resolutions of the annual meeting in March of the New York State Social Studies Council, articulating the concerns of social studies teachers and reaffirming the importance of social studies. Continue reading
During the recent spate of posts on this site regarding the New York State Social Studies curriculum revision, some commentators asked whom to contact. The person is charge of this initiative is Dr. Lawrence Paska, Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction, NYS Education Department, 89 Washington Avenue, Room 318 EB Albany, NY 12234. 518-474-5922. firstname.lastname@example.org,gov Continue reading
If you are interested in strengthening the teaching of New York State and local history in New York’s schools, now is the time to speak up.
A recent post by Peter Feinman informed us that the State Education Department is now working on revision of the state social studies standards. The current standards, last revised several years ago, are in need of revision and updating. Continue reading
Many people are fascinated by the serial British drama “Downton Abbey”, currently airing on PBS. The Abbey is a fictional mansion in Yorkshire, the home of a fictional family, the Granthams, and their servant staff, during the early 20th century. It is an entertaining tale of love, intrigue, loyalty, betrayal, triumph, and tragedy! And it has generated, or at least been accompanied by, new books on the real history of the time, including Jessica Fellows, The World of Downton Abbey and the Countess of Carnarvon, Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey. Continue reading
New York History is bringing much interesting news, mostly good, but some of it revealing needs and the potential for greater attainment through cooperation, higher visibility, and more funding. News in the popular press also reveals improvement opportunities. Historical societies are a case in point. Continue reading