Author Archives: Peter Feinman

Peter Feinman

About Peter Feinman

Peter Feinman is founder and president of the Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education, a non-profit organization which provides enrichment programs for schools, professional development program for teachers, public programs including leading Historyhostels and Teacherhostels to the historic sites in the state, promotes county history conferences, the development of Paths through History, and a Common Core Curriculum that includes local and state history.

Towers of Babel: New York’s Historical Enterprise


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home_revolutionHistory’s Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880-1940, by Robert B. Townsend was just reviewed on H-Net. While I will not be purchasing the book (I have enough to read already!), the review struck home. .

The author was the deputy director of the American Historical Association (AHA) and much of the book is through the prism of that organization. As one might expect from the title, Townsend’s concern is the fragmentation of the historical enterprise into bunch of organizations that do not speak to each other. Does that sound at all like the New York historical enterprise today? Continue reading

What Works: Flashback to Your Community’s Heritage


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Capitol TheatreOn September 30, the recently reopened historic Capitol Theatre in the village of Port Chester in the Town of Rye, in the county of Westchester, founded in the days of vaudeville, beloved by the Grateful Dead, rechristened by Bob Dylan, and just host to Willie Nelson, hosted Flashbacks. 

A musical to the history of the town written by local sisters and educators Camille Linen and Donna Cribari, Flashbacks tells the story of high school students who complete a historical multimedia project and are drawn to the local river that mysteriously produces figures from the town’s past as primary source documents. Continue reading

Professional Quandaries:
Changing Academic Publishing Models


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Photo of library academic journals by Anna Creech used under a Creative Commons licenseIt was the best of times; it was the worst of times. On the one hand with the internet (especially blogs like this one) and MOOCs (free online courses known as Massive Open Online Courses), it’s possible to disseminate more historical information to more people than ever before. On the other hand, it is becoming harder and harder to make a living doing it.

A recent post on a list serve for the Society of Historians for the Early American Republic (SHEAR) initiated this train of thought in my mind. Below is the post by Vivian Conger, Ithaca College, reprinted by permission. Continue reading

The Hillary Clinton Presidential Library:
Where Would You Build It?


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hillaryrushmoreThis summer New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni wrote: “NBC recently announced plans for a mini-series about Hillary Clinton, whose current exaltation seems bound to end with her visage on Mount Rushmore. The network would do as well to consider a docudrama devoted to Weiner.”

While there is no doubt that her presidential campaign train has left the station (soon to approach warp speed), his mention of Mount Rushmore got me thinking. The well-known dictum: “If you build it they will come” is the goal of visitor centers at all tourist sites. But where would you build it? Where should her presidential library be? Continue reading

The Purpose of Historical Societies:
The Westchester Experience


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Westchester CountyWestchester County decided that historical heritage is not important. It is too insignificant to waste any time, energy, and effort supporting.

I was reminded of this reality in a recent article in the local paper entitled “Hotels Get Upscale Updates.”  Coincidentally, the hotel is where the annual conference of social studies teachers in the Lower Hudson Valley had been held until this year. In fact, according to the article the $15,000,000 renovation followed the $12,000,000 renovation at the hotel where we will be meeting this year. Continue reading

History Community Coordination: An Update


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home_revolutionReaders of The New York History Blog may recall that in a previous post I asked if anyone had heard about what had been discussed in Cooperstown at the NYSHA conference in a private meeting involving the Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS), the New York State historical Association (NYSHA), and the New York State Historian among others.

Some of those discussions have now been reported in the APHNYS newsletter. The following excerpts are from the newsletter. Continue reading

The Path Through History Project A Year Later: Failure?


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Path Through historyAugust 28, 2013 not only was the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” March on Washington, it also was the one year anniversary of the kickoff of the Path Through History project. That event was attended by hundreds of people from throughout the state and heralded a bold vision of the role of the history of the state in New York’s future.

I have the paperweight handed out to commemorate the event, and two slick, glossy, color booklets distributed for the event.  I even have an unused napkin from the Executive Mansion with its image as a souvenir of the event. What I don’t have is any hope for the project of great potential and little achievement. Continue reading

The American Revolution: Perpetual Rebirth


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home_revolutionI would like to address some questions raised about my critique of the American Revolution Reborn conference.

I’d like to begin with Tara Lyons, of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. I have two conference handouts from her entitled “Museum Introduction for Refugee Students.” Under the objectives for the program is listed: Explain how this museum might help them learn about their new home.  She then turns to the task of how to achieve this objective:

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Peter Feinman: Scholars in the Public Mind


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home_revolutionThanks are due to Mike Zuckerman for his response to my series on the American Revolution Reborn conference which he organized. I appreciate his having read an unsolicited essay from a stranger whom he just met, for our extended email exchange, and for his contributing a post to New York History on this topic.

If I may, I would like to respond to his comments by separating them into two types: those that addressed the conference itself and those that refer to the more general question of America’s identity. Continue reading

Two Row Wampum: The Triumph of Truthiness


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Wampum-BeltsThe historic journey of Two Row Wampum is in the news. The journey by water from Albany to the United Nations has been recorded and chronicled each step of the way.

The culminating activity at the conclusion of the journey is to honor the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The paddlers consist of roughly equal numbers of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, paddling side-by-side in two lines to honor and bring to life the imagery of the Two Row Wampum.
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Amtrak as Contributor to Cultural Heritage Tourism


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event_203538812I confess to a bias in support of trains since my father was an electrical engineer for General Electric. He rode the rails with GE’s state-of-the-art engine (which he helped design) and appeared in the final scene of the movie Union Pacific at a time when movies played in Bijous in communities across the country. Those days are gone, but what can Amtrak contribute to the history community in New York?

Amtrak is underutilized contributor to cultural heritage tourism. I have ridden the Amtrak rails from Albany to Niagara Falls, from New York City to Plattsburgh and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that Amtrak train service in New York is not designed to promote tourism in New York. Continue reading

Old Roads: Byways of the History Community


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US9_Freehold_NJRoute 66 is perhaps the most culturally iconic road in American history. Not to take anything away from other byways, but how many have had TV shows and become tourist destinations?

New York has its share of numbered roads with historic connections. In Westchester County where I live there is Route 1 (the Boston Post Road into New England); Route 9 (the Albany Post Road from NYC to Montreal), and Route 22  (the White Plains Post Road to the Canadian Border). These roads follow the lay of the land and have been used for centuries. We should be promoting them as access points to our history community.
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Busing New York:
Field Trips and Local Paths Through History


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field-trip_students_busOn May 30, 2013, I wrote about a high school teacher who took a class to Greece and wondered how that teacher would go about creating a visit to New York State. He used a travel agent because multiple paths through Greek history exist and he could pick the one he wanted. One might think that something similar could be done in New York but consider the following examples.

The Historical Society of Rockland County has numerous bus trips throughout the year. They sell out and are well received. They also are mainly in Rockland County which the Society, of course knows well. After that post about Greece, I received a private email which I am authorized to share. The Society would like to expand its bus programs beyond the county but encountered problems. Continue reading

Dear Andrew Cuomo: Fund History Infrastructure


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Andrew Cuomo (Times Union Photo)Last Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo inaugurated the Adirondack Challenge as an upstate tourist initiative. The Indian River rafting challenge was issued to New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who, according to news reports, is more familiar with yachts than inflatable rafts. The State defeated the City by 18 seconds in the three mile race. A wet and good time was had by all.

Governor Cuomo’s love for upstate (in particular the Adirondacks, not, say Syracuse), is well known. According to the New York Times a year before the Path through History roll-out, the Governor “has conspicuously avoided leaving the state” save for driving on the Palisades Interstate Parkway when headed north from the city. As Cuomo put it: “You can have the best vacation of your life right here in the state of New York. I see no reason to go anywhere else. It’s my state and I’m sticking to it.” Continue reading

The American Revolution Reborn:
New Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century


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home_revolutionAs July 4 nears, the issues raised at the conference seem particularly appropriate for us both as Americans and New Yorkers with many historic sites related to that war.

The American Revolution Reborn: New Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century conference was held on May 30 to June 1, 2013, at the American Philosophical Society very near the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. This free event originated by and was made possible through the generosity of Frank Fox operating through the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. The McNeil Center, the Library Company of Philadelphia and the future Museum of the American Revolution hosted receptions as part of the conference. Continue reading

History and Economic Development:
Some Lessons from Western New York


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1698There are two regions which have Path through History plans listed on the ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDEC) for New York State.

I’ve reviewed the Long Island region proposal here.  As will be seen, there are certain overlaps and parallels in their respective plans and differences as well between their plans and those of the Western New York region, which I’ll cover here. Continue reading

Historians And Economic Development Councils:
Lessons From Long Island


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long-islandNow that I have become more aware of the Regional Economic Development Councils, I decided to review the ten regions in that program and see if there was any connection with the Path though History. As it turns out, two Path regions have submitted proposals to the Regional Economic Development Councils: Long Island and Western New York. In this post, I would like to focus on what Long Island has achieved as an example for the other 8 regions. Continue reading

American Revolution Reborn: Missing New York


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home_revolutionEditor’s note: This is the third post on the American Revolution Reborn Conference. You can read the complete series here.

The conference also was important for the themes it didn’t include as was brought out in some of the questions and comments.

An area of significant omission was one with particular significance for New York State:  military history. One attendee from Boston sitting in the front row just in front of me privately expressed his keen disappointment at its absence from conference. Continue reading