It is time for me to put up or shut up. My previous two posts have been about the Path through History project. I said the conference was a good first step but that the project was at the proverbial fork in the road. Many people in the historic community have witnessed these periodic forays into the world of cultural heritage tourism and our leery about another such effort no matter how sincere. I have pointed out some of what has been done already by different organizations throughout the state and raised the issue of where this project fits in given what has occurred.
The Path though History project does not operate on a tabula rasa. When Henry Hudson arrived, there were no signs to guide him. Today there are more signs then one can count. For Path through History the challenge is not to create ex nihilo but to create order out of chaos. Continue reading
The Path through History project held its long-awaited kickoff conference on August 28 in Albany. An estimated crowd of 250-300 people attended the all-day program which included lectures, breakout sessions, regional reports, a reception at the Executive Mansion … and great food. Continue reading
“Harlem Loses Its Bowling Alley” was part of the headline for an article in the New York Times on August 6, 2012. The article told the story, not of some hallowed bowling alley from the time when life was simpler, but from 2006 when with great fanfare and former President Clinton in attendance, Harlem once again had a bowling alley decades after its last one closed in the 1980s. Continue reading
Once upon a time, as all good stories begin, in the fair village of North Tarrytown (later to be renamed Sleepy Hollow), there was a beacon of light in the river that ran two ways.
Located a quarter mile from the shore of village on the river, this lighthouse had been built in 1882-1883 by strong and sturdy men back in the day when strong and sturdy men built and made things along the Hudson River and before it became a valley of ruins with a book of a similar name. Continue reading
The Union may have won the war but the South has won Civil War tourism and its legacy. It’s an extraordinary fact of life that wherever the National Park Service has a site, a battle was fought there! And they are all in the South with the major exception of Gettysburg.
Time and time again presentations on life back then in antebellum (before the war) times begin with Gone with the Wind, still the box-office champion adjusted for inflation. What story does the North including New York have to tell that can compare with the pageantry of the South, the chivalry of the idealized plantation, and the glamour of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh? Freedom and preserving the Union that made the world safe for democracy in the three world wars in the 20th century should count for something, even for Confederates. Continue reading
The great Yogi said “when you come to the fork in the road, take it.” Truer words of wisdom were never spoken. I thought of this gem of Americana following my recent post about the Path through History sign project.
Appropriately, I will be presenting two responses from two people from two different regions, one private individual and one public employee, one by email with attachments and one by email and phone call. The two individuals will remain anonymous and I will present their thoughts in the order in which they were received. Continue reading
Regular readers know that I am a strong advocate of the role of the county historian as a promoter of historical education, community heritage, and cultural tourism. Although the position is a required by state law, the actual job requirements and benefits are left up to the individual counties. Continue reading
Everyone has heard of the ongoing troubles in Greece and the Eurozone but nobody has realized the importance of Saratoga to understanding this crisis until now.
Let me explain. It seems that Greece lied in its application to join the Eurozone. Then as might be expected it failed to perform adequately and was only able to cover up its shortcomings as a third world country trying to pass as a first world country for so long. After the Greek elections when a new government took office, the truth was revealed and all hell broke loose. Continue reading
Our Governor’s father, also a Governor, was a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln. The son wants to make history as the first President of Ellis Island origin. He has gained a reputation as a passion advocate for the restoration of the Capitol, so much so that he was said that he seemed “at times more like its chief historian—or at other moments, its chief architect, interior decorator and custodian” (New York Times). Continue reading
From time to time I receive notices about the activities various organizations have undertaken, sometimes from New York History itself. Some of these activities stand out as going beyond the routine. The good thing is they can be replicated. Continue reading
On April 22-24, MANY and Museumwise held their annual conference in Albany. The two organizations are in the processing of merging which should be a good thing. Due to all the commotion over the NYS Regents, the Core Curriculum, and the state requirements in social studies for high school graduation, I have been delayed in posting about that conference. Continue reading
I recently received an invitation to attend a meeting of the Hudson Valley Smart Growth Alliance on behalf of Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) and The Advocacy Coalition of the Hudson Valley to address the question: Is there a HUDSON VALLEY Regional Agenda? (The meeting will be held on Friday, June 15, 2012 from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Student Union Building of the State University of New York at New Paltz) [Link]. Continue reading
Regular readers of my posts know that the role of civics was an important point of contention raised at the recent annual conference of the New York State Council for the Social Studies. Such readers also know I have consistently advocated on behalf of local history both for the pedagogy of teaching critical skills beginning with one’s own backyard to the civic benefit of developing a sense of place, a sense of belonging, and a sense of community. Those concerns affect not only an individual’s sense of identity with the immediate area where one lives but also with the country as a whole where one is a citizen. Continue reading
What do we need to do so when we pass the torch to next generation it is ready to grab it? With the upcoming vote by the New York State Regents on the social studies requirements for a high school diploma and the ongoing issue of the Common Core Curriculum with its lack of citizenship as a goal and probable minimizing of local history, I thought I would take this opportunity to issue my own modest proposal on what should be done. Continue reading
Since my emergency post of April 22 a lot has happened.
1. MANY/Museumwise held its annual conference
2. APHNYS held its annual conference at the same time
3. The NYS Board of Regents met
4. Gov. Cuomo created a New York Education Reform Commission
5. Gov. Cuomo’s “Path Through History” initiative scheduled a meeting for May 21
Let’s see if it is possible to make sense of some of these developments. Continue reading
The New York State Board of Regents will be meeting on Monday and Tuesday, April 23-24, in Albany. The meeting overlaps with the Museumwise/MANY conference in Albany which I will be attending and the Public Historians meeting in Long Island which I will not be able to attend since I already had registered for the Albany meeting. Communication and planning among the various groups leaves a lot to be desired. Continue reading
At the annual statewide conference of social studies teachers, the NYSCSS board passed the following resolutions which have now been disseminated to the members through the NYSCSS website and publication. They express the concern by the NYSCSS over the diminished role of social studies in k-12 education and of the prospect of English teachers, more formally, ELA teachers, using historic documents to teach reading without being trained in the historical context which produced those primary source documents. It would be like teaching Shakespeare without being aware of the Elizabethan context during which he wrote. Continue reading
Upstate New York has bequeathed to the American culture two iconic towns, neither of which exist in the real world. Bedford Falls from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life is based on the village of Seneca Falls…or so claim the people of Seneca Falls! Oz of the Wizard of Oz book series and one memorable movie also derives its origin from the exact same area – author Frank Baum was spurred on by his living in Fayetteville in what is now the Gage Home. Continue reading
The New York State Council for the Social Studies annual conference which I attended was held March 22-24 in Saratoga Springs. Several of the sessions were related to the new common core curriculum in social studies. The primary presenter was Larry Paska of the New York State Education. Also speaking was Regent James Dawson. In addition to the formal presentations both answered questions, Paska in a scheduled second session and Regent Dawson in an impromptu setting for close to an hour after his talk. In both sessions, teachers raised the issue of citizenship not being a goal for the proposed new curriculum. They are to prepare students for college and work but not to be adult human beings in a democratic society. Continue reading