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.

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

American Revolution Reborn: America Renewed


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

Conference organizer Zuckerman asked how does one enlist loyalty voluntarily especially if people are not supportive (disaffected). He wondered about nation building and civics in such an environment. We are a story telling species. Gordon-Reed, Harvard University, said people want a narrative, that the story is what people respond to. Anishanslin, CUNY Staten Island, observed that Americans learn about the Revolution from historic sites, that monuments shape public memory. She objected to the cleansing of the story and called for the Iroquois story to be told. Continue reading

History And The Regional Economic Development Councils


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Regional Econmoic CouncilsHere is some information about the latest round of proposals through the Regional Economic Development Councils. These regional councils provide a vehicle through which history tourist proposals which provide economic development could be submitted.

I would be curious to know if the history community is working with these Regional Development Councils since as everyone knows tourism is big business in New York. People may mistakenly think these councils are only for factories or projects of that nature. As a result the history community may shut itself off from where the real money is. Continue reading

The Social Fabric: To Knit or Not to Knit?


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1885 Delaware River WatershedsThe Delaware Company’s president John Conway (Sullivan County Historian), invited me to speak at the newly formed nonprofit’s inaugural fundraising gala this week at the historic Ardmore Mansion/Mountain View Manor, in Glen Spey, the day after the NYSHA annual conference in Cooperstown ended.

The mission of The Delaware Company is to promote and support the history and historic landmarks of the Upper Delaware River Valley through education, outreach, and fundraising. Also speaking were U.S. Representative Chris Gibson and NYS Legislator Aileen Gunther. The audience consisted of various county and local officials, municipal historians, historic organizations, and at least one teacher, a true sampling of the history community in the region. Continue reading

Getting Played: Andrew Cuomo’s 400 ‘Special History Events’


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Path Through historyFrom a press release issued on May 31, 2013:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that more than 400 special (emphasis added) events are planned for New York State’s Path Through History Weekends and Museum Week at venues throughout the state…. “Last year, we launched Path Through History to highlight the rich cultural history of New York and to boost tourism in our state,” Governor Cuomo said. “This weekend is the start of the Path Through History Weekends as well as Museum Week, which will offer some of the best opportunities for families, history buffs, and students to explore over 500 historic institutions and sites in communities all across the state. I encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of these events this summer.”

Aren’t you excited to know that more than 400 special events were planned for these two weekends and the following week in June? Aren’t you eager to see the results of the all the regional planning sessions and state leadership that has gone into creating the special events? Continue reading

A Missing Element Of Upstate History Tourism


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PhotographersNow that Memorial Day has passed and the summer tourism season is officially underway, it should be no surprise that the New York Times is full of articles about tourism. One article features Greece and the lure of the classical world for tourists. Greece has been experiencing a rocky road as of late but tourists are returning now that the situation appears to have stabilized.

Greece needs a shot in the arm from tourists given the plunge in the economy, so it would seem that the classically-named cities of upstate New York and the actual homeland of those cities have something in common. Continue reading

History Conferences: Neglected Tourism Revenue


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54nytourismLast Saturday I attended the Native American Institute for the Hudson Valley’s conference on the Mohicans. The organization is based in Red Hook in Dutchess County. The New Netherland Museum and Replica Ship Half Moon provided support.

The conference included speakers, a walking tour to four sites all along Main Street, and a closing reception in a still-active colonial church. One of the speakers was from Canaan in Columbia County, and Albany, Kinderhook, Fort Ticonderoga, and New Stockbridge in Madison County figured prominently in the program. The border war between New York and Massachusetts in which the Mohicans became entangled was a constant topic.
Continue reading

Whaling and Abolition: A Sample ‘Path Through History’


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whaleDiane Duprey, a retired social studies teacher now President Southeastern Council for the Social Studies, has created her own Path Through History. It includes many of the elements I’ve been advocating a path should include. It features multiple activities and sites including talks, walks, tours, and a cruise – a traditional favorite all combined in a multi-day program with lodging before the summer rates kick in.

Continue reading

Rockland County’s High School Local History Conference


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Orange and Rockland County MapOn April 9 the Rockland County High School Local History Conference was held at the Comfort Inn in Nanuet. The conference was organized by Clare Sheridan, president, the Historical Society of Rockland County, Trustee Larry Singer, Trustee Judge William Sherwood and two local North Rockland High School social studies teachers, Kevin Metcalf and Steve Shepardson.

All the public school systems in the county participated as well as a private school. Also speaking at the conference (which I did attend) were Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, State Senator David Carlucci, and Rockland County Historian Craig H. Long. During the conference the high school students present their research topics and received a certificate of achievement from the Historical Society. Continue reading

New York’s Historic ‘Bridges Over Troubled Waters’


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546px-High_Bridge_jehThe High Bridge is scheduled to reopen. This bridge is not to be confused with the High Line in Manhattan which is not a bridge. The High Bridge is a closed pedestrian crossing connecting the Bronx and Manhattan. The 1200 foot span was built in 1848 and is the oldest bridge in the city. It was constructed as part of the Croton Aqueduct system which carried water from Westchester to New York City.

The Croton Aqueduct still functions in Westchester not as a water-carrying system but as an elongated trail somewhat paralleling the Hudson River from Croton to Yonkers. The Aqueduct has devoted followers and a friends group and always is being used by hikers, strollers, runners, and families. It forms a living thread uniting the communities of the county. Continue reading

Peter Feinman: Destroy New York’s Historic Sites


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wrecking ballThe time has come to destroy the historic sites of New York. These sites occupy valuable space, are of no value, and waste the energy of decent people in an useless effort to preserve the past. Why bother?

Why should anyone assist in this folly. There is no constructive purpose to the continued existence of historic sites.

Schools don’t have field trips to them.
Families don’t visit them.
Adults don’t join the friends groups.
Tourists don’t care about them. Continue reading

Peter Feinman: Whither the Public Historian?


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APHNYS-Regions-Map1With the annual meeting of the Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS) fast approaching and the centennial of the local government historians law on the not so distant horizon, as Bruce Dearstyne just reminded us, it is appropriate to examine just what is expected from municipal historians.

One may ask the proverbial question, “How are you doing?” – and take an opportunity to address what the guidelines say, what is being done, and what should be done. Continue reading

Community Narratives: The Importance of Story-Telling


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Cheers historic Bar ShotWe are a story-telling species. Storytellers need an audience. Storytellers and the audience need a place to meet. The venue may vary, the technology may change, the message evolves, but somehow, in some way, we will tell stories. They define who we are as individuals and as members of something larger than ourselves, a family, a community, a county, a state, a country, or a religion.

How exactly would we celebrate Easter or Passover without a story to tell? Would we even celebrate them if there were no story?  With these thoughts in mind, I would like to turn to some examples of the importance of storytelling and community which I have noticed. Continue reading

Whither Tourism? The Problems of ‘Path Through History’


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PathThroughHistoryHistoric Hudson Valley announced that it is removing the animals from Philipsburg Manor for a cost savings of $200,000/year. The organization manages several sites including Kykuit and Sunnyside in Westchester County. Two oxen, 18 sheep and lambs, and chickens have been relocated to farm sanctuaries.  In addition, 13 people were let go earlier this year including the site manger of Sunnyside.

Philipsburg Manor and Sunnyside were two of the sites singled out in the August, 2012, Path through History kickoff program as primary tourist destinations in the Lower Hudson Region. I had heard about the departure of the animals through the grapevine. Continue reading