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.

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

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