If there is one county where local history should loom large on the political landscape that should be Dutchess County. It was less than a century ago when it had arguably the most famous local historian in America, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That historical legacy contributed to the disappointment over the fact that Dutchess County did not have a county historian when I began writing at New York History.
In a series of posts surveying the various New York State history community constituencies I devoted one post to the County Historians. I noted that some counties were not complying with the state regulations. Dutchess County was one violator, but I anticipated that would be rectified following the County Executive election for since both major-party candidates endorsed filling the position. There is a story to be told in how that happened that sheds light on the position of county historians throughout the state as well as with implications for the Path through History project. Continue reading
Thomas Cole (1801-1848) , English immigrant, is regarded as a father of the Hudson River School, the first national art expression of the American identity in the post-War of 1812 period. It was a time when we no longer had to look over our shoulder at what England was doing and could begin to think of ourselves as having a manifest destiny. Cole also was very much part of the birth of tourism which occurred in the Hudson Valley and points north and west. Continue reading
We are a story-telling species. We tell stories through various media which have changed over time as our technologies have changed. In ancient times the common modes of expression included the verbal story, art, dance, and music. These forms still are in use today. New forms have been developed and the ways of communication for millennia have evolved at a speed that is both wondrous and frightening to behold. Continue reading
The recent posts on the role of the municipal historians and the Path through History project have touched a nerve, several actually, as reflected in the emails I have received. Great!
There are serious issues which need to be addressed and few if any forums for discussion. It is astonishing how many people in the history community are not aware of the Path through History project or who have already given up on it on being anything credible – “an elegant show,” “the fix is in,” “I never heard of it.” In this post, I would like to share some things which are being done and suggest some things which should be done. Continue reading
On January 25, I attended the Mid-Hudson regional meeting of the Path through History project. What follows is my report on the meeting which may, or may not, be the experience and take-away of others who attended (or what is happening in other regions). The Mid-Hudson Valley region includes the Hudson River counties of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland, along with Sullivan County in the Catskills. Continue reading
As the new year gets underway, it is appropriate to pause and reflect on open issues from years gone by. I am referring now to the role in 2013 of the county historian as a custodian for New York State history as we forge ahead with our Path through History Project.
The starting point for this investigation is an article which appeared on September 12, 2012 just after the summer launch in August entitled “New York State’s Curious, Century-Old Law Requiring Every City and Town to Have a Historian” by Amanda Erickson in The Atlantic Cities. Continue reading
One of the types of posts which I have writing is conference reports. The purpose is to share with people who have not attended a conference what I have learned by attending one. In this post I wish to deviate slightly by reporting on a conference I did not attend but from which relevant information still is available. The conference is the annual meeting of the American Historical Association just held in New Orleans.
January is the traditional time for looking forward and backwards according to the two-faced Roman god Janus. In that spirit, I wish to start 2013 with a look back on some developments in local and state history by focusing on Westchester County both because I live there and because I happen to go through an old folder of Westchester material as I was cleaning up. Continue reading
It is with deep regret and heavy heart that I have the onerous task to inform you that once again the world has come to an end. The passing of our beloved planet marks the third time in this still young century when we endured this ignominious ending to our long history.
First came the secular Y2K ending, then the Christian rapture in 2011, and now the Mayan recycling of 2012. The ending of the world has become as frequent as the storms of the century. We scarcely have time to catch our breath before once again the world will fall over its cliff into an abyss from which it can never recover. Continue reading
One of my favorite movie scenes is from Working Girl when Melanie Griffith explains while riding up the elevator with Trask and Indiana, how she came up with the idea for the corporate merger. It wasn’t as if she had been thinking about anything even remotely related to it. Her insight derived from a chance juxtaposition perceived by a mind willing to learn and open to new possibilities. Continue reading
Ruin porn is in. Ruin porn is hot. Ruin porn is sexy. Ruin porn is the term coined by Jim Griffioen, who writes a blog about his life as a stay-at-home dad in Detroit.
As part of that effort he periodically posts photographs he has taken of the more than 70,000 abandoned buildings in his city. Such images included (as reported in the New York Times) “‘feral’ houses almost completely overgrown with vegetation; a decommissioned public-school book depository in which trees were growing out of the piles of rotting textbooks”. The term has become a familiar one in the city not without some misgivings by the locals as they watch tourists take souvenirs of their city back home. Continue reading
Experience the Civil War in New York with the new exhibit at the New York State Museum and representatives from related historic sites on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at a free Historyhostel / Teacherhostel event sponsored by the Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education. Continue reading
The Urban History Association held its sixth biennial conference at Columbia University, October 25-28. The final session that Sunday was a bit discombobulated as people were scurrying about trying to verify travel arrangements before Sandy hit. Continue reading
The annual conference of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM) which I attended was held in Tarrytown, NY, on October 7-9. The conference rotates locations and since this year it was only a few miles away and had many sessions related to New York, it seemed worth attending. It is unlikely that I will attend next’s year conference in Washington, DC, but it definitely was worth attending this one. Continue reading
New York has been hit with another storm of the century (8 days, 2 hours, 25 minutes without power for me). I have lived through so many storms of the century that I must be challenging Methuselah for the longest-lived human being. Maybe it is time for the phrase “storm of the century” to be bid a not-so-fond farewell to be replaced by something more appropriate if less grandiose, like “storm of the year”! Continue reading
New York is not the only state turning to cultural heritage tourism or seeking to develop its historic community. Let’s look at our neighbor to the east and see what lessons we might learn from them.
Note – this post contains five items on what Connecticut is doing and four recommendations on what New York should do so it is too long to read on a computer at work in one sitting. Continue reading
The Greater Hudson Heritage Network (GHNN) held its annual conference on September 28 at the Henry A. Wallace Visitor Center, Hyde Park. The theme of the conference was “Mining the Museum: Using Your Existing Resources in New Ways” with Executive Director Priscilla Brendler presiding. The meeting was so-well attended I didn’t even have a chance to speak with the all the people I would like to have talked to. The format has been expanded beyond being primarily an awards ceremony to be more like the Museumwise conference with a plenary speaker followed by concurrent sessions but for one day instead of two. Continue reading
Summer is over. Fall is upon us. Schools are back in session (even in Chicago), and now is the time to start planning a Spring 2013 County History Conference.
It is a time of breaking bread and sharing stories among people with similar interests. We are a social species so bringing people together is good and it has advantages as people plan for collaborative activities in the future. Continue reading
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