In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, François Furstenberg, Associate Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University and author of When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation (Penguin, 2014), joins us to explore how and why the United States spoke French during the 1790s. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/017
The cadets of the United States Military Academy, West Point, are intimately twined with the country’s history. The graduating class of 1915, the class the stars fell on, was particularly noteworthy. Of the 164 graduates that year, 59 (36%) attained the rank of general, the most of any class in. Michael Haskew’s West Point 1915: Eisenhower, Bradley, and the Class the Stars Fell On (Zenith Press, 2014) explores the achievements of this remarkable group.
Although Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley, both five-star generals, are the most recognizable, other class members contributed significantly to the Allied victory in World War I, World War II and played key roles either in the post-war U.S. military establishment or in business and industry after World War II, especially in the Korean War and the formation of NATO. Continue reading
A new pictorial history authored by Lisa LaMonica, Hudson (Arcadia Publishing, 2014) features over 200 images depicting scenes of the City of Hudson and it’s surroundings’ history.
In vintage photographs, Hudson covers a history that includes the story of the Mohicans, whaling, and the multitude of factories in the Industrial Age, as well as the city’s modern-day transformation. Continue reading
The United States claimed victory in the War of 1812, but did you know that the British nearly won the war by promising freedom to escaped slaves in Virginia and Maryland?
In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Alan Taylor, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize in United States history and author of The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (W.W. Norton, 2014), will reveal how Virginia’s “internal enemy” almost cost the United States the War of 1812. You can listen to this podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/016
A compelling story about three murders in Brooklyn between 1872 and 1873 and the young women charged with the crimes is told in a new book by Robert E. Murphy, Three Graces Of Raymond Street: Murder, Madness, Sex, and Politics in 1870s Brooklyn (SUNY Press, 2015).
Between January 1872 and September 1873, the city of Brooklyn was gripped by accounts of three murders allegedly committed by young women: a factory girl shot her employer and seducer, an evidently peculiar woman shot a philandering member of a prominent Brooklyn family, and a former nun was arrested on suspicion of having hanged her best friend and onetime convent mate. Continue reading
The new book, Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City (McFarland, 2015), offers first person accounts of the clandestine efforts to help escaping slaves. Drawing on never-before-published Record of Fugitives kept by newspaper editor and abolitionist Sydney Howard Gay, the book provides vivid detail of the lives of Underground Railroad agents, and the harrowing journey that African-Americans undertook to free themselves from slavery.
The co-authors are steeped in this history. Don Papson was founding president of the North Star Underground Railroad Museum in Ausable Chasm, responsible for much of the research that brought the Champlain Line of the freedom trail to light. Tom Calarco is author of three other books on the topic, including The Underground Railroad in the Adirondack Region. Continue reading
In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue as part of the great European quest to find new routes and shortcuts to the spice islands and territories of Asia.
Spain and Portugal led this quest during the 15th and 16th centuries and their race to access the Asian spice trade caused Columbus to sail unwittingly into the Caribbean and North America.
Remembering Inez: The Last Campaign of Inez Milholland, Suffrage Martyr (American Graphic Press, 2015), edited by Robert P. J. Cooney, Jr. , honors a prominent New York attorney and woman suffrage leader who died of pernicious anemia at age 30 while campaigning for votes for women.
The book includes intimate first-person accounts, stirring speeches, and heartfelt memorials that appeared in 1916 issues of The Suffragist, the weekly publication of the National Woman’s Party in Washington D.C. Continue reading
On April 14, 1865, the night of President Lincoln’s assassination, Booth’s conspirator Lewis Powell attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward in his home just blocks from Ford’s Theatre.
The attack, which left Seward and his son seriously wounded, is recounted in poignant detail in Fanny Seward’s diary. Fanny, the beloved only daughter of Seward, was a keen observer, and her diary entries from 1858 to 1866 are the foundation of Trudy Krisher’s Fanny Seward: A LIfe (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2014), a vivid portrait of the young girl who was an eyewitness to one of the most tumultuous periods in American history. Continue reading
Often celebrated as a masterpiece of civic architecture and decorative design, the New York State Capitol sits majestically at the head of Albany’s State Street. The story behind the most expensive capitol building ever to be constructed is a fascinating one.
Built between 1867 and 1899, the Capitol was the work of four different architects, who each worked under exasperating conditions – geological, structural, and political – with hundreds of highly skilled masons and exceptional stone carvers. After completion, the building attracted controversy – seen by some as an atrocity of jumbled architecture and by others as a successful blending of architectural forms. Continue reading
In Dolph Schayes and the Rise of Professional Basketball (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2014), Dolph Grundman presents readers with a portrait, the first of its kind, of the star of the Syracuse Nationals basketball team during the 1950s and 1960s.
Dolph Schayes may not have one of the most recognizable names in basketball history, but his accomplishments are staggering. He was named one of the fifty greatest players of all time by the NBA, and he held six NBA records, including one for career scoring, at his retirement. Continue reading
Did you know that some early Americans lived openly in same-sex marriages?
In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Rachel Hope Cleves, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and author of Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America, will reveal the story of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, women who lived openly as a married couple in Weybridge, Vermont between 1807 and 1851. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/013 Continue reading
Few men contributed as much to the American victory in the Revolutionary War, yet have been as little recognized, as a New Hampshire farmer and lumberman by the name of John Stark. Although he is not well known outside of New Hampshire, a few words he wrote live on there today: Live Free or Die. A new biography by John F. Polhemus and Richard V. Polhemus, Stark, The Life and Wars of John Stark: French & Indian War Ranger, Revolutionary War General (Black Dome Press, 2014) should help bring this remarkable man’s life into appropriate perspective.
Stark served as a captain of rangers with Robert Rogers in the French and Indian War, and as a colonel and general in the Revolution at Bunker Hill, Trenton, Princeton, Westchester, Springfield, Saratoga, Ticonderoga and West Point. His greatest achievement however, was at the Battle of Bennington. The Battle of Saratoga and the surrender of Burgoyne on October 17, 1777 was the turning point of the American Revolution, but the Battle of Bennington on August 16th set the stage. Continue reading
In What’s In A Name? History And Meaning Of Wyckoff (2014), M. William Wykoff offers evidence that the origin of the surname Wyckoff is Frisian and refers to a household or settlement on a bay, despite widespread belief of American descendants of Pieter Claessen Wyckoff that the name is Dutch.
Frisian was only one of the many languages spoken by early settlers of New Netherland. There are many spelling variants of the surname in the Northern Germanic linguistic area of Europe, Wykoff argues, but it now occurs principally in the Lower Saxony area of Germany which includes East Frisia from where Pieter Claessen Wyckoff emigrated. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features an interview with Richard Norton Smith who has spent 14 years writing On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller (Random House, 2014).
Rockefeller was Republican governor of New York State from 1959 to 1973, vice president of the United States from 1974 to 1977, and part of one of America’s most wealthy and influential families. In this interview Smith discusses Rockefeller’s role in destruction of Albany neighborhoods and creation of the Empire State Plaza. He describes Rockefeller’s service as an adviser to three Presidents (two Democrats), his expansion of the state university, his dyslexia, his love of modern art, his failed Presidential bids, the Attica prison uprising and the cover-up surrounding Rockefeller’s death while alone with a female intern. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
A mercantile partnership led by Robert Morris sent the Empress of China, a 360-ton ship to Canton, China one month and eight days after the Congress of the United States ratified the Treaty of Paris, 1783.
Why did these merchants look so far east to secure a profitable trade? And why did they attempt such a venture not long after the United States secured its independence from Great Britain?
In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Dane Morrison, Professor of History at Salem State University and author of True Yankees: The South Seas and the Discovery of American Identity, helps us discover the answers to these questions and more as he leads us on an exploration of the early American trade with China. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/012
The annual Hendricks Award for 2015 will be given this year to the best book relating to any aspect of New Netherland and its legacy. The Award carries a prize of $5,000 as well as a framed print of a painting by L. F. Tantillo.
In 2015, the designated category for submission is recently published books. Three copies of a published book must be submitted on or before February 1, 2015, with a letter of intent to enter the contest. Copies cannot be returned. Continue reading
Barrels – we rarely acknowledge their importance, but without them we would be missing out on some of the world’s finest beverages – most notably whiskies and wines – and of course for over two thousand years they’ve been used to store, transport, and age an incredibly diverse array of provisions around the globe.
In the new wide-ranging book Wood, Whiskey and Wine (Reaktion, 2014), Henry Work tells the intriguing story of the significant and ever-evolving role wooden barrels have played during the last two millennia, revealing how the history of the barrel parallels that of technology at large. Continue reading
Tim O’Brien’s short story collection, The Things They Carried (1990), is in part about the culture and life experience American soldiers brought with them to Vietnam, and how this past helped shape identity and action in a foreign environment. And though many have heard of the Huguenots, being French and protestant as a prerequisite, few know their story until they became one of the largest groups of emigrants in European history.
The Huguenot diaspora would spread to lands considered old and new, and would go on to found communities across the Atlantic like New Paltz and New Rochelle most prominently in the colony of New York. This unique people and their pre-refugee history are treated with clarity and depth in The Huguenots (Yale University Press, 2013) by Geoffrey Treasure. Treasure, who has written book length biographies on Louis XIV and Cardinal Mazarin, brings his expertise on the history of France to bear on this often overlooked and underrepresented early modern French community. Continue reading
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s new book, New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, was featured on the “Forget-Me-Not Hour” podcast on January 7th. NYG&B President McKelden Smith explained what this monumental work is all about – the first of its kind ever for New York. Founded in 1869, the NYG&B it is the largest genealogical society in New York and the only one that is state-wide.
Listen listen to the podcast online here. Order the book online here.