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.
The history of North America is in many ways encapsulated in the history of her covered bridges. The early 1800s saw a tremendous boom in the construction of these bridges, and in the years that followed as many as 15,000 covered bridges were built. Today, fewer than a thousand remain.
Without covered bridges to span the rivers and provide access to vast swaths of the interior that had previously been difficult to access – America never would have developed the way she did. In America’s Covered Bridges (Tuttle Publishing, 2014), authors Terry E. Miller and Ronald G. Knapp tell the fascinating story of these bridges, how they were built, and the technological breakthroughs required to construct them. Continue reading
With its delicious food and warm hospitality, the Red Apple Rest was a legendary pit stop on the trek from New York City to the Catskills starting in the 1930s. Reuben Freed’s restaurant, staffed primarily by family and friends – or strangers who eventually became family – was in operation for more than fifty years.
Reuben’s daughter Elaine grew up in the Red Apple, and she brings the restaurant back to life in Stop At The Red Apple: The Restaurant on Route 17 (SUNY Press, 2014) of vignettes, interviews, photos, and memorabilia. It’s a memoir, yes, but also an immigrant success story, love story, and memorial to a slice of bygone New York history and popular culture. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features an interview with Christina Baker Kline, author of the novel Orphan Train (William Morrow, 2013).
Kline’s book is the 2015 book selection of Amsterdam Reads, based at the Amsterdam Free Library. The orphan trains transported destitute children from New York and other Eastern cities to foster homes located largely in rural areas of the Midwest. Some of the children were placed on farms in upstate New York, according to Kline. The orphan trains operated between 1853 and 1929, relocating about 250,000 children.
Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
Slavery’s origins lie far back in the mists of prehistoric times and have spanned the globe, two facts that most history texts fail to address.
A comprehensive 2nd Edition of Martin A. Klein’s Historical Dictionary of Slavery and Abolition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014) provides a historical overview of slavery through the ages, from prehistoric times to the modern day, while detailing the different forms, the various sources, and the circumstances existing in different countries and regions. Continue reading
Throughout their 54-year marriage, John and Abigail Adams enjoyed hearty, diverse cuisine in their native Massachusetts, as well as in New York, Philadelphia, and Europe. Raised with traditional New England palates, they feasted on cod, roast turkey, mince pie, and plum pudding.
These recipes, as well as dishes from published cookbooks settlers brought from the Old World, such as roast duck, Strawberry Fool, and Whipt Syllabub, are included in this new historical cookbook by Rosana Y. Wan, The Culinary Lives of John and Abigail Adams: A Cookbook (Schiffer, 2014). Continue reading
Written more than eighty years ago, Fifty Years in Sing Sing: A Personal Account, 1879-1929 (SUNY Press, February, 2015) is the personal account of Alfred Conyes (1852–1931), who worked as a prison guard and then keeper at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York, from 1879 to 1929.
This unpublished memoir, dated 1930, was found among his granddaughter’s estate by his great-granddaughter Penelope Kay Jarrett. Continue reading
Author William J. “Jay” O’Hern has once again shown himself to be a tireless researcher. While letters, journals and old newspapers and magazines are valuable to his work, Jay favors a more hands-on approach. A seasoned Adirondack adventurer himself, he has always preferred interviewing people with knowledge of his subjects. He likes to visit the places he writes about.
So it was that he and his wife Bette backpacked to the Cold River Valley for a trip that provides the framework for Adirondack Wilds: Exploring the Haunts of Noah John Rondeau (2014). Jay serves as a guide to who followed the same trails decades before. Continue reading
Undoubtedly, you have heard or read Clement Moore’s famous poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (1822), but have you ever wondered where the traditions of stockings, presents, and cookies come from? And what about jolly old Saint Nick? Who was he and why do we call him Santa Claus?
In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Peter G. Rose, culinary historian of Dutch foodways in North America and author of Delicious December: How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents, and Treats (SUNY Press, 2014), joins me to discuss the origins of Santa Claus, cookies, and more in the United States. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/009 Continue reading
An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State In the Civil War (SUNY Press, 2014) documents the pivotal role New York State played in our nation’s bloodiest and most enduring conflict. As the wealthiest and most populous state in the Union, the Empire State led all others in supplying men, money, and material to the causes of unity and freedom. New York’s experience provides significant insight into the reasons why the war was fought and the meaning that the Civil War holds today. Continue reading
Prior to the Revolutionary War, everything west of Albany was mostly wilderness. Safer travel and the promise of land opened this frontier.
The remnants of that frontier on the landscape today from Albany to Buffalo are chronicled in a new book by Lorna Czarnota, Native American & Pioneer Sites of Upstate New York: Westward Trails from Albany to Buffalo (History Press, 2014). Continue reading
Once known as “the Queen City of the Hudson,” Yonkers, New York, was an industrial powerhouse until the aftermath of World War II, when companies moved away and the city saw an increase in poverty.
The city built public housing to address the needs of its low-income Yonkers in the Twentieth Century residents, resulting in a nearly thirty-year court case that, for the first time in United States history, linked school and housing segregation. Continue reading
The Adirondack 102 Club: Your Passport and Guide to the North Country has just been published by Martin Podskoch. The 102 Club encourages travelers to visit all of the towns and villages of the Adirondack Park.
The idea for the 102 Club began after Podskoch read about Dr. Arthur Peach’s story in Vermont Life magazine suggesting an informal group, the 251 Club, “to discover the secret and lovely places that main roads do not reveal.” He felt that every part of Vermont had its beauty, history, attractions, traditions, and interesting people. Continue reading
In 1951, Dr. Roger D. Freeman found himself sharing a lean-to camp at Indian Falls in the Adirondack High Peaks of Essex County with none other than legendary Noah John Rondeau.
“I remember descending from Mt. Marcy to Indian Falls and I remember the rainstorm” that evening, said Doctor Freeman, who was taking a break from his studies at Colby-Swarthmore Summer School of Languages in Maine to traverse the Great Range in the Adirondacks. Freeman wished he had known the old woodsman he shared the shelter with was the famed Cold River hermit. “I didn’t learn that until much later,” he said. “He was friendly. He was an expert at building and keeping a fire going on a day when it rained.”
Freeman’s is just one of the stories in The Hermit and Us: Our Adventures with Noah John Rondeau (2014) by William J. O’Hern, which recalls the experiences of backpackers who visited Rondeau’s Cold River hermitage where he lived for over 30 years. Continue reading
The Clinton County Historical Association (CCHA) has announced the publication of a new book, Clinton County Civil War Record: 1861-1865.
In 2010, the Clinton County Historical Association formed a committee to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Since its formation, the committee has planned numerous lectures and programs at the Museum, and also took on a research project to culminate in the publication of a book. Continue reading
There’s a new book out that is a must for lovers of Nyack and for anyone who enjoys a well told story of a town. For the past few years, Nyackers have looked forward every Tuesday to the Nyack Sketch Log by Bill Batson on the website Nyack News and Views.
Each week Bill explores an aspect of Nyack’s past or present through an original pen and ink sketch and a written essay. Now the best of Nyack Sketch Log is available in book form, and the individual entries coalesce into something even better – an illustrated biography of the community. Continue reading
Taming Manhattan: Environmental Battles in the Antebellum City (Harvard Univ. Press, 2014) details the environmental history of the city of New York in the years before and during the Civil War, when pigs roamed the streets and cows foraged in the Battery.
On Tuesday, November 25th, at an event at NYU, author Catherine McNeur will discuss nineteenth-century New York City’s long forgotten shantytowns, the people living in the communities, and how outsiders viewed the architecture and communities developing on the metropolitan periphery. Continue reading
As a reporter, I spend a lot of time reaching out to people who’d rather not talk to me. It’s not necessarily that they have something to hide. It’s more that their best default strategy is insipidity, to say nothing that jeopardizes their jobs or, especially, their boss’s.
That’s yet another reason I’m grateful for the opportunity to write about history. Historians, archivists, curators and librarians, as a group, are not only generous with their time, but also magnanimous about sharing their accrued wisdom, their collections and to steer me to resources I never imagined even existed. Continue reading
Mixing food and history in a celebration of Dutch and American Christmas traditions, award-winning food historian Peter G. Rose’s new book, Delicious December: How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents, and Treats: A Holiday Cookbook (Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press, 2014), provides more than one hundred tried-and-true recipes. For planning purposes, complete menus and recipes for the parties that might happen between the feast days are also provided.
Rose draws on traditions that date back to the Middle Ages as well as her own reminiscences of her native country, and she suggests many ways to incorporate these true Dutch treats into American celebrations. The public is invited to join the Friends of Fort Crailo and Crailo State Historic Site at the Rensselaer Public Library for their Annual Meeting and lecture on Sunday November 16 at 4:30 pm. After a brief business meeting, Peter Rose will present “Joyful Traditions: How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents and Treats.” Continue reading