Category Archives: Books

Saltwater Frontier: Contest for the American Coast


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ben_franklins_worldWhen we think of Native Americans, many of us think of inland dwellers. People adept at navigating forests and rivers and the skilled hunters and horsemen who lived and hunted on the American plains.

But did you know that Native Americans were seafaring mariners too?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Andrew Lipman, an Assistant Professor of History at Barnard College, Columbia University and author of The Saltwater Frontier: Indians and the Contest for the American Coast (Yale University Press, 2016), leads us on an exploration of the northeastern coastline and of the Native American and European peoples who lived there during the seventeenth century. You can listen to this episode here: http: www.benfranklinsworld.com/104

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New Book On Buffalo’s Waterfront Grain Elevators


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american chartresBruce Jackson’s new book American Chartres: Buffalo’s Waterfront Grain Elevators (Excelsior Editions. 2016) documents Buffalo’s surviving grain elevators, capturing these monumental buildings in all seasons and in various light; from the Buffalo River, the Ship Canal, and Lake Erie; from inside and from the top floors and roofs; in detail.

Invented in Buffalo by Robert Dunbar and Joseph Dart, the city’s first grain elevator went operational in 1843. By the mid-1850s, Buffalo was the world’s largest grain port, and would remain so well into the twentieth century. Grain elevators made Buffalo rich, and they were largely responsible for the development of the Port of New York. Continue reading

New Book Traces History of NYC Traffic Signals


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nycs-red-and-green-lights-book-coverWhen it comes to traffic signals, most people overlook them, but many are unaware that there is a history behind them.

Steven Gembara’s new book New York City’s Red and Green Lights: a Brief Look Back in Time (FastPencil, 2015) offers a unique perspective on the two-color traffic signal’s existence in the 20th century in New York City and how it helped evolved the city’s streets to what they are in the modern day. Continue reading

George Rogers Clark & The Fight for the Illinois Country


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ben_franklins_worldIn the Treaty of Paris, 1783, Great Britain offered the new United States generous terms that included lands in between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.

Why did the biggest empire with the greatest army and navy concede so much to a new nation?

Because George Rogers Clark and his men seized the Illinois Country and held it during the American War for Independence.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, William Nester, a Professor of Government and Politics at St. John’s University and author of George Rogers Clark: ‘I Glory in War’ (University of Oklahoma Press, 2012), leads us on an exploration of the life and deeds of George Rogers Clark. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/102

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Furs and Foes: Tales of Colonial New York


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savage wilderness book coverFormer Upstate New York resident, John M. Cahill’s new book Savage Wilderness (W & B Publishers Inc, 2016), is a novel of life on the frontier of 17th-Century New York,  Savage Wilderness is the second book in Cahill’s The Boschloper Saga.

In 1687, the Colony of New York was in dire financial straits. The flow of beaver pelts, the life’s blood of the colony, had slowed to a trickle. In response, New York’s governor, Thomas Dongan, granted licenses to a group of Albany traders to enter New France and travel to Michilimackinac at the juncture of lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior. There, they would trade furs with the Ottawa and other “far” Indian people, thus diverting those furs from Montreal to Albany. Continue reading

Pirates & Pirate Nests in the British Atlantic World


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ben_franklins_worldPirates are alive and well in our popular culture. Thanks to movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and television shows like Black Sails, we see pirates as peg-legged, eye-patch wearing, rum-drinking men.

But are these representations accurate? What do we really know about pirates?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Mark Hanna, an Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego, and author of the award-winning book Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740, (UNC Press, 2015) helps us fill in the gaps in our knowledge to better understand who pirates were and why they lived the pirate’s life. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/099

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New Guide To NYC Archives Published


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New York City Municipal Archives: An Authorized Guide for Family HistoriansThe New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) has announced the release of anew book, New York City Municipal Archives: An Authorized Guide for Family Historians (NYG&B, 2016), by Aaron Goodwin.

The 245-page guide will help make research at the New York City Municipal Archives far more approachable and will introduce researchers to many previously-unknown record collections housed there. Continue reading

New Book: FDR On His Houseboat


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fdr on his houseboat book coverIn the midst of the Jazz Age, while Americans were making merry, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was stricken by polio and withdrew from public life. From 1924 to 1926, believing that warm water and warm air would help him walk again, he spent the winter months on his new houseboat, the Larooco, sailing the Florida Keys, fishing, swimming, playing Parcheesi, entertaining guests, and tending to engine mishaps.

During his time on the boat, he kept a nautical log describing each day’s events, including rare visits by his wife, Eleanor, who was busy carving out her own place in the world. Missy LeHand, his personal assistant, served as hostess aboard the Larooco. Continue reading

Custom Houses and the Making of the American State


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ben_franklins_worldCould customs collectors, the tax men of early America, be the unsung founders of the early United States?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the creation of the United States customs service and its contributions to the establishment of the federal government with Gautham Rao, an Assistant Professor of History at American University and author of National Duties: Custom Houses and the Making of the American State (University of Chicago Press, 2016). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/098

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Rhinebeck: Our Time At Fox Hollow Farm


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our time at foxhollow farmDavid Byars’ new book, Our Time at Foxhollow Farm a Hudson Valley Family Remembered (SUNY Press, 2016) is a pictorial history of a wealthy Hudson Valley family in the early decades of the twentieth century. Illustrated with the family’s extensive collection of personal albums compiled during the nascent years of photography, it provides a fascinating insight into the regional, social, and architectural history of the era. Continue reading