Life on a Rocky Farm (SUNY Press, 2013) is a folksy look at farm life in rugged Putnam Valley (Putnam County) just as it was being transformed by industrialization and mechanization. The book couples Lucas C. Barger’s (1866–1939) eye for detail with a folksy, anecdotal style to provide an interesting depiction of both the traditional ways of farm life, and the challenges farmers faced as times changed.
Previously unpublished, Barger’s first-hand account of farm life near New York City begins in the late nineteenth century. Little had changed for well over a century in the hilly and rugged terrain of Putnam Valley, where Lucas grew up as a member of the sixth generation of Barger farmers. But as the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, industrialization and mechanization decreased the demand for farm labor and farmers had to come up with alternate ways to make money. Continue reading
The Montgomery County Department of History & Archives will host a book discussion on Solomon Northrup‘s Twelve Years a Slave.
Northup was born a free man in what is now Minerva, Essex County, NY, in 1808. While working as a cabbie and violinist in Saratoga Springs in 1841, he was abducted, held in a slave pen in Washington, DC, and sold into slavery in Louisiana for 12 years before regaining his freedom. Continue reading
Left Coast Press, a nationally renowned California publishing company, has released their new book, Documentary Filmmaking for Archaeologists, written by two New York documentarians, Peter Pepe and Joseph W. Zarzynski.
Peter Pepe, President of Pepe Productions, a Glens Falls video production company, and Joseph W. Zarzynski, a Wilton-based underwater archaeologist and author, teamed up to write the book. Previously, Pepe and Zarzynski collaborated on producing three feature-length award-winning documentaries about historic shipwrecks as well as creating several “mini-docs” for screening in museums, art galleries, and visitor centers. Continue reading
The Civil War comes alive as never before in an extraordinary collection of colorized photographs from the era in The Civil War in Color (Sterling Books, November 2012) by John C. Guntzelman.
Not only does it feature portraits of famous leaders and ordinary soldiers but also vignettes of American life during the conflict: scenes from urban and plantation life; destroyed cities; contested battlefields. The 200+ photographs, from the Library of Congress’s archives, include both well-known and rarely seen images. Also inside–a fine art ready-to-frame photographic print of a stunning colorized Civil War photograph. Continue reading
The Encyclopedia of Local History (AltaMira Press, 2012) addresses nearly every aspect of local history, including everyday issues, theoretical approaches, and trends in the field. This encyclopedia provides both the casual browser and the dedicated historian with adept commentary by bringing the voices of over one hundred experts together in one place. Authoritative, accessible, and comprehensive, Carol Kammen & Amy H. Wilson’s volume is a deep resource for historical organizations of any size. Continue reading
In Louis Marshall and the Rise of Jewish Ethnicity in America: A Biography (Syracuse University Press, 2013) M. M. Silver provides the first scholarly treatment of a the sweeping influence of Louis Marshall’s career through the 1920s. A tireless advocate for and leader of an array of notable American Jewish organizations and institutions, Marshall also spearheaded civil rights campaigns for other ethnic groups, blazing the trail for the NAACP, Native American groups, and environmental protection causes in the early twentieth century. Continue reading
Many people in New York’s history community work every day to affirm, interpret, and present the stories of the distinctiveness of their communities and their histories. Local history is very powerful. “Local history allows many interpretations,” write Carol Kammen and Amy H. Wilson in the introduction to the second edition of The Encyclopedia of Local History (2013). “It is flexible and it is not just national history writ small as some have suggested. Local history is the study of past events, or of people or groups, in a given geographic area – a study based on a wide variety of documentary evidence and placed in a comparative context that should be both regional and national.”
There is considerable recent evidence of the continuing power of place. Continue reading
Minerva in Essex County, primitive and remote in the early 1800s, hardly would have seemed a likely birthplace for a man who would write a book which would attract national attention, make the author a household name, and, to some degree, help start a civil war. But indeed, it was there that Solomon Northup, author of Twelve Years A Slave, was born.
Technically the town of Minerva did not exist at the time of Solomon’s birth on July 10, 1807 (though his book gives 1808 as his year of birth, more official documents have it as 1807); the town of Minerva was not formed until 1817. In 1807 the area, not yet known as Minerva, would have been part of the Town of Schroon. Continue reading
Benjamin Franklin Taylor is regarded as one of the greatest poets, writers, and lecturers in North Country history. Born in Lowville (Lewis County) in 1819, Taylor was a precocious child whose writing abilities were evident at a young age. He attended Lowville Academy (his father, Stephen William Taylor, also attended LA and later became principal), and then entered Madison University in Hamilton, New York (where his father was a mathematics professor and would later become college president). Madison was renamed Colgate University in 1890.
Completion of college ended Taylor’s following in his father’s footsteps. Benjamin graduated at a young age (about 19) and served as principal of Norwich Academy in Chenango County. He married in early 1839, and six years later moved to Illinois, finding employment with the Chicago Evening Journal. His efforts there formed the core of an outstanding literary career. Continue reading
Award winning author Russell Shorto is the newest Senior Research Scholar in Residence at the New York State Library’s New Netherland Research Center. The Senior Research Scholar program is a result of a partnership between the State Education Department and the New Netherland Institute (NNI).
Shorto conducted research in the State Archives and Library for his earlier best selling book, The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America. Continue reading
The New York State Historical Association (NYSHA) announced the winners of its three annual publication awards at its 110th Annual Meeting in July at Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
The winner of the 2013 Henry Allen Moe Prize for Catalogs of Distinction in the Arts is Audubon’s Aviary: The Original Watercolors for The Birds of America by Roberta J.M. Olson, the Curator of Drawings at New-York Historical Society. Continue reading
The Committee to Save the New York Public Library will hold a vigil in opposition to the plans for the NYPL’s 42nd Street and Mid Manhattan Libraries on Monday, June 3rd, from 6:00 to 7:30 PM at the 5th Avenue entrance to the 42nd Street Library.
The vigil will coincide with the New York Public Library Spring fundraising gala. The event is co-sponsored by Citizens Defending Libraries, and will feature an appearance by Rev. Billy and his choir. Continue reading
New York author L. Lloyd Stewart has recently published an extensively researched and documented book on African American history in New York State titled, The Mysterious Black Migration 1800-1820: The Van Vrankens and Other Families of African Descent in Washington County, New York.
The author will be at the Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) during May’s Troy Night Out, on May 31, 2013. Stewart will give a presentation at 6:30 pm and will be available to sign copies of his book afterward. Continue reading
Russell Shorto, bestselling historian of the Dutch colonial experience in America, will give a preview of his new book (to be published this coming October), Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, Friday, May 3, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Clark Auditorium, New York State Museum, Cultural Education Center, Madison Avenue in downtown Albany.
Earlier that same day at 3:15 p.m., the author will deliver the Fossieck Lecture of the UAlbany History Department, “The Dutch Influence on American Colonial History,” in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Continue reading
The 97th annual Pulitzer Prizes in Letters, which includes Nonfiction, History, and Biography, awarded on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board, were announced today by Columbia University.
In the category of History, for a distinguished and appropriately documented book on the history of the United States, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000) was awarded to “Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam,” by Fredrik Logevall (Random House), a balanced, deeply researched history of how, as French colonial rule faltered, a succession of American leaders moved step by step down a road toward full-blown war. Continue reading
On April 3, 1783 Writer and satirist Washington Irving was born in New York City. He best known for his short stories “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” but I will always love him best for coining the name of New York’s basketball team!
In 1809, Irving published his first major book, A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, by Diedrich Knickerbocker. Through the Knickerbocker pseudonym, Irving poked fun at the city’s self-important Dutch elite, in which Knickerbocker was a fairly common last name. He also pulled an elaborate prank in anticipation of the book’s release, posting “missing person” adverts in city newspapers, claiming Knickerbocker, a Dutch historian, had gone missing from his hotel room. Continue reading
“On August 16, 1781, Murphy Stiel, a sergeant in the Black Pioneers, a British paramilitary group based in New York City, had a remarkable dream. Stiel was sleeping in the Pioneers’ barracks on Water Street when he heard “a Voice like a Man’s but saw no body.”
The voice commanded Stiel to deliver a message to Sir Henry Clinton, commander in chief of the British forces, that he should order General George Washington to surrender “himself and his Troops to the Kings Army.” Failure to do so would mean God’s wrath would fall upon the Americans. Stiel warned that all the “Blacks in America would rise up against Washington’s forces….For…the Lord would be on their side.” Continue reading
Midget, feeble-minded, crippled, lame, and insane: these terms and the historical photographs that accompany them may seem shocking to present-day audiences. A young woman with no arms wears a sequined tutu and smiles for the camera as she smokes a cigarette with her toes; a man holds up two prosthetic legs while his own legs are bared to the knees to show his missing feet.
The photos were used as promotional material for circus sideshows, charity drives, and art galleries. They were found on begging cards and in family albums. In Picturing Disability: Beggar, Freak, Citizen, and Other Photographic Rhetoric, Bogdan and his collaborators gather over 200 historical photographs showing how people with disabilities have been presented and exploring the contexts in which they were photographed. Continue reading
Social media is often credited with igniting and organizing the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East, yet this is not the first time that media has acted as a catalyst for large-scale political change.
Two hundred years ago during the American Revolution real-time reporting was responsible for uniting colonists looking to break free from British rule. Colonial newspaper reports kept the colonists motivated and informed, and without them, it’s possible the revolution may not have happened. Continue reading
In 1862 twenty-one-year-old Morris Brown Jr. left his studies at Hamilton College to take up the Union cause. He quickly rose in rank from sergeant major to captain and acting regimental commander for the 126th New York Volunteers. Fight All Day, March All Night: A Medal of Honor Recipient’s Story (SUNY Press Excelsior Editions, 2012) is the narrative of a young Civil War officer, as told through his letters from the battlefield and edited by Civil War historian Wayne Mahood.
In letters written to his family in Penn Yan, New York, Brown describes his experiences at war: the unseemly carping between fellow officers, the fear that gripped men facing battle, and the longing to return home. Brown’s letters also reveal an ambitious young man who not only wanted recognition but also wanted to assure himself of a financial future. Continue reading