Category Archives: History

New York History

John Jay Manhattan Walking Tour May 3rd


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John Jay (Gilbert Stuart portrait)On May 3, 2014, John Jay Homestead State Historic Site in Katonah, N.Y. will sponsor a walk through lower Manhattan titled John Jay’s Not-So-Big City.  The walking tour will trace John Jay’s haunts in New York in the late 18th century.

Founding Father John Jay, New York’s second Governor and America’s first Chief Justice, was born and educated in New York City, and spent much of his life there. The walking tour will trace his haunts, visiting the locations of the places where he lived and worked as one of New York’s leading lawyers and politicians, as well as U.S. Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Chief Justice of the United States, and Governor of New York. The tour will recall the time when New York was the capitol city of a young republic, and present a reminder of how the geography and architecture of Manhattan Island have changed since the arrival of the first European settlers in the 17th century. Continue reading

Fort Ticonderoga Kicks Off Season With 1775 Capture


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No Quarter Release 2014Fort Ticonderoga kicks off the 2014 season May 10-11 with its “No Quarter” event recreating the capture of Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775.

In this weekend-long recreation visitors will experience “America’s First Victory” by exploring this dramatic story from the perspectives of both the British garrison and the Green Mountain Boys, including face-to-face interactions with the historical characters including Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold. Continue reading

Lewis County Holding Annual Meeting of Historians


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Lewis County MapThe Lewis County Historical Society is holding its 3rd annual meeting of historians and others interested in local history and cultural resources this Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. at the Society, 7552 South State Street, Lowville, NY.

All town and village historians, historical societies, museums, and libraries in Lewis County are being invited along with the general public. What follows is the day’s schedule: Continue reading

What Museum Directors Can Learn From Game of Thrones


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game of thronesI’m usually the first to groan, occasionally quite loudly, when museum leaders tap into popular culture to gratuitously make their own points, especially when using the most tenuous of connections to justify otherwise unrelated programming in the name of increasing visibility.  And what possibly could the fictional, pseudo-medieval realm of Westeros, currently being fought over in its fourth season on HBO, have to teach museum directors?

After all, some of the series’ hallmarks—rampant nudity, murder, profanity, sex, and even incest (and all that in just the first episode)—tend to have very little to do with presenting the past to our modern guests, other than, of course, that it reflects the operative imperative of human nature that informs our work: people are messy, which is what makes telling their stories, and telling them well, such a terribly compelling endeavor. Continue reading

Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor Events for 2014


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H_Fairport_Canal-Days-panorama_000The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and the New York State Canal Corporation have teamed up to sponsor 28 events in 2014 to showcase the Canalway Corridor’s nationally significant heritage and the tremendous recreational appeal of the waterway and trails today.

Working together, federal and state partners provided financial assistance to more communities and expanded the number of sponsored events from 20 in 2013 to 28 this year. Continue reading

Erie and Niagara Counties:
‘History in Your Backyard’ Weekend


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HistoryBackyard_logoSeven Erie and Niagara County cultural attractions are teaming up to present a collaborative weekend, May 8-10, enabling guests to visit all seven locations for one low price. History in Your Backyard participants will receive a commemorative passport that will be stamped at each attraction. The passport will also contain discounts for numerous local restaurants.

Additionally, participants who visit and receive a stamp at each site will be entered into a drawing to win a helicopter ride over Niagara Falls courtesy of Rainbow Air Helicopter Rides. Participants will also be entered to win a gift basket from each participating attraction. Details will be available at each location. Continue reading

Haunted History Trail And ‘Path Through History’ Failures


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Haunted History TrailTwo of the buzzwords for the Path through History project have been “cooperation” and “collaboration.” Achieving them has been difficult, particularly given the number of small historic sites that simply do not have the staff to spare for such an effort. Another problem has been the lack of support for history tourism by the tourist departments. I’ve been told they might promote something if you bring it to them, but will not help create it.

As it turns out, there is a new area where county tourist departments are cooperating and collaborating in support of a trail with statewide implications: the supernatural. As previously reported in The New York History Blog, haunted mansions are big business, especially at Halloween. So the next time you are re-evaluating your organization’s strategic vision, keep in mind the opportunities of positioning yourself to appear on New York State’s “Haunted History Trail.”  This is not another April Fools prank; there are lessons to be learned from this endeavor. The website of the “Haunted History Trail” includes the following “About the Trail”: Continue reading

Ellis Island Foundation’s Stephen Briganti Recognized


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Stephen-A.-Briganti-HeadshotAt the 2014 Organization of American Historians (OAH) Annual Meeting, OAH President Alan M. Kraut and OAH President-Elect Patricia Limerick presented Stephen A. Briganti, president and chief executive officer of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, with the 2014 Friend of History Award.

The OAH gives the Friend of History Award to an institution or organization, or an individual working primarily outside college or university settings, for outstanding support of historical research, the public presentation of American history, or the work of the OAH. Continue reading

4-20: When Grass Grew in North Country Streets


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2 devharvIt’s that time of year again, when 420 events are in the news. The war on drugs that began in the late 1960s and early 1970s has been declared a failure by many officials, a sentiment echoed in recent years by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. But America’s war on drugs (if you don’t count Prohibition) began in the 1930s with the focus on marijuana.

The principal salvo in the new war was 1937’s Marihuana Transfer Tax Act, which placed strict controls on the growth and use of hemp. Many states adopted their own restrictive laws. At that time, the North Country was a pot-lover’s paradise―except that there weren’t that many pot lovers in the area to enjoy it.

With new rules in place, lawmen immediately began literally weeding out this nefarious plant that was destroying society (according to dubious … perhaps “doobie-ous” is more appropriate … testimony before Congress). Continue reading

New Book HIghlights Waldorf Astoria Photographs


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9781467121286In a new pictorial history from author William Alan Morrison, Images of America: Waldorf Astoria (Arcadia Publishing, 2014), honors the world-renown grand hotel.

Vintage images take readers on a journey through the magnificent history of the hotel and the many glamorous guests that it housed. The Waldorf Astoria has been host to emperors, rajahs, potentates and plutocrats — not to mention every US president since Grover Cleveland — its name has become synonymous with the epitome of glamour, luxury and sophistication. Continue reading

An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Civil Rights Act of 1964


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Civil Rights Act of 1964 AnniversaryIn this 50th anniversary year of the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a new book by Vanity Fair editor and Politico senior writer Todd Purdum, An Idea Whose Time Has Come (Henry Holt & Co., 2014) recounts the dramatic political battle to pass this important law that in many ways helped create modern America.

Pardum’s book revisits a turbulent time in America, a time of sit-ins, freedom rides, and the March on Washington. During this time, John F. Kennedy sent Congress a bill to bar racial discrimination in employment, education and public accommodations. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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This Week’s Top New York History News


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Latest New York History News

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A Special New York History Journal War of 1812 Issue


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NY-History-Journal-logo-nysha-webAs part of the ongoing commemorations of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, this special issue of the journal New York History focuses on New York State’s key role in that conflict. In the early nineteenth century, New York occupied an important strategic position in North America.

As the newly independent United States defined and expanded its borders, it clashed with Native peoples and Great Britain, which continued to have a strong presence on the continent despite the losses of the American Revolution. With the onset of the War of 1812, New York became a central battleground in the ongoing contest for dominance in North America. Continue reading

Troy History Tour:
Footsy Magoos and the Knox-Mead Building


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RCHSThe Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) is presenting a Hidden History tour on Tuesday, April 29th at 4:30 pm of Footsy Magoos and the Knox-Mead Building located at 13 and 17 First Street in Troy.

RCHS staff will offer a public tour of the buildings, located along a stretch of First Street known historically as Troy’s Banker’s Row because of the proliferation of banks that were once in residence on the street. Continue reading

Public Mourning:
Why Should Feminists Care About Funerals?


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Victorian MourningWhat do state funerals, AIDS activism, 300-year-old remains of former slaves, and the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act have do with each other?

On Thursday, April 24, Dr. Michelle Martin-Baron, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, will present a lecture, “Why Feminists Should Care About Funerals: the Politics of Public Mourning.”  This talk will use a feminist approach to explore what each of these examples can tell us about public mourning practices. Continue reading

Lawrence Gooley: Advice for Aspiring History Authors


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Dance Macabre dans l'Imprimerie by Mathias Huss, Lyon 1499For any readers or writers out there who have considered writing some type of history book, here’s some important information that comes from a piece I published elsewhere a year ago (and is presented here with a few modifications). It remains pertinent to the current state of publishing; applies to any region, city, or town where a “targetable” market exists; and begins with a question.

Would you rather have a book on the New York Times Best-Seller List, or a top seller in the Adirondack region? If you’re an aspiring author, I know, I know … stupid question. But humor me, and before you answer, let me further define the question in this fashion: your book appearing on the New York Times list was produced, marketed, and sold by one of the world’s largest publishing companies. Your regional book, on the other hand, was self-published, which means it was funded, marketed, and sold by you. Continue reading

Hyde Collection Receives Major Gift of Photography


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LFinkThe Hyde Collection, in Glens Falls, NY, has announced it has been gifted an extensive photography collection by significant American and international photographers. Donated by George Stephanopoulos in perpetuity, this gift enhances the Museum’s photography collection and adds a significant component to its world-class holdings of fine art.

“We have been hopeful of making additions to our photography holdings, but did not imagine that such a significant group of work might come into the collection at one time,” said Hyde director Charles A. Guerin. “The great breadth of photography history as well as the variety of national origins represented by this generous gift by Mr. Stephanopoulos makes this a truly exciting and important moment for the growth of our permanent collection.” Continue reading

War of 1812 Talk At North Tonawanda History Museum


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North Tonawanda History MuseumThe North Tonawanda History Museum will host Town of Tonawanda Historian John W. Percy as he presents a program on the War of 1812 in Western New York at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 26. Percy is an Ex-officio Trustee and Advisory Committee member of the History Museum. The program will be part of an all day open house in celebration of the History Museum’s tenth anniversary. The public is invited to tour the 10,000 square feet of exhibits from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

John W. Percy has been Town Historian of the Town of Tonawanda for 40 years, former Village of Kenmore Historian for 12 years, Trustee/member/officer of the Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society for 40 years, is a retired history teacher in the City of Tonawanda School District where he worked for 35 years.

The North Tonawanda History Museum, established in 2003, is located at 54 Webster Street in North Tonawanda (Niagara County), NY. For more information call (716) 213-0554 or e-mail nthistorymuseum@aol.com.

Fort Ticonderoga Awarded for Interpretive Programs


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Stuart on horse 2Fort Ticonderoga recently received an Innovation in Interpretation Award from the Museum Association of New York (MANY) which recognized Fort Ticonderoga as a leader in historic interpretation. The award was presented at MANY’s annual meeting in Albany, NY at the end of March.

“Fort Ticonderoga Interpretative Department, developed in 2011, has in remarkably short time become a national leader in historical interpretation, setting and implementing unparalleled interpretive standards,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO. “The program outcomes under the leadership of Director of Interpretation Stuart Lilie have seen nothing less than amazing results in attendance, school field trip participation, and increased Scout attendance. Through the creation and implementation of a unique interpretive approach, Fort Ticonderoga has defied the professional trends and has embarked on a major transformation.” Continue reading