Category Archives: History

New York History

Shaker Exhibition Opening At NYS Museum


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ModeofWorshipThe New York State Museum will open a new major exhibition about the history and culture of the Shakers on November 15, 2014. The Shakers: America’s Quiet Revolutionaries will feature over 150 historic images and nearly 200 Shaker artifacts, including artifacts from three Shaker historical sites: the Shaker Heritage Society, Hancock Shaker Village and the Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon.

In the late 1700s, the Shakers sought religious freedom in America, but their unique culture and spiritual practices set them apart from society. Their devotional routines as well as their product innovations and views towards gender equality seemed revolutionary. Continue reading

Amsterdam and the Flu Pandemic of 1918


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newyork001When the world-wide influenza pandemic struck in 1918, Amsterdam had its share of disease and death.

The flu became more deadly in the fall of that year, near the end of World War I. From October 1918 through January 1919 there were 176 deaths in Amsterdam from flu or pneumonia, half of one percent of the city’s population.

Amsterdam had 23 cases of influenza in September and eight people had pneumonia. In October the number of flu cases jumped to an astounding 3,386; 255 people had pneumonia. Amsterdam had 43 flu deaths in October and 77 deaths from pneumonia, which often followed the flu. Both St. Mary’s and City Hospital were filled to capacity. Continue reading

World War II Home Front Exhibit In Seneca Falls


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Washington-Public-schools-go-to-war-1943It was a time of G. I. Joe and Rosie the Riveter, and the era of the big band sound.  World War II changed the American way of life as the war economy ended the Great Depression and millions mobilized joining the armed forces, working in factories, and conserving in every aspect of life. Families grew victory gardens. Children collected scrap metal. Women flew war planes to air bases. For African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Japanese-Americans though, the war did not bring the same opportunities but rather discrimination and continued hardship.

A special exhibit, World War II Home Front, exploring all aspects of the American home front, from the contributions and legacies to the challenges and struggles, will open at Women’s Rights National Historical Park on Saturday, November 15, 2014, and run through January 31, 2015. Continue reading

Chaos On An Adirondack Train: The Case Against Pullman Porter Smith


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Pullman Porter Helping Woman circa 1880sWhen the night train to Montreal set out from Utica on April 29, 1931, James E. Smith had already been toiling over the needs and wants of his passengers for many hours.  At 29 years old, Smith had been a Pullman porter for about three years.  He had done a stint in Pennsylvania and now was employed on the New York Central line of the Pullman Company.

The experience of the Pullman porter was both uncommon yet ordinary.  The Pullman Palace Car company hired black men almost exclusively as porters. This practice began under the direction of the founder of the company, George Pullman, after the Civil War. On board a luxurious and comfortable Pullman Car, Pullman porters were expected to be the ideal servants to their well off white passengers.   Continue reading

Women’s Rights Park Marks American Indian Heritage Month


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nah_home_bannerLong before Europeans arrived in the Americas, native peoples lived, worked, and played in thriving cultures. Their stories bring multiple perspectives to our local and national histories.

Learn about the “First Americans” during National American Indian Heritage Month with children’s craft activities and special talks at Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls from November 19th to November 29th.  Continue reading

Bill Bray: Standing Strong to the End


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NYH03AMWBrayAfter years of loyal service to his party and resisting against the most powerful men in American politics, M. William Bray was unceremoniously dumped from the New York State Democratic ticket in 1938. The strategy was questionable at best, considering the support he enjoyed in 40 upstate counties.

It was Bray’s growing influence that they feared. For years, Roosevelt, Farley, and others had tried to erode his power base but were unable to do so. In fact, by all measures, Bray was more popular than ever. In 1936, during his third run for lieutenant governor, he had outpolled Governor Lehman by nearly 60,000 votes (3,028,191 to 2,970,595). Continue reading

Womens Rights History: ‘Night Of Terror’ Observance


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Night of Terror ProtesterThe first national observance of the “Night of Terror” will be held November 15, 2014 by the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association, an organization raising money to build a national memorial honoring women who were arrested and imprisoned during the 72-year campaign to win voting rights for women. Lorton, Virginia is the planned site for the suffragist memorial, not far from Occoquan Workhouse where the “Night of Terror” on arrested suffrage picketers was carried out in 1917.

November 14-15, 1917 is recognized in history as the night when a total of 31 suffrage activists were targeted with violent attacks in an effort to break the spirit of the activists. The “Night of Terror” occurred at the Occoquan Workhouse (then part of the District of Columbia’s prison complex) in Lorton, Virginia, not far from Washington, DC. Continue reading

Peter Rose Authors New Cookbook, Crailo Event Planned


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Peter Rose CookbooksMixing 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

Special Delivery: Traveling the Underground Railroad


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Special Delivery Front CoverSpecial Delivery: From One Stop to Another on the Underground Railroad (North Country Books, 2014), is Rose O’Keefe’s latest effort to show what daily life was like in the 1850s, and what life was like in Rochester for families active on the Underground Railroad.

This historical fiction is a companion book to O’Keefe’s recent book Frederick and Anna Douglass in Rochester NY: Their Home Was Open to All (History Press, 2013). O’Keefe’s newest book is the story of eleven-year-old Lewis Douglass, who gives a very personal take on the Douglass family’s move from one house to another in Rochester in 1852. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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CultureAID Connects NYC Orgs During Disasters


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Culture Aid LogoThe recent two year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy serves as a reminder of how vulnerable cultural organizations can be when confronted by natural disasters.

CultureAID (Culture Active in Disasters) was established to keep New York City’s arts and cultural communities better connected in time of disaster – whether natural or manmade. The network is a volunteer-based communication system, designed to systematize messages about preparedness as well as recovery-related information and resources. Continue reading

Electric City: General Electric in Schenectady


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians”, retired history professor and Schenectady County native Julia Kirk Blackwelder discusses her most recent book Electric City: General Electric in Schenectady. Blackwelder is an emerita professor at Texas A&M University, where she previously served as head of the history department. She currently lives in Ballston, New York.

Listen to the interview at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
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This Week’s Top New York History News


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Kirk Douglas: Amsterdam Native’s 1960 African Safari


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Kirk Douglas in the navyAmsterdam native and movie star Kirk Douglas, who will turn 98 next month, killed a leopard and other big game during a 1962 African safari.

According to an article in the men’s magazine True, Douglas, 46 at the time, said at the end of the trip, “I’m hooked. I don’t know how I got along all those years without hunting.”

History enthusiast Emil Suda, who lives in Amsterdam’s East End where Douglas grew up as Issur Danielovitch or Izzy Demsky, provided a copy of the magazine’s account of Douglas’s safari written by Ralph Daigh. True folded in 1975. A chapter called “Killer Douglas” is devoted to the actor’s hunting trip in his 1988 autobiography The Ragman’s Son. Continue reading

Outstanding Museum Programs, People Sought


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MANY LogoThe Museum Association of New York is seeking nominations for it Awards of Merit program, which acknowledges outstanding programs and individuals who have made the state’s museum community richer and more relevant.

They reward the innovative efforts of staff and volunteers and they provide encouragement for the development of new and remarkable projects. Nominations are sought for contributions made in 2014. The deadline for submissions is December 12, 2014 and awards will be presented on Monday, April 13, 2015 at the luncheon of the Museums in Action Conference at the Corning Museum of Glass. Nominations may be submitted in the following categories (for yourself or others): Continue reading

Museum President: Susan B. Anthony Being ‘Defamed’


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FeministsforlifeposterThe recent activities of the Susan B. Anthony List, a 501(c)(4) organization, and its affiliated political action committee, the SBA List Candidate Fund, have raised concerns at Rochester’s Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, part of an ongoing dispute over anti-abortion activists and social conservatives using Anthony’s name.

“We can make room for a different interpretation of history, and we certainly support political engagement,” says Deborah L. Hughes, President and CEO of the Anthony Museum, “but their tactics repeatedly cross a line that is outrageous and inconsistent with who Susan B. Anthony was. Her good character is being defamed by their actions. People are outraged by their actions, causing harm to Anthony’s name and the mission of our Museum.” Continue reading

Exhibits: Marisol Escobar at El Museo del Barrio


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7_portrait-of-marisol-jack-mitchellThe artist Marisol Escobar sculpts figures that are big and blunt, or bright and shiny, or whimsical and eerie. She has been called a New Realist, a surrealist and a Pop artist. Born in 1930 of Venezuelan parents, her friends and companions and mentors have included Hans Hofman, Andy Warhol and Willem de Kooning.

The current exhibition at New York’s El Museo del Barrio is on view till January. Traveling from the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Tennessee, the exhibit features some terrific portraits, juxtaposed with works on paper that reveal a slanted take on the family. Curator Marina Pacini has selected a brilliant sample of Marisol works to reveal the streak of pain underpinning the dazzling surfaces.  Continue reading