Category Archives: History

New York History

Traditional Woven Coverlet Symposium Planned


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CoverletRabbit Goody and Thistle Hill Weavers have announced that a Symposium on Traditional Woven Coverlets will take place May 1-3, 2015, at Hyde Hall in Springfield, NY. Anyone with an interest in coverlets is encouraged to attend. Participants are especially encouraged to bring their own coverlets and images to share and discuss.

The Symposium hopes to bring together historians, collectors, curators, and enthusiasts for a lively exchange of ideas and information. Goody will also bring a selection of coverlets from her own extraordinary collection to share with the group. Continue reading

From Brooklyn Two Men Fought Against Slavery


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Motto_henry_highland_garnet_originalOne hundred fifty years ago this week, in an elaborate ceremony, the American flag was raised over Fort Sumter in South Carolina marking a milestone in the Union victory in the Civil War. Two months earlier the U.S. Congress had adopted the 13th Amendment forever abolishing slavery.

Two longtime Brooklyn clergymen – Henry Ward Beecher and Henry Highland Garnet – were central to the ceremonies marking these events. Beecher (1813-1887) is described as the most famous man in America at the time of the Civil War, while Garnet (1815-1882) was well-known in the free blacks, but prior to the Civil War, was known to relatively few outside that community. Continue reading

18th-Century Fashion & Material Culture


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ben_franklins_worldThe clothing a person wears tells you a lot about them: Whether they are rich or poor, what kind of work they do, what colors they like, and what they value.

We know that John Hancock was a wealthy merchant and prominent politician, but did you know that his suit reveals even more about his life and personality than the documents and portraits he left behind?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Museum professional and textiles expert Kimberly Alexander joins us to explore the world of 18th-century fashion and material culture and what objects like John Hancock’s suit communicate about the past. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/024

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Mike Tyson and Amsterdam’s Bobby Stewart


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Former Tryon Boys SchoolBobby Stewart of Tribes Hill won the National Golden Gloves Tournament as a light heavyweight in 1974, beating Mike Dokes in Denver, Colorado. It was the high point of Stewart’s amateur boxing career and was preceded by numerous regional bouts. His amateur record was 45 wins and 5 losses.

Amsterdam had a lively boxing scene years ago. Stewart was raised in Amsterdam on McDonnell Street and Chapel Place. His father was a New York State Police officer and his mother worked in local doctors’ offices. Continue reading

I Love New York And New York History


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I love ny logosTwo of the speakers at The New York Times Travel Show at the “Focus on New York State Destinations” session were Gavin Landry, executive director of ILoveNY and Ross Levi, ILoveNY vice president.

Gavin was pleased that for the first time New York State had its own aisle at the travel show. He invited people to think of New York State as a country to be visited. Ross referred to four tourist marketing sectors: Adventures and Eco-Tourism, Path through History, Taste NY, and LGBT. Continue reading

Walking Tours of New Croton Dam Planned


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New_Croton_Dam_from_below wikipedia user Matthiasb“Breathtaking”, “awe inspiring”, “feel the power!” These are just a few of the comments on Trip- Advisor’s entry for the New Croton Dam, yet many who live nearby have never visited one of the Hudson Valley’s signature engineering feats.

Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct and Teaching the Hudson Valley want to change that and invite the public to visit the dam for special walking tours Thursday, April 23, at 4 pm and Saturday, April 25, at 11 am. Laura Compagni-Sabella will lead both tours, highlighting the stories of the hundreds of immigrant workers who risked life and limb to build the dam between 1892-1905. Continue reading

A Century Ago: New York’s War on Animals


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Vermin01 BlackList1919Beware! Pictured here are your adversaries – the official enemies of the state. Don’t be distracted by the pretty colors, lovely feathers, or furry critters. These are vermin, and citizens are urged to kill them at every opportunity. The poster, by the way, represents only the top nine targets from a group of notorious killers, presented here alphabetically: bobcat, Cooper’s hawk, crow, English sparrow, goshawk, gray fox, great gray owl, great horned owl, house rat, “hunting” house cat, lynx, porcupine, red fox, red squirrel, sharp-shinned hawk, snowy owl, starling, weasel, and woodchuck. Kingfishers and a number of snakes were later added, and osprey were fair game as well.

While some of the phrases used above – “official enemies … kill them at every opportunity … new job requirement” – might sound like exaggerations, they were, in fact, official conservation policies of New York State a century ago. Continue reading

New Exhibit On Albany’s Walter Launt Palmer


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image008Artist Walter Launt Palmer (1854–1932), the son of Albany sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer, has enjoyed a revival of interest in the art world over the last several years. It’s now common to see his paintings in art magazines and at major auctions across the country, bringing record prices for his oils and watercolors.

As an artist who preferred living and working in his home community of Albany, rather than New York City, Palmer carried forward the creative genius that emerged in the region generations earlier with the Hudson River School and his father’s own sculpture. Continue reading

The NY History Blog Needs Your Support


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NY HIstory Blog Logo 2015 CampaignLast year your contributions helped The New York History Blog promote news and events related to the state’s history, foster a shared mission among the history community, and provide announcements of upcoming conferences and exhibits, new publications and online resources – and so much more.

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The Dutch Wars of Independence, 1570-1680


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Dutch wars of independenceIn The Dutch Wars of Independence: Warfare and Commerce in The Netherlands, 1570-1680 (Routledge, 2014), Marjolein ’t Hart assesses the success of the Dutch in establishing their independence through their eighty years struggle with Spain – one of the most remarkable achievements of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Other rebellions troubled mighty powers of this epoch, but none resulted in the establishment of an independent, republican state. Continue reading

Indian Basketry of the Northeastern Woodlands


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image001(14)With hundreds of vivid and detailed color photographs and an easy narrative style enlivened by historical vignettes, Sarah Peabody Turnbaugh and William A. Turnbaugh bring overdue appreciation to a centuries-old Native American basketmaking tradition in the Northeast in Indian Basketry of the Northeastern Woodlands (Schiffer Publishing, 2014).

The authors explore the full range of vintage Indian woodsplint and sweetgrass basketry in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, from practical “work” baskets made for domestic use to whimsical “fancy” wares that appealed to Victorian tourists. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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An Interview With Historian, Reporter Paul Grondahl


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features author and Albany Times Union Reporter Paul Grondahl. Grondahl has an update on his biography-in-progress of CBS news commentator Andy Rooney. Plus he discusses the career of long-time Albany promoter Ed Lewi. Grondahl collaborated with Lewi on the book A Wild Ride: Bears, Babes and Marketing to the Max. Grondahl has also written books on longtime Albany Mayor Erastus Corning and Theodore Roosevelt. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
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Andrew Jackson Downing At Newburgh’s Crawford House


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CrawfordHousePainting_HSNBH_001The Newburgh Historical Society invites the public to celebrate 200 years of Newburgh’s favorite son, Andrew Jackson Downing, as it kicks off its 2015 season on Sunday, April 12th, between 1 and 5 pm.

This opening day event will begin with a presentation introducing Downing and how the memorial urban park in his name came to be. Following the talk members offer guided tours of the historic Captain David Crawford House and an opening reception for the Artist’s Choice exhibition featuring the work of fifty local artists. Continue reading

This Week’s Top New York History News


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Report: Erie Canalway Trail ‘Closing The Gaps’


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Erie Canalway Trail Progress 2014Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) and the Canalway Trails Association New York (CTANY) have released their fifth annual report, Closing the Gaps: A Progress Report on the Erie Canalway Trail 2014.

The report is intended to update canal corridor communities and national, state, and local decision makers on recent progress and current trail status as well as underscore the need for the resources and political support to ensure the 360-mile Erie Canalway Trail is finished. Continue reading

Kurt Vonnegut in Schenectady Talk Saturday


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Kurt VonnegutKurt Vonnegut, the renowned author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, and Cat’s Cradle, spent an important part of his life in Schenectady. The region influenced his work, and Schenectady appears as the setting for many of his stories, including the novel Player Piano.

K.A. Laity will discuss Vonnegut’s time in Schenectady – as a PR man for General Electric, and as a volunteer fire fighter – and the region’s legacy in his work on Saturday, April 11th at 2 pm at Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction. The vent is part of the “It Came From Schenectady: Science Fiction in the Capital Region” exhibit series. Continue reading

Greene Smith: Peterboro’s Avid Outdoorsman


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Smith BirdhouseThe important contributions to the field of ornithology of citizen-scientist Greene Smith have been obscured by the Underground Railroad and abolition fame of Smith’s father Gerrit Smith. As important and well-known as are the Underground Railroad sites on the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro NY, it is Greene’s Ornithon that most piques visitors’ curiosity about the builder and collector of that bird museum.

This public fascination prompted Norm Dann to turn the focus of his Smith research to Greene Smith and his Birdhouse. Dann’s study of family letters, military records, Greene’s personal Catalogue of Birds, the pursuit of Greene’s hunting apparatus, and the ownership and investigation of the Birdhouse site, have culminated in the March printing of Greene Smith and the WildLife: The Story of Peterboro’s Avid Outdoorsman – the first publication on this absorbing story. Continue reading