We take navigation for granted today, what with Siri, GPS, radio communications, radar, and services like Google Maps. But imagine you were a pilot in upstate New York back in the 1920s, when aviation was first coming into its own. If you took to the air, as many citizens did, how would you avoid getting lost?
The answer quite often was — you probably wouldn’t, and with potentially fatal consequences. Many pilots died in crashes after running out of fuel while trying to find a destination. Continue reading
After a drunken evening in New York’s lavish Union Club, three of the richest men in America made a bet that would change the course of yachting history. Six men died in the brutal first race across the Atlantic, turning the perception of yachting from gentleman’s pursuit to rugged adventure. The $90,000 prize (about $15 million today) helped to herald the “gilded age” of America.
Sam Jefferson’s new book Gordon Bennett and the First Yacht Race Across the Atlantic (Bloomsbury, 2016) tells the tale of James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the playboy son of the New York Herald multi-millionaire. Continue reading
Michael Keene’s book The Psychic Highway: How the Erie Canal Changed America (Willow Manor Publishing 2016) takes a look at a time of intense individual focus and enlightened change in the ways in which people communicated along the canal.
It was as if a bolt of electricity struck western New York, lighting it up as fertile ground for ideas and lifestyles that had never been expressed or attempted before. It was a time of religious re-birth, ongoing social reform and making one’s life the best it could be in the present and in the future. Continue reading
This week on “The Historians” podcast Albany Times Union reporter Paul Grondahl talks about his recent series of articles on the history of immigration in the Capital District. You can listen to the podcast here. Continue reading
State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia today announced the appointment of Devin Lander as New York’s State Historian. Lander, who currently serves as the Executive Director of the Museum Association of New York (MANY), is expected to join the Education Department on May 19, 2016.
The State Education Department, the Department’s Office of Cultural Education, and the State Museum have been under fire for their handling of the State Historian’s position in recent years, including their downgrading the job to a lesser-paid position reporting to the Chief Curator of the State Museum. Among those critical of the decision to reduce the role of State Historian have been former State Historian Robert Weible and members of the Commission on Local and Public History, convened ten years ago by Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education Carole Huxley to advise the Department of Education on the appointment of a State Historian. Continue reading
The Roeliff Jansen Historical Society will host “What’s New at the Old Copake Iron Works,” an illustrated lecture by Edgar M. Masters, on Sunday, May 15th at 2pm at the Society museum, 8 Miles Road in Copake Falls.
Masters’ program will begin with a look back at the Copake Iron Works in 2008 when Friends of Taconic State Park first began planning the preservation of the long derelict, but historically important, 19th century industrial site. He will continue with a photo review of the work done in the ensuing years and a quick discussion of future plans, including the re-creation of part of the railroad that once circumnavigated the Copake Iron Works. Continue reading
Historians research the past through historical sources.
But what are the materials that tell historians about past peoples, places, and events?
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, James Horn, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation, helps us investigate historical sources by taking us on an exploration of historic Jamestown and the types of sources that inform what we know about it. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/079
Historic Huguenot Street will officially launch its 2016 season this Saturday, May 7th, from 10 am to 5:30 pm. The organization has been working with Bill Weldon, former director at the National Association of Interpretation (NAI) and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, to develop a refreshed tour experience for the year. Continue reading
Actor and activist Danny Glover, Albany civil rights leader Alice Green and youth advocate Brother Yusuf Abdul-Wasi Burgess will be the first recipients of the Spirit of John Brown Freedom Award, to be awarded at the John Brown Day 2016 celebration on Saturday, May 7th, at 1 pm.
The annual event, which is organized by Westport-based human rights and freedom education project John Brown Lives!, will be held at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid. The public is welcome. Continue reading
In The Heroic Age of Diving: America’s Underwater Pioneers and the Great Wrecks of Lake Erie (SUNY Press Excelsior Editions, 2016), Jerry Kuntz shares the fascinating stories of the pioneers of underwater invention and the brave divers who employed the new technologies as they raced with – and against – marine engineers to salvage the tragic wrecks of Lake Erie.
Beginning in 1837, some of the most brilliant engineers of America’s Industrial Revolution turned their attention to undersea technology. Inventors developed practical hard-helmet diving suits, as well as new designs of submarines, diving bells, floating cranes, and undersea explosives. These innovations were used to clear shipping lanes, harvest pearls, mine gold, and wage war. Continue reading