Category Archives: History

New York History

Sullivan County: The Corpse In The Grey Suit


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sagenew_edited[1]Saturday, July 31, 1937 dawned sunny and warm in Sullivan County, a nearly perfect summer day. A light breeze stirred the cooling waters of Swan Lake as dozens of vacationers rowed about in the bright morning sunshine. Two of those vacationers, convinced that it was their lucky day, rowed enthusiastically over to a strange shape they saw bobbing on the surface of the lake. What they discovered instead was grisly and gruesome. It was the body of a man, all trussed up and tied to a rock and a slot machine frame. Continue reading

Paul Bray: Troy’s Union History Is Coming Alive


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The First Lady presenting the Kate Mullany House with a National Historic Landmark plaque, with Josephine Sano, member of the Albany Central Labor CouncilThe nation’s first bona-fide all-female union was formed in Troy 150 years ago under the leadership of a young Irish immigrant, Kate Mullany, and her colleague, Esther Keegan, in reaction to low wages, 12- to 14-hour workdays and unsafe conditions in the collar factories.

Local writer and director Ruth Henry dramatizes the story in a new musical, “Don’t Iron While the Strike is Hot.” Continue reading

Lecture: Lincoln’s Secret Visit to West Point


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West Point 1860sPresident Abraham Lincoln made a clandestine trip to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in June 1862, during the Civil War. It was his longest journey away from the White House and his only trip to New York State during his Presidency.

Based upon new and original research, Anthony J. Czarnecki, past president of the Lincoln Society in Peekskill, will reveal why Lincoln came to West Point, what he did during his three-day stay in the Lower Hudson Valley, and how history changed as a result of his visit to the Academy. Continue reading

Search On For Plane Missing In Champlain Since 1971


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George Nikita, the pilot of a corporate jet that is believed to have crashed into icy Lake Champlain in January, 1971New search efforts have begun for the missing private jet that disappeared into Lake Champlain in the winter of 1971 that was carrying two crew members and three passengers.

A new high-tech search using modern techniques, sophisticated side-scanning sonars, underwater vehicles and a submarine will take place.  This search will be a combined effort between the New York State Police, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and Vermont State Police.  Boating traffic in the search area will be restricted during search operations. Continue reading

Updated Model Preservation Law For NY Municipalities


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New York State ParksThe New York State Historic Preservation Office (OPRHP) and New York State Department of State, in partnership with the Preservation League of New York State, have developed an updated model local preservation law to help municipalities preserve historic resources in their communities. The model law is available on the agency’s website here.

The new model law details procedural steps for local landmarking decisions and review of proposed alterations to historic properties, and new standards for municipal process and public participation in the protection of historic resources. New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales said that the Department of State has worked closely to ensure that the Model Law can be used by towns, villages and cities of any size. Continue reading

Emancipation Days Features Solomon Northup Family


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Scripter Gala 12YAS Poster brIn November 2013 when Melissa Howell, descendent of Solomon Northup was asked to speak at the 2014 Peterboro Emancipation Days, little did anyone suspect that her great, great, great grandfather’s 160 year old biographical book Twelve Years a Slave would win the 2014 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year.

With five producers, including Steve McQueen and Brad Pitt (who also acted in the film) the film, and people associated with it, won many other awards, scooping up members of the current Northup family in the momentum. At 2 p.m. Saturday, August 2 at the Smithfield Community Center (5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY) Howell, her mother Shirley Howell, and her aunt Irene Northup-Zahos will discuss the film, the effects it had on the Northup family, and other experiences and opportunities that have come forth from the film. Howell will proudly display the University of Southern California Scripter Award conferred on Northup as the author of the written work upon which the Academy Award winning screenplay was based. Howell is also the founder of The Solomon Northup Legacy 1808. Continue reading

Washington Irving and the (Re)Creation of Dutch NY


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KnickerbockerThe history of Kinderhook is rich with the lore of headless horsemen, love-struck schoolmasters and a sleepy small town. This is primarily due to Washington Irving, his wild imagination, and the short-story “Legends of Sleepy Hallow.”

On August 2, New York Times bestselling biographer Brian Jay Jones will speak on the life of Irving and his habit of using artistic license when it came to the history of the area. At 4:00 pm at the Kinderhook Reformed Church (21 Broad St in Kinderhook), Jones will address the historical myths plucked from Irving’s satirical history The History of New York written in 1809 in his talk, “Washington Irving and the (Re)Creation of Dutch New York” as part of the Columbia County Historical Society’s Dutch New York: Fact and Fiction lecture series. Continue reading

Presentation On Clark Art Institute’s New Campus


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Clark Art InstituteThe Albany Institute of History & Art will host Michael Conforti, Director of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, to share his insights into the creation of the Clark’s newly expanded campus.

The campus, which was designed by architects Tadao Ando, Annabelle Selldorf, and Reed Hilderbrand,  opened its doors on July 4, 2014.  The renovations and expansions at the Clark were completed to enhance sustainability and energy efficiency, and increase exhibition and event space. Continue reading

Lecture: Perfectionism in Antebellum New York


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unnamed(2)Robert W. Arnold III, a career public historian now retired from the New York State Archives, will give a talk entitled “Leaning into the Storm: Perfectionism in Antebellum New York” on Saturday, August 9, 2014 at the Schenectady County Historical Society.

New York State was a place of rapid change in the antebellum era, the epicenter of perfectionist religious and social reform movements, inspired largely by Yankee immigrants from New England and spread as those immigrants themselves settled along the routes of turnpikes and canals. Uncertainties associated with ongoing revolutions in transportation, finance, communications and industry were reflected in popular movements such as temperance, abolition, women’s rights, dress-, prison- and educational reform. Continue reading

FDR: The Original Game Changer


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Roosevelts Second Act by Richard Moe.jpgThe famous Riddle of the Sphinx asks, “Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and then two-footed, and finally three-footed?” To which Oedipus answered: “Man, who crawls on all fours as a child, then walks on two feet as an adult, and then as an elder uses a walking stick.”

This is what crossed my mind as I came across a small sculpture of Franklin D. Roosevelt as the Sphinx, with cigarette holder and all, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum gift shop. I’d often find myself browsing the store during breaks from my research there, but the oddity of the sculpture stuck with me as I was unable to answer the riddle of FDR as Sphinx until reading Roosevelt’s Second Act: The Election of 1940 and the Politics of War (Oxford Univ. Press, 2013) by Richard Moe. Continue reading

Summer Sampler History Camp at Crailo


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Crailo Historic SiteCrailo State Historic Site has announced its annual Summer Sampler History Camp for kids. This year’s Summer Sampler takes place August 4-8 from 10 am to 12 pm each day.

Participants can pick and choose the days to attend, from just one day up to all five. Each day will include activities, crafts to take home, and a snack.  Historic reproductions, interactive games and exploration of the river’s edge will bring a different theme related to Crailo and the area’s rich history to life each day: Continue reading

The Adirondacks: Supplanting the Gilded Age


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BayPond02NYHFor more than a century, Adirondack history has dealt with the complex issues of private clubs, large estates, and public access. Decisions made long ago had a lasting effect that only in recent decades has been reversing with the state purchase of major properties and opening them to the public. It’s difficult to grasp the impact on the region when, 101 years ago, New York’s highest court said of its own ruling, “We are mindful that this deprives the public at large … of the pleasure and profit of fishing and hunting in a very large portion of the Adirondack forest, and gives to men of great wealth, who can buy vast tracts of land, great protection in the enjoyment of their private privileges.” Continue reading

Peter Feinman: NYS’s Tourist-Industrial Complex


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Path Through historyI have used the term tourist-industrial complex to refer to the recipients of the New York State funding from the Path through History project, but the funding goes beyond the Path project or even tourism. This funding did not go to the history community. Instead tens of millions of dollars went to advertising. That has now become an issue in the media and in the ongoing gubernatorial campaign.

A recent article by Joseph Spector, the Albany Bureau chief of Gannet Company attempts to address where the money funneled to Empire State Development (ESD), which includes ILoveNY and therefore the Path through History project, went. 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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Andrew Roberts Named Lehrman Distinguished Fellow


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ARoberts11-4Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, and Lewis E. Lehrman, Chairman of the Lehrman Institute, has announced that Andrew Roberts, a leading military historian, will be the first Lehrman Institute Distinguished Fellow at the New-York Historical Society. Dr. Roberts will serve as the Distinguished Fellow for three years, from November 2014 through November 2017.

Andrew Roberts is the Merrill Family Visiting Professor at Cornell University. He has written or edited twelve books and appears regularly on international radio and television broadcasts. His forthcoming biography of Napoleon will be accompanied by a three-part television series on the BBC. He received a number of awards for his recent bestsellers Masters & Commanders and The Storm of War. Continue reading

Arcadia Publishing Acquires The History Press


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History Press Arcadia Publishing MergerArcadia Publishing has announced the acquisition of The History Press Inc., a wholly owned US based subsidiary of UK based The History Press Ltd, in a private sale. The deal creates the largest publisher of local and regional books in the U.S. with a combined total of more than 12,000 titles available for sale.

“Arcadia is committed to maintaining the creative aspects of both businesses and will keep existing brands entirely separate,” the company said in a statement issued to the press. Continue reading

Manlius, Madison County, and Abolitionists Talk Planned


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Seceder Cover JPEGAfter six years of research Alethea “Lee” Connolly has published her book on “forgotten trailblazers” in early 19th Century Central New York. Connolly will present her research on her book The Seceders: Religious Conviction & the Abolitionist Movement in the Town of Manlius, 1834-1844 at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 26, 2014 at the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum at 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134.

As Barbara S. Rivette, Manlius Town Historian, states “The network of families and church affiliations involved in The Seceders spread through Canastota, Clockville, and Peterboro.” Seceders, like early Manlius settler Elijah Bailey, “believed the church had veered off the simple path of Bible religion into pride and folly.” Continue reading

Sullivan County: Doctors Say ‘Go to the Mountains!’


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adWhile Sullivan County was not officially formed until 1809, the region’s history as a popular healing environment dates back considerably before that.

From the earliest visits of the Lenape, who constructed their sweat lodges among the willow trees on the banks of the Delaware to the tuberculosis sufferers who searched for a cure in the cool mountain climate, hundreds of thousands of people have visited the area because of its clean air and pure water.

From about 1890 to 1915, the county enjoyed a prosperous period of tourism—today called the Silver Age— based almost entirely on those concepts of fresh air and pure water. In fact, for decades the Ontario & Western Railway’s promotional campaign for the area was based on the slogan, “Doctors Say ‘Go to the Mountains!’” This was often followed by the trident reminder ‘pure air, pure water, pure milk.” Continue reading

UN Women Will Lead Discussion At Women’s Rights Park


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UN Women logoUN Women will lead a discussion on women’s rights and their initiatives around the world on Sunday, July 20th from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm as part of the 2014 Convention Days Celebration.

UN Women was created to address the many challenges women face throughout the world today.  According to their website, “Gender equality is not only a basic human right, but its achievement has enormous socio-economic ramifications. Empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurring productivity and growth. Yet gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society. Women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. They are too often denied access to basic education and health care. Women in all parts of the world suffer violence and discrimination. They are under-represented in political and economic decision-making processes. For many years, the UN has faced serious challenges in its efforts to promote gender equality globally, including inadequate funding and no single recognized driver to direct UN activities on gender equality issues until the creation of UN Women.” Continue reading