Category Archives: Public History

The Origin and Impact of the Adirondack Northway


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i87When my parents came to the Adirondacks in 1956, they believed they were moving to a place far removed – culturally and politically as well as geographically – from the cities in which they had worked as left-wing journalists.

Beyond the Adirondacks lay “the big world,” as our neighbor Peggy Hamilton called it. (It was a world she was familiar with, having been the companion of Vida Mulholland and, like Vida and her more famous sister Inez, an early advocate of women’s rights.) Continue reading

College Basketball, Point Shaving and the Catskills


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Junius KelloggIn late February, 1951, the basketball team from the City College of New York was returning home on the train from Philadelphia where they had just trounced the Temple University squad.

The year before, the Lavender and Black had been hailed as one of the greatest college basketball teams of all time, having won both of college basketball’s biggest post season tournaments, the NCAA and the NIT, the only time that feat has ever been accomplished. The talented squad had stumbled somewhat during the current season, losing to several teams it had been expected to beat, but was seemingly hitting its stride just as the tournaments were about to begin. Continue reading

Saratoga NHP Announces 58% Visitation Increase in 2016


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2016 marked a banner year for visitation at Saratoga National Historical Park. Over 102,000 people visited the park during the 100th anniversary year of the National Park Service.

This was a 58% increase in park visitation from 2015. The park witnessed an increase in visitors attending ranger programs, special events, hiking and cycling, and touring the park’s historic sites, according to the Park Service. Continue reading

New Approaches for Historical Societies and History Museums


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Many of the posts in this New York History Blog report on new exhibits, public programs, outreach to schools, and other initiatives. This variety of initiatives reflects the fact that here in New York we have some of the most progressive, innovative programs in the nation.

But are there really any new ideas out there – new ways of looking at and carrying out our mission as historical societies, history museums, and other public history programs? Continue reading

History Columnist Dan Weaver on ‘The Historians’ Podcast


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The Historians LogoThis week on The Historians Podcast, Amsterdam (NY) Recorder history columnist Dan Weaver describes actress: Debbie Reynolds’s connection to Amsterdam. Weaver also talks about the Cabbage Patch doll and Coleco and the story of Derby, the blind proprietor of a newsstand in the Amsterdam post office. Weaver owns The Book Hound bookstore in Amsterdam.

Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading

Lecture on the Mohawk Schoharie Indians March 7th


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De Wilden Hoek The second installment of the Old Stone Fort Museum’s winter lecture series will be held on Tuesday, March 7 at 7 pm in the museum’s Badgley Annex.

Local historian Jeff O’Connor will present “The Schoharie Indians – Who Were They and Why Were They Here?” His program will explore the appearance of Mohawk people in the Schoharie Valley before the arrival of the Palatines. Continue reading

Playing the Hand You’re Dealt: Billy Richards, ‘the Armless Wonder’


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While researching a pair of books on North Country iron mining, I unexpectedly became privy to tragedies that many families faced. Mining accidents were frequent and involved excessive violence, often resulting in death. Victims were sometimes pancaked — literally — by rock falls, and their remains were recovered with scraping tools. Others were blown to pieces by dynamite explosions, usually as the result of, in mining parlance, “hitting a missed hole.”

The “missed hole” nomenclature refers to unexploded dynamite charges accidentally detonated later by another miner when his drill made contact with the material or caused a spark. The resulting blast was often fatal, but not always. Those who survived were usually blinded, burned badly, or maimed in some fashion.

In 1878, in Crown Point’s iron mines at Hammondville, near Lake Champlain, a young laborer, Billy Richards, was tasked with holding a star drill (basically a hand-held chisel with a star point) against the ore face while his partner — his step-father, Richard George — struck it with a sledge hammer. Through this commonly used teamwork method, a cadence developed whereby the star drill was struck and the holder then turned it slightly before it was struck again. Continue reading

New York State Unveils New Empire Pass Card


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The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) has announced the new State Parks Empire Pass Card is now available for purchase. The new Empire Pass Card, accepted at state parks and recreation areas across New York, is a wallet-sized plastic card that can be shared among family members including parents, grandparents, caregivers and more. The card is presented upon vehicle entry and includes QR code and embedded chip technology to allow for easier park access at select facilities. Continue reading