A few years ago a delegation of environmentalists and officials from the Adirondack Park visited Lake Baikal in Russia. So large that it is often mistaken for a sea, Lake Baikal is the deepest and largest (by volume) freshwater lake in the world, and thought to be the world’s oldest as well. Famous for its crystal clear waters and unique wildlife, the lake is under threat by pollution, poaching and development.
An Adirondack lawyer on the trip told me that they had a boat ride with a group of Russians. One of the Russians said to him “Why are we wasting our time with Americans? Russia has a culture that produced great writers like Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Turgenev and Chekhov, great musicians like Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, and Rimsky-Korsakov and great dancers like Baryshnikov, Nureyev, and Nijinsky. What has America contributed to the world?” Continue reading
The New York State Archivist has announced that the State’s Archives Documentary Heritage Program’s (DHP) regional archival services are being consolidated in a move that critics say will diminish the effectiveness of the popular historical records program.
In a message sent in May, New York State Archivist Christine Ward announced the changes, which eliminated the DHP’s regional administrators at the end of June and will replace them with a single, statewide administrator under a five-year contract. Continue reading
Almost everyone within sniffing distance of public history these days, in any capacity, is on the lookout for the silver bullet that will somehow “rescue” their particular site, or organization, or even the entire field, from the edge of a financial ruin.
For many boards and staff, technology has become the most sexy aphrodisiac around. Even though I haven’t yet seen it effectively used, partly because it becomes dated so quickly, museum and other sites continue to reach for phone tours, or apps, or touch screens, to add that extra element of engagement that will magically connect to those ever-elusive younger audiences that sites yearn to attract. Continue reading
How should we remember 9/11? I began to think about this more as the date for the opening of the 9/11 Museum neared. By coincidence, I was invited by City Wonders to take one of its tours and I chose the 9/11 Memorial Tour. This was just prior to the opening of the museum in May.
9/11 and that tour are responsible for the recent series of posts on remembering the dead. For me, it is important to understand 9/11 in context. That means not only the historical context in which the event occurred but the historical context in which we remember historical events. Our Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Passovers aren’t the same as our ancestors, nor is Memorial/Decoration Day. As a result, I began to write about different ways and circumstances in which we remember those who have died. Continue reading
Last week, I asked readers to “consider what might happen if Empire State Development and I Love NY actually promoted New York State History and reached out to tour operators to visit historic New York.”
That drew a comment from “Cathy” about her experience in Rockland County: Continue reading
What follows is a guest essay by Bob Cudmore, who writes “Focus on History” every Saturday in Schenectady’s Gazette newspaper and also hosts the morning radio show on WVTL AM-FM in Amsterdam which includes weekly interviews about history called “The Historians”. The New York History Blog asked Bob to explain how ‘”The Historians” was developed.
My first foray into local history was in 2000 when Steve Dunn and I co-produced the WMHT television documentary “Historic Views of the Carpet City: Amsterdam, N.Y.” Amsterdam is my home town. That same year my first book came out, self published. “You Can’t Go Wrong: Stories from Nero, N.Y. and Other Tales” was a compilation of satirical newspaper columns I had written for the Troy Record and Daily Gazette of Schenectady about Nero, a mythical Upstate New York city settled after all the good classical names such as Troy, Utica and Syracuse had been taken. Nero is a place so negative that “I don’t blame you” is a compliment.
In 2000 I pitched the Daily Gazette on doing “Focus on History”, stories from Montgomery and Fulton Counties. The column ran every other week until 2004 when it became a weekly fixture of the Saturday paper. Until his death last year, the column was edited by the Gazette’s incisive city editor Irv Dean. Continue reading
“Museums are Essential! Let people know!” – that’s the message the Museum Association of New York (MANY) is sending in its invitation to this year’s Museum Institute at Great Camp Sagamore in Raquette Lake, NY, taking place September 21st to 24th, 2014.
“Advocacy helps museums and other cultural institutions communicate what they do, why they do it and how it is of value – culturally, socially and economically,” MANY’s invitation says. “It offers a way to impart information and develop other people’s understanding. In doing this, it increases the visibility and profile of museums, which increases visitor numbers and funding!” Continue reading
Assemblyman Steve Englebright’s bill (A. 6226A) to create a Commission on New York State History would help coordinate state programs and elevate and strengthen public history in New York.
“The state’s historical assets are world class destinations for visitors from around the world and should be promoted as such,” the bill declares. “Having the management, interpretation and promotion of the state’s historical assets spread among several agencies and departments has often been detrimental to the full utilization of these assets for the people of the state.” Continue reading
There is a special group of people who are remembered by a society. These are the fallen, those who die in battle on behalf of something larger than themselves. In the Bible there is an infrequently used term “nephilim” from the verb “to fall.”
Based on the archaeological evidence, the Nephilim appear to have been part of group who were remembered in Canaanite societies in the Middle and Late Bronze Age (second millennium BCE). These fallen warriors were remembered in feasts and stories just as warriors who have fallen in battle are still remembered today. It’s part of the human experience. Continue reading
Fort Ticonderoga has announced today the findings of a report that concludes the Fort generates $8.9 million annually in state and local economic impact. The total includes visitor spending from tourists; spending by the Fort Ticonderoga Association in its daily operations; the indirect and induced impacts created by labor income as it flows into the regional economy; and tax revenue generated by that spending.
In 2013 the Fort Ticonderoga Association of Ticonderoga, NY commissioned Magellan Strategy Group to perform the study which utilized data provided by guests visiting Fort Ticonderoga in 2013 and IMPLAN software. According to a statement issued to the press “The study employed a conservative approach to measuring guest spending that evaluated only those expenditures that occurred as a result of visiting Fort Ticonderoga.” Continue reading
The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and the Hudson River Valley Greenway highlighted five National Heritage Area Heritage Development Grants awarded to historic and cultural institutions in the Mid-Hudson Valley last week.
The National Park Service calls the Hudson River Valley “the landscape that defined America.” These small National Heritage Area Heritage Development Grants are expected to support a wide range of historic and cultural projects, including installations, demonstrations, and public outreach and education projects that will connect more people with the rich tapestry of heritage and cultural experiences in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Continue reading
We humans remember the departed. Frequently we honor them. This is even more true for our leaders. How we choose to remember, is part of what defines a culture.
The most famous example of remembering dead leaders is, of course, the pyramids. They already were a tourist destination thousands of years ago thousands of years after they had been built. By contrast, in America one would be hard-pressed to identify where an American president is buried. In New York, we have Grant’s Tomb. I frequently watch the double-decker buses stop on Riverside Drive and disgorge the tourists who angle for shots of the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge, and Grant’s Tomb. Continue reading
Fort Ticonderoga has announced the appointment of Matthew Keagle to serve as Director of Exhibitions at Fort Ticonderoga. Keagle began work at Fort Ticonderoga on May 27, 2014 and is responsible for the development and implementation of Fort Ticonderoga’s newly established Exhibition Department.
Matthew Keagle is originally from Vermont and has been involved in curation, exhibitions, research, historical interpretation, and program development for historic sites and museums in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, Virginia, North and South Carolina. Continue reading
The Future of Museums Conference, a collaborative global conversation about technology, museums, and the future will be a free, online event held from 10am – 5pm US-Eastern Time on July 24th, 2014, and will feature keynote speakers and crowdsourced presentations.
Attendees can expect to learn best practices to implement in their museums, and will hear real-world examples of innovative practices in the field. Continue reading
On May 29, Assemblyman Steve Englebright (Suffolk) convened a roundtable for the proposed New York State History Commission. Also in attendance were Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (Queens) and Senator George Latimer (Westchester), the senator from my district who had just become a co-sponsor.
Invited participants with name cards sat around the table. In addition there were about six of us who attended the public meeting as a result of my post to The New York History Blog. Assemblyman Englebright graciously allowed us to participate in the discussion along with those invited. I consider this meeting to have been a fact-finding or information-gathering meeting by the legislators who were seeking to learn the state of affairs in the New York history community. Continue reading
The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) has announced the winners of the 69th annual Leadership in History Awards, which recognizes achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.
This year, AASLH conferred seventy-seven national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, books, and organizations. The only winner in New York State was Laurence M. Hauptman for the publication In the Shadow of Kinzua: The Seneca Nation of Indians since World War II. In contrast, Pennsylvania had 10 awardees. Continue reading
The New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) has created a document about the the impact of the Nonprofit Revitalization Act on nonprofit governance and policy-making.
The act becomes law July 1, 2014 and effects ALL nonprofits in the state, no matter the size. The brief outline created by NYCON provides an overview of key reforms that NYCON believes can have a meaningful effect on the general governance and business operations of existing community-based nonprofits. You can access the document via a pdf located here.
There is a campaign to build The Museum of Political Corruption in Albany, New York. The campaign was started by and is being lead by College of Saint Rose Professor Bruce Craig Roter. With it’s motto of “it’s funny, but it’s serious”, it’s hoped the Museum will be a unique tourist attraction.
The museum is expected to serve as a reminder and cautionary tale to elected officials to uphold the high ethical standards demanded of their offices. “While there will be a good amount of humor, it will be used as a gateway to examine the serious subject of corruption in NY state politics,” Roter told The New York History Blog. “Museum goers will pay entrance bribes rather than fees, refreshments will be served at the Cozy Crony Cafe, and the museum auditorium will be called Tammany Hall.” Continue reading
New York was an object of great importance during the American Revolution. At the kick off of the Path through History project in August 2012, plenary speaker Ken Jackson, Columbia University, criticized New York for its inadequate efforts to tell its story compared to what Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts are doing. He welcomed the opportunity that New York finally was going to get it right.
By coincidence, at the New York History community roundtable convened by Assemblyman Englebright several weeks ago in connection with his proposed New York History Commission, he began with a similar plea for New York to tell its story as well as those same states Jackson had mentioned 20 months earlier. He was particularly incensed over the new TV show Turn about America’s first spy ring set in the very community he represents. Continue reading
Can the United States survive in an age of hyphens? Consider the innocuous comments of a traveler as recently reported in the New York Times:
“I enjoy business travel when it gives me the opportunity to visit with other cultures. Those cultures don’t have to be found in foreign lands. In the United States, there are so many different and wonderful cultural experiences you can have just traveling between Washington, Michigan and Kentucky, for example.” Continue reading