The film “It’s A Wonderful Life,” is an apt metaphor I frequently return to and during this holiday season, it’s useful to reflect on the Bedford Hills Historical Society. What role should the Bedford Falls Historical Society have played?
I’ve offered my view of the role of historical societies in communities here at The New York History Blog before. My contention has been, among other things, that historical societies fall into a dangerous and unsupportable trap if they think of their primary function is to support tourism. Quite the contrary, they are community organizations, part of the social fabric like schools and libraries which also are chartered by the New York State Education Department. Continue reading
When we visited the national park in Seneca Falls, NY this year we asked Noemi “Ami” Ghazala, superintendent of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, about the significance of the feds reaching the “stakeholder” phase in the Votes for Women trail process. “We really don’t know what it means,” she said. “The criteria may sit there for a short time or remain there for years.”
This was alarming enough. Then we checked into the statistical probability of Congressional approval for funding the Votes for Women federal trail in the Finger Lakes region. We consulted the tracking web site for Congress and stumbled on the prediction that we might find coal in our stockings this year if we’re expecting a reauthorization of a bill that includes a Votes for Women federal trail. This is complicated by the fact that federal funding must be delivered separately. Continue reading
The Hudson River Valley Greenway and the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area (HRVNHA) have announced the availability of $50,000 in matching funds for the 2014 Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Heritage Development Grant Program.
The program offers funding for programming, interpretation and marketing projects that support the mutual goals of the HRVNHA and applicants. Grants will range from $1,000 to $5,000. Continue reading
The Museum Association of New York (MANY) has extended the deadline for its Awards of Merit nominations to this Friday, December 20, 2013. The Awards of Merit program acknowledges outstanding programs and individuals who have made the state’s museum community richer and more relevant.
They reward the innovative efforts of staff and volunteers and they provide encouragement for the development of new and remarkable projects. Nominations are sought for contributions made in 2013. Continue reading
PLEASE HELP, Santa. What we really want for Christmas is a women’s trail.
When members of the U.S. Congress and the New York State Legislature open their doors in January 2014, chances are that they will have received notice of our holiday appeal.
The reason for asking Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves for assistance is because of the urgent need for help in obtaining funding to advance women’s trails on both the state and federal levels. Realistically Santa might not be able to deliver on trails by December 25th, but that’s no reason to give up. Continue reading
Michael G. Kammen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Cornell University’s Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture Emeritus, died Nov. 29 in Ithaca at the age of 77.
He arrived at Cornell in 1965 as an assistant professor of history, served on the Department of History faculty until his retirement in 2008, then returned in the fall 2013 semester to teach – all the while writing or editing more than three dozen books in diverse areas of history. Continue reading
The Trustees of the Iroquois Indian Museum have announced the appointment of Maria Vann of Fly Creek, New York as Director of the Museum. Vann will assume her role as Director on January 1, 2014.
A statement from the museum to the press said: “Her qualifications in the museum field, in academia, and in business make her an excellent choice to lead the Museum forward. She will be concentrating on audience development, fundraising, and promotion of the Museum’s programs and exhibitions.” Continue reading
Over the summer, I wrote a series of posts on the American Revolution Reborn conference. Those posts included segments devoted to the American Dream and American Exceptionalism. In course of writing those posts, I had private communications with Mike Zimmerman, the initiator of the conference.
This led to him writing a post for The New York History Blog. In my opinion, part of that post derived some from immediate and current events in the American political arena, particularly the judgment in the Zimmerman/Martin murder case which seems to be in the news again. Continue reading
The Conference on New York State History is seeking proposals for the 2014 conference to be held in Poughkeepsie, New York, at Marist College.
Presentations may consider any aspect and time period of New York State’s history. Conference sponsors are especially interested in proposals that highlight the role that partnerships among historical and cultural organizations can play in promoting better public understanding of New York State history. Continue reading
New York Council for the Humanities’s Community Conversations program has been awarded the prestigious Helen and Martin Schwartz Prize, considered one of the nation’s highest awards in the public humanities.
The Community Conversations invites New Yorkers to engage in thoughtful dialogue about the issues that matter the most to them. Continue reading
The first-ever “Walk For History: Save Our Hudson Valley Landmarks” is scheduled for Sunday, November 24 at 1 PM, at the Walkway Over The Hudson. Walk for History is being organized by Friends of Jackson House, a landmark structure in the Village of Fishkill that faces an uncertain future.
The purpose of Walk for History is to call attention to endangered cultural assets of the Hudson Valley like the Jackson House – irreplaceable assets that deserve the benefit of smart preservation policies. Preserving our cultural wealth enhances what makes the Hudson Valley a beautiful, profitable and well-traveled destination. Continue reading
Teaching is in the news. Especially the apparent lack of it. The initial test results under the Common Core standards are abysmal and they are wreaking its havoc in the school systems of America. The Common Core now being implemented may not be garner the same attention as Obamacare, but it has generated considerable vociferous and intense condemnation, including calls to cease and desist here in New York. John King, the Commissioner of Education in NYS, cancelled his original statewide tour of public forums when the first one spun out of control, although he has begun a new round.
The new social studies curriculum is scheduled for 2015, the first update since 1996. That curriculum is sure to be a topic of discussion at the annual conference of the New York State Council of Social Studies in Albany in March. The theme of the conference is “Linking Communities Together: Academic, Civic and Cultural.” Continue reading
The New York State Archives and the Archives Partnership Trust have selected Montgomery County to receive the 2013 William H. Kelly Annual Archives Award for Excellence in Local Government Archival Program Development.
This award recognizes a local government for its overall development of a soundly administered archival program and advocacy in promoting the identification, protection, preservation and use of archival local government records. Continue reading
Our neighbor state has been trying to promote the teaching of history in the schools. The Connecticut League of History Organizations (CLHO), an organization similar to the Museum Association of New York, sent a notice to its members to take a survey with the message: “We NEED your help to get Connecticut history into the hands of Connecticut teachers and students.”
The goal of this effort was stated as “LET OUR TEACHERS KNOW THAT CONNECTICUT HISTORY IS ALIVE AND WELL.” CLHO asked the question which could be asked in New York as well: “Connecticut’s history rarely ever makes it into the classrooms in our state. Why?” Continue reading
It’s the centennial year of abolitionist and suffragist Harriet Tubman’s death in 1913. Her Auburn, NY house, the home for the aged she founded on the property, and the museum attract considerable attention in upstate New York. We visited the Tubman historic site on the fifth day of our fall 2013 blogging tour of the “Cradle of the women’s rights movement in the US.” Continue reading
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) announced the addition of three new Service Hubs – Empire State Digital Network (New York), The Portal to Texas History (Texas), and the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center (North Carolina) – that are expected to bring hundreds of thousands of new digital materials into the DPLA collections in the coming weeks and months. Continue reading
Halloween is boffo at the box office. It’s not your father’s Halloween. In recent years the holiday has soared in prominence and become an economic powerhouse. Time magazine had an article in its culture section entitled “Monsters Inc.: Inside the Weird World of Professional haunting.” This was a followup to last year’s smaller article on “Tombstone Tourism: A Second Life for Cemeteries.” The New York Times published “House Haunters” while my local paper had a front-page article “In the Lower Hudson Halloween Is SCARY-BIG BUSINESS.” Clearly something big is occurring and historic organizations often are cashing in. Continue reading
The Finger Lakes Boating Museum has announced that they will be locating at the south end of Keuka Lake in the Village of Hammondsport, Town of Urbana, Steuben County.
Mercury Aircraft, which operates in Hammondsport, owns the former Taylor Wine Co. buildings located just south of the Village of Hammondsport on Pleasant Valley Road. The president of Mercury, Joseph “Bud” Meade III, is making a 14-acre parcel available to the Boating Museum. Continue reading
November is New York State History Month. The purpose, according to Section 52.02 of the state Arts and Cultural Affairs Law is to “celebrate the history of New York State and recognize the contributions of state and local historians.”
State Historian Bob Weible’s very informative October 22 post on the history of History Month reminds us that “its fate really depends on us.”
That’s certainly true for History Month, and true for the future of the historical enterprise generally. Continue reading
When Hurricane Sandy hit New York, it revealed the constructive role cultural groups can play as community hubs and service providers, particularly in troubling times. Many cultural organizations responded to this terrible storm by helping out in ways big and small, from distributing emergency resources, to extending hours, to acting as gathering places where people could hear the news and plug in their cell phones. In doing so, these local libraries, museums, and cultural institutions showed their importance as community anchors at a time when New Yorkers needed it most.
At the same time, Sandy’s waters didn’t discriminate, and many cultural organizations across the city were affected: libraries lost collections, historic sites were compromised, and museums were forced to close their doors for extensive clean up. Continue reading