Category Archives: Public History

History In New York: Where Are We Headed?


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Cultural Education Center State Museum ArchivesIs New York’s “historical enterprise” really entering a new phase, as Bruce Dearstyne contends in his recent post? There certainly seems to have been some change going on in the New York State Office of Cultural Education. Perhaps most notably, New York is now employing a full-time State Historian for the first time since 1976 (not 1994, as Bruce suggests).

While this is certainly a step in the right direction, it would be naïve to allege that today’s State Historian position holds the same power and responsibility that it once did. Continue reading

Schoharie County Inns and Hotels Lecture Thursday


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Schoharie County Historian Ted ShuartSchoharie County Historian Ted Shuart is the guest lecturer at the Old Stone Fort Museum on August 18 at 7 pm for the final installment of the Summer Lecture Series.

His topic, “The Inns and Hotels of Schoharie County” will focus on some of the best known inns, hotels, taverns and tavern stories of Schoharie County. He will include a look at some of the historic taverns, most currently private residences, still standing in the area. The program is free and light refreshments will be served. Continue reading

18th Century Fashion Show at Knox’s Headquarters


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Tiffanie Downs, from Pine Bush, portraying an upper class lady in her silk gown (provided).On Saturday, August 13th from 5 to 7 pm, Knox’s Headquarters presents a fashion show of 18th century civilian and military clothing.

Visitors will see elegant ladies gowns of silk, gentlemen officer wear and the patched and worn garments of the lesser sort. Learn who would have worn the clothing, why it is constructed in that manner, and what function it served. Accompanying the clothing display will be a power point demonstration and narrator describing the portraits and research behind the gowns. Staff members of the New Windsor Cantonment and Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Sites have painstakingly researched and constructed by hand reproductions of period clothing. Continue reading

A New Phase For New York’s Historical Enterprise?


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Cultural Education Center State Museum ArchivesThere is encouraging evidence that we may be moving toward a turning point for New York’s historical enterprise.

During the last several months:

The Education Department made the State Historian an independent, full-time position. This is unlike the previous situation, where the State Historian, Bob Weible, also served as Chief History Curator of the State Museum. In effect, that was two jobs rolled into one. The curatorial work left little time for the state history work. Creating a new, dedicated position required approval of the Director of the State Museum, the Commissioner of Education and the Division of the Budget. Those are positive signs of interest and support. Continue reading

1797 Fort Jay Letter Acquired By Jay Heritage Center


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john adler and his familyAbout seventeen years ago, inspired by the purchase of several volumes of a popular 19th century journal, John Adler had an idea – make the American narrative more accessible to the public. So upon his retirement, the former advertising executive launched a multi-year endeavor to create a database of articles, images and ads scanned from the iconic Harper’s Weekly Magazine.

Harper’s was the premiere chronicle of political events and literary commentary of its day, and Adler’s invention would help readers navigate thousands of stories from 1857 to 1916. One could find everything from headlines about Lincoln’s election to Thomas Nast’s cartoons denouncing slavery. This online trove christened “HarpWeek” was further complemented by academic essays and materials for educators. In 2003, Adler’s searchable scholarship “HarpWeek Presents Lincoln and the War” won recognition from the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Institute and an E-Lincoln Prize. Continue reading

Champlain Valley Passport Stamp Program Initiated


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champlain stamp 2016This summer, a treasure hunt of sorts awaits visitors to some of the region’s museums, natural areas and cultural attractions. The Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) created a passport stamp program that directs people to places that exemplify the area’s rich, varied and unique natural and cultural heritage. People that visit all 11 participating locations will get a limited-edition “Find Your Park” challenge coin. Continue reading

Annual New Netherland Conference Being Held In NJ


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pavonia to the garden stateThe 39th Annual Conference of the New Netherland Institute will take place for the first time in the state of New Jersey.

Located between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers, New Jersey has often been neglected in favor of more dramatic developments to the east and west. However, as the site of Pavonia, an early patroonship with major agricultural potential, and as the geographic connection between New Amsterdam and the Delaware River settlements, the Garden State’s seventeenth-century origins well deserve attention. Continue reading

Dannemora Escapee Jack Williams: At First, Too Big to Succeed


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DannPicketWall1880The one-year anniversary of the infamous Dannemora prison break recently passed, so here’s the story of an inmate linked to a pair of unusual breakouts, excerpted from my book, Escape from Dannemora.

Despite media stories claiming early on that Richard Matt and David Sweat were the first-ever escapees from Clinton Prison, some in the past did it in even more spectacular fashion, and overall, hundreds managed to escape under various circumstances. Among them was Jack Williams, a participant in two Clinton exits involving unusual components featured in no other Dannemora escapes. Continue reading

Museum Association of New York Appoints New Director


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Erika SangerThe Board of Directors of the Museum Association of New York (MANY) has announced the appointment of Erika Sanger as Executive Director. Sanger brings with her more than 30 years of experience as an educator and museum professional, and a background in program planning connecting museums and their collections with new audiences.

MANY represents more than 1,400 museums, zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums in New York State. Continue reading