On September 30, the recently reopened historic Capitol Theatre in the village of Port Chester in the Town of Rye, in the county of Westchester, founded in the days of vaudeville, beloved by the Grateful Dead, rechristened by Bob Dylan, and just host to Willie Nelson, hosted Flashbacks.
A musical to the history of the town written by local sisters and educators Camille Linen and Donna Cribari, Flashbacks tells the story of high school students who complete a historical multimedia project and are drawn to the local river that mysteriously produces figures from the town’s past as primary source documents. Continue reading
Federal and state partners have recently released a new online map and mobile app to help people explore New York State’s connection to abolitionism and the Underground Railroad. The map includes sites, programs and tours that have been approved by the National Park Service Network to Freedom Program or the New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail.
New York State was a gateway for many African Americans seeking to escape slavery in the 1800s. Its prime location, with access to Canada and major water routes, made it the destination of choice for many Africans fleeing slavery along the eastern seaboard. The interactive map was created to tie New York State’s individual sites together, but also connect them to the longer string of sites that comprise the entire Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Continue reading
It’s late afternoon in Johnstown, NY, magic hour, right before sunset when filmmakers capture the best lighting. Nancy Brown, a fifth grade teacher, is waiting to take us to the local historical society and out to dinner with three other board members of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown Association.
This is the town where well-known women’s rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton grew up. The place is also loaded with history of the American Revolution, plus generations of tanners and workers in the glove industry who lived and worked here. We can’t get to the Johnstown Historical Society at 17 North William Street without passing sites of major historical interest. It’s as if everybody is related in some way to this historical community. It looks like classic small town America, made in America. Continue reading
Westchester County decided that historical heritage is not important. It is too insignificant to waste any time, energy, and effort supporting.
I was reminded of this reality in a recent article in the local paper entitled “Hotels Get Upscale Updates.” Coincidentally, the hotel is where the annual conference of social studies teachers in the Lower Hudson Valley had been held until this year. In fact, according to the article the $15,000,000 renovation followed the $12,000,000 renovation at the hotel where we will be meeting this year. Continue reading
Peter Feinman’s September 18th post describes discussions leading toward more cooperation, a more concerted approach to the historical enterprise here in New York, and hopefully a meeting to get things going.
That is a very encouraging development.
The needs, and opportunities, for cooperative action have been under discussion at least since the plenary session at the state history conference in Plattsburgh in 2009 on “Do We Need a Vision for New York State History?” Continue reading
Readers of The New York History Blog may recall that in a previous post I asked if anyone had heard about what had been discussed in Cooperstown at the NYSHA conference in a private meeting involving the Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS), the New York State historical Association (NYSHA), and the New York State Historian among others.
Some of those discussions have now been reported in the APHNYS newsletter. The following excerpts are from the newsletter. Continue reading
The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor is accepting applications through Friday, October 25, 2013 for 2013-2014 Canalway Grants. Grants ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 will be awarded for projects that serve to advance the goals of the Erie Canalway Preservation and Management Plan.
Proposals related to historic preservation, conservation, recreation, interpretation, tourism, and community development will be considered. Awards must be matched dollar for dollar. Continue reading
After collecting wooden boats built in the Finger Lakes for more than a decade, the Finger Lakes Boating Museum has decided to sell some boats from its collection of more than 100 vessels. The Auction will take place Saturday, September 21, starting at 10 am at the Museum storage site, 8231 Pleasant Valley Road, Hammondsport.
Ed Wightman, Museum President and Chair of its Collections Committee, said that the boats in the auction are “project boats,” meaning they are not in excellent restored condition. “We are offering them because they are either duplicates or boats that we have not been able to identify their origin,” explained Wightman. Continue reading
The Board of the Trustees of the Iroquois Indian Museum has announced a search for an Executive Director. Located in Howes Cave, NY, the Museum is a non-profit educational institution dedicated to fostering understanding of Iroquois culture by using the arts of the Iroquois from the past to the present to tell their unique story. Continue reading
The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) announces the appointment of Douglas Bucher, Phyllis Conroy, Christina Kelly and Robert Matthews to the Board of Trustees. They were elected to their terms at the 86th Annual Meeting held on September 9, 2013.
The Rensselaer County Historical Society and Museum, located at 57 Second Street in Troy, is a not-for-profit educational organization established in 1927 to connect local history and heritage with contemporary life. Continue reading
August 28, 2013 not only was the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” March on Washington, it also was the one year anniversary of the kickoff of the Path Through History project. That event was attended by hundreds of people from throughout the state and heralded a bold vision of the role of the history of the state in New York’s future.
I have the paperweight handed out to commemorate the event, and two slick, glossy, color booklets distributed for the event. I even have an unused napkin from the Executive Mansion with its image as a souvenir of the event. What I don’t have is any hope for the project of great potential and little achievement. Continue reading
I would like to address some questions raised about my critique of the American Revolution Reborn conference.
I’d like to begin with Tara Lyons, of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. I have two conference handouts from her entitled “Museum Introduction for Refugee Students.” Under the objectives for the program is listed: Explain how this museum might help them learn about their new home. She then turns to the task of how to achieve this objective:
On August 8, regular contributor to the New York History Blog Peter Feinman wrote a post entitled “Old Roads: Byways of the History Community” in which he made a proposal to create “Paths” following the historic and scenic roadways of New York.
This article made two things abundantly clear: there is a need for pathways that create a driving experience and many people in the history community are unaware that these programs already exist! Continue reading
Thanks are due to Mike Zuckerman for his response to my series on the American Revolution Reborn conference which he organized. I appreciate his having read an unsolicited essay from a stranger whom he just met, for our extended email exchange, and for his contributing a post to New York History on this topic.
If I may, I would like to respond to his comments by separating them into two types: those that addressed the conference itself and those that refer to the more general question of America’s identity. Continue reading
When the distinguished Commission on Museums for a New Century, organized by the American Association for Museums (AAM), met in 1982 with the purpose of studying and clarifying the role of museums in American society, it had already recognized technology as a major force of change in the museum community. The AAM predicted that “high technology brings a ‘high-touch’ reaction – an increasing need for individual choice and human interaction-” and warned that “museums could both affect and be affected by the electronic age… [particularly] in the way they choose to use communication technology in their exhibition halls and educational activities.” Continue reading
The Encyclopedia of Local History (AltaMira Press, 2012) addresses nearly every aspect of local history, including everyday issues, theoretical approaches, and trends in the field. This encyclopedia provides both the casual browser and the dedicated historian with adept commentary by bringing the voices of over one hundred experts together in one place. Authoritative, accessible, and comprehensive, Carol Kammen & Amy H. Wilson’s volume is a deep resource for historical organizations of any size. Continue reading
The historic journey of Two Row Wampum is in the news. The journey by water from Albany to the United Nations has been recorded and chronicled each step of the way.
The culminating activity at the conclusion of the journey is to honor the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The paddlers consist of roughly equal numbers of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, paddling side-by-side in two lines to honor and bring to life the imagery of the Two Row Wampum.
Many people in New York’s history community work every day to affirm, interpret, and present the stories of the distinctiveness of their communities and their histories. Local history is very powerful. “Local history allows many interpretations,” write Carol Kammen and Amy H. Wilson in the introduction to the second edition of The Encyclopedia of Local History (2013). “It is flexible and it is not just national history writ small as some have suggested. Local history is the study of past events, or of people or groups, in a given geographic area – a study based on a wide variety of documentary evidence and placed in a comparative context that should be both regional and national.”
There is considerable recent evidence of the continuing power of place. Continue reading
I confess to a bias in support of trains since my father was an electrical engineer for General Electric. He rode the rails with GE’s state-of-the-art engine (which he helped design) and appeared in the final scene of the movie Union Pacific at a time when movies played in Bijous in communities across the country. Those days are gone, but what can Amtrak contribute to the history community in New York?
Amtrak is underutilized contributor to cultural heritage tourism. I have ridden the Amtrak rails from Albany to Niagara Falls, from New York City to Plattsburgh and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that Amtrak train service in New York is not designed to promote tourism in New York. Continue reading