The New Netherland Institute will be hosting the Digging for our Dutch Roots event in Rochester on June 24-25.
The event hopes to answer questions such as, “what were the Dutch doing in America in the seventeenth century, and why didn’t we learn this piece of our history in school?” The New Netherland Institute will offer a fact-filled program for teachers, students, genealogists, academics and the general public. Continue reading
This year’s Massachusetts Humanities conference focused on collaboration and community among cultural organization throughout the Commonwealth. As an attendee hailing from Central New York, I was of course interested in gathering useful insight to apply to New York’s current state of affairs regarding public history institutions. Organization representatives at the conference came together and agreed that maintaining or regaining relevancy at a cultural site or institution depended on institutions’ willingness and ability to look inward and outward – inward toward the organization itself, and outward toward the larger community outside its doors. Similarly, New York State’s cultural and heritage organizations stand to benefit from increased and tangible collaboration, between sites, organizations, and communities, as well as other state and local institutions. Continue reading
A public tour of the abandoned and historic St. Mary’s Convent and Chapel, sponsored by the Peekskill Museum, will be held on Saturday June 25, 2016 at 11 am, rain or shine. The tour site is located on Chateau Rive Road in Peekskill. Continue reading
I am humbled and honored to be New York’s 16th State Historian. It is certainly a privilege to have the opportunity to work with an amazing network of dedicated historians across the State to further the study, preservation, and celebration of New York’s unique and vital history.
The position of New York State Historian has a long history dating back to the first Historian being named in 1895. During the past 121 years, the State Historian has worn many hats; archivist and records collector, editor of historical collections, historical researcher and writer, preservationist, director of historic sites, museum curator, advocate for State and local history, and facilitator of a matrix of municipal, academic, and agency historians. It is a potentially daunting and multi-faceted position. Continue reading
New York State now has a new historian. In some ways that should seem like a routine announcement since the State is required to fill that position. However as people in the history community well know, the State, like many counties, cities, towns, and villages does not always comply with regulatory requirements. There is no penalty to the State for the failure to comply either and only a trivial unenforced one at the municipal level.
Even when the State and the municipalities do comply with the letter of the law, they don’t necessarily comply with the spirit. The position is often disrespected and/or disregarded excluding some ceremonial occasions and is not taken seriously when the real decisions of government are involved. The diminishment of the State position sets a poor but accurate example to the county executives, mayors, and town supervisors that local and state history really aren’t important regardless of any lip service at the press release level. How often is the voice of the history community actually heard in the REDC funding process (which is now beginning again for the 2016 cycle). How much funding is there for collaboration in the Path through History project regardless of how often the jargon is spoken? Message received. Continue reading
In his new book, Bruce W. Dearstyne presents New York State history by exploring sixteen dramatic events. From the launch of the state government in April 1777 to the tragedy of September 11, 2001, these events altered the course of state and US history.
Chapters describe great political changes, historical turning points, and struggles for social, racial, and environmental reform. Continue reading
A recent National Park Service (NPS) report shows that visitors have spent $16.9 billion at NPS lands in 2015.
The report shows the $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent). This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally; 252,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion. Continue reading
This week I came across an article about Joe Bagley, the 31-year- old archaeologist who has been put in charge of one million mostly un-cataloged City of Boston artifacts. Underpaid and overburdened, he’s found ways to triage the projects that come at him each day. He has to be a historian, a fundraiser, a bureaucrat, a volunteer coordinator, a social media guru, an artifact guardian, a cheerleader for preservation, a meticulous registrar, and a broad minded strategic planner, all at the same time.
You’re not alone, Joe. This has become the narrative of the post-recession workplace. It’s like a reality TV premise: we give you poverty level pay and a mountain of responsibility, and expect you to turn this organization around with your hipster ingenuity. I see it so often that I’ve started to refer to it as the martyr-hero motif. Continue reading
At present the position of the New York State Historians lies deep within the bowels of the state bureaucracy, starved for resources, and scarcely able to see the light of day through all the bureaucratic levels above it.
Formerly, the State Historian reported to the Director of the New York State Museum, who reports to the Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Culture and Education, who reports to the Executive Deputy Commissioner of Education, who reports to Commissioner of Education, who answers to the Board of Regents.
But what does that mean? Continue reading
New York has had several history-minded governors, including Andrew Cuomo, who often cites the Erie Canal and other historical achievements as evidence of our state’s historical greatness and resilience. Levi P. Morton signed the law that created the office of the State Historian. Alfred E. Smith signed the statute that created the network of official local government historians. Franklin D. Roosevelt served for a while as the official historian of the Town of Hyde Park.
But Theodore Roosevelt, governor from 1899 to 1901 and president, 1901-1909, was a notable historian in his own right. He read extensively in history and his home at Sagamore Hill on Long Island reportedly contained about 12,000 books, many of them on history, at the time of his death in 1919.Roosevelt’s own books “The Naval War of 1812” and “The Winning of the West” were best-sellers in their day. His History of New York City is still interesting. Continue reading