History’s Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880-1940, by Robert B. Townsend was just reviewed on H-Net. While I will not be purchasing the book (I have enough to read already!), the review struck home. .
The author was the deputy director of the American Historical Association (AHA) and much of the book is through the prism of that organization. As one might expect from the title, Townsend’s concern is the fragmentation of the historical enterprise into bunch of organizations that do not speak to each other. Does that sound at all like the New York historical enterprise today? Continue reading
It’s true. November is New York State History Month.
In 1997, New York’s legislature added Section 57.02 to the state’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Law and 1) designated November as New York State History Month, 2) defined the purpose of the month as the celebration of state history and the recognition of the contributions of state and local historians, and 3) authorized the Education Department to undertake projects to recognize the month (while the legislation failed to identify any specific projects, it did suggest student essay contests as one possibility). Continue reading
Quietly, a line of singers circled a lone tree on the edge of the Harlem River, in the shadow of the 145th Street Bridge, late Sunday afternoon on September 29. The group swelled in numbers as the shadows lengthened. Hums, moans, soft cries and low tones began to form a chorus of spirit noises as the performance “Saved” got underway. Continue reading
I’ve received a number of e-mails, phone calls, and comments since announcing last week that The New York History Blog needed the support of the history community it serves in order to keep operating.
The response was promising, so I’ve set up a fundraising mechanism through Rally.org, a very reputable crowd-funding site (used by Senator Elizabeth Warren and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, among others). Continue reading
Former Palisades Interstate Park Commission Executive Director and New York State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash has been elected to serve a three-year term on the Palisades Parks Conservancy Board of Directors.
During her career in the fields of natural and cultural resources preservation, Carol Ash has served as the first director of the Office of Environmental Policy and Management for the Port Authority of NY and NJ, the NYC Regional Director of the NYS DEC, the PIPC Executive Director, and the NY State Parks Commissioner. Continue reading
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