Category Archives: Public History

Designate Adirondack Park A National Heritage Area


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Entering-Adirondack-ParkI’ve been to the Rockies, and clearly, a visitor can’t help but be awestruck by their height and views. Yet the Adirondack Park is where I prefer to go.

I’ve had decades of pleasurable visits to the Adirondack Park to hike, climb, ski, canoe, enjoy the scenery and go to the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake. Whether my visit is to recreate or debate park management policy, I’m drawn to the region’s history and ongoing politics as well as its lakes, ponds and rivers. Continue reading

Update On MANY’s 2015 Legislative Priorities


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MANY LogoThe Museum Association of New York (MANY) has announced that the Museum Education Act is ready for introduction in the New York State Legislature and has outlined its priorities for 2015, including support for the Commission on New York State History Bill.

“We have held a series of meetings with the staff of the Office of Cultural Education and finalized the language of the [museum education] bill as well as planned a strategy with them for the 2015 Legislative Session,” an announcement to supporters said. Continue reading

Economic Development Councils And Path Through History


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REDC RegionsThe Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) awards for 2014 were recently announced. These councils were created by Governor Andrew Cuomo as a conduit for the disbursement of state funds among 10 designated regions. Each region holds meetings to discuss the economic development proposals which have been submitted for their region. The approved proposals are then submitted for statewide consideration and the results were announced in December. Now that the 2014 awards have been announced, it’s time to consider what it all means for the history community. Continue reading

Bruce Dearstyne: Mixed Message for NYS History


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Half Moon Dutch Ship SketchFour recent news items have pointed to the resource limitations that history programs face but also to the potential for new sources of support.

The first was the radio interview with Dr. Charles Gehring, the long-time translator of the Dutch colonial records held by the State Library and State Archives.  Gehring confirmed the immense historical research importance of these records. His discussion of the records’ value reinforced the importance of New York’s Dutch origins. Continue reading

Annual NYS Archives Awards Announced


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New York State Cultural Education CenterThe New York State Archives and the Archives Partnership Trust have announced the winners of the 2014 Archives Awards. These annual awards recognize the archives and records management work of individuals and organizations in New York State. Award recipients include a former member of the Board of Regents, local governments, a state agency, educators and students.

Regent Emerita Laura Chodos, under whose name three of the annual awards were given, received the 2014 William Hoyt Annual Archives Award for Advocacy. The award is named after the late Assemblyman William Hoyt from Buffalo, who was a supporter of archives and records management in New York State.  Continue reading

N-Y Historical To Add Institutional Records Access


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NYC_Historical_SocietyThe New-York Historical Society has received a grant of $304,470 from the Leon Levy Foundation to preserve and process its institutional archives, which document the institution’s 210-year history. “The two-year initiative will improve scholarly access to the archives and open a trove of material for a broad range of research possibilities,” an announcement sent to the press said.

The records document various aspects of the New-York Historical Society, encompassing collecting, exhibitions, research, scholarly and social activities, and even day-to-day operations. As part of this two-year project, New-York Historical is expected to arrange and describe over 1,600 linear feet of records, converting them from a modestly used, in-house resource to publicly accessible research collection. Continue reading

Lessons From New York’s History of Resilience


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BigULeveeThe recent revival of “Evacuation Day” – November 25, 1783, the day British military forces left New York City at the end of the Revolution – is a reminder of New York City’s resilience. The city had been occupied for several years but soon after the British left and New Yorkers got control of their city, it began a recovery and remarkable upward trajectory.

“Resilience” is an often-used term these days. Andrew Zoli and Annmarie Healy’s 2012 book Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back summarized recent scholarship and help popularize the term. Continue reading

Resilience and History: 2 Years After Superstorm Sandy


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BigULeveeSince 2013 the Rockefeller Foundation has been celebrating its 100th Anniversary with a focus on resilience, a theme devised to match its mission of global engagement with big problems. Judith Rodin, the president of Rockefeller Foundation has even found time to write a whole book, The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong. Mayor de Blasio has an Office of Resilience and Recovery run by Daniel Zarrilli, and New York has won a place in the 100 Resilient Cities Project which is trying to build stronger urban systems to resist catastrophes before they happen. But the waters are rising, and New York has been drenched again and again. Can human actions defy the cycle of damage and the predictions of future devastation proclaimed with every conference on climate change and disaster’s aftermath? Continue reading

Womens Rights History: ‘Night Of Terror’ Observance


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Night of Terror ProtesterThe first national observance of the “Night of Terror” will be held November 15, 2014 by the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association, an organization raising money to build a national memorial honoring women who were arrested and imprisoned during the 72-year campaign to win voting rights for women. Lorton, Virginia is the planned site for the suffragist memorial, not far from Occoquan Workhouse where the “Night of Terror” on arrested suffrage picketers was carried out in 1917.

November 14-15, 1917 is recognized in history as the night when a total of 31 suffrage activists were targeted with violent attacks in an effort to break the spirit of the activists. The “Night of Terror” occurred at the Occoquan Workhouse (then part of the District of Columbia’s prison complex) in Lorton, Virginia, not far from Washington, DC. Continue reading

CultureAID Connects NYC Orgs During Disasters


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Culture Aid LogoThe recent two year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy serves as a reminder of how vulnerable cultural organizations can be when confronted by natural disasters.

CultureAID (Culture Active in Disasters) was established to keep New York City’s arts and cultural communities better connected in time of disaster – whether natural or manmade. The network is a volunteer-based communication system, designed to systematize messages about preparedness as well as recovery-related information and resources. Continue reading

Outstanding Museum Programs, People Sought


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MANY LogoThe Museum Association of New York is seeking nominations for it Awards of Merit program, which 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 2014. The deadline for submissions is December 12, 2014 and awards will be presented on Monday, April 13, 2015 at the luncheon of the Museums in Action Conference at the Corning Museum of Glass. Nominations may be submitted in the following categories (for yourself or others): Continue reading

Heritage Tourism Lessons from the Tappan Zee Bridge


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designOnce upon a time America was known for its building projects, for its infrastructure, for its vision of a better tomorrow. New York was in the forefront of such optimism and achievement. Think of the Erie Canal which helped make us the Empire State, the Croton Aqueduct, the Brooklyn Bridge, the skyscrapers from the Woolworth Building to the Empire State Building to the Twin Towers, and, of course, Robert Moses. Now the new Tappan Zee Bridge bids to join this pantheon of larger than life achievements made in New York.

Besides all the other concerns related to the bridge, there is the issue of tourism. Back in June, Mary Kay Vrba, tourism director for Dutchess County and leader of the Hudson Valley Path region, spoke to 50 people at “Destination Rockland: Blazing New Trails in Tourism.” Visions of jingling cash registers filled the heads of the participants who envisioned tourists by foot, bike, and later a revitalized bus system bringing people from the east side of the river to Rockland County. Alden Wolfe, chairman of the Rockland County Legislature convened the conference as a “launching point” for future discussion on this subject. Continue reading

The State Historian on NYS History Month 2014


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New York State History MonthIt’s been a very good year for history in New York. The state’s historians, archivists, educators, preservationists, and curators have, over the course of the past twelve months, coordinated their efforts and raised public awareness of New York’s history as never before. And now, as November approaches, it’s clear that History Month is going to make a good year even better.

There will indeed be more and better History Month programming taking place all across New York in 2014 than in recent years. And thanks to the New York State Museum, a program of the New York State Board of Regents and State Education Department, there’s even a History Month logo to help unite and brand all of the state’s History Month programs. Any historical or cultural organization offering November history programs can—and should—use the logo. It’s easily available. Just grab the logo above, or e-mail Bridget Enderle at benderle@mail.nysed.gov for a higher resolution copy. Continue reading

Bruce Dearsyne: Strengthening Public History in NYS


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New-York-State-Map1Over the past few years, there has been a lot of discussion here on The New York History Blog about the status and role of local government historians, including, for instance, a summary of a special issue of the journal Public Historian three years ago on the status of history in New York State, and, most recently, Peter Feinman’s post “The State of Municipal Historians,” which resulted in many comments.

Local government historians are unique to New York State. They give us an edge over other states in the local history arena. Their potential is immense. But their status and role need to be strengthened. Continue reading

MANY And Advocacy For The NYS History Community


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nycapitolIn this post, I wish to focus attention on recent developments involving the Museum Association of New York (MANY) and opportunities for advocacy on behalf of the history community.

MANY has undergone significant changes which are of importance to the history community, though it should be noted that the organization’s membership is not limited to historical museums, but also include art and science museums, zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums. Continue reading

Report: ‘Great Estates Region’ Brings $65M in Economic Benefits


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Great Estates RegionA new study has found that New York’s historic “Great Estates Region” brought approximately $65 million in economic benefits to Dutchess County.  The study, “The Economic Importance of the Great Estates Historic Sites & Parks,” focuses on the positive economic impacts that 12 federal, state and private nonprofit historic sites and parks bring to Dutchess County and other parts of the Hudson River Valley region.

Expanding the picture beyond Dutchess County’s borders, the study finds that in 2012, nearly 1.7 million paid visitors came to the region’s historic sites, spending about $60 million in the area, including $47 million from non-local visitors. The study, which was organized by the Taconic Region of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, was completed pro-bono by Urbanomics, Inc., a Manhattan-based consulting firm. Continue reading

November Is New York State History Month


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New York State History MonthNovember is New York State History Month, designated by Section 52.04 of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law as the time “to celebrate the history of New York state and recognize the contributions of state and local historians.”

This is the perfect time to get some well-deserved recognition for officially designated local government historians, historical societies, and others who are preserving, interpreting, and presenting state and local history. It should be a particularly good opportunity for local government historians — their appointments are authorized by law and State History Month is designated by law. Continue reading