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
Route 66 is perhaps the most culturally iconic road in American history. Not to take anything away from other byways, but how many have had TV shows and become tourist destinations?
New York has its share of numbered roads with historic connections. In Westchester County where I live there is Route 1 (the Boston Post Road into New England); Route 9 (the Albany Post Road from NYC to Montreal), and Route 22 (the White Plains Post Road to the Canadian Border). These roads follow the lay of the land and have been used for centuries. We should be promoting them as access points to our history community.
Parks & Trails New York’s (PTNY) interactive map of the Erie Canalway Trail — the cross-state route between Buffalo and Albany along the Erie Canal — has been updated and optimized for mobile devices.
With GPS-enabled capability, users can find exactly where they are relative to the Trail and easily locate nearby attractions and services, including museums, historic sites, parks, lodging, bike shops, restaurants, convenience stores, ATMs, pharmacies, and hardware stores. Parking areas and handicapped accessible trailheads are also included. Continue reading
I am grateful for Peter Feinman’s kind words about the conference I helped to organize, The American Revolution Reborn. I am even more grateful for his unkind words.
Peter’s complaints and criticisms hit home. He is right that elite academic historians embarrass themselves when confronted with questions like the one that one entire conference panel dodged: was the American Revolution a good thing or a bad thing? He is right that many academic historians, and not just those at elite institutions, are reluctant to engage the conundrums that come of asking what part great men play in momentous developments and whether the leadership of one such man, George Washington, was indispensable to the winning of American independence? And he is right, profoundly right, that ivory-tower educators never quite get around to the dilemma that ought to haunt all educators: how do we teach what we know to the young? Continue reading
On May 30, 2013, I wrote about a high school teacher who took a class to Greece and wondered how that teacher would go about creating a visit to New York State. He used a travel agent because multiple paths through Greek history exist and he could pick the one he wanted. One might think that something similar could be done in New York but consider the following examples.
The Historical Society of Rockland County has numerous bus trips throughout the year. They sell out and are well received. They also are mainly in Rockland County which the Society, of course knows well. After that post about Greece, I received a private email which I am authorized to share. The Society would like to expand its bus programs beyond the county but encountered problems. Continue reading
After eight years with the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, Executive Director Beth Sciumeca has announced that she will be transitioning out of her position as executive director over the next six months to pursue other professional opportunities.
Sciumeca has worked for the Erie Canalway since 2005. She led the organization during the early stages of implementing its Preservation and Management Plan. An announcement that appeared in the Canalway’s newsletter said “She has been instrumental in raising the stature of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor both nationally and statewide.” Continue reading
Last Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo inaugurated the Adirondack Challenge as an upstate tourist initiative. The Indian River rafting challenge was issued to New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who, according to news reports, is more familiar with yachts than inflatable rafts. The State defeated the City by 18 seconds in the three mile race. A wet and good time was had by all.
Governor Cuomo’s love for upstate (in particular the Adirondacks, not, say Syracuse), is well known. According to the New York Times a year before the Path through History roll-out, the Governor “has conspicuously avoided leaving the state” save for driving on the Palisades Interstate Parkway when headed north from the city. As Cuomo put it: “You can have the best vacation of your life right here in the state of New York. I see no reason to go anywhere else. It’s my state and I’m sticking to it.” Continue reading
The Hudson River Valley Greenway is pleased to announce that applications are now available for the 2013 Greenway Conservancy Small Grant Program. A total of $50,000 is available for matching grants in this year’s program.
The Greenway Conservancy Small Grant Program is an annual competitive grant funding opportunity available to communities and not-for-profit organizations within the designated Hudson River Valley Greenway area, which extends from Saratoga and Washington counties to Battery Park, Manhattan. The program offers funding for trail planning and design, construction and rehabilitation, and education and interpretation. Continue reading
Positions in Public Humanities, part of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) America’s Historical and Cultural Organizations (AHCO) grant program, are intended to reinvigorate the interpretation of the humanities at museums and historical organizations.
As part of an AHCO grant request, organizations are invited to request a supplement for a Position in Public Humanities. This program supports two-year, entry-level positions at museums, historical societies, and historic sites for recent graduates of public humanities programs (MA or PhD) whose expertise is critical to a project’s success. Continue reading
Editor’s note: This is the second post on the American Revolution Reborn Conference. Part I on the conference organization was posted here. You can read the complete series here.
The American Revolution Reborn conference raised significant issues which require further investigation, analysis, and comment. Continue reading
The New York State Museum, a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education, has received an Award of Merit from the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH) for its exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War.
The 7,000 square-foot exhibit, which opened on September 22, 2012 in Exhibition Hall, is now extended through March 23, 2014. Continue reading
Editor’s note: This is the third post on the American Revolution Reborn Conference. You can read the complete series here.
The conference also was important for the themes it didn’t include as was brought out in some of the questions and comments.
An area of significant omission was one with particular significance for New York State: military history. One attendee from Boston sitting in the front row just in front of me privately expressed his keen disappointment at its absence from conference. Continue reading
Readers of the New York History blog may be interested in a new report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, “The Heart of the Matter: The Humanities and Social Sciences for a Vibrant, Competitive and Secure Nation”. It explores the need for more support for the humanities and social sciences, particularly in education.
“The humanities remind us where we have been and help us envision where we are going,” says the report. “Emphasizing critical perspective and imaginative response, the humanities – including the study of languages, literature, history, film, civics, philosophy, religion and the arts – foster creativity, appreciation of our commonalities and our differences, and knowledge of all times. The social sciences reveal patterns in our lives, over time and in the present moment.”
Some of the examples are rooted in history. Continue reading
From unearthing black-and-white photos of New York Harbor to planting an authentic Victory Garden, New-York Historical Society high school Student Historians paint a vivid picture of World War II-era New York in WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda, a new exhibition on Governors Island.
Installed within a 19th-century home previously used by military officers during World War II and other conflicts, the exhibition prompts visitors to consider a time when virtually every aspect of New York life was transformed to support Allied victory. WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda will be on view with hands-on activities for families on Saturdays and Sundays from July 13 through September 2. Continue reading
Dr. Timothy Shannon, Professor of History at Gettysburg College, will address members of the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA) at its 110th Annual Meeting. The meeting, held Thursday, July 18, at 4:00 pm at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, is open to members of the association.
According to the Fenimore Art Museum’s webpage, NYSHA is “a private, non-governmental educational organization. It is closely affiliated with its sister organization, The Farmers’ Museum.” The website also publishes what it calls NYSHA’s “strategic plan”, as follows: Continue reading
One hundred years ago on July 1, 1913, Votes for Women activists Edna Kearns, Irene Davison, and eight -year-old Serena Kearns left Manhattan from the headquarters of the NYS Woman Suffrage association and headed to Long Island in the horse-drawn wagon called the “Spirit of 1776.” They spent the next month organizing in many communities to gather support for women voting. The wagon and its journey were covered by many New York City and Long Island newspapers.
Four years later in 1917, New York’s women finally won the franchise. This was followed by the vote being extended to millions of American women nationwide in 1920 and the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Continue reading