Category Archives: Public History

Hoarding History:
New Exhibit Explores Why Museums Collect


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Why Museums CollectThe Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) will debut a new exhibit, Hoarding History: Why the Museum Collects, on Friday, February 28th as part of Troy Night Out, from 5pm to 8pm.

RCHS collects and preserves letters, furniture, paintings, account books and much more. The collection exists not necessarily for the object’s sake, but for the stories that can be told through those objects. With the opening of Rensselaer County Historical Society’s new exhibit, Hoarding History: Why the Museum Collects, visitors will have the opportunity to view over 100 recent acquisitions and learn about the process RCHS goes through to bring new aspects of Rensselaer County’s history to the public’s attention while preserving the artifacts that tell these stories for future generations. Continue reading

Peter Feinman: A Buffalo Bill And History Tourism


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Thurman Tomas Sports IllustratedThurman Thomas, Buffalo Bills Hall-of-Fame running back (on Twitter), has been named to the state Tourism Advisory Council by Governor Cuomo. He is being recommended for the position of Vice Chair on the Council.  I confess that I was not aware that there was such a council. But there is, eighteen members strong.

The members are appointed by the Governor with recommendations from the temporary president of the senate, the minority leader of the senate, the speaker of the assembly, and the minority leader of the assembly. The chairs of the senate and assembly committees on tourism, recreation and sports development are non-voting, ex-officio members of the council. There is no compensation to the council members who meet five times annually. Continue reading

Bruce Dearstyne: Creativity and Leadership


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Creativity in Museum PracticePosts here on The New York History Blog reveal a lot about the creativity and leadership of the individuals who direct the programs that comprise New York’s historical enterprise. Creativity, broadly defined, refers to derivation of new ideas that help organizations do existing work better or take on new things. Leadership is mostly about strengthening programs and guiding them into the future.

Creative leaders, said an IBM study a few years ago, “embrace the dynamic tension between creative disruption and operational efficiency… encourage others to drop outmoded approaches and take balanced risk.” They “embark on transforming tomorrow into what was once never thought possible.”

Many of our programs could benefit from that kind of boost.

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Celebrate Black History Month in New York State


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museum_03_lgNew York State offers a special window into African American history and American culture. It was a center for 19th century anti-slavery organizations, and home to Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and many other Abolitionist and Underground Railroad leaders.

Nevertheless, anti-black discrimination remained an issue well into the 20th century, and the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) actually has its roots in the Niagara Movement, whose first meeting in 1905 took place on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls because members were turned away from hotels on the U.S. side. Continue reading

NYS Library Clearing Thousands of Items From Stacks


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TU StoryPaul Grondahl at the Albany Times Union is reporting that the New York State Library is rapidly discarding tens of thousands of items in the stacks of the old State Library beneath the State Education Building.

State Librarian Bernard Margolis, who is overseeing the reduction of the stacks, blames years of State Library budget cuts and an increase in state Education Department paperwork.  Opposition from State Library employees, who remain anonymous out of fear for their jobs, has gone unheeded.

Here are some of the details from Paul Grondahl: Continue reading

Hudson River Valley Area Heritage Development Grants


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unnamedApplications are now available for the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Heritage Development Grant Program.

The due date for these applications is February 14, 2014. There is a total of $50,000 available for these 1:1 matching grants. Awards will range from $1,000 to $5,000. The program offers funding for projects that further the goals and mission of the HRVNHA: to recognize, preserve, protect and interpret the nationally significant cultural and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley for the benefit of the Nation. Continue reading

Take The Online Survey:
NYS Historic Preservation Plan Input Sought


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New York State ParksThe New York State Division for Historic Preservation, including the State Historic Preservation Office, is updating the state’s historic preservation plan, which provides a blueprint for strengthening and expanding preservation efforts across the Empire State.

Public input is an important component of the planning process and they are taking a two-pronged approach. They have developed an online survey (available through the survey link) as well as a more in-depth questionnaire (see below).  Those with an interest in New York’s history can take the public survey online here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NYSPreservationSurvey

 

Andrew Cuomo And The State of History Tourism


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Path Through historyIn October 2012, a few months after the kickoff of the Path though History program, a New York Daily News headline noted: “Unhappy with the state’s tourism performance, Gov. Cuomo has ordered a restructuring of the state’s efforts, with an eye toward attracting more visitors upstate.”

“He wants to do a better job with promoting, marketing and branding,” the paper reported a source in the Cuomo administration as saying. The Governor was appealing for you, the paper said, to visit the home of Uncle Sam in Troy, see Niagara Falls, visit the Finger Lakes wineries, or even the Herkimer County Cheese Museum .” Continue reading

Hyde Collection Reports $2.3 Million Economic Impact


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Hyde CollectionCulminating with the success of the summer’s Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition, Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George, The Hyde Collection is reporting a twelve-month regional impact of 2.3 million dollars, calculated from September 1, 2012 through September 31, 2013.

In 2000, RKG Associates was retained by The Hyde Collection to assist in developing an estimate of its impact on Warren County’s economy. This model was updated by staff in 2013. Economic indicators include direct impacts, such as direct employment and wages of the staff and purchases of goods and services pertaining to the operation of the Museum’s business, as well as the impact of commensurate levels of employment (direct and indirect) which the purchases from Warren County vendors support. Continue reading

New Manager for War of 1812 Museum


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1489268_752948271385568_1334489021_nThe War of 1812 Museum, operated by the Battle of Plattsburgh Association, has announced the hiring of a new museum manager. Dave Deno, a native of Plattsburgh will be taking the helm as of January 6th, 2014.  Deno replaces departing museum manager Tammy Brown, who has left to take a sales position with Essex Pallet and Pellet Company of Keeseville, N.Y.

Deno studied at Clinton Community College and earned a Bachelor’s of Art Degree in History from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2009. He has recently been working toward the establishment of a new Plattsburgh Air Force Base Museum which is expected to open Saturday, June 7, 2014. Continue reading

It’s a Wonderful Life: The Bedford Falls Historical Society


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bedford-fallsThe film “It’s A Wonderful Life,” is an apt metaphor I frequently return to and during this holiday season, it’s useful to reflect on the Bedford Hills Historical Society. What role should the Bedford Falls Historical Society have played?

I’ve offered my view of the role of historical societies in communities here at The New York History Blog before. My contention has been, among other things, that historical societies fall into a dangerous and unsupportable trap if they think of their primary function is to support tourism. Quite the contrary, they are community organizations, part of the social fabric like schools and libraries which also are chartered by the New York State Education Department. Continue reading

Votes for Women Trail: Federal Legislation Needed Now


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Appeal to Santa for a women's trailWhen we visited the national park in Seneca Falls, NY this year we asked Noemi “Ami” Ghazala, superintendent of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, about the significance of the feds reaching the “stakeholder” phase in the Votes for Women trail process. “We really don’t know what it means,” she said. “The criteria may sit there for a short time or remain there for years.”

This was alarming enough. Then we checked into the statistical probability of Congressional approval for funding the Votes for Women federal trail in the Finger Lakes region. We consulted the tracking web site for Congress and stumbled on the prediction that we might find coal in our stockings this year if we’re expecting a reauthorization of a bill that includes a Votes for Women federal trail. This is complicated by the fact that federal funding must be delivered separately. Continue reading

Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Grants


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hudson river valley heritage areaThe Hudson River Valley Greenway and the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area (HRVNHA) have announced the availability of $50,000 in matching funds for the 2014 Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Heritage Development Grant Program.

The program offers funding for programming, interpretation and marketing projects that support the mutual goals of the HRVNHA and applicants. Grants will range from $1,000 to $5,000. Continue reading

Museum Association of NY Award Nominations Sought


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MANY LogoThe Museum Association of New York (MANY) has extended the deadline for its Awards of Merit nominations to this Friday, December 20, 2013. The Awards of Merit program 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 2013. Continue reading

Dear Santa: Please Bring Us A Women’s History Tourism Trail


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Cradle of the U.S. women's rights movement is in NYPLEASE HELP, Santa. What we really want for Christmas is a women’s trail.

When members of the U.S. Congress and the New York State Legislature open their doors in January 2014, chances are that they will have received notice of our holiday appeal.

The reason for asking Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves for assistance is because of the urgent need for help in obtaining funding to advance women’s trails on both the state and federal levels. Realistically Santa might not be able to deliver on trails by December 25th, but that’s no reason to give up. Continue reading

Remembering American Historian Michael G. Kammen


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525_04_28Michael G. Kammen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Cornell University’s Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture Emeritus, died Nov. 29 in Ithaca at the age of 77.

He arrived at Cornell in 1965 as an assistant professor of history, served on the Department of History faculty until his retirement in 2008, then returned in the fall 2013 semester to teach – all the while writing or editing more than three dozen books in diverse areas of history. Continue reading

Iroquois Indian Museum Names New Director


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image003(3)The Trustees of the Iroquois Indian Museum have announced the appointment of Maria Vann of Fly Creek, New York as Director of the Museum. Vann will assume her role as Director on January 1, 2014.

A statement from the museum to the press said: “Her qualifications in the museum field, in academia, and in business make her an excellent choice to lead the Museum forward. She will be concentrating on audience development, fundraising, and promotion of the Museum’s programs and exhibitions.” Continue reading

Peter Feinman: New York and the American Dream


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home_revolutionOver the summer, I wrote a series of posts on the American Revolution Reborn conference. Those posts included segments devoted to the American Dream and American Exceptionalism. In course of writing those posts, I had private communications with Mike Zimmerman, the initiator of the conference.

This led to him writing a post for The New York History Blog. In my opinion, part of that post derived some from immediate and current events in the American political arena, particularly the judgment in the Zimmerman/Martin murder case which seems to be in the news again. Continue reading