Category Archives: Public History

Peter Feinman: The Bronx State of History


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502px-Bronx1867What is the Bronx state of history? Despite its long history, it is only 100 years ago when it was officially recognized as a county in New York State. Bronx County Historical Society educator Angel Hernandez will speak on the early history of The Bronx through its achieving county status on March 29 at The Bronx Archives Building.

On April 9, The Bronx County Historical Society will present an exhibition at the Museum of Bronx History titled “Bronx County – 100 Years.” One notes that this recognition of county status occurred subsequent to the creation of the expanded New York City. Continue reading

Peter Feinman: Resurrecting the NY Freedom Trail


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freedur1The wheel is about to be reinvented. In response to an earlier post on the State Tourism Advisory Council, Rosemary Vietor wrote the following comment:

Peter – Perhaps you saw the article in yesterday’s WSJ NY section on the underground railroad (not precise title) tourism sites proposed for Manhattan. It is an effort to link those sites (most of which no longer exist) into a walking tour. There has been for a number of years a similar effort in Flushing, the Flushing Freedom Mile. It links sites such as the Quaker Meeting House, Bowne House and others. There are markers so one can do this tour. Here is a great example of what might be done to increase history tourism – link both sites and others around the city. Why is this not done? It’s so obvious. As for Mystic Seaport, I can tell you from involvement there that CT has long recognized the importance of history and tourism and has devoted substantial funds to those efforts. New York seems indifferent at best. NY Culture. Continue reading

NYS Parks, Historic Sites Visitation Tops 60 Million


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OPRHP-1The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) today announced that more than 60.1 million people visited New York state parks and historic sites in 2013, and campgrounds had the busiest year on record.

Visitation topped 60 million for the second year in a row despite the fact that some of state’s most popular parks were temporarily closed for repairs due to Superstorm Sandy. Continue reading

2014 Public Historians Conference in Saratoga Springs


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AphlogoThe 2014 Association of Public Historians in New York State annual conference will be held from March 16-19, 2014 at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs.

A tentative conference schedule and registration information has been posted online here.

The purpose of the Association is to promote and encourage a greater understanding of the history of New York State and its local jurisdictions; to promote and encourage the work of the officially appointed local government historians in New York State and its legal jurisdictions; to support and encourage the Office of the State Historian; to foster a spirit of cooperation and collegiality among all public historians in New York State.

Peter Feinman: State of the New York State Historian


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New York State CountiesNew York State Historian Bob Weible recently asked if New York State History Month was dead. History Month was born in 1997 by an act of the New York State Legislature as an addition to the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law. It designated November as the month and defined the purpose of the event to celebrate state history including to recognize state and local historians.

In addition, the Education Department was authorized to promote the month although no specific suggestions were made beyond having student essay contests. The program limped along on a scattered and haphazard basis until 2002 when it apparently died without even the benefit of a funeral. Continue reading

Martha Washington Woman of History Awardees Named


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washingtons headquartersWashington’s Headquarters State Historic Site will present two Martha Washington Woman of History Awards. The 2014 Martha Washington Woman of History Award recipient is author/historian Mary Sudman Donovan.

This award is given each year in honor of Martha Washington, a perennially outstanding woman in history who resided in the Hudson Valley with her husband, General George Washington, during the last days of the Revolutionary War. Continue reading

Nominations Sought for Feis Public History Award


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feisEstablished in 1984, this prize is offered annually to recognize distinguished contributions to public history, broadly defined. The prize is named in memory of Herbert Feis (1893–1972), public servant and historian of recent American foreign policy, with an initial endowment from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Individuals and collaborative groups are eligible to apply. Contributions could, for example, include work as the administrator of a public history group or agency (such as a historical society, a historic site, or a community history project) or as the creator or producer of a public history product or products (such as a museum exhibit, radio script, web site, oral history collection, or film). Continue reading

Documentary Heritage Grants For Historical Records


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archives 2The New York State Archives has announced its Documentary Heritage Program grants for 2014-2015.

The Documentary Heritage Program (DHP) is a statewide program established by law to provide financial support and guidance to not-for-profit organizations that hold, collect and make available New York’s historical records. Funding is available to support projects that relate to groups and topics traditionally under-represented in New York’s historical record. Continue reading

Historic Huguenot St Hires Historian to Lead Strategy


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unnamed(6)Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz has appointed Dr. Taylor Stoermer, formerly of Colonial Williamsburg and Brown University, as Director of Strategy, Development, and Interpretation. According to a recent press release: “He is responsible for managing an ambitious strategic planning process over the next nine months to establish a new, sustainable foundation for Huguenot Street that strengthens its ties with the past, with modern guests, and with the broader regional community.”

Dr. Stoermer will also oversee historic interpretation, programming, marketing, fundraising, public communication, and political affairs. Rebecca Mackey remains at Huguenot Street in her recently announced role as Director of Operations, responsible for all administrative, site improvement and restoration, financial, and day-to-day operations of the site. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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