Heritage Holidays in the Mohawk Valley


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Johnson Hall ChristmasIn conjunction with the City of Johnstown’s Colonial Stroll holiday activities, Johnson Hall State Historic Site will hold an Open House on Friday, December 5th from 5 pm to 8:30 pm.

Johnson Hall’s first floor will be decorated for the holiday season, where music of the 18th century will be performed by Liaison Plaisantes. Refreshments will be offered in the historic butler’s pantry. The museum shop will offer 20% off for holiday shopping that evening. Horse-drawn wagon rides of the mansion’s south lawn will be available to visitors between 6 pm and 8 pm. 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

Gilded Age Christmas At Staatsburgh State Historic Site


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Staatsburgh ChristmasStaatsburgh State Historic Site is preparing for its festive Gilded Age Christmas, featuring decorations throughout the mansion and special children’s programs from late November through New Year’s Eve.

The site opens for the holiday season on Friday, November 28, and offers public hours Thursday through Sunday, from Noon to 4 pm (closed Christmas Day) through December 31. Staatsburgh will be open for special evening hours on December 12, from 6-8 pm, so that visitors can experience the decorated mansion after dark, and tour the historic rooms, populated with guides in period costume. Continue reading

The Whitehill Prize in Early American History


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Colonial Massachussesttes SocietyThe Colonial Society of Massachusetts has announced the 2014 Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Early American History.

This prize of $2,500, established in memory of Walter Muir Whitehill, for many years Editor of Publications for the Colonial Society and the moving force behind the organization, will be awarded for a distinguished essay on early American history (up to 1825), not previously published, with preference being given to New England subjects. The Society hopes that the prize may be awarded annually. Continue reading

Chinese American Exclusion – Inclusion at NY Historical


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WongChinFoo.Chinese Rights at SteinwayHallThe remarkable saga of the Chinese in America is one of prejudice and progress, marked with fierce struggles against injustice and precedent-setting legal cases. An ongoing exhibition at the New-York Historical Society (through April 19, 2015) excavates intriguing materials to document the history of these conflicts, drawing on cartoons, adversarial proceedings in immigration offices and family archives to tell heart-rending stories.

Opinions from period voices track the evolution of attitudes. The African-American statesman Frederick Douglass summons the ultimate American vision of inclusion formulated shortly after the end of slavery: “The voice of civilization speaks an unmistakable language against the isolation of families, nations and races, and pleads for composite nationality as essential to her triumphs.” Continue reading

At Jay Heritage Center: The Greek Revival Era in NY


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Jay Heritage CenterOn December 7th at 3 pm Architectural Historian Barry Lewis will present a free lecture, “New York in the Greek Revival Era 1830 – 1850″, at the Jay Heritage Center, 210 Boston Post Road, in Rye, NY.

The Greek Revival decades were the beginning of the modern era in New York City. Industrialization hit the city by the 1830s completely changing the landscape. Wall Street was re-built for corporate headquarters including a magnificent U.S. Custom House, suburbia was born (around Washington Square), the immigrants and tenement slums arrived (the Five Points) and the modern notion of high-end shopping began when A.T. Stewart opened America’s first department store (today, it houses the NYC Department of Buildings) at Broadway and Chambers Street in 1845. Continue reading

Lecture: Slavery At Albany Ten Broeck Mansion


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Ten Broeck MansionRecent excavations and research on the grounds of Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany have revealed outbuildings likely used as summer kitchens and/or slave quarters.

On Sunday, December 7 at 2 pm, the Albany Institute of History & Art will host Matthew J. Kirk, Principal Investigator and Cultural Resource Specialist at Hartgen Archeological Associates, for a special lecture focused on these findings and the insight they provide into slave/master relationships shortly before abolition. They suggest we reconsider our modern concepts of slavery in the north at the end of the eighteenth century. Continue reading

The Greatest Adirondack Rescue Story


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NYH1A CurtissCondorThis December marks the seventy-ninth anniversary of perhaps the greatest Adirondack rescue story ever. With all the inherent dangers of hiking, rock climbing, and navigating treacherous river rapids by canoe or kayak, this incredible incident, ironically, was unrelated to the most popular mountain pursuits. But when accidents occur while enjoying those pastimes, one factor above all can turn any outing into a life-or-death drama: weather. Continue reading

Gifts of the Past At DuBois Fort Visitor Center


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HHS Teddy BearThe Historic Huguenot Street Curatorial Department has developed a new exhibit in honor of the winter holiday season. On display now in the DuBois Fort Visitor Center, “Gifts of the Past” features a selection of historic children’s toys from the Historic Huguenot Street Permanent Collection.

Holiday gift giving has been a tradition for several centuries. Around the world, Christmas traditions are influenced by the legend of a gift giver rewarding children for their good behavior with toys and treats. Items on display include the first model Teddy Bear, a set of alphabet blocks, handmade wooden dominoes, and a bisque handmade doll. Continue reading

New Book Highlights Clinton County’s Civil War Record


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Clinton County Historical Association New Civil War BookThe Clinton County Historical Association (CCHA) has announced the publication of a new book, Clinton County Civil War Record: 1861-1865.

In 2010, the Clinton County Historical Association formed a committee to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Since its formation, the committee has planned numerous lectures and programs at the Museum, and also took on a research project to culminate in the publication of a book. Continue reading

Sketching Nyack: Exploring A Hudson River Village History


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Nyack Sketch LogThere’s a new book out that is a must for lovers of Nyack and for anyone who enjoys a well told story of a town.  For the past few years, Nyackers have looked forward every Tuesday to the Nyack Sketch Log by Bill Batson on the website Nyack News and Views.

Each week Bill explores an aspect of Nyack’s past or present through an original pen and ink sketch and a written essay.  Now the best of Nyack Sketch Log is available in book form, and the individual entries coalesce into something even better – an illustrated biography of the community. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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The Two Thanksgivings of 1871


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1871 turkey plucking harpersFor about a week in 1871, New Yorkers were in a quandary about Thanksgiving. On October 25, New York Governor John T. Hoffman designated Thursday, November 23 as Thanksgiving Day for the state. In his Thanksgiving Day proclamation, the Tammany Hall Democrat urged New Yorkers to spend time on that day to declare “their gratitude to God for all his mercies” and to “remember especially the poor.”

On October 28, President Ulysses S. Grant recommended that the nation observe Thanksgiving a week after the New York Thanksgiving, on Thursday November 30. In his proclamation, the Republican chief executive called for Americans to “make the usual acknowledgments to Almighty God for the blessings he has conferred on them” and ask “His protection and kindness for their less fortunate brethren.”

What was a conscientious, holiday-minded New Yorker supposed to do? Observe the Democratic Thanksgiving on November 23, or the Republican Thanksgiving on November 30, or both? Continue reading

St. Nicholas Day at Crailo Historic Site Dec 6th


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The Feast of Saint Nicholas, by Jan Steen, 1660sCrailo State Historic Site in the City of Rensselaer will host a St. Nicholas Day Open House on December 6, 2013 from 12:00 pm until 4:00 pm.  For the Dutch settlers of this region The Feast of St. Nicholas was a day of celebration with favorite food and treats.

Children checked their shoes, left out the previous night, for presents from Sinterklaas. In Washington Irving’s History of New York (1809), Sinterklaas was Americanized into “Santa Claus” (a name first used in the New York press in 1773) and helped popularize today’s Christmas traditions. Continue reading

Performance of ‘The Little Match Girl’ Set For Troy


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LittleMatchGirlOn the evening of Saturday, December 6th, during the 58th Annual Holiday Greens Show at the Rensselaer County Historical Society, a special one-night-only performance will take place in the parlors of the historic Hart-Cluett House in downtown Troy.

Inspired by the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale The Little Match Girl, Troy–based musicians Katherine and Calvin Young, who perform as Simple Souls, have written a new musical adaptation of the fairy tale, titled The Other Side of Visible. . Performed in the Hart-Cluett House’s front parlor, The Other Side of Visible weaves the historic interior into the fabric of the story creating a unique blend of house concert and theatrical storytelling. Katherine Young’s voice takes the audience on a journey that explores the themes of love, invisibility, and imagination. Continue reading

Christmas at the Fort Plain Museum Dec 6th


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Fort Plain MuseumThe Fort Plain Museum will be hosting its annual “Christmas at the Fort” event on Saturday December 6, 2014 from 10 am to 6 pm. The Museum will present the Grand Opening of their new exhibit “The Children’s Attic”, which features children’s toys used in the Fort Plain area c. 1770-1920 that have been donated by residents of Fort Plain.

In addition to the authentic objects on display, the exhibit will also feature reproduction garments (both male and female) which reflect clothing worn during the colonial and Revolutionary War era. Youngsters visiting the museum will be able to try on these items and pose for a special “Photo-Op” during their visit. Continue reading

Plattsburgh Old Stone Barracks Plans Announced


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Old Stone BarracksFriends of the Old Stone Barracks (FOSB) has announced the results of their request for proposals and a new life for Plattsburgh’s Old Stone Barracks.

FOSB has come to an agreement with Terry Schmaltz and Mary Theresa Pearl, proprietors of Valcour Brewing Company, and will assign the contract to purchase the Old Stone Barracks to them.  Pearl is originally from Plattsburgh and both she and Schmaltz are retired Army officers. Continue reading

Origins of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Jingle Bells


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A-VISIT_5The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center is continuing its winter lecture series with a presentation by Sloane Bullough about the origins of the famed Christmas story, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”, and the well known carol, “Jingle Bells”.

The poem was first published anonymously as “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823, having been sent there by a friend of Clement Clarke Moore, and was reprinted frequently thereafter with no name attached. It was first attributed in print to Moore in 1837 and Moore himself acknowledged authorship when he included it in his own book of poems in 1844. By then, the original publisher and at least seven others had already acknowledged his authorship. Continue reading