Women Workers In Amsterdam’s Carpet Mills


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Amersterdam Mill WorkerModestly but eloquently, Sue Fraczek described her life as an Amsterdam mill worker, “When I went to work, I was scared to death. It was my first time in a carpet mill. It was hot. It was noisy.”

Fraczek was surprised to see herself as a young mill worker in a still picture prominently featured in “Historic Views of the Carpet City,” the WMHT-TV documentary on Amsterdam first shown in 2000. Co-producer Steve Dunn chose the picture of the young woman at a yarn twisting machine to symbolize the documentary that he and I produced. Continue reading

‘Humanities in the Public Square’ Grant Opportunity


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NEHThe National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced a new grant opportunity called “Humanities in the Public Square” that will put humanities scholars in direct dialogue with the public on some of the most pressing issues of today –  through public forums, community programs, and the development of educational resources.

This new grant opportunity is part of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ agency-wide initiative The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square, which seeks to demonstrate and enhance the role and significance of the humanities and humanities scholarship in public life. Continue reading

At Morris-Jumel Mansion, The Story of Eliza Jumel


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Morris-Jumel MansionEliza Jumel rose from poverty to become one of New York’s richest women with the help of a fortune acquired from her first husband, Stephen Jumel. His own origins, until now shrouded in mystery, will be revealed in an illustrated lecture at the Morris-Jumel Mansion on Saturday, May 16, at 2 pm.

Speaker Margaret A. Oppenheimer, author of a forthcoming, legend-busting biography of Eliza, will disclose previously unknown details of Stephen’s parentage and youth. Continue reading

Freedom Journey: Westchester Co Black Civil War Soldiers


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Freedoms Journey Black Civil War SoldiersAlmost 200,000 black men served in the Army during the Civil War, but only 34,000 were from the North. An underrepresented segment in Civil War studies, the stories of some of these Northern soldiers are told in Edythe Ann Quinn’s Freedom Journey: Black Civil War Soldiers and the Hills Community, Westchester County, New York (SUNY Press, 2015).

Freedom Journey presents in-depth, personal histories of thirty-six free black men from New York State who fought in the war. The book is both an African-American community history and a Civil War history of three regiments of the United States Colored Troops (USCT). Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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Bruce Dearstyne On The Historians Podcast


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features Bruce Dearstyne discussing his new book The Spirit of New York: Defining Events in the Empire State’s History (SUNY Press, 2015) From the first state constitution to the New York Fire Department response to the 9-11 attacks, Dearstyne takes a look at 16 key events. Dearstyne is a history professor emeritus,  a former director of the New York State archives, and a regular contributor to The New York History Blog. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
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Fenian Raids Living History Event This Weekend


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Fenian RaidersOn Saturday, May 9 and Sunday May 10, the Old Stone Fort Museum Complex in Schoharie, NY will host an encampment and interactive program on the 1866 Fenian Raids.

The Fenian Raids of 1866 were conceived by a faction of the Fenian Brotherhood, organized in America to fight for the independence of Ireland from Britain. Many of the men were Irish-Americans who had fought in the Civil War. Continue reading

This Week’s Top New York History News


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20th Annual Seven Years’ War College Deadline


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Fort Ticonderoga From Mount DefianceFort Ticonderoga will host its Twentieth Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War May 15-17, 2015. This annual conference focuses on the French & Indian War in North America (1754-1763), bringing together a panel of distinguished historians from around the country and beyond.

The War College takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center and is open to the public; pre-registration is required. The registration deadline for this seminar is this Friday May 8, 2015. Continue reading

Interview: City Of New York’s Municipal Archives


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NYC Department of Records and ArchivesKen Cobb joined me on “The Forget-Me-Not Hour” podcast this week, talking about one of the richest repositories in New York City: the New York Municipal Archives.

Ken, Assistant Commissioner of Department of Records and Information Services for the City of New York, talked about the collections of the archives – vital records, tax records, police records, almshouse records, mayoral records, legislative records, and more. Continue reading

1780 Beer Challenge, Rev War Festival May 16th


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1780 Beer ChallengeOn May 16th, The Middleburgh Library, The Albany Ale Project, and Green Wolf Brewing Company are hosting an afternoon (1 pm to 5 pm) event celebrating beer, brewing, and Middleburgh’s Revolutionary War history.

The day’s activities include a Revolutionary War encampment, colonial brewing and cooking demonstrations, 18th century toys and games for kids, talks on the history of beer and hops in upstate New York and the Schoharie Valley, a Schoharie Valley hops display at the Library, beer samples from Green Wolf and MacKinnon Brothers, and Green Wolf brewery tours. Continue reading

Black Civil War Veteran James Lucas of Albany


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coloredtroops recruitment“Albany’s Only Negro Civil War Veteran” was the title of an article in The New York Age in May, 1933. The paper reported an interview with the city’s last surviving black veteran from the War Between the States, Sergeant James N. Lucas.

After serving with Company E of the 38th U.S. Colored Volunteers from early 1865 until 1867, he lived in Troy before moving to Albany in 1869. Continue reading

Artifacts From Former Chenango Canal Area Exhibited


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coinSince 2012, archaeologists from the Cultural Resources Survey Program (CRSP) at the New York State Museum have been working alongside a highway construction project in Utica, uncovering artifacts from the early 19th century.

The CRSP work in Utica centers around the location of the former Chenango Canal. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of what life was like in the Utica area in the early to mid-1800s, from pieces of pottery to household goods to children’s toys. Continue reading

A History of Stepfamilies in Early America


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ben_franklins_worldLike many 21st-century Americans, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln all had to navigate the world of blended and stepfamilies.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Lisa Wilson, the Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of American History at Connecticut College and author of A History of Stepfamilies in Early America (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), leads us on an investigation of blended and stepfamilies in early America. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/027

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Old Time Utica Ballplayer George Burns


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George J Burns in 1913Sports enthusiast Mike Hauser has a personal stake in advocating National Baseball Hall of Fame status for George Joseph Burns, who played his best years with the New York Giants. Burns was the brother of Hauser’s great-grandfather on his mother’s side.

Burns is being inducted into the Fulton County Baseball and Sports Hall of Fame on July 11th during the annual vintage baseball game. Continue reading

Saratoga National Historical Park Launches Mobile App


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OnCell-NPS-App-Design-Site-PageSaratoga National Historical Park has announced the launch of its new mobile app for smart phones and tablets.  Starting April 2015, visitors using these portable computing devices will be able to use this app to enhance their park touring experience.

The app features content for over 30 points of interest, including images and an audio tour of the battlefield created by the Friends of Saratoga Battlefield. Visitors can also listen to a new Wilkinson Trail Hiking Tour, an immersive soundscape with two distinct tours, one for adults and a student-narrated one for children. The Wilkinson Trail tours were created by park rangers, volunteers, and students. Visitors can also discover points of interest with location-aware alerts and GPS-enabled maps. Continue reading

Fort Ticonderoga Offers Scout Overnight Program


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DCIM100MEDIAFort Ticonderoga has announced the return of the immersive overnight program for Scouts during the spring and fall of 2015. Scouts can book their adventure for Saturday nights May 16th through June 6th and August 29th through October 24th. This offer is available for Boy Scout troops and Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors.

“Imagine your troop being able to garrison Fort Ticonderoga overnight!” said Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Education Rich Strum. “Give your scouts an experience they’ll never forget—a rare chance to spend the night at Fort Ticonderoga.” Continue reading

Ben Affleck and Credit Mobilier: Hidden Secrets Revealed


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1280px-Keppler_Credit_Mobilier_Hari-KariThe media was all abuzz recently over the revelation that actor Ben Affleck requested that producers of the PBS show ‘Finding Your Roots’, hide the fact that one of his ancestors owned slaves (going back six generations). When the news was leaked, Affleck responded by posting to one of his social media sites: “We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors…”

I agree with him. But what I find more intriguing is his eagerness to hide the information from the public to begin with. Why hide the family skeletons? If anything, isn’t he impressed that the producers were able to uncover so much information about his ancestors? Continue reading

Political History: Essex County’s William Rush Merriam


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x1A NYHWRMerriamFrom humble North Country beginnings in a pioneer settlement, a local man rose to play an important government role on a national level. Work performed at the height of his career still affects every facet of our government today. It is also highly valued by researchers, genealogists, and historians as a great repository of important historical records.

William Rush Merriam was born in 1849 in the small community of Wadham’s Mills in Essex County, just a few miles northwest of Westport. Many members of the Merriam families in that vicinity played important roles in regional history. Continue reading