Janny Venema On New Netherland Praatjes Podcast


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new netherlands praatjesIn this episode of the New Netherland Praatjes Podcast Janny Venema chats with Russell Shorto about her more than thirty years of experience working with the documents of New Netherland.

Venema also discusses her life growing up in the Netherlands, her discovery of the early Dutch history of New York, and her books on early Albany and Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the founder of the patroonship of Rensselaerswijck.

To listen to the podcast, click here. Continue reading

MANY Launches Artifact Based Social Media Campaign


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MANY LogoThe Museum Association of New York (MANY) in Troy, New York’s only statewide membership association representing museums, historical societies, zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums, has announced a partnership with “Mysteries at the Museum” host Don Wildman on a social media campaign to promote unique and interesting objects in New York museums’ permanent collections.

Artifact NY is a campaign of regularly posted photographic images of fascinating artifacts from New York museums accompanied by short blurbs about the artifacts as well as links to museum websites and announcements of upcoming exhibitions. The project is created by Don Wildman’s Archivist Media in NYC and sponsored by MANY. Continue reading

Adirondack Scenic Railroad Has Record Breaking Sales


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Adirondack Scenic Railroad Pumpkin TrainIn 2015, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad carried over 74,000 passengers, an all-time high for the 24-year old organization. If Spring 2016 sales are any indication, the Railroad projects that 2016 will break the previous year’s record.

The spring season kicked off March 26th with the Easter Bunny Express, a train ride geared for children and families, which travels from Holland Patent to Remsen. The event sold out over a month in advance the company said, even with additional added capacity. A total of four trips carried over 1,500 passengers. Continue reading

Hudson River Valley Historic Tavern Trail Events


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hudson valley tavern trailJourneys to Orange County’s most historic inns and restaurants are planned for the 2016 Historic Tavern Trail of the Hudson Valley, beginning April 29th.

There are seven tavern events being held on the Friday of each month from April through October, between 5:30 pm and 7 pm.  A cross promotional effort between Orange County history, tourism and economic development communities, these seven Tavern Trail happy hour and dinner events feature local food, a specialty cocktail, and discussions of local history.

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Underground Railroad: New York’s Freedom Trail Failures


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The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence (Lakestolocks)While recently investigating the dismal record of the Amistad Commission, I came across the Underground Railroad portion of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (State Parks) – there I found reference to the New York State Freedom Trail, which began as a state project with similarly high hopes and followed the same trajectory to substandard results.

According to the State Parks webpage: “The New York State Freedom Trail Act of 1997 proposed the establishment of a Freedom Trail Commission to plan and implement a New York State Freedom Trail program to commemorate these acts of freedom and to foster public understanding of their significance in New York State history and heritage.”

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The True Tales That Inspired American Folk Songs


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hear my sad story book coverIn Hear My Sad Story: The True Tales That Inspired Stagolee, John Henry, and Other Traditinal American Folk Songs (Cornell University Press, 2015), Richard Polenberg describes the historical events that led to the writing of many famous American folk songs that served as touchstones for generations of American musicians, lyricists, and folklorists.

Those events, which took place from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, often involved tragic occurrences: murders, sometimes resulting from love affairs gone wrong; desperate acts borne out of poverty and unbearable working conditions; and calamities such as railroad crashes, shipwrecks, and natural disasters. All of Polenberg’s accounts of the songs in the book are grounded in historical fact and illuminate the social history of the times. Continue reading

Chestnut Street, Kingston: The Street That Built NYC


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the street that built a city book coverLowell Thing’s book The Street that Built a City: McEntee’s Chestnut Street, Kingston, and the Rise of New York (Black Dome, 2015) takes a look at the city of New York and the street that built it — or much of it. The street is on a quiet hilltop overlooking the Hudson River a hundred miles north of New York’s harbor.

Chestnut Street’s first resident, James McEntee, was an engineer who helped build the Delaware and Hudson Canal, which brought millions of tons of coal from Pennsylvania to the port at Rondout to be hauled down the Hudson River on barges pulled by steamboats belonging to another Chestnut Street resident, Samuel Coykendall, to fuel a rapidly growing New York City. Seven owners of brickyards lived on the street, and their hundreds of millions of bricks rose skyward in New York while bluestone slabs shipped from nearby Wilbur paved the city’s sidewalks. Continue reading

A Visit To Orange County’s Gomez Mill House


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gomez houseIf the walls of the Gomez Mill House could talk, what a story it could tell.

Despite the hard stone construction of the building, the sentiment is gentle: “If you have a warm heart, you are welcome.”

The alert observer will see hearts in the designs around the home and grounds, and in the artwork. It’s a place that has been witness to over 300 years of history: not only of Orange County, but of the United States. It has seen days as a business operation, sending construction materials to New York City; it has overheard secret intelligence meetings during the Revolutionary War; it has also been a working farm growing fruit and breeding purebred animals. Built by Jewish businessman Luis Moses Gomez, it’s also the oldest known Jewish dwelling in the United States. Continue reading