Hudson Valley Docs From 1911 Fire Being Digitized


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document_reinforcementAT&T has given a $20,000 contribution to support the conservation and digitization of documents burned in the 1911 New York Capitol Fire.

The documents are expected to be conserved and digitized are badly fire damaged and contain information about life in the Hudson Valley in the 1700s, primarily in Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange counties. They have been unavailable to the public since 1911; no timetable for online public access has been announced. Continue reading

Early Black Landowners In Sullivan County


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Custom_House,_New_York,_1799-1815(2)Nearly 400 years ago, in 1626, a ship carrying eleven slaves was unloaded in New Amsterdam by the Dutch West Indies Company. Those eleven men are believed to be among the first African-Americans brought to what is today New York State.

Attempting to pinpoint when the first African-Americans arrived in Sullivan County, NY is considerably more difficult. There are a number of plausible scenarios, and the evidence supporting any one of them is sketchy at best. A stronger case can be made for the first man of African-American descent to own property there.  It was almost certainly Phineas Booth of the town of Neversink. Continue reading

Historic Huguenot St Appoints Advisory Board


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Historic Huguenot StreetHistoric Huguenot Street has announced that eleven historians have chosen to be part of its newly formed Scholarly Advisory Board. It’s expected that they will guide the interpretation of the National Historic Landmark District. The board is chaired by Dr. L.H. Roper, Professor of History at SUNY New Paltz.

The eleven historians share a knowledge for American, French, Dutch, Native American, New York, Atlantic, and Huguenot history – all of which are a part of the Historic Huguenot Street’s story. Continue reading

REDC’s Recreation Tourism Funding


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REDC RegionsThis post is the sixth in a series on the awards granted by the Regional Economic Development Councils. The series is intended to document what actually is being done, by following the money.

Empire State Development – Market New York (ESD MNY) is part of a new process applicants for state funding negotiate. ESD MNY has funded Path through History media projects, support for booze-related tourism, and some projects with “path” potential (although they weren’t identified as such). In this post, I’ll focus on another type of tourism touted by Governor Andrew Cuomo: recreation tourism. Continue reading

The Saga of Albany Jim Brady (Part 4)


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NYH4A 1900BradyNearDeathIn late 1888, having served a full term of 11 years, Albany Jim Brady was finally released from prison. He quickly hooked up with Sophie Lyons, who had recently left her husband Ned after more than 20 years of marriage. Together Brady and Lyons traveled to Europe, where they were virtually anonymous. Putting their remarkable acting skills to work, they earned a small fortune from various scams, including a Paris heist of $200,000 in diamonds (equal to about $5 million in 2015). Continue reading

Remembering Amsterdam’s Bishop Scully HS


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Bishop Scully High SchoolWhen William Aloysius Scully was bishop of Albany, six new Roman Catholic high schools were established in the diocese. The school that opened on a 62-acre lot on upper Church Street in Amsterdam in 1966, three years before Scully’s death, was named in his honor.

St. Mary’s Institute on Forbes Street, which dates back to 1881, had been the city’s previous Catholic high school. It was adjacent to St. Mary’s Church in the heart of the city. Bishop Scully High school was built near the city’s outer limits. Continue reading

Remembering Inez: The Last Campaign


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Inez Milholland BookRemembering Inez: The Last Campaign of Inez Milholland, Suffrage Martyr (American Graphic Press, 2015), edited by Robert P. J. Cooney, Jr. , honors a prominent New York attorney and woman suffrage leader who died of pernicious anemia at age 30 while campaigning for votes for women.

The book includes intimate first-person accounts, stirring speeches, and heartfelt memorials that appeared in 1916 issues of The Suffragist, the weekly publication of the National Woman’s Party in Washington D.C. Continue reading

New Book On The Life Of Fanny Seward


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fanny-sewardOn April 14, 1865, the night of President Lincoln’s assassination, Booth’s conspirator Lewis Powell attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward in his home just blocks from Ford’s Theatre.

The attack, which left Seward and his son seriously wounded, is recounted in poignant detail in Fanny Seward’s diary. Fanny, the beloved only daughter of Seward, was a keen observer, and her diary entries from 1858 to 1866 are the foundation of Trudy Krisher’s Fanny Seward: A LIfe (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2014), a vivid portrait of the young girl who was an eyewitness to one of the most tumultuous periods in American history. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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‘Hearts of Fire’ Composer On The Schenectady Massacre


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features Maria Riccio Bryce, the composer of the musical Hearts of Fire, a work that commemorated the 300th anniversary of the burning of Schenectady by the French and their Indian allies in 1690. The production was staged in 1990 and 1991. Bryce is now re-releasing the CD of the original cast recording. Featuring a cast of 60, the work is a powerful re-telling of the early struggles and sacrifices made by Schenectady’s first inhabitants. The CDs are available at Proctors Gift Shop and The Open Door in Schenectady and at Old Peddlers Wagon and The Bookhound in Amsterdam. Alternatively, CDs may be purchased by sending Maria Riccio Bryce a check for $21 to P.O. Box 66, Amsterdam, N.Y. 12010. Bryce is also the composer of two other major works, Mother I’m Here and the Amsterdam Oratorio. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
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This Week’s Top New York History News


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Last of the Mohicans: Fiction Trumps History


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First edition Last of the mohicansIn early February 1826, Carey & Lea, one of the nation’s most prominent and successful publishers, announced the publication of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757. Cooper was already a best-selling author, widely hailed for presenting non-stop, exciting adventures set in the wilderness, wartime, or other bracing settings. Carey & Lea, hoping that his new book would do as well as his previous ones, had paid the author a $5,000 advance.

They were not to be disappointed. The Last of the Mohicans was an instant best-seller, reprinted many times, made into movies a number of times, and became one of the most important books in American literary history. Continue reading

NYS Arts Council Awards $36 Million


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nysca logoThe New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) has announced it has awarded $36 million in 1,899 grants to 1,242 New York State non-profit organizations to supports arts, culture and heritage organizations in New York State.

NYSCA awards grants in 16 program areas representing a cross-section of artistic disciplines and funding goals. Across the disciplines, grants support arts, culture and heritage programming; organizational operations; individual artists’ projects; additional granting opportunities, known as ‘regrants’ and services to the field. The agency also administers $674,000 in federal grant funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Continue reading

Baseball Exhibits Opening At Albany Institute


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image034Opening day comes early to the Capital Region as the Albany Institute of History & Art presents Triple Play! Baseball at the Albany Institute, three exhibitions celebrating the history of baseball.

The exhibits include nationally and regionally significant materials, such as photographs, signed bats and balls, stadium seats, trophies, pennants, jerseys, and more. In addition, there is a roster of related events with guest speakers, family activity days, creative contests, and free admission opportunities. Continue reading

Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776


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ben_franklins_worldWhen we think of North America in 1776, our minds take us to the Atlantic seaboard where inhabitants in thirteen colonies fought Great Britain for independence. However, as the American Revolution and its War for Independence raged, events occurred elsewhere in North America that would have important implications for the development of the later United States.

In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Claudio Saunt, the Richard B. Russell Professor of History at the University of Georgia and author of West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 (W.W. Norton, 2014), joins us to explore events that took place west of the American Revolution. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/014 Continue reading

The Invisible Irish of the 19th Century


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Irish Servant Dressing WomanThey were neither to be seen nor heard as they served some of the great houses of Westchester County more than a century ago. But come February, the Anne Hutchinson-Bronxville Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) will uncover their forgotten stories in a lecture hosted by the chapter entitled, “The Invisible Irish of the 19th Century.”

The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be given by Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum Docent and writer Doug Hearle on Saturday, February 7th at 1 pm in the Yeager Community Room at the Bronxville Public Library.  Continue reading

Unseen Hand: An 1869 Fort Hunter Diary


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003 - SXSHS In 1988, a small leather-bound diary was bequeathed to Schoharie Crossing State Historic site by Clarke Blair, who received it from Gertrude Ruck – a descendent of Michael Brown. Brown was one of the brothers that owned and operated the Brown Cash Store located at Lock 30 in Fort Hunter, NY from the mid-19th to early 20th century.

The diarist is unknown – nonetheless, it is obviously a personal journal of a Fort Hunter resident, and references to notable local families, places and events of 1869 fill its yellowed pages. Continue reading