Finger Lakes Museum Appoints Executive Director


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Finger Lakes MuseumThe Finger Lakes Museum’s Board of Trustees made a new appointment at its March 18th board meeting. Philip Lentini, of Penfield, who had been serving as the Museum’s Vice President for Advancement since late 2013, was elected to a seat on the board and appointed to the position of Executive Director.

He will be in charge of managing the Museum’s day to day business operations and will continue to direct its fundraising programs. He previously served nine years as a Vice President of the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Continue reading

21 Nominations for State, National Historic Registers


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New York State ParksThe New York State Board for Historic Preservation has recommended the addition of 21 properties, resources and districts to the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

State and National Register listing can assist property owners in revitalizing buildings, making them eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits. According to a press release issued Monday, state and federal commercial historic rehabilitation tax credits administered by the State Historic Preservation Office, have resulted in developers investing $1 billion statewide in 2013 to revitalize properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, while homeowners using the state historic homeowner rehabilitation tax credit invested more than $14.3 million statewide on home improvements to help revitalize historic neighborhoods. Continue reading

Peter Feinman: The Queens State of History


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270px-Queens_Montage_2012_1Where is the U.S. (Tennis) Open played? The tournament is located in the borough of Queens but people are more likely to think Flushing. The Brooklyn Dodgers and the Bronx Bombers are named or nicknamed for their borough, the Mets and the Jets (when they were in New York) are not. Letters to New York have borough names in the mailing address except for Queens. They are addressed to Forest Hills where the U.S. Open used to be played or to Astoria, Bayside, Long Island City and so on.

At a recent conference on Quintessential Queens held at Queens College, former Queens resident Nicole Steinberg, in a talk entitled “Many a Neighborhood – Astoria to the Rockways”, identified 74 different neighborhoods in the borough. While all of them might not have their own postal address, the large number highlights the problems: people in the borough may identify with their neighborhood the same way someone outside New York City identifies with a village, town or city and not with their county. In other words, Queens has an identity problem. Continue reading

National Park Service Hosting ‘Community Conversation’


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eleanor-rooseveltBeginning in the late 1940s historians with the National Park Service collected stories from friends, neighbors and staff of the Roosevelts and Vanderbilts. The tradition of recording people’s memories and using them to understand our history, and the people who created it carries on to this day.

The National Park Service and the Sound and Story Project have teamed up to offer two special events to be held at the Home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Historic Site, in Hyde Parak, NY. Continue reading

NYC Event: 19th Century Immigrants Being Reinterred


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staten-island-quarantine-new-york-marine-hospital-nyc-untapped-cities-002Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries will host the reinterment of the 19th Century Immigrants at Court House (Marine Hospital) Cemetery at Central Avenue and Hyatt Street in Staten Island on April 27th. The event is open to the public by seating is limited.

Between 1799 and 1858, Staten Island was home to the Marine Hospital Quarantine Station. ALL ships entering New York Harbor during those years were stopped and if New York medical inspectors found anyone on the ships suffering from infectious diseases they were removed and held at the Staten Island facility to await their outcome. Local residents from Staten Island, Manhattan and the adjacent communities in New Jersey were also sent to this facility. Continue reading

New Exhibit Highlights Contemporary Iroquois Concerns


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iroquois indian museum logoThe Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, NY has announced its new exhibition, Standing in Two Worlds: Iroquois in 2014, which will open on April 1st and remain at the Museum through November 30.

The exhibit features over 30 Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) artists and focuses upon contemporary concerns that warrant their attention and creative comment. Exhibition works (artwork and poetry) include those that explore boundaries and borders, environment, hydro-fracking, economy, gaming, the digital/disposable age, sports mascots, the impact of national/international events and decisions, the role of tradition and community, and the state of the arts. Continue reading

The Chaos of States’ Rights and Daylight Saving Time


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NYH DSTime01Described here is a real-life scenario that was once possible. The timeline might be tough to follow, but it’s early May, and we’re strolling down the main street of a North Country community, running several errands. First stop: the Peoples Bank, where we make a deposit and then exit at exactly 1:15 pm. Down the street, we stop at the Citizens Bank to open an account, but the sign on the door says they’re closed for lunch until 1 pm. Glancing inside the restaurant next door, we see several bank employees eating lunch beneath a wall clock that says 12:20 pm. Rather than wait, we move on.

Down the street, we pick up a few items at the US Brush Company, leaving there at 1:30 pm. Next stop: the post office, to buy some stamps. But the door is locked. On the knob hangs a sign stating that the clerks will return at 1 pm.

Off we go to the nearby grocery, picking up a few items and exiting the store at 1:40 pm. Just a few doors down, we stop at the Star Theater to pick up tickets for tonight’s play. But the ticket window hours are 1–4 pm, and the clock inside says 12:45 pm, so we move on to the Muslin Underwear Company and buy a new supply of unmentionables. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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Funding Sought for Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary


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Slides033-658x396A new campaign on Adirondack Gives, the crowdfunding site for the Adirondacks, hopes to raise funds for a short video to celebrate this year’s 50th Anniversary of The National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964. The Act’s chief author, Howard Zahniser, took his inspiration from New York’s “Forever Wild” constitutional protection of the New York State Forest Preserve. That constitutional protection has its 120th anniversary this year (1894-2014). Zahniser often wrote that New York State set the example for the national Wilderness movement, and is “where wilderness preservation began.”

This video is expected to celebrate both of these anniversaries and New York State’s wilderness heritage and be presented at a variety of Wilderness 50th activities. The video project, sponsored by Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, can be found at www.adirondackgives.org. The goal to raise $1,000 has already reached $350. The campaign will end on May 9, 2014. Continue reading

This Week’s Top New York History News


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Latest New York History News

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Black Americans in the Revolutionary War


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Portrait of a black American Revolutaionary War salior by unknown artist, c 1780 (Original in the Newport Historical Society)Black Americans have a long and distinguished history of military service. They participated in every colonial war from 1690 through the French and Indian War (1754-1763) as soldiers, sailors, laborers, scouts, and spies. Blacks generally served in integrated units and earned the same pay as whites. Even slaves served in the army and were paid although their enlistment compelled them to surrender some portion of this money to their owners.

In the early Revolutionary War battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill, free and enslaved Blacks fought shoulder to shoulder with white patriots. However, by the summer of 1775, under pressure from Southern plantation owners, General George Washington and the Continental Congress opposed the further enlistment of free blacks and slaves. Historians James and Lois Horton state that southern planters were “well aware of African-Americans desire for freedom, and most feared insurrection should slaves gain access to guns.” Continue reading

Lake Placid Hockey History Lectures Planned


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hockey lecture 5The Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society has announced the third program of its 2014 “Odds and Ends” Winter Lecture Series on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 in the Legacy Room at the Lake Placid Convention Center. The lecture will begin at 7 p.m.

This program in the four-part series is titled, “A History of Hockey in Lake Placid” presented by Denny Allen, Butch Martin and Steve Reed. The Historical Society, the Olympic Museum and Northwood School will showcase a display of memorabilia. Continue reading

Madame Sherri: Early 20th Century NYC Show Business


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Madame SherryResearch projects sometimes take unexpected, but fascinating, twists and turns. I had reason a few years ago to look into the case of a woman called Madame Sherri. She is mostly known for an unusual castle-like house built for her in a rural area of New Hampshire–its ruins are now popular with hikers and lovers of the odd and mysterious.

My investigation dragged me far from New Hampshire–to the world of cabaret reviews in New York City, the vaudeville circuit, and “soldier shows” (popular during World War I, with Irving Berlin’s “Yip Yip Yaphank” being the most well-known). And, for good measure,  toss in a scandal involving sex and blackmail. Continue reading

Albany Institute’s Third Annual Brewery Event April 12th


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Beverwyck BreweryOn Saturday, April 12 from 4pm to 7pm, the Table Hopping Blog and the Albany Institute of History & Art will host the third annual Hudson Valley Hops. This event is a celebration of the strong history of brewing in Albany and today’s craft beer industry. Guests can sample local craft beers, hear talks by beer historians and brewery experts, enjoy food, and take home a commemorative glass.

There will also be a special exhibition with artifacts that tell the history of brewing in Albany and the capital region. Historic photographs, advertisements, and packaging from local brewers will be on view for this event. Continue reading

Canton Event: North Country Women of Courage


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Koch, Sarah Raymond sepiaThree women’s suffrage activists, four educators, two musicians, an artist, a psychiatrist, and a writer. These are just some of the amazing careers led by North Country Women of Courage who will be the subject of the Patricia Harrington Carson Brown Bag Lunch program tomorrow, Thursday, March 20th at noon at the St. Lawrence County Historical Association at the Silas Wright House, 3 East Main St., Canton.

Brown Bag Lunches are free and open to the public.  Bring your own lunch and enjoy a beverage and dessert provided by SLCHA. Continue reading

Senate Budget Plan Hits NY State Historic Sites


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New York State ParksThe one-house budget resolution passed by the Republican controlled NYS Senate last week denies $92.5 million in funding for state park and historic site repairs and upgrades included in the Executive and Assembly budgets.

Advocates say the funding, which builds on the $200 million provided over the past two years, is critical to revitalize New York’s beleaguered system of state parks and historic sites, which saw a record 60 million visitors last year. Continue reading

Helen Redmond: Big City Star with North Country Roots


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NRedmond 3A NYHHelen Redmond’s life was that of a star, playing Broadway and touring the country for five years in the role of prima donna, but she hadn’t forgotten her family. In 1900, Helen’s mother, three brothers, a sister, and a nephew shared a Manhattan address with her. All were employed except for mom (age 64 and retired) and the nephew, who was in school. It was a far cry from 20 years earlier, when the single mother of seven toiled as a hotel servant and cook in upstate Vermont.

Clinging to her roots, and to escape the constant limelight and media attention, Helen occasionally visited her hometown of Port Henry, sometimes spending entire summers there, accompanied by her mother. Continue reading

Some Notable Women in Adirondack History


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Jeanne Robert Foster (Johnsburg Historical Society)The Adirondack Region of New York State is known for not only for its scenic beauty, but also for the strength and stubbornness of its people. This is especially true of its women. The early years of its history featured women who were particularly strong and resilient.

Phebe Cary was not only a woman, she was a full-blooded Abenaki. The story goes that at age 13 she was sold off by her father to William Dalaba. It is unclear if she was sold off by her father or whether William just paid her father a dowry. What is clear is that after William left money with her father, she was sent off – against her will – with a new husband to the 1857 wilderness of Bakers Mills, N.Y. Continue reading

The Two Mrs. Boissevains: Inez and Edna


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11399r-Inez on horseThe lives of the two Mrs. Boissevains of New York seem inseparable and incomparable. Both graduated from Vassar College, supported women’s suffrage, endured ill health, believed in free love, and attained popular fame. It is not surprising that they chose the same husband: the charming, witty, handsome Eugen Boissevain. Inez Milholland wed him on July 14, 1913, and after Inez died, he took Edna St. Vincent Millay as his bride on July 18, 1923.

Already known for “making suffrage fashionable,” Inez Milholland shot to fame as the herald atop a white horse at the head of the March 3, 1913, suffrage procession in Washington, DC. It was a shock to the world when a few months later the New York Times announced that Inez had met Hollander F. Eugene Boissevain aboard an ocean liner and married him in London. Continue reading