The Historians: Ballston Spa Hangings; 20th c. Pop Culture


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians” radio program, David Fiske of Saratoga County with stories of two 19th century hangings in Ballston Spa.  In the second half of the show I talk with pianist Stan Wiest who has tales about life on the road as a musician in the 20th century.

Listen to the whole program 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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Latest New York History News

Subscribe! More than 7,500 people follow The New York History Blog via E-mail, RSS, or Twitter or Facebook updates.

Make a Contribution! The New York History Blog is supported by you. If you think this site provides a valuable service, please become a recurring contributor – or just make a one-time contribution at our Rally.org page. Questions about contributions should be directed to editor John Warren.

In Haverstraw, The House That Inspired Hitchcock


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HaverstrawThe building in my sketch at left, located in Haverstraw NY and the subject of Edward Hopper’s 1925 painting, House by the Railroad, maintains its vigil on Route 9W. Hopper’s haunting depiction of the three-story house came to the attention of the cast and crew of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie classic, Psycho. The painting inspired not only the design of the Bates Mansion in the 1960 production, but the mood of the film as well.

House by the Railroad captures the fading elegance of this victorian-style home, located just south of St. Peter’s Cemetery. His composition shows a solitary structure, cut off from the world by a set of railroad tracks. Today, the building is still visually incarcerated by a heavily trafficked road, power lines, a chain linked fence and the railroad that gave the original painting its name and theme. Continue reading

Glens Falls Lecture: Champion Bicycle Rider Harry Elkes


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Harry ElkesOn Thursday, November 6 at 7 pm, John Strough will speak at the Chapman Museum in Glens Falls NY, about the short but fascinating career of local bicycle racer, Harry Elkes, who achieved great fame but died tragically at a young age.  The program is free and open to the public.

Born in Port Henry on Lake Champlain, Harry started racing on 10 and 25 mile dirt courses when he was eighteen.  By 1898 he was winning races and setting records.  For two years he raced with great success in Europe, before returning to the United States to tackle distance events and the one mile record. Continue reading

Thomas Cole Exhibition, Lecture At Albany Institute


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The Voyage of Life- Youth, Thomas Cole (1801-1848), 1839, Albany Institute of History and Art purchaseThe Albany Institute of History & Art has announced that it will install a special exhibition of Thomas Cole materials to coincide with Dr. Paul Schweizer’s lecture and book signing at the Albany Institute on Sunday, November 2, 2014, at 2 pm.

Dr. Schweizer is Director Emeritus of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute’s Museum of Art and will speak about his new book Thomas Cole’s Voyage of Life as part of the Institute’s Making it American lecture series. The Albany Institute owns Cole’s original oil studies for the Voyage of Life series as well as the first concept drawing for his painting, “Youth.” This event is open to the public and free with museum admission. Continue reading

The State Historian on NYS History Month 2014


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New York State History MonthIt’s been a very good year for history in New York. The state’s historians, archivists, educators, preservationists, and curators have, over the course of the past twelve months, coordinated their efforts and raised public awareness of New York’s history as never before. And now, as November approaches, it’s clear that History Month is going to make a good year even better.

There will indeed be more and better History Month programming taking place all across New York in 2014 than in recent years. And thanks to the New York State Museum, a program of the New York State Board of Regents and State Education Department, there’s even a History Month logo to help unite and brand all of the state’s History Month programs. Any historical or cultural organization offering November history programs can—and should—use the logo. It’s easily available. Just grab the logo above, or e-mail Bridget Enderle at benderle@mail.nysed.gov for a higher resolution copy. Continue reading

Farmers’ Museum Conference Celebrates Agriculture


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Farmers Museum Agriculture Conference“A Celebration of Our Agricultural Community”, a conference on food and farming at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, will inform and inspire farmers and the public, unifying and driving the agricultural economy in Central New York. The conference takes place Saturday, November 15 from 9:00 am-5:00 pm and is free to the public.

The conference’s keynote speaker is Richard Ball, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Addressing the topic of food systems will be Jason Evans, Assistant Professor of Agriculture, SUNY Cobleskill. Doug Thompson of G&T Farm will speak on the impact farming has on our communities and economies, as well as pasture management. Continue reading

New History of Science Journal Launched


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BJTCambridge University Press and the British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) have announced their partnership to launch a new, peer-reviewed, open access, thematic journal, for the history of science. A call for proposals for the first volume of BJHS Themes has been released, seeking thematic collections of papers that animate, provoke and inspire the scholarly community.

Each volume of the journal will be free to read online from the date of its publication. By launching the journal in this way, the BSHS and Cambridge will encourage widespread engagement with the important ideas each volume will present, stimulating public and scholarly debate that will enhance our collective understanding of science in history.To fully promote onward exploration of each volume’s theme, the journal will use a Creative Commons license that permits re-use and dissemination. Continue reading

John Philip Sousa’s Montgomery County Connection


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Painting of Sousa by Capolino courtesy the Music Division, Library of CongressJohn Philip Sousa, “The March King” who composed “The Stars and Stripes Forever”, unsuccessfully courted a woman from the Mohawk Valley and remained a close friend of hers through the years.

Jessie Zoller was born in 1856 in the hamlet of Hallsville in the town of Minden. Minden historian Christine Oarr Eggleston said Jesse was the daughter of egg farmer Abram Zoller and his wife Alma Tuttle Zoller. After the Civil War, Abram Zoller held a high post in the U.S. Treasury and his wife and daughter were living with him in Washington. Continue reading

Electric City: General Electric in Schenectady Lecture


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General Electric in SchenectadyThe Schenectady County Historical Society will present a talk, “Electric City: General Electric in Schenectady”, which explores the history of General Electric in Schenectady from the company’s creation in 1892 to the present.

Julia Kirk Blackwelder draws on company records as well as other archival and secondary sources and personal interviews to produce an engaging and multi-layered history of General Electric’s workplace culture and its effects on community life. Her research demonstrates how business and community histories intersect, and her nuanced look at race, gender, and class sets a standard for corporate history. Continue reading

Jacob Leisler Institute Opening In Hudson Nov 3


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Leister HouseThe Jacob Leisler Institute for the Study of Early New York History has announced the opening of its office at 46 Green Street in Hudson, New York, on November 3. The Jacob Leisler Institute is a study and research center devoted to colonial New York under English rule, as well as a permanent home to the Papers of Jacob Leisler Project.

At its organizing meeting recently in Albany, Dr. David William Voorhees was elected Executive Director of the Institute and Dr. Firth Haring Fabend its President. Continue reading

Bruce Dearsyne: Strengthening Public History in NYS


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New-York-State-Map1Over the past few years, there has been a lot of discussion here on The New York History Blog about the status and role of local government historians, including, for instance, a summary of a special issue of the journal Public Historian three years ago on the status of history in New York State, and, most recently, Peter Feinman’s post “The State of Municipal Historians,” which resulted in many comments.

Local government historians are unique to New York State. They give us an edge over other states in the local history arena. Their potential is immense. But their status and role need to be strengthened. Continue reading

Memories of the Way We Were and Are


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Dont ForgetLong time readers of my posts may recall the importance of Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl.” Her explanation of how she originated the idea for the corporate merger is a classic expression of the serendipity of the unexpected juxtaposition leading to thinking.

The eureka moment occurs not when one expects it but when things click in one’s mind. That’s why I enjoy thumbing through a newspaper rather than simply extracting predetermined information from the web – you never know what connections will be made…nor do the editors of the newspaper who are examining each article in isolation. Continue reading

Bill Bray: Churubusco’s Democratic State Chairman


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NYH01AFDRLehmanSmithBrayAs we near Election Day, I’m reminded of a man from a remote corner of the North Country, an individual who was once the right-hand man of a future president—and not just any president. Not everyone loved him, of course, but Franklin D. Roosevelt is one of the few to consistently appear near the top of “our greatest leaders” lists. The right-hand man I’m referring to was known professionally as M. William Bray (Bill to his friends), a native of the town of Clinton, which borders Canada in northwestern Clinton County. Continue reading

New-York Historical Society Annouces 2014-15 Fellows


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NYC_Historical_SocietyThe New-York Historical Society has announced eleven fellows who will be in residence during the 2014-15 academic year. Leveraging its collections of documents, artifacts, and works of art documenting American history from the perspective of New York City, New-York Historical’s fellowships provide scholars with material resources and an intellectual community to develop new research and publications that illuminate complex issues of the past. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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This Week’s Top New York History News


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Latest New York History News

Subscribe! More than 7,500 people follow The New York History Blog via E-mail, RSS, or Twitter or Facebook updates.

Make a Contribution! The New York History Blog is supported by you. If you think this site provides a valuable service, please become a recurring contributor – or just make a one-time contribution at our Rally.org page. Questions about contributions should be directed to editor John Warren.

Washington Irving’s Spooky Tale of Mamakating Hollow


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IrvingIt was once without question the best known ghost story set in Sullivan County, written by one of America’s most respected writers, and yet it is largely unknown today.

It combines detailed descriptions of the rich and bountiful beauty of this area in the 19th century with cleverly conceived ghouls as hideous as any in American literature.

It is Washington Irving’s 1838 short story “Hans Swartz: A Marvelous Tale of Mamakating Hollow” and it is still appropriate reading this Halloween season, more than 170 years after it was penned. Continue reading

Western Erie Canal Communities Conference Nov 6th


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Western Erie Canal AllianceThe Western Erie Canal Alliance, in conjunction with the Landmark Society of Western New York, will present a conference, “Something Old… Something New”, in celebration of historic Main Streets as centerpieces of community economic success.

The conference will take place on Thursday, November 6, 2014 from 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm, at the Fairport Electric building in Fairport, NY, hosted by The Village of Fairport. Continue reading