Event: 19th Century Political Culture


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A_Lincoln_BaltimoreLong before radio, television, the Internet and Super PACs, when voter turnout could be as much as 81%(!), political rhetoric found its voice largely in print.  Political cartoons not only weighed in on public figures’ qualifications and actions but also reflected assumptions about gender-appropriate behavior and the social norms of the day. The public figures we revere today were often viewed quite differently by their contemporaries.

Union College history professor and author, Andrea R. Foroughi, will expand on this fascinating topic in a presentation on November 20th, 7:00 pm at the S. S. Seward Institute in the Village of Florida. Continue reading

Harlem: Life in Pictures


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Malcolm X- Rally for Birmingham, 1963. by Larry Fink. All images courtesy of Ilon Art Gallery

Malcolm X- Rally for Birmingham, 1963. by Larry Fink. Images Courtesy of Ilon Art Gallery

“If new thought can enter the mind, even for a moment, then change has a chance,” writes JT Liss. His photographs search for those figures and visions that allow us to see new ways and think new thoughts.

Ilon Gallery’s show Harlem: Life in Pictures on view in a classic 1890s brownstone, demonstrates how historic images of figures that have become iconic can acquire new resonance when displayed along fresh takes on a neighborhood that has been a cradle of creativity for well over 100 years. Continue reading

Upstate Revitalization: Limited Inspiration from the Past


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Upstate NY Economic DevlopmentA few years ago, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo launched a statewide “Revitalization Initiative” to help revitalize and expand the state’s economy. Job creation is the primary goal. Major state funding has been allocated and directed to a variety of projects. Last spring, the Governor changed the program to focus on the “Upstate Revitalization Initiative.” The overall goal is “systematically revitalizing the economy of Upstate New York,” in the words of the official guidelines. Continue reading

Peter Feinman on The Historians Podcast


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features Peter Feinman, a frequent contributor to the New York History Blog. Feinman is founder and president of the Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education, which provides enrichment programs for schools, professional development program for teachers and public programs to historic sites in the state. He takes a critical look at the New York State Path through History program. You can listen online here. Continue reading

Suffrage Centennial: Historians, NYS Tourism Officials Clash


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Suffrage CentennialIn early October, the New York Cultural Heritage Tourism Network under the leadership of Spike Herzig, a member of the Tourism Advisory Council, hosted a meeting in Seneca Falls for the Women’s Suffrage Centennial.

There were about 85 attendees, mainly from the central New York region. The purpose was to meet, learn, and plan for the upcoming centennials of women gaining the right to vote in New York State (2017) and the United States (2020). The event’s agenda was abandoned as members of the history community began to air their frustrations over Empire State Development’s role in heritage tourism. Continue reading

Early United States-Haitian Diplomacy


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ben_franklins_worldMuch like the United States, the colonists of Saint Domingue (present-day Haiti) sought their independence from France by fighting a war and waging a revolution. However, unlike the Americans, the San Dominguans who fought the war and waged the revolution were predominantly African and Caribbean-born slaves.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the Haitian Revolution and the quest of both the United States and Saint Domingue to establish diplomatic and trade relations with each other. Our guide for this exploration is Ronald A. Johnson, a history professor at Texas State University and author of Diplomacy in Black and White: John Adams, Toussaint L’Ouverture, and Their Atlantic World Alliance (University of Georgia Press, 2014). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/052

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The Burned-Over District and Mexican Revolution


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francisco-i-madero-bhimaWhen Halley’s comet, that star with the quetzal’s tail, flared across Mexican skies in 1910, it heralded not only the centennial of Independence, but a deeply transformative episode, the Revolution launched by Francisco I. Madero on November 20, what Javier Garciadiego calls “the true beginning of a process, the birth of the modern Mexican state.” The great chorus of Mexican historians agrees. And yet, almost unknown and curious as it may sound, a vital taproot of this revolution lies in the Burned-Over District of New York State.

As a writer of both fiction and nonfiction, I have learned to appreciate that fact can be stranger than anything one might imagine. Before returning to the Burned-Over District, a word about Francisco I. Madero and how I came upon his Manual espírita, this until now obscure and yet profoundly illuminating book – at the very least for understanding Madero himself, why and how he led Mexico’s 1910 Revolution, and the seething contempt of those behind the overthrow of his government and his assassination. Continue reading

Murder In Western Sullivan County (Part II)


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TheodoreRooseveltOn a bitter cold Sunday morning in December of 1880, Jacob Gerhardt struck his sister-in-law over the head with a crowbar, crushing her skull and setting the stage for one of the most sensational murder trials in Sullivan County history.

The proceedings, held at a special term of the Sullivan County Oyer and Terminer Court beginning on June 13, 1881, featured District Attorney James I. Curtis and former D.A. John F. Anderson for the prosecution and Monticello law partners Arthur C. Butts and Joseph Merritt and former county judge Timothy Bush for the defense. People came from far and wide to view each day of the trial, and major newspapers from New York City, as well as the local weeklies, reported on the case. Continue reading

Amsterdam’s Green Hill Cemetery


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features Jerry Snyder of Historic Amsterdam League talking about their Ghosts of the Past Tours, which take place in Green Hill Cemetery Friday, Oct. 23 and Saturday, Oct. 24. Amsterdam’s Green Hill Cemetery, opened in 1858 and expanded in 1865, was designed by Burton A. Thomas, who also designed Vale Cemetery in Schenectady and Albany Rural Cemetery. Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/obudmore/bryan-mackfort-plain-museumthe-historianssunday-october-11-2015 Continue reading

Frontier Seaport: A History of Early Detroit


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ben_franklins_worldDuring the 18th century, Detroit emerged as a cosmopolitan entrepôt filled with many different peoples and all of the goods you would expect to find in early Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, or Charleston.

Today, we explore the early history of Detroit with Catherine Cangany, an associate professor of history at the University of Notre Dame and author of Frontier Seaport: Detroit’s Transformation into an Atlantic Entrepôt (Chicago University Press, 2014). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/051

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Crime And Justice In Sullivan County


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arthur c butts(1)Jacob Gerhardt was a quiet Cochecton Center farmer who was quick to help his neighbors until a fateful day in December of 1880, when his life changed forever over a case of unrequited love.

Gerhardt worked in the fields every day to support his wife, while his brother Adam and his wife, Mena farmed nearby. When Adam Gerhardt died suddenly in 1879, Jacob went to live with Mena, “to work her farm on shares.” Continue reading

The Revolutionary War And The Mohawk Valley


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features Brian Mack of the Fort Plain Museum in the Mohawk Valley who has led an effort on social media to draw attention to the region’s importance during the American Revolution. Through social media and the launch of a yearly conference, Mack and Norm Bollen of the Fort Plain Museum have reached out to historic sites clustered near Exit 29 of the New York State Thruway. You can listen to the podcast here. Continue reading

Moses Terwilliger: Criminally Insane In Ulster Co


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Auburn-State-Prison-NYSAThe Terwilliger farm was located near Bruynswick in the town of Shawangunk in Ulster County. It was there that Sarah Terwilliger age 87, widow of J.L. Terwilliger, lived with her son Moses, age 57. According to neighbors, the two argued frequently, and her son made threats that he intended to kill his mother. One thing was for sure, Sarah was not going to see her 88th birthday. Continue reading

Betsy Ross & The Making Of America


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ben_franklins_worldHow did every day men and women experience life in colonial America?

How did the American Revolution transform their work and personal lives?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the answers to those questions by investigating the life of Betsy Ross with Marla Miller, professor of history at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and author of Betsy Ross and the Making of America (Henry Holt & Co, 2010). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/050

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Lincoln Weekend Celebrates Great Emancipator


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Abe-Lincoln WeekendIn commemoration of the end of the Civil War, the death of Lincoln, and the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) has suspended its 2015 induction ceremonies to address the matter of President Lincoln as “The Great Emancipator.” Several programs will provide opportunity for the public to study Lincoln as an abolitionist.

The Thirteenth Amendment (“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude,… shall exist with within the United States..”) was proposed by the U.S. Senate on April 8, 1864. The movie Lincoln features the historical drama of securing the votes needed in the House of Representative to pass the resolution. The Thirteenth Amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865 and ratified by the states on December 6, 1865. Continue reading

Lessons From The Illinois State Museum Closure


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7a-State-MuseumThe Illinois State Museum and four satellite facilities closed on October 1 as the result of budget cuts imposed by Governor Bruce Rauner. New Yorkers may be able to learn from what is happening there.

The Governor warned that the budget being proposed by the state legislature in June was out of balance and exceeded state revenues. The legislature passed it despite his warning that he would have to cut programs. In July, he made good on his promise, announcing the Museum’s closure among other cost-cutting measures. Continue reading