The Borscht Belt: Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland


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the-borscht-belt-bookThe Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland (Cornell University Press, 2016) by Marisa Schenfeld, which features essays by Stefan Kanfer and Jenna Weissman Joselit, presents Scheinfeld’s photographs of abandoned sites where resorts, hotels, and bungalow colonies once boomed in the Catskill Mountain region of upstate New York. Today the Borscht Belt is recalled through the nostalgic lens of summer swims, Saturday night dances, and comedy performances. But its current state, like that of many other formerly glorious regions, is nothing like its earlier status. Forgotten about and exhausted, much of its structural environment has been left to decay.  Continue reading

New York History Around The Web This Week


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New Leadership At Lake Champlain Maritime Museum


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lake-champlain-maritime-museumMike Smiles has resigned as Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) effective December 31.

Joyce Cameron, who joined LCMM in 2016 as Director of Development and Community Relations, and Deputy Director Erick Tichonuk have been appointed as Co-Executive Directors. Joyce will oversee Administrative Operations and Erick will oversee Museum Operations and Schooner Lois McClure. Continue reading

Nutting Season: An Old-Time Ritual


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blackwalnutwikipdThanksgiving, with food a major holiday component, calls to mind a time of year that was once the subject of great anticipation: nutting season. I’m not old enough to have experienced it first-hand, although back in the 1980s I did explore many natural edibles. Among my favorites was beechnuts, which we harvested and used in chocolate-chip cookies. Outstanding!

But in days long ago, when many folks earned a subsistence living that utilized home-grown vegetables and wild foods, nutting season was an important time. Continue reading

India and the Making of Britain & America


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ben_franklins_worldNeither colonial North America nor the United States developed apart from the rest of the world. Since their founding, both the colonies and the United States have participated in the politics, economics, and cultures of the Atlantic World.

And every so often, the politics, economics, and cultures of lands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans intersected with and influenced those of the Atlantic World. That’s why in this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we’re going to explore the origins of the English trade with India and how that trade connected and intersected with the English North American colonies.

Our guide for this investigation is Jonathan Eacott, an Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Riverside and author of Selling Empire: India in the Making of Britain and America, 1700-1830 (UNCPress, 2016). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/111

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The Slave Conspiracy Riot of 1741


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slave revolt 1741This conflict also known as “The New York Conspiracy Riot” was an amazingly intricate and brutal affair that in addition to its local implications had an international twist as well.

In the context of the longstanding European conflicts, English colonists in New York City felt anxious about the French presence in Canada to the north and Spanish colonies in the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River Valley to the South and West. They also felt threatened by a recent influx of Irish immigrants, whose Catholicism might incline them to spy for France and Spain. Continue reading