The Adirondacks: Supplanting the Gilded Age


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BayPond02NYHFor more than a century, Adirondack history has dealt with the complex issues of private clubs, large estates, and public access. Decisions made long ago had a lasting effect that only in recent decades has been reversing with the state purchase of major properties and opening them to the public. It’s difficult to grasp the impact on the region when, 101 years ago, New York’s highest court said of its own ruling, “We are mindful that this deprives the public at large … of the pleasure and profit of fishing and hunting in a very large portion of the Adirondack forest, and gives to men of great wealth, who can buy vast tracts of land, great protection in the enjoyment of their private privileges.” Continue reading

Peter Feinman: NYS’s Tourist-Industrial Complex


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Path Through historyI have used the term tourist-industrial complex to refer to the recipients of the New York State funding from the Path through History project, but the funding goes beyond the Path project or even tourism. This funding did not go to the history community. Instead tens of millions of dollars went to advertising. That has now become an issue in the media and in the ongoing gubernatorial campaign.

A recent article by Joseph Spector, the Albany Bureau chief of Gannet Company attempts to address where the money funneled to Empire State Development (ESD), which includes ILoveNY and therefore the Path through History project, went. 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

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Andrew Roberts Named Lehrman Distinguished Fellow


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ARoberts11-4Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, and Lewis E. Lehrman, Chairman of the Lehrman Institute, has announced that Andrew Roberts, a leading military historian, will be the first Lehrman Institute Distinguished Fellow at the New-York Historical Society. Dr. Roberts will serve as the Distinguished Fellow for three years, from November 2014 through November 2017.

Andrew Roberts is the Merrill Family Visiting Professor at Cornell University. He has written or edited twelve books and appears regularly on international radio and television broadcasts. His forthcoming biography of Napoleon will be accompanied by a three-part television series on the BBC. He received a number of awards for his recent bestsellers Masters & Commanders and The Storm of War. Continue reading

Arcadia Publishing Acquires The History Press


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History Press Arcadia Publishing MergerArcadia Publishing has announced the acquisition of The History Press Inc., a wholly owned US based subsidiary of UK based The History Press Ltd, in a private sale. The deal creates the largest publisher of local and regional books in the U.S. with a combined total of more than 12,000 titles available for sale.

“Arcadia is committed to maintaining the creative aspects of both businesses and will keep existing brands entirely separate,” the company said in a statement issued to the press. Continue reading

Manlius, Madison County, and Abolitionists Talk Planned


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Seceder Cover JPEGAfter six years of research Alethea “Lee” Connolly has published her book on “forgotten trailblazers” in early 19th Century Central New York. Connolly will present her research on her book The Seceders: Religious Conviction & the Abolitionist Movement in the Town of Manlius, 1834-1844 at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 26, 2014 at the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum at 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134.

As Barbara S. Rivette, Manlius Town Historian, states “The network of families and church affiliations involved in The Seceders spread through Canastota, Clockville, and Peterboro.” Seceders, like early Manlius settler Elijah Bailey, “believed the church had veered off the simple path of Bible religion into pride and folly.” Continue reading

Sullivan County: Doctors Say ‘Go to the Mountains!’


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adWhile Sullivan County was not officially formed until 1809, the region’s history as a popular healing environment dates back considerably before that.

From the earliest visits of the Lenape, who constructed their sweat lodges among the willow trees on the banks of the Delaware to the tuberculosis sufferers who searched for a cure in the cool mountain climate, hundreds of thousands of people have visited the area because of its clean air and pure water.

From about 1890 to 1915, the county enjoyed a prosperous period of tourism—today called the Silver Age— based almost entirely on those concepts of fresh air and pure water. In fact, for decades the Ontario & Western Railway’s promotional campaign for the area was based on the slogan, “Doctors Say ‘Go to the Mountains!’” This was often followed by the trident reminder ‘pure air, pure water, pure milk.” Continue reading

UN Women Will Lead Discussion At Women’s Rights Park


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UN Women logoUN Women will lead a discussion on women’s rights and their initiatives around the world on Sunday, July 20th from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm as part of the 2014 Convention Days Celebration.

UN Women was created to address the many challenges women face throughout the world today.  According to their website, “Gender equality is not only a basic human right, but its achievement has enormous socio-economic ramifications. Empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurring productivity and growth. Yet gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society. Women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. They are too often denied access to basic education and health care. Women in all parts of the world suffer violence and discrimination. They are under-represented in political and economic decision-making processes. For many years, the UN has faced serious challenges in its efforts to promote gender equality globally, including inadequate funding and no single recognized driver to direct UN activities on gender equality issues until the creation of UN Women.” Continue reading

Stanley Maltzman Exhibition at Thomas Cole Historic Site


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Stanley Maltzman Thomas Cole House_2014The Thomas Cole National Historic Site has announced a summer exhibition and birthday celebration for a very special tree that turns 200 years old this year.

The exhibition entitled Thomas Cole’s Honey with new artworks by the beloved artist Stanley Maltzman will open July 26 with a reception that is free and open to the public from 4:30 to 6 pm. The exhibition will run through October 2, 2014.

A special selection of approximately ten new artworks by Stanley Maltzman will be on view at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site from July 26 – October 2, 2014. All made between 2013 and present, Maltzman’s watercolors, pastels, and drawings pay homage to the towering, 200 year old Honey Locust tree that stands across from Thomas Cole’s front door. Continue reading

Johnson Hall Announces 2014 Calendar of Events


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Johnson HallJohnson Hall State Historic Site’s 2014 special events will highlight the 240th anniversary of the death and funeral of Sir William Johnson, which followed his final Indian Council at Johnson Hall.

Johnson Hall opened for the 2014 season in May, and offers tour of the historic mansion on Wednesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. The last tour of each day begins at 4pm.

In addition, Beyond the Mansion guided walking tours are offered this year on Saturdays at 1pm and 3pm and Sundays at 3pm, highlighting the historic grounds and outbuildings once located on the estate and the people who lived and worked there. Continue reading

Bruce Dearstyne:
Do We Need A State History Commission?


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nycapitolAssemblyman Steve Englebright’s bill (A. 6226A) to create a Commission on New York State History would help coordinate state programs and elevate and strengthen public history in New York.

“The state’s historical assets are world class destinations for visitors from around the world and should be promoted as such,” the bill declares. “Having the management, interpretation and promotion of the state’s historical assets spread among several agencies and departments has often been detrimental to the full utilization of these assets for the people of the state.” Continue reading

Winslow Homer Scholar Addressing NYSHA Thursday


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homer_395Dr. David Tatham, professor emeritus of fine arts at Syracuse University, will address members of the New York State Historical Association at its 111th Annual Meeting. The meeting, held Thursday, July 17, at 4:00 pm in the Fenimore Art Museum Auditorium in Cooperstown, New York, is open to members of the association.

Dr. Tatham’s books on painting in nineteenth-century America include Winslow Homer and the Illustrated Book and also Winslow Homer and the Pictorial Press. An exhibition of Homer’s works, Winslow Homer: The Nature and Rhythm of Life, from the Arkell Museum at Canajoharie, is on display at the Fenimore Art Museum through August 24. Continue reading

A Walking Tour Of Newburgh’s East End Historic District


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99MontgomerySt_FinalOn Sunday, July 20th at 1:00 P.M., a walking tour through Newburgh’s East End Historic District will start from the Captain David Crawford House, the headquarters of the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands. Members of the Society will guide the public through a one mile walk as they peel back the image of the present to showcase the city’s past.

Newburgh’s historic district is the second largest in the State of New York, comprising of over 1,000 buildings. The Society’s tour is a concise sample of local history covering businesses, cemeteries, churches, residences, and schools. An itinerary was organized to show the community the part Newburgh played in design, development, and the story of the area. Along the way, Newburgh’s characters will be discussed and buildings highlighted in their context. Continue reading

Remembering America’s Fallen In Every Community


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800px-American_military_cemetery_2003There is a special group of people who are remembered by a society. These are the fallen, those who die in battle on behalf of something larger than themselves. In the Bible there is an infrequently used term “nephilim” from the verb “to fall.”

Based on the archaeological evidence, the Nephilim appear to have been part of group who were remembered in Canaanite societies in the Middle and Late Bronze Age (second millennium BCE). These fallen warriors were remembered in feasts and stories just as warriors who have fallen in battle are still remembered today. It’s part of the human experience. Continue reading

Ulster County: The Borden Family of Wallkill


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John G. Borden House-Clay County ArchivesI have worked across from the old Borden Estate for over 10 years. Only recently have I started to gain a real appreciation of the role of the Borden Family not only in the history of Wallkill, NY, but also the education of its children.

The Borden Family used their fortune to make the lives of those less fortunate a little better. Nowhere is this made more evident than with Penelope Borden. Her many accomplishments are often overshadowed by her sister Marion as well as her father John G. Borden. Continue reading

NYSHA Annual Publication Awards Announced


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Armory Show BookThe New York State Historical Association will announce the winners of its three annual publication awards at its 111th Annual Meeting on July 17.

The winner of the 2014 Henry Allen Moe Prize for Catalogs of Distinction in the Arts is The Armory Show at 100: Modernism and Revolution by Marilyn Satin Kushner, Curator and Head, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections at New-York Historical Society and Kimberly Orcutt, Henry Luce Foundation Curator of American Art at New-York Historical Society. Continue reading

Remembering an Old Friend: John Briant


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JBriantNYHA year ago, I wrote about a regional writer of fiction and nonfiction who had passed away. At the time, he was among the elder statesmen of Adirondack authors. His books include One Cop’s Story: A Life Remembered, which details his service in New York State Police Troops B and D. To share one person’s perspective and to help preserve his memory, here is what I wrote about a man whose presence is missed by many. A year after his passing, I still occasionally receive contacts from people who recall him fondly.

The Adirondacks lost a longstanding member of the regional writers’ community when John Briant of Old Forge, known far and wide for his Adirondack Detective series of books, passed away on May 14, 2013. I’m not a religious person, and I can’t say to what extent John was, but if he was devout, he probably looked forward to reuniting with his beloved wife, Margaret, who passed away the previous June. Continue reading

Free Directory of Canal Sites and Museums Available


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ErieCanalwaySiteDirectory_map-cover-montageErie Canalway National Heritage Corridor has produced a new directory of canal sites and museums to introduce New York State residents and visitors to more than 45 sites all along the NYS Canal System. The directory is available at numerous canal sites and visitor centers along the Erie, Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca, and Champlain Canals.

Each site showcases a different part of the canal’s legacy—from its famous locks and low bridges, to its transformation of New York State, to the prominent role it continues to play in shaping communities along its shores. Continue reading