1860: Married Women As Wage Slaves


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cotton-mill-workers1As the national debate over the extension of chattel slavery into the territories heated up in February and March of 1860, women’s rights advocates were storming the capitol in Albany demanding an end to what they felt was another form of slavery—wage slavery for married women.

Under the law in effect until March 20, 1860 in New York State, married women did not have legal control over any money they earned working for themselves or others. All of it belonged to their husbands! As Lucy Stone explained it to the National Women’s Rights Convention in 1853, “unless by cunning she can keep her earnings away from him, he can and does take them to pay the drunkard’s bill, and to squander upon abandoned women.”

According to women’s rights supporters, there were tens of thousands of these kinds of ne’er-do-well husbands, most of whom were cigar-smoking drunkards and/or womanizers, who paid their bills with money they took from their wives’ bank accounts without their permission. Continue reading

This Week’s Top New York History News


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Latest New York History News

Subscribe! The New York History Blog reaches more than 6,000 people each day each day 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.

Peter Feinman: Resurrecting the NY Freedom Trail


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freedur1The wheel is about to be reinvented. In response to an earlier post on the State Tourism Advisory Council, Rosemary Vietor wrote the following comment:

Peter – Perhaps you saw the article in yesterday’s WSJ NY section on the underground railroad (not precise title) tourism sites proposed for Manhattan. It is an effort to link those sites (most of which no longer exist) into a walking tour. There has been for a number of years a similar effort in Flushing, the Flushing Freedom Mile. It links sites such as the Quaker Meeting House, Bowne House and others. There are markers so one can do this tour. Here is a great example of what might be done to increase history tourism – link both sites and others around the city. Why is this not done? It’s so obvious. As for Mystic Seaport, I can tell you from involvement there that CT has long recognized the importance of history and tourism and has devoted substantial funds to those efforts. New York seems indifferent at best. NY Culture. Continue reading

The NYS Barge Canal During World War I


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120692pvAs the United States entered World War I, it was thought that the Nation’s transportation facilities were not up to the task of mobilizing and supplying large quantities of materials and men to the east coast for shipment to the war front.

What took place over the next three years was an experiment in the nationalization of the railroads, and to a much smaller extent, the waterways.

In 1917 New York State found itself with a rather big problem. After fourteen years of planning, engineering and construction, the new Barge Canal was almost ready for use. Although terminal space was still being built, plans were to have the entire canal channel and locks ready for use in the spring of 1918. However, there were few boats available for use on the canal, for a number of reasons: Continue reading

Helen Redmond, Theater Star from Port Henry


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NRedmond 1A NYHThe Adirondacks have a rich history of mountain lore, guide stories, Great Camps, and Olympic glory. But our mountain history tends to overshadow elements of the past that can serve as great attractions for locals and tourists alike: fame and achievements by regional natives and residents in non-mountain endeavors. Among the dozens of examples: one of the most popular songs ever written was penned by a native of the North Creek-Wevertown area; and two world-champions―one a beloved cyclist, and the other among the greatest regional athletes ever―were both based in the Glens Falls area.

The unusual talents and accomplishments of locals is virtual gold for area museums, but so many of these stories are overlooked. Take for instance, Port Henry’s Helen Redmond. Though you’ve never heard of her, Helen’s talents were once celebrated from coast to coast. Continue reading

The Fenian Brotherhood in Troy, Cohoes, and Waterford


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Fenian meeting coverThe Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center will present a program entitled “Irish Revolutionaries: The Fenian Brotherhood in Troy, Cohoes, and Waterford” with local historian Aaron Robinson.

In the mid-19th century, Irish revolutionaries could be found on the streets of Troy, Waterford, and Cohoes. The lecture talk will consider the Fenian Brotherhood in that area.

This event will be held at 7pm, on March 11, 2014, at McGreivey’s restaurant at 91 Broad St, Waterford, NY. Food and drink available are available for purchase; suggested donation is $6 per person ($5 members).

Land of Makebelieve Exhibit Seeks Funding


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Land of Make BelieveIn January 2014, the Adirondack History Center Museum received a collection of some 600 artifacts related to the Land of Makebelieve and its founder Arto Monaco, who was born in Ausable Forks in 1913. The Land of Makebelieve was an amusement park created by Monaco in 1954 as a place where children could let their imaginations run wild.

They rode the train, visited the castle, and explored the western style town. Monaco’s work was also found at Santa’s Workshop and Charley Wood’s Storytown and Gaslight Village in Lake George. In 1979, the Land of Makebelieve was destroyed by a flood and was forced to close. Continue reading

Events to Celebrate Adirondack Women’s History


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image001(8)Celebrate Women’s History Month on March 21 and 22 with a program of stories and music by acclaimed Adirondack singer-songwriter Peggy Lynn and author/performer Sandra Weber.

On Friday, March 21 at 7:00 pm Peggy and Sandra perform at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall. On Saturday, March 22 at 6:30 pm at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts there is a reception to benefit the Adirondack History Center Museum followed by a performance at 7:30 pm. The Wild Spirits: Songs and Stories of Remarkable Adirondack Women program highlights the contributions and journeys of famous (and not so famous) women of the Adirondacks. Continue reading

Poltics, War, and Personality:
50 Iconic World War II Documents


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Politics-War-and-Personality-Fifty-Iconic-World-War-II-Documents-That-Changed-the-World-HardcoverAuthor Kenneth W. Rendell has gathered 50 of the most important and iconic documents of World War II in Poltics, War, and Personality: Fifty Iconic World War II Documents that Changed the World (Whitman Publishing; 2014).

With the assistance of more than 150 archival images and photographs, Rendell tells the stories of these documents which foreshadowed, announced, or altered the course of war. The book features a foreword by the late John S.D. Eisenhower, son of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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Adirondack Fire Tower Management Public Hearing Set


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Hurricane-mtn-Fire-Tower-Phil-Brown-PhotoThe Proposed Final Drafts of the Hurricane Mountain and St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area Unit Management Plans (UMPs) were presented by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) staff to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Board at their monthly meeting on February 14, 2014. Pursuant to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) requirements for Historic Areas, the Agency will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 to solicit public comments related to the proposed UMPs’ conformity with the provisions of the SLMP.

The Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area is located on the Summit of Hurricane Mountain in the Town of Keene, Essex County. The St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area is located on the summit of St. Regis Mountain in the Town of Santa Clara, Franklin County. Continue reading

This Week’s Top New York History News


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Latest New York History News

Subscribe! The New York History Blog reaches more than 6,000 people each day each day 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.

Abolitionist Gerrit Smith’s Birthday Party Planned


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Smith, G Sebring 1-2014Stewards for the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (the Gerrit Smith Estate) invite the public to the annual Gerrit Smith birthday party at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014 to learn about Peterboro in 1864.

Born in Utica March 6, 1797, Smith came to Peterboro when nine years old and, with the exception of his years at college and in Congress, spent his life in Peterboro managing his land business in order to support his reform initiatives. Smith’s influence connected Peterboro to national issues. Continue reading

Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American


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Hank Greenburg After Connecting; Home RuThere are people whose contributions to baseball history went far beyond mere batting averages or stolen bases. They didn’t just play the game, they changed the game. For generations of American Jews and other minorities, they served as athletic, cultural, and ethical role models.

On March 13, 2014 the National Museum of American Jewish History will open a new exhibition, Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American, being billed as “the first large-scale exhibition to use the story of Jews and baseball as an opportunity to highlight ways in which our national pastime is part of the history, and ongoing story, of how immigrants and minorities of many different backgrounds—including Italians, Asians, Latinos, African-Americans, and many others—become American, to feel a part of the society in which they might otherwise be on the margins.” Continue reading

Help Us Promote Women’s History


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Womens History MonthHelp this New York History Blog spread the word about the role of women in New York State history by contributing an essay for publication.

Essays are sought that focus on individual women, women’s groups, or relevant historic sites located in New York State. Historiography and commentaries on public history issues related to women’s history, are all welcome.

Essays should be about 750-1,200 words. Send your submissions via e-mail to editor John Warren. Include a short (three line) biography of yourself.

NYS Parks, Historic Sites Visitation Tops 60 Million


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OPRHP-1The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) today announced that more than 60.1 million people visited New York state parks and historic sites in 2013, and campgrounds had the busiest year on record.

Visitation topped 60 million for the second year in a row despite the fact that some of state’s most popular parks were temporarily closed for repairs due to Superstorm Sandy. Continue reading

Harboring Runaway Slaves in Antebellum New York


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Runaway_slaveResidents of antebellum New York State assumed a large responsibility for sheltering slaves fleeing to Canada. It’s rare that we hear how families dealt with the challenge of concealing a fugitive, a crime for which they could pay high fines or even jail terms. The following account of Martha and David Wright’s experience reveals some of the complications involved when a family with young children offered lodging to runaways.

Martha and David Wright offered their Auburn, New York home as a station on the Underground Railroad from its early years. In letters to her sister, Lucretia Mott, Martha described the stories and challenges that boarding fugitive slaves presented to her and her family. One of those stories happened in January, 1843. Continue reading

Slave to Fiddler: Utica’s Joseph Pell


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pelldeathI wrote an article about early black musicians in New York State back in December, but I decided to omit Joe Pell from that piece for two reasons. He seemed never to have been a full-time musician (as were the other performers in the article), and, in December, nearly all the information I had on Pell came from his obituary, and obituaries are not always the best place to locate objective, unbiased information about a person.

I have since been able to confirm much of what was written upon his passing, and I present here an annotated obituary of this talented and beloved black performer. My annotations appear within square brackets. Continue reading