There is encouraging evidence that we may be moving toward a turning point for New York’s historical enterprise.
During the last several months:
The Education Department made the State Historian an independent, full-time position. This is unlike the previous situation, where the State Historian, Bob Weible, also served as Chief History Curator of the State Museum. In effect, that was two jobs rolled into one. The curatorial work left little time for the state history work. Creating a new, dedicated position required approval of the Director of the State Museum, the Commissioner of Education and the Division of the Budget. Those are positive signs of interest and support. Continue reading
In 2017 it will be 100 years since New York State signed woman’s suffrage into law, three years before the US passed the 19th Amendment. This was a milestone for the state and a transformative moment in American democracy.
Thanks to public help last November, Senator Betty Little and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther circulated letters outlining a $3.9M request to support the centennial. This funding would support grants, programs, and statewide events and activities at cultural heritage sites, museums, libraries and other community organizations. Signers from both houses added their support to these letters, but thus far no funding has been included in either the Senate or House budgets. Continue reading
When New York’s governor appointed the first State Historian in 1895, the Progressive Era was just getting underway. The appointment was part of a much larger reform movement to strengthen American democracy by professionalizing government and promoting more active and knowledgeable civic participation in public affairs.
Progressives were especially focused on public education, and in 1911 – seven years after the establishment of the State Education Department – New York moved its State Historian from the Governor’s office to the newly formed department. Continue reading
The National Park Service (NPS) has released its Fiscal Year 2015 deferred maintenance statistics for national parks. The $11.9 billion nationwide total was up from the $11.49 billion reported at the end of FY2014.
Locally, Women’s Rights National Historical Park has $1.4 million in deferred maintenance – part of the $11.9 billion deferred maintenance backlog across the National Park System. Continue reading
New York is fortunate in having a robust history and so many historians, over the years, preserving, writing about, interpreting, and presenting it. But sometimes we concentrate repeatedly on some aspects of history and under-emphasize others that are equally as important.
The history of the Erie Canal and other canals might be a good example. Continue reading
As we look forward to the new year ahead, we continue to search for and try out ideas that will strengthen state and local history here in New York. What follows is a short list of resources that might be of interest:
Of course, the best place to publicize, monitor, and comment on historical programs and issues in our state is this New York History Blog. John Warren continues to provide a unique forum here to keep up with history community news and exchange ideas. Without this blog, we would not have any way to keep in touch. We wouldn’t be able to follow news from historical programs, updates on the work and role of local historians, or discussions of New York History Month, Path Through History, the State Historian’s position, or the proposed Museum Education Act, just to cite a few examples. But keeping the blog going requires support from the state’s history community. Continue reading
The New York State Board of Regents has made the Museum Education Act (MEA) a Legislative Priority for 2016. The Act would provide museums and other eligible institutions access to grant funding to conduct curriculum-based educational programs for students and teachers in grades pre-kindergarten through grade twelve and adults enrolled in continuing education programs.
The grants are expected to be competitive in nature and could be used for a variety of curriculum-based educational programming, including funding for the transportation of students to museums or museum staff to classrooms. Continue reading
New York has 932 towns, 547 villages, and 62 cities. Each one of them is required by State law to appoint a Municipal Historian.
To most people, this sounds like a quirky mandate, especially considering that there’s no requirement to provide a salary or storage space to maintain local records. Also, you may remember a Municipal Historian presenting a slide show at your elementary school or at a community festival where you may have developed an appreciation for their work – or perhaps been unimpressed because of how out-of-touch they were. Continue reading
As we near the end of the year I thought I’d offer some updates about the status of the New York History Blog, and at the same time, some important news for the history community.
Those who attended the Researching New York Conference in Albany recently may be aware of the following developments, but this will no doubt be the first time many have heard these important announcements. Continue reading
November is New York State History Month. The goal of this initiative certainly is a worthy one. Naturally as historians, a primary source document such as a press release invites a close reading of the text. That’s what historians do and government publications are not exempt from such scrutiny. The exercise is quite productive and one can learn a lot from doing it.