On Tuesday, February 6, Sheila Healy, the Museum Association of New York’s government relations consultant, and I had the opportunity to attend the Assembly’s Education Committee meeting chaired by Assembly member Catherine Nolan.
Guest speaker MaryEllen Elia, Commissioner of Education, shared her 2018 budget priorities and fielded member questions. We then met with Museum Education Act (A.3892A/S.1676A) sponsors Assembly Member Matt Titone and Senator Betty Little. Continue reading
Erika Sanger, Executive Director of the Museum Association of New York (MANY) has written to supporters to say that in the opening days of the legislative session, the Museum Education Act has already moved through the Assembly Tourism Committee into Ways and Means.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us in the Assembly and the Senate to get the bill passed this year,” Sanger told supporters. “We have a lot of hope because funding for a pilot project was included in the New York State Education Department’s budget request.” Continue reading
What does New York’s historical community want?
In the wake of NYSHA’s demise, Ken Jackson and his colleagues have addressed an open letter of concern and protest. Peter Feinman included the letter in a recent post and followed with a response from Paul D’Ambrosio in another post. John Warren continues to report on developments, attesting to the essential importance of the New York History Blog.
State Historian Devin Lander is doing an outstanding job but he is still working without staff. New York passed its 240th anniversary last spring with no official commemoration. The Researching New York Conference last month was one of the best ever, but the New York State History Conference has been discontinued. November, New York State History Month, has come and gone once again with little public attention. The demise of NYSHA leaves a big gap in the state’s historical enterprise. Continue reading
After nearly 120 years, the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA) is no more. On March 13, 2017, the State Board of Regents approved NYSHA’s request to amend its charter to change its name to Fenimore Art Museum, revise its corporate purposes, designate the Commissioner of Education as agent for corporation service; and update the organization’s IRS dissolution language (pdf link).
The move follows years of debate over the role of the organization as a statewide advocate for the New York State History Community, a troubled history of publishing the State’s history journal New York History, and questions about NYSHA’s support for the long-standing annual spring meeting of the State’s historians, the Conference on New York State History. Continue reading
“It is the sense of the council that the standing of this city as a worldwide tourist center and world capital of business, culture and government cannot be maintained or enhanced by disregarding the historical and architectural heritage of the city and by countenancing the destruction of such cultural assets.” – New York City Council, April 6, 1965 Continue reading
A meeting of friends of the New York State history community will be held in the conference room of the New York State Writers Institute on Thursday, November 17th at 10 am. The Writers Institute is on the third floor of the SUNY Albany Science Library, where a joint meeting of the Conference on New York History and the Researching New York Conference will be taking place Nov. 17-19, 2016.
This meeting, coordinated by SUNY Oswego Professor Emerita Judith Wellman and New York History Blog Editor John Warren, will bring together those interested in establishing Friends of New York History-style group to coordinate and support advocacy strengthening New York’s historical enterprise and history community. Discussions are expected to include recent advocacy efforts and a framework for future efforts; the establishment of a “Friends of New York History” group; and the future of the New York History Blog. Continue reading
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