The position of New York State Historian was created in 1895. The Historian was appointed by the Governor until 1911, when the position was moved to the State Education Department. Since that time, it has been located in a number of offices including the Office of State History (1966-1976), and since then, in the State Museum.
State Historians’ job descriptions and priorities have varied over the years as well. The first State Historian, Hugh Hastings (1895-1907), had been a New York Times reporter and concentrated on documentary publications. The next one, Victor Hugo Paltsits (1907-1911), a librarian and expert in colonial history, was known for meticulous editing of published editions and laid the basis for expanding the position into the area of archives. Alexander C. Flick (1923-1939) edited and led the publication of a multi-volume history of the state. Louis L. Tucker (1966-1976) held the titles of State Historian and Assistant Commissioner for State History in the Office of State History and, in the early 1970’s, was also Executive Director of the New York State American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. Continue reading
Just before the July 4th weekend, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a press release on the state of tourism. The release covered tourism in its totality and did not address specific sectors like adventure tourism, winery tourism, historic tourism, and LGBT tourism, the four pillars of I Love NY promotions. It also did not differentiate between business, vacation, or shopping travelers. (Macy’s chief executive Terry Lundgren in 2013 called Macy’s “ a tourist place” with roughly 6,000,000 tourists a year).
That being said, the number of travelers to the Empire State from elsewhere is impressive and the economic impact is substantial. Continue reading
Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressman Chris Gibson, and Governor Andrew Cuomo have all been in the news recently on the subject of history tourism. It is instructive to compare and contrast their involvement in the subject.
On July 1, Senator Schumer visited the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, Greene County. The site is a privately operated. The cause of the visit was the unexpected discovery what appears to be original paintings from around 1836 by Thomas Cole which had been hidden under layers of paint. Schumer was contacted about federal funding to preserve the art. He not only supports the request, but also toured the site with executive director Betsy Jacks. Continue reading
The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York State, a milestone for the state and a transformative moment in American democracy.
The New York Council for the Humanities has launched an effort to get the New York State Legislature to appropriately mark New York State Women’s Suffrage Centennial. “We feel that the New York State legislature has the opportunity and fiscal obligation to support the Commemoration,” an e-mail from the Council said. Continue reading
New York State Historian Robert Weible, who also serves as Chief Curator of the New York State Museum and leads the State Museum’s History Office, has announced that he will retire from state employment. His last day will be Wednesday, July 15, 2015.
According to Antonia Valentine, spokesperson for the New York State Education Department: “The Museum will conduct a national search for candidates for Chief Curator of the Museum and New York State Historian over the next several months. In the interim, the Museum’s History Office will report to the State Museum Director.” Continue reading
A recent post here at the New York History Blog by regular contributor Bruce Dearstyne caught my attention. Dr. Dearstyne, a tireless advocate of this state’s history, was considering New York’s celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.
“New York has not had an official state office or commission to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the war and the state’s role in it,” Dr. Dearstyne noted. “Of course, there have been many notable ceremonies, exhibits, and public events in our state during the past four years. The New York State Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee provided leadership and a focal point for publicizing events. The New York State Military Museum did outstanding work.”
I was taken aback a bit by this notion that the New York State Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee provided leadership, or publicized events – I couldn’t recall ever hearing of them. Continue reading
June 6th and June 20th weekends offer two contrasting perceptions of how to celebrate the history of New York State. These two weekends highlight fundamental problems with New York State’s approach to state heritage and makes clear that the state of Connecticut demonstrates greater leadership and a more profound understanding of its history community.
A recent article “Made in New York: The Empire State at War,” in the Albany Times Union by Civil War historian Bill Howard reminded readers of New York’s central importance in the Civil War.
Howard noted, among other things, that New York governor Edwin Morgan began mobilizing troops for the war even before the surrender of Fort Sumter, enlisted about 450,000 soldiers during the war (more than half of the state’s population under 30), was a major supplier of arms and other war materials. Howard analyzes several other New York contributions and concludes that “the war could not have been won without New York’s contributions.” Continue reading
Passports are an underutilized resource for promoting tourism and community identity. While I have been a strong advocate for the creation and use of passports at the local, county, and regional basis for schools and tourism, I only now have realized the potential funding opportunity with the latest round of funding through the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC).
This epiphany began at the annual conference of the Association of Public Historians in New York State in Corning in April. On the display table there was a pile of Adirondack Coast Cultural Alliance passports. Continue reading
This question of what municipal historians should be doing came up at the recent annual conference of the Association of Public Historians of New York (APNYS). The setting was a session at the conference for first-time municipal historians and was chaired by Christine Ridarsky, the City of Rochester Historian who works at the Central Library in Rochester and serves on the APHNYS board.
The stories told during the session did not reflect well on the state of the municipal historian position in New York State. Some had stumbled into the job based on very local circumstances. They didn’t know what the job entailed, nor did the municipal leaders who appointed them. Continue reading
On Memorial Day the New York History Blog encourages you to take a moment to support Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot who are working to protect 10.4 acres that include an abandoned American Revolutionary War Soldiers’ Cemetery from commercial development.
In late 2007, an archaeological team rediscovered the cemetery on privately-owned land just south of the Van Wyck Homestead along U.S. Route 9 in Fishkill. Fishkill served as the Patriots’ principal supply depot throughout the American Revolution, providing troops with supplies, weapons, ammunitions, transport, and food from 1776-1783. The majority of the original 70-acre site has already been lost to commercial and transportation development. The Van Wyck Homestead served as the headquarters for what was George Washington’s principal supply depot during the Revolutionary War and is the site’s only remaining structure. Continue reading
A film screening of “Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion,” Matthew Silva’s documentary about an abandoned structure designed by modernist icon Philip Johnson for the 1964 World’s Fair.The film tells the story of the Pavilion from the glory days of the fair, through the years of neglect, up to present day advocacy.
The filmmakers hope this project will be the first step in engaging and informing people about the building in new and exciting ways. This whimsical, futuristic, and soaring structure, constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, has been left abandoned for the greater part of 50 years. Continue reading
New York prides itself as being the only state in the country to require each municipality to have an historian. Unfortunately, besides taking pride in this action, the State does little or nothing to support those historians.
In previous posts, I have reported the following based on an analysis of a download of the municipal listings from the Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS): Continue reading
The Albany-Manhattan bubble is a term I use to describe the alternate reality in which the New York State government operates regarding history tourism.
Recent events in New York, Albany, and Corning (The New York Times Travel Show, Tourism Action Day, a Tourism Advisory Council Meeting, and the Museum Association of New York Annual Conference), and the presentations and comments I heard from by the inhabitants of the Albany-Manhattan bubble, demonstrate a disconnect with the real world and little hope that anything constructive will be done to bridge that gap. Continue reading
A new National Park Service (NPS) report argues that 58,772 visitors to Saratoga National Historical Park (known locally as the Saratoga Battlefield) in 2014 spent $3,296,000 in communities near the park. That spending supported 50 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $4,168,300 according to the report’s authors.
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz. Continue reading
An excellent meeting was held on April 7 at the Wallace Center, Hyde Park with the history community in the Hudson Valley and Meghan Taylor, the new director for the Mid-Hudson Region Economic Development Council (REDC).
The subject of the meeting was MONEY: what funding does New York State have and how can the history community apply for it? A second purpose was to introduce Meghan to the history community and the community to her. Continue reading
The campaign to save the historic Lent House in Orangeburg (in Orangetown, Rockland County) was lost on Saturday morning, April 4th. The decisive blow was delivered by a backhoe. The 263-year-old house was reduced to a pile of rubble in less than two hours.
Less than two weeks before, architect and preservationist Walter Aurell was optimistic that the house could be spared. After learning about the unexpected annihilation, Aurell wrote, “It is very upsetting that in a Town whose motto is ‘Rich in History’ we have lost another significant piece of that very history – and its replacement in the public realm will be another strip mall.” Continue reading
I attended The New York Times Travel Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City in January, as a member of the press for The New York History Blog. The event included a special session, “Focus on New York State Destinations,” moderated by Tim Lewis, of Viator Inc.
The company apparently has been hired by ILoveNY to promote tours in New York State. Its website lists 19 tours in New York at present: 16 in Manhattan and three to Niagara Falls, including one-day trips from the New York City. There is a two-day bus trip to Niagara Falls from New York with a “Bargain shop at one of the large outlet malls on the way back to New York.” New York State history does not appear to be a prominent part of its tour packages at present. Again, it should be noted, the company was hired to promote New York State tourism not history tourism in New York State. Continue reading
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has unveiled a seven-point framework of the NY Parks 2020 Plan that is expected to use $900 million in public and private funding to modernize the State park system.
The plan is part of a multi-year commitment since 2011 to restore facilities, enhance visitor experience, update signage and create better access for tourists at parks across the State. The 2015-16 Executive Budget adds $110 million toward this initiative. Continue reading
On November 12, 2014, at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, a federal grants workshop for arts and culture organizations was held through the auspices of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
The half-day workshop was held to familiarize organizations with the funding opportunities available through the federal government. Continue reading