Over the past few years, there has been a lot of discussion here on The New York History Blog about the status and role of local government historians, including, for instance, a summary of a special issue of the journal Public Historian three years ago on the status of history in New York State, and, most recently, Peter Feinman’s post “The State of Municipal Historians,” which resulted in many comments.
Local government historians are unique to New York State. They give us an edge over other states in the local history arena. Their potential is immense. But their status and role need to be strengthened. Continue reading
New York State requires every municipality to have a historian. This means every village, every town, every city, every county, and, of course, at the state level. Hamlets can ponder “should we or should we not have an historian, that is the question” but they are not legally obligated to have one. Nor are neighborhoods. That might seem self-evident outside New York City, but one should realize that the neighborhoods in the city can be substantially larger than even some cities.
Naturally, even when you are required to have a historian by state law there is no assistance from the state in support of that position. It is an unfunded mandate.
Let’s examine the state of these municipal historians. Continue reading
The Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS), Region 3, will hold its 2014 meeting on Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 9:45 am to 2:00 pm at the Westchester County historical Society, 2199 Saw Mill River Road, Elmsford, NY. Region 3 includes Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester, Rockland, and Orange counties.
Registration for the 2014 APHNYS Region 3 Meeting should be mailed to: Suzanne Isaksen, APHNYS Region 3 Coordinator, 10 Windrift Lane, Walden, NY 12586-1524. Include the names and titles (e.g. “Town of Montgomery Historian”) of attendees, along with telephone and e-mail contact information. A fee of $10.00 per person is being charged to help defray costs of lunch and refreshments. Make checks payable to APHNYS. Continue reading
The 2014 Association of Public Historians in New York State annual conference will be held from March 16-19, 2014 at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs.
A tentative conference schedule and registration information has been posted online here.
The purpose of the Association is to promote and encourage a greater understanding of the history of New York State and its local jurisdictions; to promote and encourage the work of the officially appointed local government historians in New York State and its legal jurisdictions; to support and encourage the Office of the State Historian; to foster a spirit of cooperation and collegiality among all public historians in New York State.
Readers of The New York History Blog may recall that in a previous post I asked if anyone had heard about what had been discussed in Cooperstown at the NYSHA conference in a private meeting involving the Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS), the New York State historical Association (NYSHA), and the New York State Historian among others.
Some of those discussions have now been reported in the APHNYS newsletter. The following excerpts are from the newsletter. Continue reading
With the annual meeting of the Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS) fast approaching and the centennial of the local government historians law on the not so distant horizon, as Bruce Dearstyne just reminded us, it is appropriate to examine just what is expected from municipal historians.
One may ask the proverbial question, “How are you doing?” – and take an opportunity to address what the guidelines say, what is being done, and what should be done. Continue reading
April 11, 2013 marks the 94th anniversary of Governor Al Smith’s signing the law that established New York’s system of local government Historians (Laws of 1919, Ch. 181). Smith was a history-minded leader.
As an Assemblyman, he had sponsored the bill in 1911 that moved the State Historian’s office to the State Education Department and initiated the state’s local government records program. In 1919, his first year as governor, he was preparing to reorganize and modernize state government.
His approval of the Historians’ Law was a milestone event. New York was, and still is, the only state in the nation to declare preservation and dissemination of local history to be a public purpose so important that it is embodied in statute.
As the new year gets underway, it is appropriate to pause and reflect on open issues from years gone by. I am referring now to the role in 2013 of the county historian as a custodian for New York State history as we forge ahead with our Path through History Project.
The starting point for this investigation is an article which appeared on September 12, 2012 just after the summer launch in August entitled “New York State’s Curious, Century-Old Law Requiring Every City and Town to Have a Historian” by Amanda Erickson in The Atlantic Cities. Continue reading
I was disappointed to hear the recent news that Schenectady County officials have chosen to cut funding for their county historian. This decision appears to have less to do with the historian than it did with the county’s fiscal problems.
Many of us are familiar with the state law that requires municipalities to appoint historians, and as Gerry Smith has pointed out, NYS County Law, section 400, also requires counties to make similar appointments. Many counties and many municipalities comply with these laws. Many don’t. But that’s not what’s at stake here. Continue reading
The Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS) has announced that the 2013 Annual State Conference will be held in Syracuse on April 17-19, 2013 at the Holiday Inn – Liverpool. APHNYS is currently accepting proposals for conference presentations.
Proposals can be submitted for papers, panels and interactive programs. The conference draws between 175 – 200 Local Government Historians and supporters of local history from across the Empire State. Continue reading
New York is not the only state turning to cultural heritage tourism or seeking to develop its historic community. Let’s look at our neighbor to the east and see what lessons we might learn from them.
Note – this post contains five items on what Connecticut is doing and four recommendations on what New York should do so it is too long to read on a computer at work in one sitting. Continue reading
Is resurgence in the interest in history a sign of the time? It seems so as two initiatives to promote the importance of history and heritage of New York both use signs as a means to the end.
At the 2012 conference of the Association of Public Historians of New York State on Long Island, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation used that opportunity to announce that their organization was taking their interest in historical markers statewide. Continue reading
Since my emergency post of April 22 a lot has happened.
1. MANY/Museumwise held its annual conference
2. APHNYS held its annual conference at the same time
3. The NYS Board of Regents met
4. Gov. Cuomo created a New York Education Reform Commission
5. Gov. Cuomo’s “Path Through History” initiative scheduled a meeting for May 21
Let’s see if it is possible to make sense of some of these developments. Continue reading
Public historians from across New York State will join forces for three days – from April 23-25, 2012 as the Association of Public Historians of New York State hold their annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Long Island in Hauppauge. The association is expecting its largest conference to date as over two hundred local government historians meet to enjoy the camaraderie and networking opportunities. Continue reading
Good things are happening in the world of New York history. Maybe not as many as we would like, but at least some signs of change are in the air. In this post, I would like to mention three events at the state, regional, and local level all in the Capital District that represent positive actions on the New York history front. Continue reading
The August 2011 issue of The Public Historian focused on both the richness of the history of New York State and the diverseness of the systems in place to protect and promote that history. This same issue has been seen in recent blogs and articles on the online site New York History and elsewhere.
I appreciate the focus on our state’s history and the concern of many to ensure that our heritage is properly preserved for everyone. Unfortunately, too little attention has been paid to a system that already exists that links and networks with every other agency in the state – the Association of Public Historians of New York State. Continue reading
This is the second in a series of posts on the New York State History infrastructure. The previous one was on County Historians. These posts draw on my experiences in initiating a series of county history conferences in the Hudson Valley this year and on Teacherhostels / Historyhostels I have conducted such as the one to the Mohawk Valley this summer prior to Tropical Storm Irene. Continue reading
Based on the county history conferences which I initiated in the Hudson Valley this year, I would like to take this opportunity to share my experiences and to offer some suggestions on changes which should occur. I am starting with the County Historian position since that position was my point of contact for proposing each conference. I dealt with 8 counties in the Hudson Valley and while they may not be a fair sample of the 62 counties in the state, they are a reasonable number upon which to base my comments. Also it should be noted that I was the constant, meaning I was the same person who interacted with all 8 counties. Continue reading
In recent months New York State has been the victim of horrendous flooding and devastation as the result of both Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The path of devastation is both wide and long – reaching from Maryland and New Jersey up to Vermont.
Centuries of disaster records have fallen. We have seen the evacuation of major areas of New York City and entire towns cut off from contact with neighboring communities and the outside world. As news crews rush to film the spectacular scenes of water rushing through main streets as buildings rush toward certain destruction, there are other stories that are lost in the immediacy of the event. Continue reading
Please welcome our newest contributor here at the online journal New York History, President of the Association of Public Historians of New York State Gerry Smith.
Smith has been Broome County Historian since 1988 and City of Binghamton Historian since 1984. A native of Broome County, he graduated from Broome Community College and Binghamton University where he received his Masters in History.
Gerry recently retired from his full-time job at the Broome County Public Library after 32 years and began HistorySmiths, a consulting and research company. He is the author of several books, including Partners All: A History of Broome Count, New York and The Valley of Opportunity: A Pictorial History of Greater Binghamton, New York. He is currently the curator of “The Civil War” at Roberson Museum. He serves on several boards, including WSKG, and the Broome County Historical Society.
The Association of Public Historians began in 1999 with the merger of the former Association of Municipal Historians of New York State and the County Historians Association of New York State. The organization is the officially recognized agency to serve the needs of the over 1600 local government historians in every town, village, city, county and borough in the state. Today, hundreds of historians attend the organization’s annual conference or network and learn at one of the meetings of the twelve statewide regions. The APHNYS website connects historians through online resources, newsletters and specialized training on historic issues. APHNYS is currently involved in a statewide initiative on historical markers, and operates its Registered Historians program to promote professionalism and education for all appointed historians.