Tag Archives: Carol Kammen

Public History and Debate of Public Issues


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How important is “public history?”

The essay on public history in the newly published second edition of the Encyclopedia of Local History, provides some fresh insights. The Encyclopedia, edited by Tompkins County Historian Carol Kammen, a long-time leader in the field, and Amy H. Wilson, an independent museum consultant and former director of the Chemung County Historical Society in Elmira, is  a rich source of fresh insights on all aspects of local history. Continue reading

Event Commemorating Ithaca African American Families Set


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On the Fifth of July, there will be a ceremony in the Ithaca City Cemetery to remember and rededicate the grave sites of two African American families. The Tompkins County Civil War Commission and the Sons of Union Veterans collaborated to clean the grave of Daniel Jackson, who was called “Faithful.”

Jackson was slave in Maryland before fleeing to Ithaca, where he joined others he had known from the South. He was a reliable worker in E. S. Esty’s tannery and at the end of the Civil War he returned to his birthplace to bring his elderly mother North to live with him. The two died in 1889 five days apart: he was 75 and she was thought to be 103. A stone has been placed to mark her resting place and the plot has been landscaped. Continue reading

African American Men in White NY Civil War Units


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An obituary from 1865 led me to investigate the life of Ira T. Brum, who enlisted in the 185th New York Volunteers in June 1864. The regiment was full of young men from Onondaga and Cortland, and some few from elsewhere in the state. Company F contained mostly men from Cortland who enlisted together that spring.

The 185th participated in the siege of Petersburg and was part of the Appomattox Campaign, fighting at Quaker Road, Gravelly Run, Five Forks and at Appomattox Court House. There, on April 9th, 1865 members of the 185th saw the “white flag come out and was glad to see it.” First Lieutenant Hiram Clark of Marathon gathered his men and sang “Hail Columbia.” As the men settled against a fence, a shell came over and killed Clark, the “last man killed in the army of the Potomac.” Continue reading

New York History’s New Contributor Carol Kammen


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Please join us in welcoming Carol Kammen as our third new contributor here at New York History. Kammen is Tompkins County Historian, a Senior Lecturer at Cornell University, and the author of several books including On Doing Local History: Reflections on What Local Historians Do, Why, and What It Means and The Peopling of Tompkins County: A Social History.

Kammen has worked as a local historian for what she calls “a great number of years,” teaching local history at Tompkins Cortland Community College and now at Cornell. She has researched and written about her area’s history in a weekly newspaper column, in Heritage, the magazine of the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA), and in several books.

She has lectured and written about the problems, joys, ethics, sources, and themes of local history, including a series of articles for NYSHA’s journal New York History (1980-1985) issued as Plain as Pipestem (Heart of the Lakes Press, Interlaken, NY). When the American Association for State and Local History asked her to write a book about the problems and possibilities of local history, the result was the now popular On Doing Local History.

Her first post, about upstate women in the Civil War, will appear later this morning.

Photo courtesy Jason Koski, Cornell University Photography.