Tag Archives: Civil Rights

Remembering Gordon Parks In ’100 Moments’


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Gordon Parks bought his first camera in a pawn shop and got his first real photography job at the New Deal’s Farm Security Administration (FSA).”American Gothic,” his bold arrangement of a White House cleaning lady with a mop in front of a flag, got him in trouble on his first assignment.

As a multifaceted creative artist, Parks stacked up firsts again and again in a long career that has been seeing numerous tributes over the past year.  2012 was the 100th anniversary of his birth, and exhibits are still underway. Continue reading

Marking John Brown’s Struggle For Human Rights


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One hundred and fifty-three years ago this week John Brown led an anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, part of the radical movement of tens of thousands of Americans struggling to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War.

It’s often said that just one thing secured Brown’s place in the hearts of millions of Americans – his execution and martyrdom. But there is another more important reason to celebrate the life of John Brown – his courage in standing against unjust state and federal laws, the press, and popular culture in the cause of basic human rights. Continue reading

New John Brown Portrait Unveiling, Education Event Set


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John Brown Lives! and North Country Community College have announced that Maine artist Robert Shetterly will be present for the unveiling of his portrait of abolitionist John Brown during Freedom Now, Freedom Then: The Long History of Emancipation, a two-day program designed for students, educators and the general public on November 30-December 1, 2012. The events will take place in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, New York.

Brown is one of the newest additions to the Americans Who Tell the Truth project that Shetterly began 10 years ago using portraits of contemporary and historical figures and their own words to offer a “link between a community of people who struggled for justice in our past and a community of people who are doing it now.”

With this portrait, Brown joins Shetterly’s pantheon of more than 180 Truth Tellers that includes Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth and Mark Twain from the nation’s past, and Bill McKibben, James Baldwin, Michelle Alexander, and Jonathan Kozol who are addressing some of humanity’s gravest concerns today.

Shetterly’s portraits have been exhibited across the country. His painting of Brown will be unveiled on Friday 30 November at North Country Community College, Saranac Lake campus, at the opening program of “Freedom Now, Freedom Then: The Long History of Emancipation”. Several other Shetterly paintings will also be exhibited at the college and at the other venues where events will be taking place.

Geared for area high school and college students, their teachers and professors, the Friday program of “Freedom Now, Freedom Then” will also feature independent scholar Amy Godine and Kenneth Morris, Jr., the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass.

Godine will talk about young men and women with North Country roots who have heeded the call for human freedman, including slain civil rights worker Andrew Goodman and criminal justice reformer Alice Green. A poster including Goodman, Green and four other civil rights champions done by Lake Placid artist Nip Rogers will also be on display.

Following in his forebear’s footsteps, Morris will talk with students about slavery in Douglass’ time and today, when more people are trafficked and held in slavery than at any other time in human history. Twenty-seven million people are enslaved in nearly every country on Earth, including the United States where State Department estimates that 15,000 women, men and children are trafficked each year. Morris will also discuss service-learning opportunities for students to join the 21st century abolitionist movement to end slavery once and for all.

Glory, the Edward Zwick film starring Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick, will be shown on Friday night (venue to be determined). Civil War Memory blogger Kevin Levin will lead a discussion immediately following the screening.

A cornerstone of John Brown Lives!’ work is to provide teachers in and outside of the classroom with high-caliber opportunities to engage with historians, scholars, anti-slavery activists and artists in an intimate setting. Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid will be the venue for a full day of workshops, presentations and conversations on the complex history of emancipation for educators, librarians, and the general public and will feature: Dr. Gloria Marshall-Browne on freedom and the Founding Documents; Dr. Margaret Washington on women and emancipation; Civil War Memory blogger Kevin Levin on film and emancipation; Magpie, the folk duo, on emancipation in song; Artist Robert Shetterly on art to promote courageous citizenship; Kenneth Morris, President of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, on engaging youth, congregations and communities in emancipation today; and Dr. Franny Nudelman on emancipation our texts and textbooks.

David W. Blight, preeminent scholar on the U.S. Civil War, will give the closing keynote address, “The Historical Memory of the Civil War and Emancipation at 150” on Saturday night in Lake Placid (venue to be determined). Dr. Blight is the Director of the Center for Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University and the author of numerous award-winning books and publications including American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Narratives of Emancipation; and Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory.

For more information, presenter bios, and a complete schedule of workshops, film and music programs, visit John Brown Lives! on Facebook or contact either Martha Swan, Executive Director John Brown Lives!, or Cammy Sheridan, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at North Country Community College. Swan may be reached at 518-962-4798 or info@johnbrownlives.org. Sheridan is available at 518-891-2915, ext. 1271 or csheridan@nccc.edu.

Votes for Women History Trail Makes Progress


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The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 signed by President Obama authorized the Women’s Rights National Historical Park (NHP) to administer a Votes for Women History Trail Route that would link properties in the New York State that are historically and thematically associated with the struggle for women’s suffrage in the United States.

Upstate New York is home to some of the most significant locations of the women’s suffrage movement and the trail is expected to recognize some of the courageous women who led the way to equal rights and will also allow visitors to see the historic places where these pioneering actions occurred.

Although Women’s Rights NHP was authorized to develop and administer this vehicular route, until now no funds had been appropriated for this purpose. The National Park Service recently provided funds through the Park Service’s Washington office to begin the process of formally establishing the trail by defining the criteria for participation and a selection process by which trail sites would be selected.

The Women’s Rights NHP will be holding a public meeting to seek public comments and
suggestions on Wednesday, August 22, 2012 in Seneca Falls regarding the Votes for Women History Trail Route. All are invited to attend this meeting and share ideas. More information about the time and location of the August public meeting will be made available as soon as it is available.

For more information, please the website www.nps.gov/wori or call (315) 568-0024. 

To be considered for inclusion in the trail, the National Park Service requires that properties be historically significant and easily accessible to the public. The list of potential sites includes:

* Susan B. Anthony Memorial, Rochester

* Antoinette Brown Blackwell Childhood Home, Henrietta

* Ontario County Courthouse, Canandaigua

* M’Clintock House, Waterloo

* Jane Hunt House, Waterloo

* Jacob P. Chamberlain House, Seneca Falls

* Lorina Latham House, Seneca Falls

* Wesleyan Chapel, Seneca Falls

* Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, Seneca Falls

* First Presbyterian Church, Seneca Falls

* Race House, Seneca Falls, Seneca Falls

* Hoskins House, Seneca Falls

* Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, Auburn

* Harriet May Mills House, Syracuse

* Matilda Joslyn Gage House, Fayetteville.

Women’s Rights NHP Offers History Trading Cards


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Trading cards have been popular with kids for generations, from images of sports figures to movie stars. Now, Women’s Rights NHP is offering free trading cards featuring cards of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the Wesleyan Chapel, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Martha and William Wright.

The cards available at Women’s Rights NHP are part of a series of 550 cards available at participating national parks throughout the United States. To “earn” a trading card, kids may participate in a ranger-led tour or answer a question about their visit to the park.

“The trading cards are vehicles for telling some ‘lesser-known’ stories – including the stories of civilians, women, African-Americans and American Indians,” said Superintendent Tammy Duchesne. The trading cards are a great way to engage kids with our history as a nation, both here at Women’s Rights NHP and throughout the United States. According to Duchesne, the cards also provide an incentive to families with children to visit all parks which offer the cards.

For more information, please visit their website at www.nps.gov/wori or call (315) 568-0024. You can also follow the park’s social media sites for Facebook and Twitter to learn more about their upcoming programs.
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New Book: Black Women and Politics in NYC


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Julie A. Gallagher’s Black Women and Politics in New York City (2012, Univ. of Illinois Press) is a remarkable contribution to twentieth-century political history that documents six decades of politically active black women in New York City.  These are Black women as liberal reformers, from suffrage to civil rights, who waged struggles for justice, rights, and equality not through grassroots activism but through formal politics.

In tracing the paths of black women activists from women’s clubs and civic organizations to national politics–including appointments to presidential commissions, congressional offices, and even a presidential candidacy–Gallagher also articulates the vision of politics the women developed and its influence on the Democratic party and its policies. Deftly examining how race, gender, and the structure of the state itself shape outcomes, she exposes the layers of power and discrimination at work in all sectors of U.S. society. Continue reading

Kodak Elegy: A Cold War Childhood


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What was it like to grow up as the son of a Kodak engineer during the company’s glory days? William Merrill Decker presents a vivid portrait of life in the Rochester suburbs where residents eagerly conformed to period expectations: two kids, two cars, a move from a snug middle-class neighborhood to a spacious upper-middle-class subdivision.

In Kodak Elegy: A Cold War Childhood (2012, Syracuse University Press), Decker recollects the blithe and troubled scenes of America’s postwar prosperity and evokes a bygone era. Continue reading

Teaching the Hudson Valley from Civil War to Civil Rights


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Educators are invited to discover new ways to use the region’s special places to teach about controversy and decision making at In Conflict Crises: Teaching the Hudson Valley from Civil War to Civil Rights and Beyond. Registration is now open for THV’s annual institute, July 24-26, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and Presidential Library in Hyde Park.

This year’s opening talk, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: Controversy and  Connection in the Classroom of Life, will feature Kim and Reggie Harris, musicians, storytellers, educators, and interpreters of history. Accepting THV’s invitation they wrote, “Our nation’s history is filled with conflict, opposition, controversy, and crisis, but is also rich in perseverance, collaboration, determination, and compromise. We look forward to reflecting on ways to use these realities to prepare students to be thinkers and problem solvers.”

During the institute, more than 15 workshops will connect educators with historians, writers, and scientists, as well as their colleagues from schools, parks, and historic sites throughout the Valley. Topics include
Evaluating Scientific Claims (Cary Institute), Using ELA Common Core to Teach Controversy (Lewisboro Elementary School teachers), and Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State and the Civil War, (New York State Museum).

On day 2 of the institute participants will choose one of six in-depth field experiences at Columbia County History Museum (Kinderhook), Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site and FDR Presidential Library (Hyde Park), Fishkill Depot, Katherine W. Davis River Walk Center (Sleepy Hollow), Mount Gulian Historic Site (Beacon), or Palisaides Interstate Park.

You can find out more about the program online

Photo: Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, courtesy Bill Urbin, Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites, National Park Service.

Unique ‘Activist New York’ Exhibit Opens in NYC


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“Activist New York,” the inaugural exhibition in the Museum of the City of New York’s new Puffin Foundation Gallery, will examine the ways in which ordinary New Yorkers have advocated, agitated, and exercised their power to shape the city’s – and the nation’s – future. Centuries of activist efforts, representing the full spectrum of political ideologies, will be illuminated through a series of installations featuring 14 New York movements ranging from the mid-17th century to today.

The exhibition will feature historic artifacts and images from the museum’s collection as well as pieces on loan from other collections, along with interactive elements that enable visitors to explore and express their own views. For the first three weeks of the exhibition attendees will have a chance to view the original “Flushing Remonstrance,” the 1657 landmark document protesting restrictions against Quakers in New Amsterdam.

“Activist New York” begins and ends with questions of religious freedom, from the struggle for religious tolerance in Dutch New Netherland, to today’s debate over a Muslim Cultural Center near Ground Zero. In between, the exhibition examines a wide range of social movements that transformed laws and assumptions regarding race, gender, class, sexuality, economic justice, and other issues.

The Puffin Foundation Gallery is situated in a newly renovated and climate-controlled 2000 square foot south gallery on the Museum’s second floor, and named for the foundation that has supported the gallery with a gift of $3.25 million.

The exhibition unfolds through a series of 14 examples of New York activism:

1. Let Us Stay: The Struggle for Religious Tolerance in Dutch New Netherland, 1650-1664

The exhibition features the Flushing Remonstrance, one of the earliest arguments for religious liberty and tolerance in American history.

2. Beware of Foreign Influence: Nativists and Immigrants, 1830-1860

This section explores efforts to prohibit or limit immigration and contain its impact on 19 th -century New York. Nativists fought to curtail the largely Catholic immigrant community’s access to citizenship, the vote, and public office. The section also illustrates the ways Catholic New Yorkers combated nativism by establishing their own independent institutions to support their community.

3. What Has New York to Do with Slavery? 1827-1865

While New York City was a center of the abolitionist movement, it was also home to many people who sided with the Southern slave owners. This conflict was dramatically revealed in the Draft Riots of July 1863, where the issues of class and race came to a head in a harrowing, violent confrontation. The exhibition chronicles the efforts of both sides of the debate.

4. New York is the Battleground: Woman Suffrage, 1900-1920

In the early 20 th century,New York became the epicenter for organizational activity of the national woman suffrage movement, with suffragists pioneering new methods of behind-the-scenes organizing and media-savvy publicity. The installation also documents the movement against woman suffrage through anti-suffrage images and messages published by aNew York lithograph firm.

5. Houses of Welcome: The Settlement House Movement, 1890-1925

Immigrants in New York at the turn of the 20th century faced overcrowding, illness, and poverty. This section of the exhibition shows how a new type of agent for change—the settlement house worker—combated those conditions by moving into slum neighborhoods to provide instructions in parenting, health, and citizenship.

6. I Am a Working Girl! Upheaval in the Garment Trades, 1909-1915

This installation examines the events that led to reform and improvement of deplorable workplace conditions, including the 1909 “Uprising of the 20,000,” an industry-wide strike by workers affiliated with the fledgling International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, and the 1911 Triangle Waist factory fire tragedy.

7. Art for the Masses: An Activist Theater, 1930-1945

This movement looks at the politically engaged New Yorktheater groups that used their art to confront Depression-era poverty, labor exploitation, political corruption, racial tension, and the rise of Fascism and Nazism in Europe.

8. We Shall Not Be Moved:New York and Civil Rights, 1945-1964

This installation revealsNew York City’s role in the early Civil Rights struggle of the post-World War II era, from the “Boycott Jim Crow” and anti-lynching movements through the emergence of CORE and SNCC, to the Black Power era of the mid-1960s.

9. What’s Wrong with New York? Conservative Activism, 1962-1973

This segment of the exhibition looks at groups, such as “Parents and Taxpayers,” that were unhappy with a leftward drift in the city and blamed it for an increase in disorder, crime, and the swelling municipal budget. Many joined a new third party, the Conservative Party of New York, formed in 1962.

10. Stop the Wrecking Ball! Preserving Historic New York, 1955-1970

This case study shows how the loss of some of the city’s greatest cultural and architectural landmarks fed the efforts of the early historic preservation movement and eventually led to the creation of New York’s groundbreaking Landmarks Preservation Law.

11. “Gay Is Good”: Civil Rights for Gays and Lesbians, 1969-2012

This installation shows how the Stonewall Riots galvanized the modern gay rights movement in New York and led to the creation of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, ACT UP, and other organizations. The installation brings the story up to date with the successful campaign to secure the legalization of gay marriages in New York State.

12. “Don’t Move, Improve”: Reviving the South Bronx, 1970-2012

The South Bronx became an international icon of urban blight in the 1970s. This section of the exhibition examines grassroots advocacy groups, community organizations, and church congregations that took ownership of the rebuilding of their neighborhoods into livable, affordable communities.

13. Love Your Lane: Bicycle Advocacy, 1965-2011

Amid concerns about ecology, traffic congestion, and pollution, pioneering activists lobbied for changes in the traffic laws. Today, as part of the Bloomberg administration PlaNYC’s effort to build a greener, more sustainable city, bike lanes proliferate, as does agitation against for and against them, as this installation documents.

14. Park 51: 2010-2012

This section provides a detailed exploration of the controversy over the construction of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, which is reminiscent of the long and turbulent saga of activism surrounding issues of religious expression in New York City.

Interactive elements throughout the exhibition provide opportunities to dig more deeply and bring the historic stories up to date. A series of touch screens present a timeline of the history of activism in the city, with more than two hundred examples ranging from slave revolts of the 18th century to the Newsboys’ Strike of 1899 to the woman behind the movement that led to New York’s 1978 “pooper scooper” law. Additional kiosks with touch screens invite visitors to explore the work of contemporary activist groups and send email messages to these groups expressing the visitors’ views on current activism. In addition, members of the general public may submit photographs of contemporary activist in the city to a photo blog housed on the Museum’s website (www.mcny.org) and carried live in the Puffin Foundation Gallery.

“Activist New York” has been organized by an exhibition team led by Sarah M. Henry, the Museum’s Deputy Director and Chief Curator. Steven H. Jaffe served as guest curator, and Christina Ziegler-McPherson as associate guest curator. The exhibition team was aided by the Puffin Foundation Gallery Advisory Committee, chaired by Peter G. Carroll, Executive Director, Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, and comprising scholars and activists Esther Cohen, Joshua Freeman, Victor Navasky, Bruno Quinson, Christopher Rhomberg, Tom Roderick, and Perry, Gladys, and Neal Rosenstein.

Photo: Picketers during a 1910 garment workers strike (Library of Congress)

Lecture: Secret Journeys from Black to White


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In America, race is a riddle. With the widespread availability of DNA testing and the boom in genealogical research, it has become even harder to view race neatly in black or white. Daniel J. Sharfstein, in conversation with Brent Staples, unravels the stories of three families who represent the complexity of race in America and force us to rethink our basic assumptions about who we are at an event on Thursday, April 12, 6:30 PM [note, new date] at The Robert H. Smith Auditorium at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, NYC. Continue reading

Q & A: Tessa Fallon of the Human Rights Web Archive


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In February the New York Archivists Round Table was spotlighting the Human Rights Web Archive (HRWA), a joint initiative of Columbia University Libraries and Information Services and its Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research. As stated on the project’s site on the Internet Archive, the HRWA is “an effort to preserve and ensure access to freely available human rights resources created mainly by non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, and individuals.”

A major and invaluable undertaking, the HRWA is indicative of the recognition by major research institutions of the importance of the practice of web archiving, or capturing and preserving websites and other web-only materials for future research. Earlier in the month the Round Table had the opportunity to conduct a brief interview with Tessa Fallon, Web Collection Curator for the HRWA. Many thanks to Tessa for her insightful replies, which highlight some of the complex issues at work in the HRWA and also touch upon future directions for the project:

Q: What are your primary responsibilities as Web Collection Curator?

A: My primary responsibilities revolve around the maintenance and development of our web archive collections. This includes (but is not limited to): selecting new sites, requesting permission from site owners, sending cataloging requests to our catalogers, testing sites for technical suitability, and managing crawls of our selected sites. In addition to the HRWA (managed jointly between myself and co-curator Alex Thurman), I also manage the new Burke New York City Religions and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library web archives (both collections are in stages of development). Alex manages the Avery Architectural Library web archive, which includes sites related to historic preservation and architecture in New York City, and the University Archives collection.

Q: One of the main criteria for website inclusion in the HRWA is a perceived risk of disappearance. How do you determine that a website is at risk of disappearing?

A: This is a perennially tricky question, and we are continually refining our perception of what “at risk” means for a website. Some might argue that given the ephemerality of the web, all websites are at risk. For the HRWA, there are some criteria that are clearly defined: organizations that are at risk of persecution from hostile governments or other groups, organizations that have limited or threatened access to the internet, and sites that are static, presumably abandoned (no longer updated–in some cases, for years). In our experiences, sites may also disappear and reappear without notice, which makes at-risk difficult to gauge.

Q: Can you briefly explain the process of how a website is captured for inclusion in the archive?

A: The (very) abbreviated version of How Web Crawling Works: Sites are captured using a tool called a web crawler. A crawler can capture web content by crawling from link to link on a given site. So, if I sent a crawler to capture this blog, the crawler starting, “nyhistoryblog.com” would capture all of the content on nyhistoryblog.com at that moment in time. The crawler creates a file (called a WARC file) that is then used by a program like the Wayback Machine to show the archived site (content captured by the crawler).

Q: The HRWA website states that the project team is currently pursuing other means of making the archive available in addition to the project page on the Internet Archive. What additional means are you considering?

A: As part of the grant, we are attempting to develop a portal that would allow us to provide a local index and interface for our archived web sites. This is not yet available to the public. Portal development is spearheaded by Stephen Davis, Director of Library Digital Programs Division, programmer David Arjaniks, and web designers Erik Ryerson and Eric O’Hanlon.

If you’d like to learn more about the HRWA, check out the highly-informative FAQ section of the project site!

America’s First African American Woman Judge


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A long overdue biography of the nation’s first African American woman judge elevates Jane Matilda Bolin to her rightful place in American history as an activist, integrationist, jurist, and outspoken public figure in the political and professional milieu of New York City before the onset of the modern Civil Rights movement. Jacqueline A. McLeod’s, Daughter of the Empire State: The Life of Judge Jane Bolin is published by the University of Illinois Press (2011).

Bolin was appointed to New York City’s domestic relations court in 1939 for the first of four ten-year terms. When she retired in 1978, her career had extended well beyond the courtroom. Drawing on archival materials as well as a meeting with Bolin in 2002, historian Jacqueline A. McLeod reveals how Bolin parlayed her judicial position to impact significant reforms of the legal and social service system in New York.

Beginning with Bolin’s childhood and educational experiences at Wellesley and Yale, Daughter of the Empire State chronicles Bolin’s relatively quick rise through the ranks of a profession that routinely excluded both women and African Americans. Deftly situating Bolin’s experiences within the history of black women lawyers and the historical context of high-achieving black New Englanders, McLeod offers a multi-layered analysis of black women’s professionalization in a segregated America.

Linking Bolin’s activist leanings and integrationist zeal to her involvement in the NAACP, McLeod analyzes Bolin’s involvement at the local level as well as her tenure on the organization’s national board of directors. An outspoken critic of the discriminatory practices of New York City’s probation department and juvenile placement facilities, Bolin also co-founded, with Eleanor Roosevelt, the Wiltwyck School for boys in upstate New York and campaigned to transform the Domestic Relations Court with her judicial colleagues. McLeod’s careful and highly readable account of these accomplishments inscribes Bolin onto the roster of important social reformers and early civil rights trailblazers.

Author Jacqueline A. McLeod is an associate professor of history and African & African American studies at Metropolitan State College of Denver and co-editor of Crossing Boundaries: Comparative History of Blacks in Diaspora.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

CCNY Early-Career Historians Win NEH Awards


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Dr. Gregory Downs, associate professor of history, and Dr. Emily Greble, assistant professor of history at The City College of New York are recipients of faculty research awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The grants, announced by NEH December 9, will support book projects currently in development.

“The NEH fellowships are extremely competitive; only eight percent of applicants are successful. To have two early-career faculty members in the same department come up winners is remarkable,” said Dr. Geraldine Murphy, acting dean of humanities and the arts at CCNY, in congratulating them.

“Our department has undergone significant growth because The City College administration made a commitment to bring in energetic scholars and teachers,” said Professor Downs, who serves as department chair. “We’ve hired eight new faculty members in nine years and we are seeing that faith pay off.”

“We seem to have become a hotbed of new and innovative scholarship,” added Professor Greble. “We see the product of this intellectually stimulating environment in so many areas of departmental life, from the number of students we have been placing in top doctoral programs to the rigorous publication record of our faculty, to the winning of top academic fellowships like the NEH and the Rome Prize.”

Four Class of 2011 history majors are now in PhD programs at Yale University, Princeton University and University of Michigan. Associate Professor of History Barbara Ann Naddeo received the Rome Prize in 2010 for her scholarship on the city of Naples, Italy. Assistant Professor of History Adrienne Petty is conducting an oral history project on African-American farm owners in the South in collaboration with Professor Mark Schultz of Lewis University supported by an NEH award.

Professor Downs’ project, “The Ends of War: American Reconstruction and the Problems of Occupation,” examines the transition from Civil War to Reconstruction and asks why former slaves, loyal whites, Freedmen’s Bureau agents and northern émigrés became disillusioned. The problems emanated not as much from free-labor ideology or racism as from a sharp reduction of military force in the region, which resulted in a power vacuum, he contends.

At the end of the Civil War, the U.S. government, fearing budget deficits, demobilized at such a rapid pace that within 18 months only 12,000 troops remained in the former Confederacy. As the military withdrew from different areas, hundreds of small wars broke out between former Confederates and organized freedmen.

Professor Downs attributes the situation to a naïve belief among elected officials in Washington that they could expand voting rights in the South at the same time that the federal government was reducing its presence there to cut the budget. “What was needed was not an expansion of democracy, but an expansion of enforcement,” he says. “Both sides figured out that violence was the logical conclusion. By the time they had mobilized it was too late for the government to act.”

The project grows out of an earlier monograph, “Declarations of Independence: The Long Reconstruction of Popular Politics in the South, 1860 – 1908,” published in 2011 by University of North Carolina Press. However, Professor Downs says his thinking has been influenced by recent U.S. experience with occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Seeing how difficult it is to change social power, create new lines of authority and disrupt societies makes me wonder why we were so confident we could do it in the post-war South. Rights need enforceability to make them real,” he adds, pointing to the intervention by federal troops in the Little Rock Central High School in 1957 as an example.

Professor Greble’s project, “Islam and the European Nation-State: Balkan Muslims between Mosque and State, 1908 – 1949,” examines how South Slavic Muslims adapted to six significant political shifts over a 41-year period. In each instance new governments sought – in their own way – to limit, secularize and shape Muslim institutions as the region went from Ottoman to Habsburg control, to liberal nation-states, to authoritarian monarchs, to fascist regimes and to socialist regimes.

Her initial research suggests Muslims proactively adapted the norms and customs of their faith to define Islam in their own terms. Additionally, they sought to become part of the international community of Muslims to confront being dispossessed of property, Sharia law, institutional autonomy and the right to define Islam.

To assert their influence, some Muslims formed political parties and cultural societies that promoted Muslim cultural agendas. More conservative members of the community sought to strengthen and protect local Muslim networks through codification of Sharia law and Islamic society. Others engaged in clandestine activities such as underground madrassas.

Much of Professor Greble’s research will examine the changing role of Sharia courts. Under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, these were codified and given jurisdiction over Muslim socio-religious affairs, such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. Muslim parts of the Balkans, particularly Yugoslavia, retained this legal autonomy between the two world wars and during Nazi and fascist occupation, but lost it after communists came to power and shut down the Sharia courts in 1946.

New Yorkers and the Memory of the Civil War


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As New York’s State Historian, I often say that New Yorkers have long provided the country with some of its most informed leadership. Why? Because they understand and appreciate their state’s place in American history.

Take as a case in point the 100th anniversary of the American Civil War (1961-65). This was a time when some Americans were using their heritage to defy federal desegregation efforts. New York’s Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, however, used his state’s history for a far better purpose. He promoted civil rights and racial equality in America by joining with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others in celebration of the 100th birthday of a document owned by the New York State Library—Lincoln’s draft Emancipation Proclamation. Continue reading

Peterboro Programs to Observe Women’s Rights


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Equality Day has been observed on August 26 since 1971 when the efforts of Congresswoman Bella Abzug succeeded in commemorating the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – the Woman Suffrage Amendment. The final programs of the 2011 Peterboro Heritage season recognize women of the 19th Century who laid the ground work for extending suffrage to disenfranchised groups.



Equality Day Weekend will be observed in Peterboro by two presentations on three women who led the women’s rights movement. On Saturday, August 27 at 2 p.m. author Penny Colman presents Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship that Changed the World, and signs her new book by the same name at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro. The next day Dr. Carol Faulkner presents her new biography Lucretia Mott’s Heresy: Abolition and Women’s History in 19th Century America at the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro.

The Fourth Annual Elizabeth Smith Miller In the Kitchen Bloomer Tea will be held on Sunday, September 25 at 12:30 at the Smithfield Community Center with Dr. Judith Wellman speaking on Peterboro and the Road to Seneca Falls. Debra Kolstrud, the owner of the historical home at 9 S. William Street in Johnstown NY where Susan B. Anthony boarded in 1884 when she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the third volume of their History of Woman Suffrage, will update on activities in Johnstown, Stanton’s hometown. Selected letters between cousins Elizabeth Smith Miller and Elizabeth Cady Stanton will be read. (Reservations are required.: $35 by August 27. $40 by September 17.) Seating is limited. For more information and online reservations visit www.inthekitchentea.com.

On Saturday, October 22 the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will induct Abby Kelley Foster, the 19th Century Worcester abolitionist and women’s rights activist, into the Hall of Fame at ceremonies held at Colgate University. Stacey Robertson, Director of Women’s Studies program at Bradley University in Peoria IL, presents Abby Kelley Foster: A Radical Voice to the West at 12:30 pm in Golden Auditorium. That evening Lynne McKenney Lydick, Worcester Women’s History Project, will perform Yours for Humanity, a one woman play about Foster.

The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum are open from 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from May 14 to October 23 in 2011. Admission to each site is two dollars. Stewards and students are free. For more information: Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0006. Call 315-684-3262 or visit online.

National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0055. Call 315-684-3262 or visit online.

For more information and updates, follow www.sca-peterboro.org and www.AbolitionHoF.org

Event highlights Lucretia Mott, 19th Century Activist


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Lucretia Coffin Mott was one of the most famous and controversial women in nineteenth-century America. Mott was viewed in her time as a dominant figure in the dual struggles for racial and sexual equality. In the first biography of Mott in thirty years, historian Carol Faulkner reveals the motivations of Mott’s activism and interest in peace, temperance, prison reform, religious freedom, and Native American rights. Mott was among the first white Americans to call for an immediate end to slavery. Her long-term collaboration with white and black women in the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society was remarkable. Mott was known as the “moving spirit” of the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls in 1848. She envisioned women’s rights not as a new and separate movement, but rather as an extension of the universal principles of liberty and equality.



At 2 p.m. Sunday, August 28, Carol Faulkner Ph.D. will discuss her new biography Lucretia Mott’s Heresy: Abolition and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America and sign books at the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY. Mott was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 in the first group to be honored.

Dr. Faulkner is Associate Professor of History at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, and author of Women’s Radical Reconstruction: The Freedmen’s Aid Movement. Attention to Mott grew out of Faulkner’s interest in the anti-slavery and women’s rights movements and she became even more interested in Mott when she won a National Historical Publications and Records Commission fellowship to work on Mott’s letters. Faulkner is also a member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Mott program is the second of two Peterboro programs observing Equality Day. At 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 27 Penny Colman will discuss her new book Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship that Changed the World at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro.

Admission to both programs is two dollars. Stewards and students are free. The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum are open from 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from May 14 to October 23 in 2011.

A Teacher Open House at the Gage Center


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The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville, NY would like to share with teachers the opportunity to learn more about Matilda Joslyn Gage, an important local historical figure on Thursday, September 22, 3:30-5:30 pm.

Matilda Joslyn Gage (1824-1898) was involved in the Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad. Along with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gage was a major figure in the Women’s Rights Movement. With them, she co-authored The History of Woman Suffrage.

She was a supporter of Native American sovereignty and a proponent of the total separation of Church and State, she was the author of Woman, Church and State.

Because of her strong, liberal position on religious freedom, she was written out of history books until recently.

Gage’s ideas are as relevant today as they were in the 19th century and this is a great way to bring Central New York history into your classroom and promote discussion of the past and contemporary issues.

Materials for lessons, activities, and curriculum packets available.

For more information, call 637-9511.

Women’s Rights: Race, Class and Ethnicity


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This Saturday, April 9th, at 7:00 pm, Historic Huguenot Street will host another in its Second Saturdays Lecture Series. The featured speaker will be Harriet Davis-Kram, Professor of American History at Queens College in New York City. The title of her talk is “Women’s Rights: A Struggle of Race, Class and Ethnicity.”

The quest of American women for equal rights dates back to the 18th century. One need only read the letters Abigail Adams sent to her husband John at the Constitutional Convention, warning him, “You’d better not forget the ladies.”

By the early 19th century, women’s voices were often heard in the debate over the abolition of slavery, and a number of educated women began to see similarities between their own social, economic, and political status, and that of the slaves they were fighting to emancipate. A small group of abolitionists would go on to found the movement for women’s equality. Davis-Kram will explore this history and the internal tensions that were part of the fight for women’s equality.

New York women were very much a part of this movement. Sojourner Truth is well known for her leading role in advocating for the end of slavery. Less well known is the key role she played as an African-American woman in the later struggle for women’s rights. She was a contemporary of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, among others. So too was Lydia Sayer Hasbrouck, the Middletown woman who made her mark as a dress reformer and as the publisher of “The Sybil,” a 19th century women’s rights periodical. Saturday’s talk is a prelude to the reinterpretation of the Abraham Hasbrouck House at Historic Huguenot Street. When this house reopens in 2012, the story told will focus on the lives on women in early New Paltz.

Davis-Kram, who has been teaching for over 30 years, specializes in the areas of American Women’s History, American Labor History, Immigration, and New York City History. Dr. Davis-Kram also guides walking tours in New York City focusing mostly on the 19th-century up through 1920. Her talk is made possible through Speakers in the Humanities, a program of the New York Council for the Humanities. Speakers in the Humanities lectures are made possible with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York State Legislature, and through funds from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

The talk will be held in the LeFevre House, located at 54 Huguenot Street in downtown New Paltz. There is a suggested donation of $5. For more information, call 845.255.1660 or visit www.huguenotstreet.org.

Matilda Joslyn Gage Celebration at Gage Center


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The Gage Foundation will celebrate the 185th birthday of Fayetteville, New York’s most famous women’s rights activist Matilda Joslyn Gage on Thurs., March 24, from 4-7 p.m. with an open house at the newly restored Gage Center, 210 E. Genesee Street, Fayetteville.

The event is free and open to the public. It will feature music and poetry written in honor of Gage. Winners of the annual Matilda Joslyn Gage essay contest will be announced at 4:15. Musical entertainment will follow, with local activist-artist Colleen Kattau performing a song she composed about Gage. The Eagle Hill Middle School girls’ chorus will perform music from Gage’s time, and Ed Nizalowski will play period flute music. Martin Willitts will read from his new poetry chapbook, “Protest, Petition, Write, Speak: Matilda Joslyn Gage Poems” and sign copies of the book at 6 p.m.

Visitors will be invited to “Write on Our Walls”: to share their ideas for programs and exhibits by writing on whiteboard walls in each room. All will be treated to birthday cake provided by Connie Decker of the Chocolate Truffle.

A place of ideas, the Gage Center relies on dialogue to explore the social justice issues that Gage found most important and that still challenge us today.

Beginning March 26, the Gage Center will be open to the public Saturdays and Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at other times by appointment. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. Group rates are available. Watch their website to learn about upcoming events at the Gage Center. For more information contact (315) 637-9511 or foundation@MatildaJoslynGage.org.

FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt Discussion Event


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The New-York Historical Society will host a discussion on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Thursday, March 31, 2011, 6:30 p.m, at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th St. at Central Park West, to be presented in conjunction with the building of the FDR Four Freedoms Park. The program features historian Douglas Brinkley, Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel, Roosevelt scholar William E. Leuchtenburg, and author Hazel Rowley.

In his State of the Union Address on January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt looked forward to a world in which everyone enjoyed four essential freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. These values were central to both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, who made it her personal mission to codify those rights in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Experts discuss the speech and its far-reaching influence, and also delve into this extraordinary couple’s influence on one another.

William E. Leuchtenburg is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a former Bancroft Prize winner, and the author of six books on FDR. Hazel Rowley is the author of several books, including Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: An Extraordinary Marriage. William J. vanden Heuvel is Chairman of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC, as well as Founder and Chair Emeritus of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. Douglas Brinkley (moderator) is a professor of history at Rice University and a fellow in history at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. He is a member of the board of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

The cost is $20 for non-members; $10 for members. Call SmartTix at 212 868-4444 or visit SmartTix.com to purchase tickets.

Photo: The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms, located at the southernmost point of Roosevelt Island, in the East River between Manhattan Island and Queens in New York City. It was designed by the architect Louis Kahn.