Caroline Scott Harrison, the wife of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison, died in the fall of 1892, after a trip to the Adirondacks failed to cure her tuberculosis. Her death left the White House without a first lady. Harrison’s daughter, Mary Scott McKee, filled that role for the last few months of Harrison’s term (he lost his bid for re-election that November). In those days, presidential terms ended in March, so Mrs. McKee carried on as first lady for about five months.
She and her husband, James Robert McKee, and their two children Benjamin Harrison McKee and Mary Lodge McKee had been living at the White House during her father’s term. The presidential grandchildren – especially Benjamin, who got labeled as “Baby McKee” – were media sensations. (Though it was often stated that he had been born in the White House, both he and his sister were actually born in Indiana.) 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.
AT&T has given a $20,000 contribution to support the conservation and digitization of documents burned in the 1911 New York Capitol Fire.
The documents are expected to be conserved and digitized are badly fire damaged and contain information about life in the Hudson Valley in the 1700s, primarily in Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange counties. They have been unavailable to the public since 1911; no timetable for online public access has been announced. Continue reading
There are several events which have occurred or soon will be occurring in New England that should be of interest to the New York History community. These include
- A Connecticut Council of Social Studies (CCSS) announcement
- April 26 New England Historical Association (NEHA) annual conference
- April 28 Connecticut League of Historical Organizations (CHLO) regional meeting
- June 2 Connecticut League of Historical Organizations annual meeting
- June 16-21 Connecticut’s “Path through History”
These events highlight some similarities and differences in history actions in the two regions. Continue reading
A loyalist is a man with his head in England, his body in America, and a neck that needs to be stretched. – an anonymous patriot.
Late in June of 1776, the New York Provincial Convention (NYPC) received a troubling report from the Dutchess County Committee of Safety. It said that Poughkeepsie officials and patriot warships were being threatened by loyalists, so-called Tories. Continue reading
Drivers exiting the New Jersey Turnpike for Perth Amboy, and map readers marveling at all the places in Pennsylvania named Lackawanna, need no longer wonder how these names originated.
Manhattan to Minisink: American Place Names in Greater New York and Vicinity (University of Oklahoma Press, 2013) provides the histories of more than five hundred place names in the Greater New York area, including the five boroughs, western Long Island, the New York counties north of the city, and parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Robert S. Grumet, a leading ethnohistorian specializing in the region’s Indian peoples, draws on his meticulous research and deep knowledge to determine the origins of Native, and Native-sounding, place names. Continue reading
Our neighbor state has been trying to promote the teaching of history in the schools. The Connecticut League of History Organizations (CLHO), an organization similar to the Museum Association of New York, sent a notice to its members to take a survey with the message: “We NEED your help to get Connecticut history into the hands of Connecticut teachers and students.”
The goal of this effort was stated as “LET OUR TEACHERS KNOW THAT CONNECTICUT HISTORY IS ALIVE AND WELL.” CLHO asked the question which could be asked in New York as well: “Connecticut’s history rarely ever makes it into the classrooms in our state. Why?” 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
Fort Montgomery State Historic Site will offer a lecture entitled “Samuel Wire and the Cowboys: An Exercise in Research Frustration” on Thursday, December 1, at 7 P.M. Samuel Wire, a young Dragoon from Connecticut, was on a break from “Hunting Cowboys” when a door to a small house popped open. The green-clad Loyalist officer who stood in that doorway pointed his firelock and pulled the trigger. Revolutionary War researcher and historian Phil Weaver will detail his discovery of this remarkable story and the winding road he took to document it. You will not only hear the narrative story, but learn who the “Cowboys” were, that chasing leads is not always a linear process, and that historical research can be fun and frustrating.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Thursday Night Speaker Series seating is by reservation only and is limited to the first 50. You may reserve seats by calling 845-446-2134. Please leave your name, phone number and number of people in your party.
Fort Montgomery State Historic Site is located at 690 Route 9W, in Fort Montgomery, NY.
Illustration: A Cowboy depicted in Uniforms of the American, British, French, and German Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783, by Lt. Charles M. Lefferts, 1926.
The Litchfield Historical Society has announces the availability of The Ledger, a new online resource funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Connecticut Humanities Council, and the Seherr-Thoss Foundation.
The Ledger presents the stories of the Litchfield Law School and Litchfield Female Academy and the founders and students of these institutions. In 1784 Tapping Reeve opened the first law school in America. It attracted 934 documented students from 13 states and territories to study in Litchfield. Graduates formed a network of leadership and influence that encompassed public service, business, and other areas of American life. In 1792 Sarah Pierce founded a pioneer institution of female education in America. Her innovative curriculum of academic, practical, and ornamental courses expanded the world of the estimated 3,000 girls (1681 are currently known by name) who attended the Litchfield Female Academy over its 41 year history.
The words, artwork, and personal belongings of the students and instructors are presented together with biographical and genealogical information. Some documents are displayed individually while others are presented as part of collection level descriptions which link to finding aids. Needlework, portraits, personal effects, and other items associated with the school or its students appear on the pages. The Ledger Studies section contains overviews of Litchfield during this era and histories of each school. The Society will continue to add pertinent essays to this section.
Students traveled from around the country and the world to attend these schools. Their result is that their records and artifacts are scattered across the nation in various repositories and private collections. The Society’s goal was to make this tool available to researchers as soon as possible. Staff have already identified a number of other collections of papers, portraits, needlework, and other artifacts that will be added to the database in the coming weeks and months. The Society anticipates input and suggestions for improvements, and continues to seek information about any related materials which could be included in the Ledger. For further details about the project, a complete list of students, or to submit information to be included contact the curator, Julie Frey, at firstname.lastname@example.org or archivist, Linda Hocking, at email@example.com.
Photo: Tapping Reeve House and Law School, Litchfield, CT (Courtesy Wikipedia).