He was undoubtedly the first victim of the first World War whose name I learned. As a freshman at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, I would lower my stress levels by walking. I traipsed around the expansive campus, but I’d also venture onto city streets. I discovered that near the stately Llenroc mansion (built to be the home of Cornell founder, Ezra Cornell – though he never lived there), there was an impressive stone staircase, with a large terrace that was a perfect spot for looking down on “the bustling town” (as the Cornell anthem calls the city). A plaque identified the structure as a memorial for Morgan Smiley Baldwin, a 1915 graduate of Cornell, whose body lay “where he fell at Boni-France, September 29th, 1918.”
For years, this was what I knew about Baldwin. I assumed – as probably others have – that “Smiley” was a nickname, but it turns out it was his given middle name (his mother’s maiden name was Smiley). I did learn that the stairway had been erected by his aggrieved father. We are in the midst of the centennial of the “Great War,” and I decided to take a fresh look at Baldwin’s story. Continue reading
The Coventry Museum will host a presentation showcasing the historic circle of women leaders from 1915 to the present who helped build the Cooperative Extension of Chenango County. Attendees are asked to bring uniforms, photographs, badges, souvenirs and memories to share, if possible.
This interactive program and slide show will be presented by CCE’s Community Educator Emily Jane Anderson on Tuesday, August 30, 2016, at 6 pm, at the Community Meeting Room of the Coventryville Congregational Church, 113 County Route 27, Coventryville, NY.
The important contributions to the field of ornithology of citizen-scientist Greene Smith have been obscured by the Underground Railroad and abolition fame of Smith’s father Gerrit Smith. As important and well-known as are the Underground Railroad sites on the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro NY, it is Greene’s Ornithon that most piques visitors’ curiosity about the builder and collector of that bird museum.
This public fascination prompted Norm Dann to turn the focus of his Smith research to Greene Smith and his Birdhouse. Dann’s study of family letters, military records, Greene’s personal Catalogue of Birds, the pursuit of Greene’s hunting apparatus, and the ownership and investigation of the Birdhouse site, have culminated in the March printing of Greene Smith and the WildLife: The Story of Peterboro’s Avid Outdoorsman – the first publication on this absorbing story. Continue reading
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the New York Council for the Humanities a grant to support and expand their Humanities Centers Initiative to 42 new Public Humanities Fellows over the next three years.
The Humanities Centers Initiative is a collaboration between the Council and seven research universities: New York University, CUNY Graduate Center, Columbia University, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Buffalo, Cornell University, and Syracuse University. Continue reading
Edward H. Rulloff was one of the most famous American criminals of the 19th century, believed responsible for multiple murders and sundry other crimes, and eventually being publicly hanged in Binghamton, New York. He was also a brilliant savant, obsessively seeking respectability and the approval of what he deemed “good society.”
And if not for this obsession, his crime spree would have without a doubt included the National Union Bank in Monticello, the County Seat of Sullivan County. Continue reading
Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, and Lewis E. Lehrman, Chairman of the Lehrman Institute, has announced that Andrew Roberts, a leading military historian, will be the first Lehrman Institute Distinguished Fellow at the New-York Historical Society. Dr. Roberts will serve as the Distinguished Fellow for three years, from November 2014 through November 2017.
Andrew Roberts is the Merrill Family Visiting Professor at Cornell University. He has written or edited twelve books and appears regularly on international radio and television broadcasts. His forthcoming biography of Napoleon will be accompanied by a three-part television series on the BBC. He received a number of awards for his recent bestsellers Masters & Commanders and The Storm of War. Continue reading
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.
The Epidemic: A Collision of Power, Privilege, and Public Health by David DeKok tells the story of how a vain and reckless businessman became responsible for a typhoid epidemic in 1903 that devastated Cornell University and the surrounding town of Ithaca. Eighty-two people died, including twenty-nine Cornell students.
Protected by influential friends, William T. Morris faced no retribution for this outrage. His legacy was a corporation—first known as Associated Gas & Electric Co. and later as General Public Utilities Corp.—that bedeviled America for a century. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 was its most notorious historical event, but hardly its only offense against the public interest.
The Ithaca epidemic came at a time when engineers knew how to prevent typhoid outbreaks but physicians could not yet cure the disease. Both professions were helpless when it came to stopping a corporate executive who placed profit over the public health. Government was a concerned but helpless bystander.
For modern-day readers acutely aware of the risk of a devastating global pandemic and of the dangers of unrestrained corporate power, The Epidemic provides a riveting look back at a heretofore little-known, frightening episode in America’s past that seems all too familiar. Written in the tradition of The Devil in the White City, it is an utterly compelling, thoroughly researched work of narrative history with an edge.
David DeKok is the author of Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire (Globe Pequot Press), which previously appeared as Unseen Danger. A former award-winning investigative reporter for the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he has been a guest on Fresh Air and The Diane Rehm Show.
Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.
Vermont’s long-time State Archeologist has been named State Historic Preservation Officer and Director of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. Giovanna Peebles will assume the post immediately, according to Kevin Dorn, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
“Giovanna Peebles has served the people of Vermont as State Archeologist since 1976. Her long experience in this field and in historic preservation overall, as well as her passion for our state’s extraordinary heritage, makes her well-qualified to take over as State Historic Preservation Officer for Vermont.” Continue reading
In an effort to make its materials globally accessible, Cornell University Library is sharing tens of thousands of digitized books with the Internet Archive. The new collaboration re-purposes nearly 80,000 books that the Library has already digitized in-house or through its partnership with Microsoft and Kirtas Technologies. All the books are in the public domain, printed before 1923 mainly in the United States. They cover a host of subject areas, including American history, English literature, astronomy, food and wine, general engineering, the history of science, home economics, hospitality and travel, labor relations, Native American materials, ornithology, veterinary medicine and women’s studies.
The collaboration with Internet Archive is another step in Cornell University Library’s participation in mass digitization initiatives. Earlier this year, the Library announced an expanded print-on-demand partnership with Amazon.com that allows readers to pay for reprinting of books on an individual basis.
To see Cornell University Library’s contributions, visit http://archive.org/details/cornell.