Tag Archives: Cultural History

The Reverend George Whitefield


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ben_franklins_worldGeorge Whitefield stood as one of the most visible figures in British North America between the 1740s and 1770. He was a central figure in the trans-Atlantic revivalist movement and a man whose legacy remains influential to evangelical Christians today.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Historian Jessica Parr, author of Inventing George Whitefield: Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a Religious Icon (University of Mississippi Press, 2015), introduces us to the Reverend George Whitefield. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/025.

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Crises, Problems and Historical Insights


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Dorthrea Lange california migrants escaping the dust bowlHow useful are historical insights in addressing a state’s problems?

California is experiencing a historic drought so severe that Governor Jerry Brown has ordered a 25% reduction in the use of water with some exceptions, e.g., certain types of agriculture. As California endures this crisis, how helpful is historical insight in both understanding it and charting a way forward? So far, the results are mixed. Continue reading

Abenaki History At Adirondack Museum Sunday


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AdirondackMuseum_CabinFeverSundays_Apr19_SabattisSketchNo account of the history of the Adirondacks is complete without a consideration of its Abenaki residents, and the Adirondack Museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts that help illustrate the story of Abenaki culture and its significance in the Adirondack region.

In the final installment of the Adirondack Museum’s Cabin Fever Sundays series, anthropologist Christopher Roy and an Abenaki panel including Andree Newton, Diane Cubit, and James Watsaw, will discuss the experiences of Abenaki families in the Adirondack region and throughout the Northeast for the past several centuries.  Continue reading

Indian Basketry of the Northeastern Woodlands


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image001(14)With hundreds of vivid and detailed color photographs and an easy narrative style enlivened by historical vignettes, Sarah Peabody Turnbaugh and William A. Turnbaugh bring overdue appreciation to a centuries-old Native American basketmaking tradition in the Northeast in Indian Basketry of the Northeastern Woodlands (Schiffer Publishing, 2014).

The authors explore the full range of vintage Indian woodsplint and sweetgrass basketry in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, from practical “work” baskets made for domestic use to whimsical “fancy” wares that appealed to Victorian tourists. Continue reading

Life At Night In The 18th Century


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Highwaymen rob carriageNighttime in the past was different than today-far darker and more hazardous.  In the Middle Ages night was seen as a sort of anti-time, the very negative of day, when all things bad happened and only people with evil intent were found on the street.

All this began to change in the 18th century. Street lighting in big cities became more common and medieval curfews were abandoned.  Less a source of fear than in the past people were more likely to see beauty in a starry sky and to seek out nightly entertainment instead of hiding behind locked doors.  Yet the 18th century was still very much a period of transition. Continue reading

A New History Of Trees, Woods and Forests


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Trees Woods and Forests BookForests – and the trees within them – have always been a central resource for the development of technology, culture, and the expansion of humans as a species.

Examining and challenging our historical and modern attitudes toward wooded environments from a European perspective, Charles Watkins’ Trees, Woods and Forest: A Social and Cultural History (Reaktion Books, 2014)  explores how our understanding of forests has transformed in recent years and how it fits in our continuing anxiety about our impact on the natural world. Continue reading

NYC Hip-Hop History Photograph Exhibit Planned


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Hip-Hop - 1The Museum of the City of New York is presenting HIP-HOP REVOLUTION: Photographs by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper, an exhibition that shows the historic early days of hip-hop culture and music, with its roots firmly in New York, and how it evolved towards the worldwide phenomenon it is today.

Bringing together for the first time the work of three renowned photographers of the hip-hop scene, the exhibition shows the birth of a new cultural movement – with its accompanying music, dance, fashion and style – as it quickly and dramatically swept from its grassroots origins into an expansive commercial industry. Continue reading

New Book Traces America in the 1930s


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america-thirtiesAs the newest addition to the America in the Twentieth Century series, America in the Thirties (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2015) explores the complexity of America in what is considered its darkest era of the century.

The decade stood in stark contrast to the carefree, happy-go-lucky days of the Roaring Twenties when prosperity appeared endless. The Stock Market Crash in October 1929 and the economic collapse it unleashed threatened the very foundations of America’s economic, political, and social institutions. The ecological disaster produced by the Dust Bowl ravaging the Great Plains only added to the suffering and misery. Continue reading

The Albany African American Home Social Club


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johnson_portraitIn a book titled Aristocrats of Color: The Black Elite, 1880-1902, author Willard B. Gatewood includes a few sentences about Albany, NY’s Home Social Club. According to Gatewood, it “represented the pinnacle of the city’s black social structure.”

Portraying the club as an aristocratic, elitist organization seems unfair, based on my research. Yes, the club’s membership included some black professionals over the years, but among its long-term adherents were waiters, barbers, and railroad porters. Continue reading

Beer in the American Revolution Event


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wirtshausszeneThe Delaware Company, a non-profit whose mission is to promote and support the history and historic landmarks of the Upper Delaware River Valley, will host “American Walks Into a Bar: The Role of Beer in the American Revolution” at Henning’s restaurant (formerly The Eldred Preserve) on route 55 outside Eldred, in Sullivan County, NY.

George Washington, as portrayed by Colonial re-enactor Paul Brennan, will host a celebration with beer tastings from several local breweries, 18th century tavern fare, dancing to period music, and a history trivia contest. Colonial attire is optional but encouraged. Continue reading

Three Graces Of Raymond Street, Brooklyn


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Three GRaces of Raymond StreetA compelling story about three murders in Brooklyn between 1872 and 1873 and the young women charged with the crimes is told in a new book by Robert E. Murphy, Three Graces Of Raymond Street: Murder, Madness, Sex, and Politics in 1870s Brooklyn (SUNY Press, 2015).

Between January 1872 and September 1873, the city of Brooklyn was gripped by accounts of three murders allegedly committed by young women: a factory girl shot her employer and seducer, an evidently peculiar woman shot a philandering member of a prominent Brooklyn family, and a former nun was arrested on suspicion of having hanged her best friend and onetime convent mate. Continue reading

Baseball Exhibits Opening At Albany Institute


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image034Opening day comes early to the Capital Region as the Albany Institute of History & Art presents Triple Play! Baseball at the Albany Institute, three exhibitions celebrating the history of baseball.

The exhibits include nationally and regionally significant materials, such as photographs, signed bats and balls, stadium seats, trophies, pennants, jerseys, and more. In addition, there is a roster of related events with guest speakers, family activity days, creative contests, and free admission opportunities. Continue reading

The Invisible Irish of the 19th Century


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Irish Servant Dressing WomanThey were neither to be seen nor heard as they served some of the great houses of Westchester County more than a century ago. But come February, the Anne Hutchinson-Bronxville Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) will uncover their forgotten stories in a lecture hosted by the chapter entitled, “The Invisible Irish of the 19th Century.”

The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be given by Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum Docent and writer Doug Hearle on Saturday, February 7th at 1 pm in the Yeager Community Room at the Bronxville Public Library.  Continue reading

Unseen Hand: An 1869 Fort Hunter Diary


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003 - SXSHS In 1988, a small leather-bound diary was bequeathed to Schoharie Crossing State Historic site by Clarke Blair, who received it from Gertrude Ruck – a descendent of Michael Brown. Brown was one of the brothers that owned and operated the Brown Cash Store located at Lock 30 in Fort Hunter, NY from the mid-19th to early 20th century.

The diarist is unknown – nonetheless, it is obviously a personal journal of a Fort Hunter resident, and references to notable local families, places and events of 1869 fill its yellowed pages. Continue reading

Cayuga Museum Presenting Writers Event


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Cayuga MuseumThe Cayuga Museum, in Auburn, is beginning a new monthly program.  Called simply word., the new event will debut on Thursday, February 19 at 7 pm in Theater Mack.  Writers can share their original work with the audience – poems, short stories, essays, segments of larger work, the spoken word, or more.  Poetry, fiction or non-fiction, read or recited, word. is meant to celebrate the writer’s art and help local writers find their voice.   Continue reading

19th Century NYC Travelers Talk, Exhibit


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Hooker's Map (showing places of interest)The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden will host a lunchtime lecture about James Stuart and other travelers to New York City, this Friday, January 9th at 12:30 pm.

James Stuart was a guest at the Mount Vernon Hotel during his stay in New York City in 1833. His travel diary attracted considerable attention for the generally positive reviews he offered on American society compared with his British contemporaries. Continue reading

Knox Headquarters: Hauntings in the 18th Century


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220px-Hammersmith_GhostTwo or three hundred years ago people were terrified of what lurked in the night. Ghosts stalked the gloomy forests and hovered about dark corners, preying on the unwary. Learn what role ghosts, specters and apparitions played in the lives of these people.

Stories such as the Tedworth Drummer show that the supernatural was an ever present part of English and American life. Ghost appeared baring their death wounds, as walking corpses or disembodied heads. Continue reading

Dutch History of Christmas Treats With Peter Rose


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ben_franklins_worldUndoubtedly, you have heard or read Clement Moore’s famous poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (1822), but have you ever wondered where the traditions of stockings, presents, and cookies come from? And what about jolly old Saint Nick? Who was he and why do we call him Santa Claus?

In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Peter G. Rose, culinary historian of Dutch foodways in North America and author of Delicious December: How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents, and Treats (SUNY Press, 2014), joins me to discuss the origins of Santa Claus, cookies, and more in the United States.  You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/009 Continue reading

Little Spain: Manhattan’s Little-Known Enclave


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guadalupeblock1929nyplThere is a neighborhood in Manhattan that some of its old timers call “España Chica” – Little Spain. From the late 19th century to the present time it served as the social and cultural nerve center of Spanish immigrants who settled in New York City.

Little Spain sits just above the West Village, mostly along West 14th Street, but the casual non-Spanish pedestrian would hardly know they were in a Spanish ethnic enclave. If this stroller were a vexillologist (or a fan of the Real Madrid Soccer team) she would no doubt know that the flag hanging in front of the nondescript brownstone at 239 West 14th Street, home of the Spanish Benevolent Society, was that of Spain. Continue reading