Forests – 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
The 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
As 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
In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, François Furstenberg, Associate Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University and author of When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation (Penguin, 2014), joins us to explore how and why the United States spoke French during the 1790s. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/017
In 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
The 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
A 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
Opening 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
They 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
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
The 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
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
Two 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
Undoubtedly, 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
There 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
The Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany will celebrate the tradition of Seanichie, the traditional Irish Storyteller, at an event about the Irish in the Adirondacks featuring musician Dan Berggren and storyteller Joe Doolittle.
The Seanichie were travelers, carrying stories and news between hamlets and families. For the price of a warm meal, they’d share stories of the old ones and lively tales of romance and blarney. Continue reading
Time was that the Sullivan County Catskills were as popular as any summer tourist destination in the country. And as far back as the 19th century, some enterprising hotel owners attempted to translate that popularity into year around success.
Boosted by the patronage of those seeking a cure from tuberculosis, in the 1880s the Ontario and Western Railway began advertising the area as a winter health resort, publishing its annual “Winter Homes” brochure in addition to the popular “Summer Homes” booklet. Continue reading
On December 7th at 3 pm Architectural Historian Barry Lewis will present a free lecture, “New York in the Greek Revival Era 1830 – 1850″, at the Jay Heritage Center, 210 Boston Post Road, in Rye, NY.
The Greek Revival decades were the beginning of the modern era in New York City. Industrialization hit the city by the 1830s completely changing the landscape. Wall Street was re-built for corporate headquarters including a magnificent U.S. Custom House, suburbia was born (around Washington Square), the immigrants and tenement slums arrived (the Five Points) and the modern notion of high-end shopping began when A.T. Stewart opened America’s first department store (today, it houses the NYC Department of Buildings) at Broadway and Chambers Street in 1845. Continue reading
What are the dynamics of cultural equity and how does a community encourage its own cultural arts? Ellen McHale, Executive Director of the New York Folklore Society, will speak about the 21st century demographics of Schenectady and the Mohawk Valley and will provide some thoughts towards a culturally inclusive community on December 13th, at the Mabee Farm historic Site. Continue reading
For about a week in 1871, New Yorkers were in a quandary about Thanksgiving. On October 25, New York Governor John T. Hoffman designated Thursday, November 23 as Thanksgiving Day for the state. In his Thanksgiving Day proclamation, the Tammany Hall Democrat urged New Yorkers to spend time on that day to declare “their gratitude to God for all his mercies” and to “remember especially the poor.”
On October 28, President Ulysses S. Grant recommended that the nation observe Thanksgiving a week after the New York Thanksgiving, on Thursday November 30. In his proclamation, the Republican chief executive called for Americans to “make the usual acknowledgments to Almighty God for the blessings he has conferred on them” and ask “His protection and kindness for their less fortunate brethren.”
What was a conscientious, holiday-minded New Yorker supposed to do? Observe the Democratic Thanksgiving on November 23, or the Republican Thanksgiving on November 30, or both? Continue reading