Tag Archives: Documentary

Website Highlights Free New York Documentaries

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The popular website DocumentaryStorm.com is celebrating its 1st anniversary, and is recommending several documentaries available on the site about New York City for New York History readers. These documentaries that focus on a couple of seldom visited spaces in New York life, the sewer system and the fire department, along with one of New York City’s most visited places. DocumetaryStorm.com is dedicated to finding providing free, full-length documentaries from around the web.

The New York City Fire Museum

NYC’s Fire Department plays an indispensable role in keeping New York’s citizen’s safe. While September 11th, 2001 shone a very bright and hot media light on the department – rightfully highlighting their training and sacrifice – the department has a sordid and quite remarkable history dating back many centuries. For many decades the firefighters were all community volunteers. This documentary explores the department’s origins and traces the various incarnations, training, and equipment through the 1800’s to today. When was the first fire truck used? How were fires put out in the early 1800’s? What did the firemen used to wear to protect them against fire?

New York from the Underneath

This is a rare and unique glimpse into the sewer system that runs below New York City. Beautifully shot, captivating, and gritty, the documentary traces the underbelly of New York from the Bronx to Queens. Urban Historian Steve Duncan leads the journey through a maze of winding tunnels, man-made waterfalls, and local wildlife. The scars of history’s past is evident in the brickwork and drawings on the wall. We explore more than two centuries of urban planning: a generational patchwork. Half vision, half compromise. The city’s first enclosed sewer system is located on Canal Street and survives intact to this day. Duncan sleeps in the sewers by day and leads us on an entertaining 25 minute tour by day. New York City: like you’ve never seen her before.

The Empire State Building Shall Rise

Proving that the Great Depression was no match for New Yorkers; the Empire State Building continued to rise: past the height of the Eiffel Tower – which had been the tallest building in the world for decades. Past the height of the Chrysler Building – which had been the tallest building for barely a year. The Empire State would stand as the tallest building in the world for over 40 years. It is still the tallest building in New York, following September 11th, 2001. Remarkable historical footage of an American treasure.

Documenting the Birthplace of Mathew Brady

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What follows is a guest essay by Glenn L. Pearsall who recently confirmed the birthplace of Civil War photographer Mathew Brady in Warren County, NY. The essay originally appeared in the Warren County Historical Society newsletter.

On November 10, 2011 the Town of Johnsburg Historical Society commemorated the birthplace of famed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady. They had a cast iron historic marker made and placed at the entrance of the C. Ernest Noxon Community Center in Wevertown, Warren County, NY. Brady was born in Johnsburg Township about 4 miles south of Wevertown in 1822 or 1823. A story of that dedication ceremony was featured in the Glens Falls Post Star and then picked up by the Associated Press. From there the story was distributed nationally and online versions of the story appeared across the country including the Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News and the New York Times.

The research into documenting Brady birthplace in Johnsburg began in 2006 and reads like a detective story or an episode of the PBS show “History Detectives”.

Mathew (only one “t”) Brady was an internationally known figure and much of what we know of the Civil War and famous leaders of the 19th Century comes from his photographs. Mathew Brady’s photographs of the dead at the battle of Antietam, featured in his New York City Gallery on October 1862, brought home to America for the first time the true horror of the Civil War. His corps of photographers documented that war with tens of thousands of photographs. His February 9, 1864 picture of Abraham Lincoln was featured on the U.S. $5 bill since 1928 and when that bill was re-designed in March of 2008 a new picture of Lincoln was used, taken by Brady that same day in 1864. Although most famous for his Civil War work, Brady’s Gallery of Illustrious Americans featured luminaries from Andrew Jackson to Andrew Carnegie. Brady’s work helped record and preserve American history, and yet, until just recently, the birthplace of this famous American remained a mystery.

Mathew Brady’s personal letters indicate that he was born north of Lake George, NY of “poor Irish immigrant parents”. Most Brady biographies are silent as to his exact place of birth. Others list his birthplace as Lake George, or just Warren County, New York. Local folklore here in the southeastern Adirondacks has said for years that he was born in Johnsburg, NY, but there was no documentation to substantiate that claim.

In 2006 I began research for my first book Echoes in These Mountains: Historic Sites and Stories Disappearing in Johnsburg, An Adirondack Community (Pyramid Press, 2008, recipient of a “Letter of Commendation” from the 35 county Upstate History Alliance in 2009). In writing that book I took on the challenge to try to actually document the place of Brady’s birth.

The Federal Census in the early 1800s does not include the names of children. I began, therefore, with Mathew Brady’s father. It is commonly acknowledged that Mathew Brady died in New York City January 15, 1896. With his name and date and place of death it was easy to obtain a certified copy of Mathew Brady’s death certificate from the New York City Dept of Health (New York City Death Certificate #1746). That certificate lists his father as Andrew and mother as Julia. The death certificate notes his place of birth only as “U.S.”.

An inspection of the 1830 Federal Census of towns north of Lake George indicated that the only Andrew Brady listed was in the Census for the Town of Johnsburgh (then spelled with a “h”). That census lists Andrew Brady with 5 children; three boys and two girls. Two of those boys are listed in that 1830 census between the ages 5 to 10. Most sources list Mathew Brady as being born in 1822 or 1823 so he would have been 7 or 8 in 1830. The only reference to an exact date of birth is on www.NNDB.com which lists his date of birth as January 15, 1823, but there is no documentation listed for this and the exact date of January 15th may be confused with his date of death on January 15, 1896, 72 years later).

The next challenge was to determine exactly where he might have been born. In the early 1980s I had visited regularly with Lewis Waddell, then Town of Johnsburg Historian (now long since deceased). Lewis had told me about where the old foundation site was, but we never got around to visiting it together so I was not sure of its exact location. In the Johnsburg Historical Society files, however, I found a sketch that Lewis Waddell had made as to the location of the foundation. It was not to scale, however, so it took some exploring. Bushwhacking around the base of Gage Mountain my wife Carol and son Adam and I located the old road that went from the Glen to Wevertown (the road was later straightened and is now NYS RT 28). Referencing the other foundations along that old road that Waddell had sketched in, we located what I believe to be the foundation of the house where Mathew Brady was born in 1822 or 1823.

The actual site of Brady’s birthplace lies 4.1 miles south of Wevertown off of NYS Rt 28. The house foundation lies about 275 yards off the west side of the road (GPS N 63 degrees 36’00.6”x W 73 degrees 52’44.4”) on private property.

It has been written that Brady left the area at age 16 (in 1838 or 1839). Some sources indicate that his first stop was Saratoga Springs, N.Y. where he met famed portrait painter William Page. Brady became Page’s student and in 1839 the two of them travelled to Albany, N.Y. In 1844 they continued south to New York City where Brady’s instructions were supplemented under the tutelage of Samuel F. B. Morse (portrait painter and inventor of the single wire telegraph system). Morse was enthusiastic about the new art of capturing images through daguerreotype having met Louis Jacques Daguerre in Paris in 1839. Soon Brady was also excited about the new process and established his first photographic studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Street. In 1849 he established a studio in Washington D.C. so that he could photograph the famous men of his time there.

In 1896, depressed by the death of his wife Juliet (“Julia” Handy) 9 years earlier and suffering from alcoholism and loneliness, Mathew Brady died in the charity ward of the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Penniless at the time of his death, his funeral was paid for by veterans of the famous 7th New York Volunteer Infantry. He is buried in Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Photos: Above, Glenn Pearsall at the re-discovered Mathew Brady foundation in Johnsburg; middle, a hand drawn map by former Town of Johnsburg Historian Lewis Waddell showing the possible location of the Brady homestead (not to scale); below, the newly installed historic marker in nearby Wevertown, NY. (Photos courtesy Glenn Pearsall).

Women’s Rights NHP Showing ‘Top Secret Rosies’

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Women’s Rights National Historical Park will show the documentary film Top Secret Rosies this Friday and Saturday, March 30 and 31, at 12:00 noon.

Top Secret Rosies documents the lives of the female mathematicians who designed ballistics tables and programmed computers for the United States Army during World War II. This film is 60 minutes long.

The film is being shown as part of Women’s Rights National Historical Park’s first Winter Film Festival. The park exists to commemorate and preserve the events of the First Women’s Rights Convention that was held in Seneca Falls in 1848. “We are proud to be part of the National Park system, and we invite everyone to join us in celebrating our shared history and culture through film,” said Superintendent Tammy Duchesne.

The park is also showing the film as part of its celebration of Women’s History Month in March. “We are inspired by the courage of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and countless other women and men who struggled for equal rights in this country,” said Duchesne. “Their stories continue to resonate with people across the globe.”

Top Secret Rosies is approximately 60 minutes long and intended for a general audience. All Winter Film Festival movies will be shown at 12:00 noon on Fridays and Saturdays, November through April, in the Guntzel Theater, located at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park Visitor Center at 136 Fall Street in downtown Seneca Falls. Because film lengths vary, visitors are encouraged to call if they are interested in a particular showing. All park programs are free and open to the public. For more information, please visit call 315.568.0024.

You can also follow the park’s social media sites for Facebook and Twitter to learn more about their upcoming events and programs.

William Kennedy’s Prohibition Story:
An Interview with Exec Producer Dan Swinton

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The passage of the Volstead Act and prohibition against intoxicating liquor caused a profound change in American culture by breaking the traditional mold of heroes and anti-heroes. Popular media has romanticized the anti-hero “gangster” role, and some of the greatest actors of the movie-making era have portrayed names like Al Capone, “Bugs” Moran, “Bugsy” Siegal and “Machine Gun” Kelly on the silver screen. In many instances, thugs, authorities and officials become the puppets of the crime boss, or the authorities become as violent as the criminals do.
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Historic Saranac Lake to Hold Annual Meeting

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Historic Saranac Lake will hold its Annual Meeting on November 1 at 7:00 PM, in the John Black Room of the Saranac Laboratory Museum in Saranac Lake. The meeting will feature a presentation of historic films by Jim Griebsch, featuring newly digitized footage of the Trudeau Sanitorium in 1929. The Kollecker film footage is shown courtesy of the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library.

An independent film and video director, Jim has spent time digitizing, restoring and editing 16mm spools of film from the 1920’s through the early 60‘s which have been archived in the Saranac Lake Free Library’s Adirondack Room.

Born in Saranac Lake, Jim is an award winning producer, director and director of photography with numerous film, television and interactive credits to his name during his 40+ year career. He co-founded and owned Heliotrope Studios Ltd., in Cambridge, Mass. He worked on the feature film Cold River in Saranac Lake. His work has taken him around the world. Jim and his wife Carol have returned to Saranac Lake to live and as he continues to travel to Boston to work with MediaElectric Inc., on a variety of projects.

Jim Griebsch recently joined the Board of Directors of Historic Saranac Lake. In its 31st year, Historic Saranac Lake is an architectural preservation organization that captures and presents local history from its center at the Saranac Laboratory Museum.

The meeting is open to all members of Historic Saranac Lake and the public at large. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, please contact Historic Saranac Lake at (518) 891-4606.

New York Photo League Exhibit Slated

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Drawing on the depth of two great Photo League museum collections, The Jewish Museum in New York City and the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio are collaborating on an exhibition of over 140 vintage photographs. The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951, a formidable survey of the group’s history, its artistic significance, and its cultural, social and political milieu, will premiere at The Jewish Museum from November 4, 2011 through March 25, 2012. The Radical Camera exhibition will then travel to the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH (April 19 – September 9, 2012); the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA (October 11, 2012 – January 21, 2013); and Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL (February 9 – April 21, 2013).

Artists in the Photo League were known for capturing sharply revealing, compelling moments from everyday life. Their focus centered on New York City and its vibrant streets – a shoeshine boy, a brass band on a bustling corner, a crowded beach at Coney Island. Many of the images are beautiful, yet harbor strong social commentary on issues of class, child labor, and opportunity. The Radical Camera exhibition explores the fascinating blend of aesthetics and social activism at the heart of the Photo League.

The innovative contributions of the Photo League during its 15-year existence (1936-1951) were significant. As it grew, the League would mirror monumental shifts in the world starting with the Depression, through World War II and ending with the Red Scare. Born of the worker’s movement, the Photo League was an organization of young, idealistic photographers who believed in documentary photography as an expressive medium and powerful tool for exposing social problems. It was also a school with teachers such as Sid Grossman, who encouraged students to take their cameras to the streets and discover the meaning of their work as well as their relationship to it. The League had a darkroom for printing, published an acclaimed newsletter called Photo Notes, offered exhibition space, and was a place to socialize, especially among first-generation Jewish-Americans.

The first museum exhibition in three decades to comprehensively look at the Photo League, The Radical Camera reveals that the League encouraged a surprisingly broad spectrum of work throughout extraordinarily turbulent times. The organization’s members included some of the most noted photographers of the mid-20th century – W. Eugene Smith, Weegee, Lisette Model, Berenice Abbott and Aaron Siskind, to name a few. The Photo League helped validate photography as a fine art, presenting student work and guest exhibitions by established photographers like Eugène Atget, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Edward Weston, among others.

These affecting black and white photographs show life as it was lived mostly on the streets, sidewalks and subways of New York. Joy, playfulness and caprice as well as poverty and hardship are in evidence. In addition to their urban focus, Leaguers photographed in rural America, and during World War II, in Latin America and Europe. The exhibition also addresses the active participation of women who found rare access and recognition at the League.

The Radical Camera presents the League within a critical, historical context. Developments in photojournalism were catalyzing a new information era in which photo essays were appearing for the first time in magazines such as Life and Look. As time went on, its social documentary roots evolved toward a more experimental approach, laying the foundation for the next generation of street photographers. One of the principal themes of the exhibition is how the League fostered a multifaceted and changing identity of documentary photography. “A mixture of passion and disillusionment characterizes the Photo League’s growth, which led photographers away from objective documentary images and toward more subjective, poetic readings of life,” said Mason Klein, exhibition co-curator and a curator at The Jewish Museum. “The tenets of truth in documentary photography laid down by League members were also challenged by them and ultimately upended by members of the New York School,” he added. Catherine Evans, exhibition co-curator and a curator of photography at the Columbus Museum of Art, observed that “This museum partnership is an extraordinary opportunity to showcase two in-depth collections. Because the images continue to have relevance today, it is especially important that the exhibition will be seen in four U.S. cities, reaching as broad an audience as possible.”

In 1947, the League came under the pall of McCarthyism and was blacklisted for its alleged involvement with the Communist Party. Ironically, the Photo League had just begun a national campaign to broaden its base as a “Center for American Photography.” Despite the support of Ansel Adams, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, Paul Strand and many other national figures, this vision of a national photography center could not overcome the Red Scare. As paranoia and fear spread, the Photo League was forced to disband in 1951.

The exhibition has been organized by Mason Klein, Curator of Fine Arts, The Jewish Museum, and Catherine Evans, William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography, Columbus Museum of Art.

Photo: Sid Grossman, Coney Island, c. 1947, gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, New York. Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery.

NY Suffrage Writer Hits PBS in September

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Writer Louise Bernikow uncovers the long Suffrage Campaign in New York City, a place she says “where the urban landscape became a prop for incomparable political spectacle. The Statue of Liberty, the transit system, Fifth Avenue, Wall Street, parks and streetcorners– all became venues for a complicated, shifting alliance across lines of race and class, ending in a historic victory in 1917.” Continue reading

State Capitol Fire of 1911 Commemoration

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In the early morning hours of March 29, 1911, a fire broke out in the New York State Capitol at Albany. By sunset, the vast collection of the New York State Library, then housed in the Capitol, had been reduced to ashes.

To commemorate the centennial of the fire, coauthors Paul Mercer and Vicki Weiss, both of the New York State Library, have published The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911 (Arcadia Press, 2011) including rare images and documents from the special collections of the modern library, which arose from the ruins of the 1911 fire.

The public is invited join Executive Deputy Chief Warren Abriel of the Albany Fire Department to mark the 100th Anniversary of this historic event on Tuesday, March 29, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the University Club of Albany. The reception will feature light fare and cash bar, and authors Mercer and Weiss will discuss and sign the book. Royalties from book sales benefit the Friends of the New York State Library.

The event will also feature a preview of a documentary set to air on March 31 on WMHT, The New York Capitol Fire. Robert Altman, President and CEO of WMHT Educational Communications, will introduce a clip of the video, which draws on interviews, archival materials and reenactments. This WMHT documentary was created in collaboration with the New York State Museum, the New York State Archives, the Albany Institute, the New York State Library, the City of Albany and the Commission on the Restoration of the Capitol.

The cost for the reception, book signing and video preview is $20 per person. Reservations are required and may be made by calling the University Club at (518) 463-1151.

A portion of the proceeds from this event benefit the University Club Foundation, formed to recognize and maintain the unique historic and architectural significance of the University Club building and property, its historic neighborhood and the city of Albany, where it has been located since its inception in 1901.

Support for educational programming presented by the University Club of Albany Foundation, Inc. is provided by AT&T.

Photo: Fire-destroyed reading room in State Capitol, Albany, NY, 1911. Courtesy New York State Archives.

Cayuga Museum Film Fest Seeks Entrants

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The 2011 Theodore Case Film Festival seeks entrants. Auburn’s only home-grown film festival honors the work of sound film pioneer Theodore Case and his Case Research Laboratory. Its mission is to further the experimental legacy of the Case Lab by promoting original visual media in Central New York. Festival organizers are actively seeking entries, spreading the word in movie houses, colleges, high schools and middle schools throughout Central New York. The work of area student and adult filmmakers will be screened at the Auburn Public Theater on June 10 and 11. The theater is on Genesee Street in downtown Auburn, the city which is proud to proclaim itself “The Birthplace of Talking Movies.”

Central New York residents are invited to submit their recent work (post January 2009) of thirty minutes or less. Entries should be on DVD. Entry forms may be picked up at the Cayuga Museum, 203 Genesee St., in Auburn, or downloaded from either the Theodore Case Film Festival’s website or the Museum’s website. Work in all genres is welcome and there is no entry fee. Deadline for entries is May 2, 2011.

Two Short Films Celebrate IBM’s Centennial

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The international corporation IBM, based in Armonk, Westchester County, is celebrating it’s 100th Anniversary this year. The company was founded in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation, following a merger of the Computer Scale Company of America and the International Time Recording Company with the Tabulating Machine Company. The conglomerate adopted the name International Business Machines in 1924, a name the company had used in Canada.

A recently produced video to celebrate their centennial anniversary, 100×100, tells IBM’s history through the eyes of 100 different individuals beginning with a 100-year-old and ending with a newborn baby. The video has been posted to YouTube.

A second IBM film was directed by famed documentation Errol Morris. The 30-minute documentary, They Were There was scored by Philip Glass and chronicles many of the influential people involved at IBM throughout its history.

Illustration: The original IBM Logo. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Broadcast Marks 100th Anniversary of Triangle Factory Fire

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On March 25th, 1911, a deadly fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York’s Greenwich Village. The blaze ripped through the congested loft as petrified workers — mostly young immigrant women — desperately tried to make their way downstairs. One door was blocked by fire and the other had been locked by the factory owners to prevent theft.

Some workers managed to cram onto the elevator while others ran down an inadequate fire escape which soon pulled away from the masonry and sent them to their deaths. Hundreds of horrified onlookers arrived just in time to see young men and women jumping from the windows, framed by flames. By the time the fire burned itself out, 146 people were dead. All but 23 of the dead were women and nearly half were teenagers.

The harrowing story of an event that changed labor laws forever, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Triangle Fire is directed and produced by Jamila Wignot (Walt Whitman, The Rehnquist Revolution) and will premiere on Monday, February 28, 2011 at 9:00 PM (check local listings.)

PBS Documentary Coming to NYS Museum

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The New York State Museum will present a PBS documentary December 11 about the Scotia-based New York Air National Guard Wing’s journey to Greenland with a team of international scientists investigating global warming.

“Arctic Air: A Greenlandic Journey with the 109th” will be shown free-of-charge at 2 p.m. in the Museum’s Huxley Theater. Following the film there will be a question-and-answer session with Amy Manley, the film’s producer and Lt Col Kurt Bedore, a navigator from the 109th Airlift Wing.

The documentary was produced by WCNY, a PBS television station in Syracuse, which traveled alongside American and international teams of scientists as they were transported to Greenland by the 109th Airlift Wing in the summer of 2009.

Flying the United States Air Force’s only ski-equipped C-130 Hercules cargo planes, the Wing provides vital support for polar researchers working in the Arctic and Antarctica. “Arctic Air” captures the Wing members’ commitment as they face many challenges in a frozen land that is both beautiful and dangerous. The skilled pilots and their crews transport supplies, cargo and staff to and from Greenland in temperatures that threaten to freeze their planes’ fuel and hydraulic fluid.

The film shows the camps where American and international teams of scientists seek to unlock mysteries of the past buried deep within the polar ice cap to help provide answers to some of today’s most important questions about climate change and global warning. Lack of pollution, unique topography and untouched flows of glacial ice have made the Greenland ice sheet an ideal laboratory for this research. The 109th Airlift Wing missions have made it possible for scientists from around the world to gather the critical data that is now shaping political, environmental and economic policies on climate change.

WCNY is also providing an online teachers’ guide to the documentary with grade-appropriate activities and links to educational resources for classroom and student research use. The suggested activities focus on the topics introduced in the film including scientific Arctic exploration, Arctic aviation, climate control, global warming, life in Greenland, and unique career opportunities for students to explore.

More information on the documentary and the teachers’ guide is available at www.wcny.org/arcticair.

Information about Museum programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Photo: LC-130H (Skier 96) taking off with jet assisted rockets taken April 2003 on
the Greenland Ice Cap by Todd Valentic, Senior Research Engineer, Center for
GeoSpace Studies.

Travel Channel to Feature Ellis Island Museum

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Travel Channel’s new series, Mysteries at the Museum, will be featuring New York tonight at 9 EST. The show will be highlighting the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

The episode will feature literacy tests given to all new arrivals at Ellis Island. In theory the test should have prevented thousands of poor, illiterate immigrants from gaining entry into the U.S., but what many immigrants lacked in literacy, they made up for in cunning and guile. How could they possibly have beat the test that was designed to keep them out of America?

Champlain History Project Wins Prestigious Award

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A partnership of state and non-profit entities has won an important award for its project to educate Vermonters about the history and archeology of the Lake Champlain area as part of the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial.

At its recent annual conference, the American Association for State and Local History awarded the Lake Champlain Voyages of Discovery project a 2010 Leadership in History Award of Merit. Continue reading

‘Baghdad ER’ Doc Coming to NYS Museum

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On July 1, the New York State Museum will present the Emmy award-winning HBO documentary “Baghdad ER,” followed by a reunion and discussion between the producer and the first wounded soldier to appear in the film.

Following the 6:30 p.m. film presentation, producer/director Matthew O’Neill will be reunited with Staff Sgt. Craig Macy from Buffalo, a New York National Guard Soldier who was wounded in Iraq in 2005. Macy will speak about his experiences as a wounded veteran, appearing in the documentary and his continuing membership in the National Guard.

The program is being held in conjunction with the new Museum exhibition “Citizen Soldier: New York’s National Guard in the American Century,” open in Exhibition Hall through March 2011.

When it was released in 2006, “Baghdad ER” was the most honored documentary of the year, winning four Emmy Awards for its “unflinching” look at the cost of war. It also won a Peabody Award, the Overseas Press Club Award and the Alfred I. duPont Columbia Award. The groundbreaking documentary chronicles the day-to-day lives of doctors, nurses, medics, soldiers and chaplains in the Army’s premier medical facility in the combat zone. O’Neill and producer Jon Alpert were given unprecedented access to the Army’s 86th Combat Support Hospital during a two-month period in 2005.

The film captures the experiences of the military medical professionals as they work to save lives from their trauma center in the middle of war-ravaged Iraq. The film is not suitable for children. It includes graphic scenes that are at times disturbing and when the film first came out, the Army was concerned about the emotional impact it might have on troops and military families. Instead, the film became almost required viewing for all members of the military medical community and went on to receive critical acclaim from both inside and outside the U.S. military.

Macy was serving with the National Guard’s 1st Battalion 69th Infantry in Iraq in 2005 when he was struck by a sniper as he was handing out candy to Iraqi children. Thanks to his comrades who rushed to his aid, and the expert medical care he received at the trauma center, Macy survived his ordeal, recovered and returned to duty with the National Guard. He volunteered for a deployment to Afghanistan in 2008 with nearly 1700 New York National Guard troops. While still a member of the National Guard, Macy is now a police officer with the City of Buffalo. He recently became a new father and has named his son after one of the soldiers who pulled him to safety in 2005.

This program is the first in a series of special programs that the State Museum is hosting in conjunction with the “Citizen Soldier” exhibition. The exhibition recounts the history of the New York National Guard and those who carried out its mission through wars and battles, natural disasters and national emergencies. The National Guard is based on a tradition dating back to colonial times in a state that has always been guided by the principle that its defense lies in the hands of its citizenry. Citizen soldiers are everyday people who put their lives on hold to defend, aid and protect their communities and their country.

Queen City Review Seeks Black and White Photography

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The Queen City Review, the yearly journal of art and literature published at Burlington College, has sent out a call for photographers working in black and white for submissions for their Fall 2010 issue. According to a recent announcement, the journal “accepts the work of new and established writers and artists in the areas of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, photography, and fine art, as well as essays and criticism on all aspects of the aforementioned. We seek to publish high quality work that ranges broadly in topic and genre.”

The guidelines for submissions are on the web at www.burlington.edu. Submissions may be emailed to: queencityreview@burlington.edu.

Farmers Museum To Show ‘Food Inc’

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Otsego 2000 has joined forces with The Farmers’ Museum to screen the critically acclaimed film “Food, Inc.,” with special appearances by representatives from local food and agricultural organizations. The film will be shown in the Fenimore Art Museum Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 20th.

“Food, Inc.” a Robert Kenner film, features interviews with experts such as Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto), along with agricultural entrepreneurs like Stonyfield Farm’s Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farm’s Joel Salatin. “Food, Inc.” reveals surprising — and often shocking truths about what we eat. It exposes the highly mechanized workings of our nation’s food industry that are kept hidden from American consumers. The film stresses the idea that the nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health.

Speakers for the evening will include Chris Harmon, Executive Director of the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) in Oneonta; Shulamis Giordani, General Manager of the Foodshed Buying Club in Utica, New York; and Lyn Weir Manager of the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market. Each will talk about creating and supporting a vibrant agricultural and food economy here in Central New York.

For information, please call The Farmers’ Museum at 607-547-1450 or visit our website at www.FarmersMuseum.org.

History Channel to Feature Saranac WWII Veteran

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A History Channel documentary will feature an Adirondack veteran of World War Two: Archie Sweeney of Saranac Lake. The 10-hour series WWII in HD, which will air over over five consecutive nights from Sunday through Thursday, November 15-19 will be narrated by Gary Sinise.

Archie Sweeney was a resident of Saranac Lake Village (where one of his sisters still lives; another lives in Glens Falls), who came to the series late in production according to Larry Miller, who did research and character development for most of the men and women in the series. “I had finished preliminary work for six characters when I got a call from the producer who told me that they wanted a character who was killed early in the war, preferably in North Africa,” Miller told me. “That was going to be a problem for several reasons. Men who died early in the war had very little time to write letters or diaries so there would probably be very little material to work with. There would be no oral histories recorded and obviously no book written.”

What Miller hoped to find was a man who had surviving family members and who had saved information relating to his experiences. “Almost immediately, my thoughts turned to the Adirondacks,” Miller says. “My chances to find surviving relatives were better if I could find someone from a small town rather than, for example, Manhattan. These families were, at the time, less mobile than those from larger cities. A side benefit would be that I could work and be in the Adirondacks simultaneously.”

Miller began his search by reading the casualty lists published in the New York Times where he found three men from the Adirondack region who had been killed in action in North Africa. A search of their obituaries told Miller that two of the men were survived by only their parents – the third was Archie Sweeney, whose several siblings survived the war. “After several months of researching newspapers, public records, service records and interviewing his surviving relatives, I had gathered enough information about the young man to write a narrative of his short life and brave death,” Miller said.

Larry Miller sent the short biography he wrote about Archie Sweeney to the Almanack. Here it is in its entirety:

Corporal Archie Sweeney was twenty one years old when he graduated from Saranac Lake High School in Saranac Lake, New York. He was not their best student. Once he teasingly told his two little sisters that when you did well in high school they used the word “flunked”, so when he came home one day and told his mother that he had flunked math, the girls greeted him with hugs and congratulated him.

“Polite” was the term most often attached to his name. It helps to be polite when you share your living space with eight brothers and sisters. And it becomes a survival skill when you are separated from your family, Archie to one relative and his two younger sisters to another, because your mother has died and your father is too ill to care for you. (His mother died from cancer and his father has a broken neck that he sustained while digging trenches along the roadside. After his accident, he spent many months in a body case.)

At the time of her death, Archie was working two jobs and attending high school. He loved his days spent on his father’s farm in Lawrenceville, a tiny village in upstate New York almost as much as the times he and his brothers spent at their dad’s hunting camp Floodwood, a speck on the map located in the Adirondack Mountains, where they hunted and fished during the fall and winter when the farming was idle. It was during those frigid winters that his sisters remember Archie bundling them up, seating them in a sleigh, hitching the horse up and driving them to church.

When the war broke out, Archie was the first young man whose number was called in the draft lottery held in nearby Lake Placid. But Archie has enlisted the previous day. On New Years Day, 1941, he told his older brother that this was a good way to start the year. It was time to move on; to see what life had in store for him. Two days later he walked to Lake Placid a few miles away, to report for his physical.

He took a train, the first time he had ever been on one, to Fort Bragg, N.C. where his politeness was put to the test training with the 39th Infantry, 9th Division.

By the middle of March, he had been assigned to Company H and proudly sent his company photograph home. There he stood, right next to the company flag, all 5’ 11”, 145 pounds of him, standing ram-rod straight and looking quite serious.

Early that summer, Archie returned home and stayed at the farm. One of his sisters took a snapshot of him standing proudly in front of their barn. That evening, as she was preparing for bed, she saw Archie, standing as comfortably as if he had been sitting, watching as the sun set. “What are you looking at?” she asked. “I’m just looking. I don’t know if I’ll ever see this again.”

On 25 September 1942 the 39th, the Fighting Falcons, boarded 5 ships and sailed out of New York harbor. On the 6th of October 1942 and about 4,000 miles later, the convoy dropped anchor in Belfast Harbor. The 39th moved to Scotland and awaited the departure of the 47th and 60th Infantry Regiments from the US and their first D-Day.

The 9th Infantry Division saw its first combat in the North African invasion when its elements landed at Algeria in Ain-Taya 15 miles east of the city of Algeria on November 8, 1942. Moving swiftly the 39th defeated the Vichy-French troops and had the city surrounded.

The next three months were spent guarding communications lines along their front.

Company B picked up a new rifle platoon leader during this period, Lieutenant Charles Scheffel.

The war was not going well. The Germans were retreating but we couldn’t face Rommel’s tanks with our big guns. The units that tried that at Kasserine Pass suffered a devastating defeat.

The U.S. plan involved the U.S. 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions, to occupy the hills on opposite sides of the El Guettar Pass which would enable the armored troops to pass through the valley without being fired on from its flanks. This force attacked Hill 369 on the afternoon of 30 March but ran into mines and anti-tank fire, losing 5 tanks. The tanks were removed, and the 1st and 9th attacked again the next day at 06:00, moving up and taking several hundred prisoners. However an Italian counterattack drove them back from their newly gained positions, and by 12:45 they were back where they started with the loss of 9 tanks and 2 tank destroyers. A further attempt the next day on 1 April also failed, after barely getting started.

Captain Scheffel recalled that, “On March 27, 1943, my first wedding anniversary, I took out Ruth’s picture and wished I was back in Enid. I kept thinking what a shitty place to spend an anniversary. At least we weren’t fired on during the first night, and for that, I was grateful.”

On April 1, Archie was writing a letter home. “It’s very quite here this evening. I think the war may be coming to an end.” [see p 7 of my notes-when the skirmish occurred a few days later.]

His older brother, Harold, received a telegram on May 8th, 1943 informing him that Archie was “Missing in Action”. Two days later an Army chaplain arrived at his door to tell them that Archie had been killed the same evening he wrote his letter.

He was twenty five years old; the first Saranac Lake Village soldier to die in action.

Photo: Saranac Lake’s Archie Sweeney during World War Two. Photo provided.

Champlain Quad Project Featured In Federal Publication

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A project that helped celebrate the 400th anniversary of the navigation of Lake Champlain by Samuel de Champlain is being held up as an example of how partnerships between public broadcasters, libraries, and other entities can benefit communities.

The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation joins the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) in announcing the release of a new publication, Partnership for a Nation of Learners: Joining Forces, Creating Value, which offers guidance on creating effective community collaborations. Continue reading