Who remembers Aaron Burr as anything more than Quick Draw McGraw shooting down the near-sighted Alexander Hamilton at dawn in 1804? But there is much more to the man, as Gore Vidal revealed in his intriguing 1973 historical novel, and other subsequent scholarship.
Two aspects of Burr’s varied career stand out in today’s world. First, his treason trial that closely examined issues of what counts as an act of war against one’s own government. And second, his relationships with a series of highly intelligent and accomplished women, reflecting his high opinion of the female sex and its potential. Continue reading
In the study of history, a personal connection is often what draws us in to begin to explore a subject, place, or era. We might be interested in World War II after hearing grandpa’s war stories. We might begin to read about the Underground Railroad after discovering stations in our hometown.
Making a personal connection with the people we read about and study is a common impulse for history lovers. It helps make history come alive. This story isn’t about an ancestor, or a history connection to my home town, it’s about a woman with a more unique connection to me, one who shares my name. Continue reading
What was everyday life like for average men and women in early America?
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, author of One Colonial Woman’s World: The Life and Writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), joins us to explore the life of an average woman who lived in early New England. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/032
The New York State Museum in Albany recently acquired a series of 1917 Franklin County women’s suffrage petitions from Jean Kubaryk, a teacher at North Warren Central School District. Ms. Kubaryk had been displaying the petitions in her classroom for years, but decided to donate the petitions to the Museum so they can be preserved for future generations.
After the petitions were officially acquired by the Museum, staff sent copies of the petitions to Ms. Kubaryk so her students can assist in researching the women who signed the petitions. Continue reading
Modestly but eloquently, Sue Fraczek described her life as an Amsterdam mill worker, “When I went to work, I was scared to death. It was my first time in a carpet mill. It was hot. It was noisy.”
Fraczek was surprised to see herself as a young mill worker in a still picture prominently featured in “Historic Views of the Carpet City,” the WMHT-TV documentary on Amsterdam first shown in 2000. Co-producer Steve Dunn chose the picture of the young woman at a yarn twisting machine to symbolize the documentary that he and I produced. Continue reading
Have you heard the saying “behind every great man stands a great woman?”
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Vivian Bruce Conger, the Robert Ryan Professor in the Humanities at Ithaca College, joins us to explore the two great women that Benjamin Franklin had standing behind and beside him: his wife, Deborah Read Franklin, and his daughter, Sally Franklin Bache. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/022
It’s not too early to start planning for New York State History Month in November. One of the themes that the state’s history community might consider this year is reform in New York State. There are few better examples of a New York reform leader than Elizabeth Cady Stanton and November 15 is the bicentennial of her birth.
She was born Elizabeth Cady in Johnstown on November 15, 1815. She observed how the law treated women as subordinate to men through observing the work of her father, an attorney and judge. She derived a hatred of slavery and confidence in political change from her cousin, Gerrit Smith, who lived in nearby Peterboro. She married a leading abolitionist, Henry Stanton, in 1840, but Elizabeth Cady Stanton was always independent, opinionated, determined, sometimes headstrong, never resting. Continue reading
In honor of Women’s History Month, the Historic Districts Council remembers five extraordinary women who changed the face of New York City:
Yolanda Garcia (1952- 2005), founded Nos Quedamos/We Stay in the early 1990s to preserve her neighborhood of Melrose Commons in the Bronx. In 1992 neighborhood residents discovered that the City was planning to evict them to realize an urban renewal plan. Incensed by the idea that their reward for enduring years of abandonment, arson and crime would be eviction, they confronted officials and sparked a productive dialogue about preservation and planning in the Bronx that continues today. Their efforts have become a model for community-based planning. Continue reading
The New York State Museum in Albany has issued a call for artifacts, images and stories for its upcoming exhibit “Votes for Women Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial”, planned for the Fall of 2017.
November 2017 will mark the centennial of women winning the right to vote in New York State. Women in the state played a pivotal role in the struggle for women’s suffrage and equal rights beginning in 1848 with the Seneca Falls Convention through the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 and beyond. Continue reading
James Eldridge Quinlan’s History of Sullivan County is generally regarded as one of the most thorough and entertainingly written local histories. Published in 1873, Quinlan’s history is the undisputed bible of Sullivan County’s past, and yet it is not without its shortcomings. Some have criticized what they view as his selective exclusion of material – he does not, for instance, write much about the Civil War, and it has been said that this was because he was a Copperhead, or a southern sympathizer. And each year in March, Women’s History Month, we are reminded that he afforded minimal space in his writings to the women of the era.
That makes the few women he does write about stand out even more than they might otherwise, and no woman receives greater praise from Quinlan than Phebe Reynolds Drake. 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
Remembering Inez: The Last Campaign of Inez Milholland, Suffrage Martyr (American Graphic Press, 2015), edited by Robert P. J. Cooney, Jr. , honors a prominent New York attorney and woman suffrage leader who died of pernicious anemia at age 30 while campaigning for votes for women.
The book includes intimate first-person accounts, stirring speeches, and heartfelt memorials that appeared in 1916 issues of The Suffragist, the weekly publication of the National Woman’s Party in Washington D.C. Continue reading
On April 14, 1865, the night of President Lincoln’s assassination, Booth’s conspirator Lewis Powell attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward in his home just blocks from Ford’s Theatre.
The attack, which left Seward and his son seriously wounded, is recounted in poignant detail in Fanny Seward’s diary. Fanny, the beloved only daughter of Seward, was a keen observer, and her diary entries from 1858 to 1866 are the foundation of Trudy Krisher’s Fanny Seward: A LIfe (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2014), a vivid portrait of the young girl who was an eyewitness to one of the most tumultuous periods in American history. Continue reading
Historic Huguenot Street has announced its first events of the new year: a three-part lecture series with Ulster County Historian Anne Gordon. The lecture series will kick off on Saturday, February 7, at 4 pm.
In honor of Black History Month, this first lecture – entitled “From Isabella to Sojourner: A Slave in Ulster County” – will focus on the life of local abolitionist hero Sojourner Truth, from a childhood in slavery to her bold step into freedom. Continue reading
Did you know that some early Americans lived openly in same-sex marriages?
In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Rachel Hope Cleves, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and author of Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America, will reveal the story of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, women who lived openly as a married couple in Weybridge, Vermont between 1807 and 1851. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/013 Continue reading
Women’s Rights National Historical Park will be celebrating National Women’s History Month in March with an array of programming and special events. New exhibits will be unveiled featuring some of the park’s most significant historical objects related to the first Women’s Rights Convention held in the park’s Wesleyan Chapel in 1848.
Dr. Barbara LeSavoy, PhD, Director of Women and Gender Studies at The College of Brockport, will be sharing her experiences traveling in Russia in a lecture and conversation on women titled, “Comparative Perspectives on the United States and Russia.” And, WCNY will once again hold its Annual Central New York Women Who Make America Awards Ceremony at the park. These are just a sampling of the activities that will be on the park’s calendar during National Women’s History Month. Continue reading
There are several claimants to the title of New York’s most famous nurse. That distinction probably can be laid at the feet of Long Island native Walt Whitman, though it was not his nursing skills during the Civil War that garnered him his fame. Some might argue it is the still not positively identified nurse who was photographed in Times Square celebrating the surrender of Japan in 1945 through a passionate kiss from a sailor. Again, though, it was not her skills as a nurse that earned her recognition. Another contender was Mary Breckinridge, whose Frontier Nursing Service brought healthcare to poor rural America. While her fame came about as a result of her nursing, she was born in Tennessee and gained her fame in Kentucky, only acquiring her nursing education in New York.
I happen to believe the title of New York’s most famous nurse belongs to Lillian Wald. Though born in Cincinnati, her family brought her to New York as a girl. She would spend the rest of her life there, gaining fame for her work in bringing healthcare to the poorest of New York’s immigrant population. Even after her death in 1940 her impact on New York continued to be felt, and her legacy lives on to this day. Continue reading
The Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society has announced the first program of its 2015 “Odds and Ends” Winter Lecture Series on Wednesday, January 28 at Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in Lake Placid, NY. The program is “Dating Photos by Fashion” presented by Margaret Bartley, Trustee of the Essex County Historical Society.
“Dating Photos by Fashion” is a slide/lecture program designed to teach anyone who is interested in learning how to date old photos by the style of dress and fashion. It will cover the period 1840 to 1920 and uses old photos to show how styles changed over a period of 80 years. Dating old photos is a great help to anyone interested in history, genealogy or simply has old family photos that are unidentified or undated. Continue reading
The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) in Philadelphia is launching “LGBT Stories: A Collecting Project,” a new website that focuses on Jewish Americans in the barrier-breaking movement for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights during the twentieth century and beyond.
“The courageous story of the LGBT civil rights movement is a vital part of America’s ongoing search for freedom and NMAJH is proud to celebrate and share this history – with the public’s active participation,” says Ivy Barsky, the Museum’s Chief Executive Officer and Gwen Goodman Director. Continue reading
The hamlet of Long Eddy has a rich and colorful history, including a few years in the 19th century when it was known as Douglas City, the only incorporated city ever in Sullivan County. It also has a captivating link to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt White House – a connection made even more fascinating in that it was kept secret for more than forty years. Continue reading