Tag Archives: Labor History

Early American Industries Grants Program


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The Early American Industries Association (EAIA) has announced a $6,000 Research Grants Program to provide grants to individuals or institutions engaged in research projects that relate to historic trades, crafts, and tools and their impact on our lives. The numbers and amount of each grant is to be given at the discretion of a committee, with no one grant to exceed $2,000.

The 2009 grant supported a project on 18th and 19th century coopering in Virginia and New England. Previous grants have supported a wide variety of projects, and normally three or more grants are made each year. A complete list may be found on the EAIA web site.

The Early American Industries Association, established in 1933, preserves and presents historic trades, crafts and tools and interprets their impact on our lives. The Association comprises collectors, curators, historians, antiquarians, librarians, material culturists, and anyone who shares our interests.

The Application deadline for 2010 is March 15. For further information on the EAIA and the Research Grants Program, and to print the four-page application visit their web site, www.EAIAinfo.org or contact Ms. Justine Clerc, Lorleton Assisted Living, 22 West 14th Street, Apt. 129, Wilmington, DE 19805 (302) 652-7297.

Send all inquiries to Research Grants Program c/o Ms. Justine Clerc.

US Cultural History Fellowships Announced


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The Library Company of Philadelphia and Historical Society of Pennsylvania have announced research fellowships in Colonial and U.S. History and Culture for 2010-2011. The fellowships, outlined below, include generally orientated one-month visiting fellowships, and long term dissertation fellowships, and a dissertation fellowship for the study of Early American Literature and Material Texts.

One-Month Visiting Research Fellowships

These two independent research libraries will jointly award approximately thirty one-month fellowships for research in residence in either or both collections during 2010-2011. The two institutions, adjacent to each other in Center City Philadelphia, have complementary collections capable of supporting research in a variety of fields and disciplines relating to the history of America and the Atlantic world from the 17th through the 19th centuries, as well as Mid-Atlantic regional history to the present. For information on the collections, visit www.hsp.org and www.librarycompany.org.

One-month fellowships carry a stipend of $2,000 and are tenable for any one-month period between June 2010-May 2011. Two Barra Foundation International Fellowships, each for $2,500 plus a travel allowance, are reserved for foreign national scholars resident outside the U. S. Some of the short-term fellowships provide for study in specific fields, such as ethnic and immigrant history; history of the book; African American History; visual culture; and economic history (through the Library Company’s Program in Early American Economy and Society). For more detailed information about all of these fellowships, go to www.librarycompany.org/fellowships. We invite inquiries about the appropriateness of proposed topics to jgreen@librarycompany.org. The Library Company’s Cassatt House fellows’ residence offers rooms at reasonable rates.

The deadline for receipt of one-month fellowship applications is March 1, 2010, with a decision to be made by April 15. To apply, visit www.librarycompany.org/fellowships, fill out an electronic cover sheet, and submit one portable document format (PDF) containing a résumé and a 2-4 page description of the proposed research. One letter of recommendation should arrive under separate cover in PDF format as well. Please email materials to fellowships@librarycompany.org. If you wish you apply for more than one fellowship, simply check more than one box on your electronic cover sheet.

Library Company Long-term Dissertation Fellowships

The Library Company also supports dissertation research in residence through the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation Fellowship (on any subject relevant to its collections) and the Program in Early American Economy and Society Fellowship (for research in economic history). The term of these fellowships is from September 2010 to May 2011, with a stipend of $20,000. The awards may be divided between two applicants, each of whom would spend a semester in residence. The application deadline and procedures are the same as for the one-month fellowships as described above, with the addition of a second letter of reference and a writing sample of about 25 pages.

Dissertation Fellowships in Early American Literature and Material Texts

The McNeil Center for Early American Studies, in collaboration with the Library Company, offers two dissertation fellowships in early American literature and material texts, supported by a new grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Fellows will be in residence from July 2010 through July 2011. The stipend for a 13-month term will be at least $28,000. To apply go to www.mceas.org. Deadline, March 1, 2010.

North Creek: Songs and Stories of Loggers, Miners


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Begin the New Year with an afternoon of engaging tunes and tales. Join the staff of the Adirondack Museum for “Working for the Man: Songs and Stories of Adirondack Lumberjacks and Miners.” The special program will be held at the Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek, New York on Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 3:30 p.m. There will be no charge for museum members and children of elementary school age or younger. The fee for non-members is $5.00.

The historic work of loggers and miners was framed by dangerous conditions, back breaking work, long hours, and low pay. Although daily life was hard and often heartbreaking, it was also filled with music, laughter, stories, and strong community ties.

“Working for the Man” will feature musician Lee Knight singing traditional ballads of logging, mining, and rural life. Museum Educator Christine Campeau will join Knight to share historic photographs, artifacts from museum collections, and stories of work, family, and life in Adirondack logging and mining communities.

Born in the Adirondacks, Lee Knight now lives in Cashiers, North Carolina. He is a singer, storyteller, song collector, and teacher of folklore, folk life, and folk music. He performs regularly at concerts, folk festivals, and summer camps, where he tells stories, sings ballads, and calls dances. He has appeared with Pete Seeger, Jean Ritchie, Bill Monroe, Alan Lomax, and many others. He will play traditional hand-made instruments.

Following the program, Lee Knight will perform at the Copperfield Inn from 4:30 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Photo: Ruby Mountain Mine, North River Garnet Company. Collection of the Adirondack Museum.

US Fish Commission Annual Reports Available Online


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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has placed online the annual reports of the United States Fish Commission, also known as the United States Fish and Fisheries Commission, from 1871-1940 and 1947-1979 in PDF format. The Commission was also part of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and these annual reports present comprehensive overview of the U.S. Fish Commission’s activities for each year. The reports are helpful for historians of commercial fishing areas in New York State including Long Island, the lower Hudson River, the St. Lawrence River, and Lake Erie. The entire collection can be found here.

The U. S. Fish Commission was established in 1871. By 1881 the Commission was known as the U.S. Fish and Fisheries Commission. The Bureau of Biological Survey was established in 1885. In 1903 the name was changed to Bureau of Fisheries. The Bureau of Fisheries was transferred on July 1, 1939, from the Department of Commerce to the Department of the Interior. In 1940 the Bureau of Fisheries and the Bureau of Biological Survey were consolidated to form the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Beginning in July 1946, during the transition from war to peace, the Annual Report became a series of Quarterly Reports which presented a summary of bilogical investigations conducted by the Division of Fishery Biology and a general resume of progress of investigations during the entire year. 1957 was the last issue of Annaul Reports of the Fishery Biology, Department of Interior.

The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 created the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife within the Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Interior. The Report of the Bureau of Commerical Fisheries for the Calendar Year 1958… (published in 1962) was the first report for calender year 1957 and reviewed, in detail, the organization of the Bureau, the history of fishery administration and the operation of the Bureau’s predecessor organizations, U.S. Fish Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries.

The Report of the National Marine Fisheries Service for Calendar Year 1970-1971 covers the period of transition of the Federal fisheries agency from the Deparment of Interior to the newly formed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce.

Photo: A diagram of a gill net used for Salmon on the St. Lawrence River from the 1871 U. S. Fish Commission annual report.

Presentation On The Poesten Kill Thursday


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John Warren (yours truly) has written the first history of the Poestenkill ­which flows through the center of Rensselaer County and enters the Hudson River at Troy, will offer a book talk and signing this Thursday (October 22nd, 6:30 to­ 8 pm) at the Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy (57 Second Street, Troy). The event is free and open to the public. Copies of The Poesten Kill will be available for purchase at the event. The Poestenkill has been home to American Indians who hunted, gathered, fished and farmed along its shores, frontier Dutch farmers and traders, colonial tradesmen, merchants, millers, and lumbermen, and nineteenth century iron, steel, textile, and paper workers.

Barrels, Buckets, and Casks: Coopering at Adk Museum


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Coopering is the ancient art of making casks, barrels, vats, buckets, and other circular or elliptical wooden vessels bound together by hoops. Historically, wooden barrels were used for the storage and transportation of all sorts of goods. Coopering was a valuable skill. David Salvetti will demonstrate the art of coopering at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake on July 18, 19 and 20, 2009. The demonstration will be held in the Mark W. Potter Education Center from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and is included in the price of general admission.

David Salvetti’s love of woodworking began at age seven – with simple
projects such as birdhouses. In 2005, at the age of fourteen, woodworking became something more. The Salvetti family visited the Adirondack Museum in July of that year. The rustic furniture on exhibit fascinated David. Inspired by what he saw, Salvetti cut a sapling on the family’s property and built a twig chair. Another chair
followed in 2006 – winning “Best in Show” (4-H Youth Division) at the Oswego County Fair. David entered the white birch chair in the 2007 New York State Fair, Adult Arts and Crafts competition – winning another blue ribbon. David’s prize-winning rustic chair is on display at the Adirondack Museum and will become part of the permanent collection.

David Salvetti’s exploration of traditional woodworking techniques has led him to build his own shed, making shingles to cover the structure by hand. He has learned to make watertight wooden buckets without nails, adhesives, or modern sealants. He demonstrates his skills at Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego, N.Y.

Coopering is part of a summer-long series of craft and trade demonstrations at the Adirondack Museum. To see a complete listing, visit the museum’s web site www.adirondackmuseum.org and click on “Special Events.”

Photo: Wooden sap bucket, ca. 1800s. Collection of the Adirondack Museum.

William F. Fox, Father of NY Forest Rangers


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Last week the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a ceremony to honor William F. Fox, the “father” of the state’s modern-day forest rangers, on the 100th anniversary of his death. Fox was born in 1840 in Ballston Spa, Saratoga County, and graduated from Union College in Schenectady in 1860. He served in the Civil War as Captain, Major and then Lieutenant Colonel in the 107th New York Volunteers and later wrote a number of books on both the Civil War and forestry. Fox’s 1902 History of the Lumber Industry in the State of New York, written under the auspicious of Gifford Pinchot, is considered the first authoritative work on the logging industry in New York.

Fox became New York’s “Superintendent of Forests” in 1891. He quickly came to the conclusion that the then-current fire patrol system — which used “fire wardens” (firefighters who only worked when there were fire emergencies) and local ad hoc firefighters — couldn’t handle the job of forest protection. He wanted a paid staff – a new “forest guard” service — to cover the Adirondacks and Catskills.

Fox wrote a report to state leaders outlining how he’d organize the patrols: each ranger assigned to a township seven-miles square, residing in a log cabin built near the center of the township — but in the woods, not a village. This forest guard “would keep a sharp watch on any skulker who might be a possible incendiary.” In sum, Fox said he wanted to shift the emphasis from reacting after fires started to patrolling the woods before.

Despite Fox’s advocacy, the state Legislature did not act immediately. Meanwhile, towns became reluctant to enlist local firefighters because of costs. Then came massive fires in 1903 (500,000 acres burned in the Adirondacks) and 1908 (605 fires over 368,000 acres across the state), finally prompting elected officials to take action. In 1909, Gov. Charles E. Hughes signed legislation that brought sweeping changes to the Forest, Fish and Game law that included the creation of a fire patrol service in Adirondacks and Catskills. Fox died shortly thereafter at age 69.

Further legislation followed, replacing the “Forest, Fish and Game Commission” with a “Conservation Commission” and creating the title “forest ranger” in 1912. Though he didn’t live to see his vision fully carried out, Fox is still credited with being the father of the forest rangers. One hundred years later, the DEC, which evolved from the Conservation Commission, today employs a statewide force of 134 uniformed Forest Rangers. Their mission of protecting the state’s natural resources remains consistent with Colonel Fox’s vision.

The ceremony was held at Fox’s graveside at the Village Cemetery in Ballston Spa, Saratoga County.

This story was cross posted at Adirondack Almanack, the leading online journal of Adirondack culture, history, politics, and the environment.

LIFE Magazine Picture Archive Hosted at Google


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Google and LIFE Magazine have teamed up to present the magazines photo archive online. Strangely, a search for New York turned up nothing; a search for New York History turns up hundreds of photos, including the shot of men paving a street in Brooklyn in 1890 by George B. Brainerd which was not found in the search results for Brooklyn.

Those problems aside, the archive does include iconic images taken by famous photographers like Margaret Bourke-White, Gordon Parks, and Dorothea Lange. The project is similar to “The Commons” launched by Flickr which now includes photos from the Library of Congress. LIFE has said that as many as 97 percent of the photographs have never been seen by the public before.

Teaching The Truth About New York Slavery


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Professor Alan Singer of Hofstra University has a new book New York and Slavery: Time to Teach the Truth about the complicity of Wall Street institutions in southern slavery. It’s recently been reviewed at the History News Network by William Katz (author of Black Legacy: A History of New York’s African American). Katz argues that no longer can New York educators and historians ignore the facts about the role New York played in slavery. Here is an excerpt from Katz’s review:

Slavery began in the city soon after the Dutch landing in 1609, and enslaved Africans became vital to the colony’s economy. Africans built the first homes, brought in the first crops, turned an Indian path into Broadway, and built the wall at Wall Street. When it became the British colony of New York its bankers and merchants so successfully invested in the international African trade they made it the slave-traders’ leading port. After the Revolution, with the city leading the way, slavery and its profits grew in the land of the free. A greater percentage of white households in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island owned slaves than in South Carolina. The world’s first stock exchange opened in New York in 1792 and half of its 177 stockholders owned slaves. Africans were auctioned to bidders at Wall Street and other city markets. Forced labor made the Empire State…

New York and Slavery indicts a host of prominent New York mercantile and banking families and corporations such as Citicorp which first made its name in the slave trade. Slaveholder names currently grace our buildings, bridges, parks, streets, and schools. This, Singer shows, teaches our children to celebrate men who benefited from the African trade, southern slavery and bondage in New York.