Imagine it is 1665. The place is the wilderness along the banks of the river whose “waters flow both ways.” The native inhabitants are the Mohicans, the newcomers wishing to settle and trade are the Dutch. Exactly 350 years ago a deed was signed for the land the Mohicans called Caniskek, a place that would change forever and evolve into the present day town called Athens, New York. Continue reading
The annual New York State History Conference, held at the end of June at Niagara University, demonstrated once again the robust diversity of the state’s historical community and its research, projects, and initiatives. There were many interesting sessions but I wanted to share impressions of five particularly interesting and important themes.
Cooperation. Paul D’Ambrosio, President of the New York State Historical Association, in welcoming conference attendees, emphasized the essential role of cooperation in sponsoring, organizing, and managing the conference. Continue reading
The New York State Museum and the University at Albany are hosting an annual open house of an active archaeological dig site in Schoharie where more than 300,000 artifacts have been uncovered in the past decade.
The site is the home of an eight-week archaeology field school where undergraduate and graduate students preserve and catalog artifacts, which ultimately become part of the Museum’s collections. Continue reading
During his lifetime, Jackson served as one of the most popular presidents and yet, today we remember him as a controversial figure given his views on slavery, Native Americans, and banks.
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Mark R. Cheathem, professor of history at Cumberland University and author of Andrew Jackson, Southerner (LSU Press, 2013), leads us on an exploration of the life and times of Andrew Jackson. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/034
James Kirby Martin, a history professor at the University of Houston, traces his interest in the Mohawk Valley to his birthplace in northern Ohio.
Joseph Brant of the Mohawk Nation was born in what is now Ohio in 1743 and Martin was fascinated by Brant’s life. The younger brother of Sir William Johnson’s longtime consort Molly Brant, Joseph Brant and Sir William’s son John led devastating raids in the Mohawk Valley during the American Revolution.
Sir William, Britain’s Indian agent in our region, died in 1774 before the war. However, his good relations with the Iroquois Confederacy kept most of them on the side of the British during the Revolution. Continue reading
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Colin Calloway, Professor of History and Native American History at Dartmouth College, joins us to discuss how American settlement in the Ohio Valley led to The Victory with No Name: The Native American Defeat of the First American Army (Oxford University Press, 2014). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/029
No 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
On Tuesday, April 21 at 7 pm, at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, Matt Kirk from Hartgen Archeological Associates will present findings on the investigation of Colonial Era Battlefields in the Fish Creek area of the Hudson River in the town of Saratoga. Continue reading
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
AT&T has given a $20,000 contribution to support the conservation and digitization of documents burned in the 1911 New York Capitol Fire.
The documents are expected to be conserved and digitized are badly fire damaged and contain information about life in the Hudson Valley in the 1700s, primarily in Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange counties. They have been unavailable to the public since 1911; no timetable for online public access has been announced. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features Maria Riccio Bryce, the composer of the musical Hearts of Fire, a work that commemorated the 300th anniversary of the burning of Schenectady by the French and their Indian allies in 1690. The production was staged in 1990 and 1991. Bryce is now re-releasing the CD of the original cast recording. Featuring a cast of 60, the work is a powerful re-telling of the early struggles and sacrifices made by Schenectady’s first inhabitants. The CDs are available at Proctors Gift Shop and The Open Door in Schenectady and at Old Peddlers Wagon and The Bookhound in Amsterdam. Alternatively, CDs may be purchased by sending Maria Riccio Bryce a check for $21 to P.O. Box 66, Amsterdam, N.Y. 12010. Bryce is also the composer of two other major works, Mother I’m Here and the Amsterdam Oratorio. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
In early February 1826, Carey & Lea, one of the nation’s most prominent and successful publishers, announced the publication of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757. Cooper was already a best-selling author, widely hailed for presenting non-stop, exciting adventures set in the wilderness, wartime, or other bracing settings. Carey & Lea, hoping that his new book would do as well as his previous ones, had paid the author a $5,000 advance.
They were not to be disappointed. The Last of the Mohicans was an instant best-seller, reprinted many times, made into movies a number of times, and became one of the most important books in American literary history. Continue reading
When we think of North America in 1776, our minds take us to the Atlantic seaboard where inhabitants in thirteen colonies fought Great Britain for independence. However, as the American Revolution and its War for Independence raged, events occurred elsewhere in North America that would have important implications for the development of the later United States.
In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Claudio Saunt, the Richard B. Russell Professor of History at the University of Georgia and author of West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 (W.W. Norton, 2014), joins us to explore events that took place west of the American Revolution. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/014 Continue reading
The Fort Plain Museum will host an American Revolution in the Mohawk Valley Conference, May 1 through 3, 2015 at the Museum. Almost 100 battles of the American Revolution were fought in New York State, including, in the Mohawk Vally, the Battle of Oriskany and defense of Fort Stanwix.
A series of raids against valley residents took place during the war. Led by John Johnson, they are collectively known as the “Burning of the Valleys”. Presenters for this conference that are confirmed so far include: Continue reading
January 29th is the birthday of Albert Gallatin. The Lower Manhattan Historical Society will hold a brief ceremony at 4:30 pm in which students from New York University will lay a wreath on Gallatin’s grave in Trinity Church Cemetery. The ceremony will be followed by a lecture on Gallatin at 5:30 at the Museum of American Finance at 48 Wall Street in Manhattan.
Although not as well known as some of the more famous residents of Trinity’s cemetery, Albert Gallatin, was an important figure who fought for regular Americans and a more democratic society. Continue reading
The New York State Museum has opened a new exhibition featuring contemporary Native American artwork. “Represent: Contemporary Native American Art” features twenty-one artworks created by eighteen artists from Native American Nations in New York State.
On display through September 20, 2015, the exhibition features a variety of contemporary Native American artwork. From baskets and beadwork to modern art, the artwork celebrates the traditional roots of Native American artistry through modern expression. Continue reading
Prior to the Revolutionary War, everything west of Albany was mostly wilderness. Safer travel and the promise of land opened this frontier.
The remnants of that frontier on the landscape today from Albany to Buffalo are chronicled in a new book by Lorna Czarnota, Native American & Pioneer Sites of Upstate New York: Westward Trails from Albany to Buffalo (History Press, 2014). Continue reading
A film called “Mohawk” premiered in Amsterdam in 1956 and used some footage from the 1939 movie “Drums Along the Mohawk.” The 1956 movie was distributed by 20th Century Fox.
The movie tells the story of an artist assigned to the Mohawk Valley to paint frontier scenes. The artist is involved romantically with three women. There is a vengeful settler in the film trying to start a war with local Indian people. The film was directed by Kurt Neumann and starred Scott Brady and Rita Gam. Continue reading
Long before Europeans arrived in the Americas, native peoples lived, worked, and played in thriving cultures. Their stories bring multiple perspectives to our local and national histories.
Learn about the “First Americans” during National American Indian Heritage Month with children’s craft activities and special talks at Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls from November 19th to November 29th. Continue reading
To celebrate International Archaeology Day, the SUNY-Plattsburgh Anthropology Department and Clinton County Historical Association (CCHA) invite community members to bring their artifacts and collections to the Museum to participate in their Annual Artifact Identification Day.
Archaeologists Chris Wolff and Andy Black from SUNY-Plattsburgh will be on the grounds of the CCHA to identify and provide more information about your artifacts from 11 am to 2 pm on Saturday, October 18th. They will also be displaying some of their findings from local excavations for visitors to view. Guests are also encouraged to take advantage of the Museum’s free admission for this event and free family activities. No appraisals will be given at this event. Continue reading