Tag Archives: New York State Museum

12th Annual Algonquian Peoples Seminar Saturday


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The Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley and The New York State Museum are hosting the 12th Mohican/Algonquian Peoples Seminar at the NYS Museum in Albany this Saturday, September 15, 2012. A complete list of topics related to Northeastern Native American culture from prehistory to present is included below, along with the days itinerary.

9:00 – 9:30 Registration -
9:30 – 10:00 Welcome & Board Introduction: Mariann Mantzouris & Kevin Fuerst
Presentation of Colors by the Mohican Veterans

10:00 – 10:30 JoAnn Schedler
Mohicans in the Civil War
JoAnn Schedler, BSN, MSM, RN and a Major, US Army Nurse Corps Reserves (Retired). She served over twenty years with the 452 Combat Support Hospitals (CSH) of Wisconsin. She is a life member of the Mohican Veterans and Reserve Officers Association and a member of the American Legion in Gresham, WI. In 1985 to present she serves as a founding board member for Indian Summer Festival. She serves on the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Tribal Historic Preservation Committee and the Constitution Committee and is a Peacemaker for the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Court. She was the first Nursing Instructor for the Associate Degree Program at the College of the Menominee Nation 2008/ 2009 and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nurses since 1992.This continues a presentation given last year on this subject.

10:30 – 11:00 Judy Hartley
Mohican Diet and Disease in Pre-contact America.
Written information by early Dutch explorers as well as oral histories transcribed by missionaries has provided insight into both the diet and general health of the Mohican Indians at the time of the arrival of
Henry Hudson in the early 17th century. From these sources as well as current-day research, it is possible to capture the essence of Mohican daily life before the arrival of Europeans.

Judith Hartley grew up on the Stockbridge-Munsee/Band of the Mohicans reservation in northern Wisconsin. Her mother was a Mohican who was active in tribal governance—serving for years as the elected tribal treasurer. Judith left the reservation upon high school graduation to attend college. She has a B.S. degree in biology and worked for years in pharmaceutical research. Currently she has obtained an MBA and has worked for the past 22 years for Roche Diagnostics Corporation, a global pharmaceutical and health care company. As retirement approaches, Judith endeavors to give something back to the tribe by way of historical research, poetry and speeches concerning her people.

11:00 – 11:30 John M. Smith
Esopus Indians and the Ulster County Trader
Findings from a recently discovered Dutch account book of the fur trade in Ulster County are discussed that provide new insights into the lives of Esopus individuals and their families in the early eighteenth
century.

John M. Smith is an independent historian and contributing author to New York State Museum bulletins, the Hudson River Valley Review, and co-editor with Dutch Historian and translator Kees Waterman in the forth coming book Munsee Indian Trade in Ulster County, New York, 1711-1732.

11:30 – 12:00 Katy L. Chiles
Hendrick Aupaumut: An Eighteenth-Century Mohican Diplomat
This paper provides an introduction to the work of Hendrick Aupaumut, an eighteenth-century Mohican diplomat. A sachem who fought on the American side of the Revolutionary War, Captain Aupaumut was tapped by President Washington to serve as a diplomat to the British-allied Miami and Shawnee leaders who fought against white settlers. Aupaumut’s 1792 manuscript, a record written for U.S. governmental officials, was printed in the 1827 Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. This talk muses over Aupaumut’s “errors” in spelling and grammar, including one interesting clause: “these white people was” (sic). One might be tempted to assume, like his original interlocuters, that Aupaumut, as a Native American who had yet to master the English language, constructed a sentence with flawed subject-verb agreement. However, unlike U.S. officials who wrote that the manuscript contained  many “incorrectnesses” (sic), Chiles argues that Aupaumut’s peculiar locution astutely explored the most contemplated concerns of early America: could the many former white British subjects ever become one  people? What would the process of becoming “E Pluribus Unum” actually look like? Could people be both singular (denoted by the number of the verb was) and plural (denoted by the number of the demonstrative adjective these), and, most importantly for Aupaumut, how would all this effect how white settlers would interact with both his own and other Native American tribes? Furthermore, by comparing Aupaumut’s manuscript with the Society’s Memoirs, this presentation illustrates how editorial practices used by Aupaumut’s publishers conditioned the “original” text and allows us to consider Aupaumut’s intellectual sovereignty.

Katy L. Chiles teaches and writes about Native American and African-American literature, early American literature and culture, and critical race theory at the University of Tennessee. Her work has
appeared in journals such as PMLA and American Literature and has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Transformable Race and the Literatures of Early America. This summer she was honored to do research at the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation in Bowler, Wisconsin. There she was able to share her work with and to learn from Sherry White, Nathalee Kristiansen, Leah Miller, and Betty Groh, all of
the Mohican Nation, Stockbridge-Munsee Band.

12:00 -1:30 Lunch on your own. Eating areas are located in the museum  should you want to bring your own lunch. There are three restaurants within two blocks of the Museum.

1:30 – 2:00 Karen Hess
The Coeymans Family and the Mohicans
One of the largest 17th century land transactions between the River Indians and European settlers was transacted in 1672 by Maghshapeet, sachem of the Katskill Indians, to Barent Coeymans, Dutch colonial
miller. Confirmed as a patent in 1673, and awarded a royal confirmation in 1714, this vast tract of ancient tribal lands south of Albany stretched foreleven miles along the west bank of the Hudson River and westward twelve miles into the wilderness. The history of this patent, the home of two divergent cultures, and the relationships of Barent Coeymans and the Katskill Mohicans, will be explored in this
presentation.

Karen Hess is preparing a book about Ariaantje Coeymans whose portrait hangs at the Albany Institute of History & Art where Mrs. Hess is a docent. She has presented her research at a NYS Historical Association conference as well as other historical societies. An essential element of the story of this colonial woman is her family’s intriguing relationship with the Mohican Indians.

2:00 – 2:45 Eric Ruijssenaars
A Dutch Founding Father: Abraham Staats
In 1642, surgeon Abraham Staats and his wife Trijntje Jochems emigrated from Amsterdam to Kiliaen van Rensselaer’s vast estate, Rensselaerswijck (now part of Albany and Rensselaer counties). Staats’s job was not simply to treat ailing residents but also to advise the Patroon. He  served as a magistrate of the court. Outside of court, he was often called on to resolve disputes between his neighbors. Well respected  within Rensselaerswijck, Staats was also something of a diplomat. Entitled to trade in beavers, he learned the Algonquin Indian language and was, therefore, able to act as an intermediary between colonists and Native Americans. The sloop Staats purchased to further his commercial  interests placed him in contact with leaders in New Amsterdam (New York City) and allowed him to develop a personal relationship with Peter Stuyvesant.

Eric Ruijssenaars studied history at Leiden University graduating in 1988. He has written two books about Brussels and the Brontës (published in 2000 and 2003), is co-founder of Brussels Brontë Group in 2005. He started a bureau for historical research in Dutch Archives, in 2002. In 2011/2012 Eric was chosen Senior Scholar in Residence at the New Netherland Research Center in Albany.

2:45 – 3:15 William Staats
Hoogeberg, the Staats Family, and the Mohicans.
Staats Island (or the Hoogeberg: the “high hill.”) has been in the Staats family since the mid-17th century. The Joachim Staats homestead, dating from 1696, remains a family residence. Many generations of the family are interred here overlooking the beautiful Hudson River. This is  where Colonel Philip Staats saved the life of the Mohican, Ben Pie, in the late 1700s. It is no longer an island but remains a place of great history with many stories to tell.

William Staats graduated from SUNY Albany with an MS in Education in 1957. Bill grew up at Staats Island near Castleton-on-Hudson, NY in the 1696 Joachim Staats homestead. He taught in 1965-66 at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia and also taught for several years in Hudson High School and for 35 years in the accounting and computer areas at Hudson Valley Community College. In 2009 he authored Three Centuries on the Hudson River.

3:15 – 3:45 Francis “Jess” Robinson
Ceremonialism and Inter-Regional Exchange Two Millennia before the Fur Trade: a View from the East Creek Site
The East Creek cemetery was excavated between 1933 and 1935 on the southeastern shore of Lake Champlain by representatives of the Museum of the American Indian- Heye Foundation. Despite its unfortunate desecration, the site contains rare and remarkable evidence of the elaborate ceremonialism and long distance exchange obtaining during the Early Woodland period (ca. 3,000-2,000 cal yr BP). While the presentation will concentrate on some of the more salient aspects of the site and what it suggests about the Native groups participating in the Early Woodland interaction sphere, mention will also be made of the analogies that one may cautiously advance regarding trade and exchange during the contact era.

Francis “Jess” Robinson is a PhD Candidate at the University at Albany-SUNY, a Research Supervisor at the University of Vermont Consulting Archaeology Program, and a current adjunct faculty member in
the Anthropology Department at UVM.

3:45 – 4:00 Kevin Fuerst
The Lebanon Spring: A Work in Progress
Kevin Fuerst, NAI President, long-time board member, and New Lebanon Town Historian will provide a status update on his efforts to preserve the famous curative Lebanon Spring and interpret its Native American associations.

4:00 – 4:15 Closing Remarks and Retreat of the Colors” by Mohican Veterans to conclude the conference.

1934: A New Deal for Artists Exhibit in Albany


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During the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised a “new deal for the American people,” initiating government programs to foster economic recovery. Roosevelt’s pledge to help “the forgotten man” also embraced America’s artists.

The Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) enlisted artists to capture “the American Scene” in works of art that would embellish public buildings across the country. They painted regional, recognizable subjects – ranging from portraits, to cityscapes and images of city life, to landscapes and depictions of rural life – that reminded the public of quintessential American values such as hard work, community and optimism. Continue reading

State Museum Launches War of 1812 Website


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The New York State Museum has launched a new statewide website and Facebook page dedicated to commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

The website is expected to include a web-based exhibition and hoped to be a statewide clearinghouse for information about New York’s pivotal role in the War of 1812, as well as for all War of 1812 events across New York State and into Canada. The goal is to provide a site for conversation and coordination among all of those interested in commemorating the memory of the war.

The New York-Canadian border was the central front of the war, which was waged against the British Empire from June 18, 1812 to February 18, 1815. Some of the nation’s most prominent military figures of the early 19th century made their names along New York State’s northern frontier. Several pivotal battles also took place in the state, including the battle of Plattsburgh in September 1814.

“The War of 1812 is a ‘New York story’ and so too is our effort to commemorate this important bicentennial,” said Museum Director Mark Schaming. “We have reached out to historians, historical societies and various other collaborators and partners across the state and into Canada, inviting them to join with us in telling this story and making this the ‘go-to’ place to learn about the war and the many events planned to commemorate it.”

The website will be a growing and evolving statewide resource for the duration of the bicentennial commemorations. Interested historians – from academics to genealogists – will have an opportunity to submit 1812-related stories, whether they are biographies of local citizens or essays on New York-related events. A page devoted to biographies highlights valiant and patriotic men and women who contributed their time, energies, and in some cases, made the ultimate sacrifice to aid the war effort.

The site also provides a platform for historical societies and museums across the state to highlight their War of 1812 collections in a virtual artifact gallery. The site currently displays historic artifacts related to the War that are in the collections of the State Museum, State Library and State Archives.

A resources page lists website links for War of 1812 commemorative events and organizations, as well as for State Library resources and State Archives records.

CFP: 12th Mohican / Algonquian People’s Seminar


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The Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley and The New York State Museum are inviting papers or other presentation to be given at the 12th Mohican/Algonquian Peoples Seminar held at the NYS Museum in Albany on September 15, 2012. Topics can be any aspect of Northeastern Native American culture from prehistory to present. Presentations are allotted 20 minutes speaking time.

Interested parties are encouraged to submit a one page abstract that includes a brief biographical sketch and notes any special scheduling and/or equipment needs. For presentations other than traditional papers, please describe content and media that will be used to make the presentation. Deadline for abstract submission is June 1, 2012.

 
The Selection Committee, made up of Board members, will notify presenters no later than June 10, 2012. The final paper should meet common publication standards. The paper should be foot noted “author-date” style; sources are cited in the text in parentheses by author’s last name and date, with a reference to a list of books or sources at the end of the paper. Also, a disc containing the article, bibliography, illustrations (referred to as figure 1, figure 2 etc.) and captions for the illustrations should be submitted to the Board at the Seminar.

Send abstracts to:

Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley (NAIHRV)
c/o Mariann Mantzouris
223 Elliot Rd.
East Greenbush, NY 12061
Email : marimantz@aol.com
Telephone: 518-369-8116

NYS Museum Research in Archaeology Lectures


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Research findings on a 200-300-year-old skull found in a wall in Coeymans – the subject of recent news accounts – will be one of the topics discussed during a series of lectures on “Research in Archaeology” at the New York State Museum. The lectures will be held Wednesday through March 28 at 12:10 p.m. in the Huxley Theater. Lecture topics and dates are:

● March 14 – “Learning from Pottery.” Broken pieces of pottery, or sherds, are one of the most common artifacts recovered from archaeological sites younger than 3,000 years old. Dr. John P. Hart, director of the State Museum’s Research & Collections division, will
discuss recently completed research on sherds that provides information on how Native Americans interacted across what is now New York state.

● March 21 – “The Skull in the Wall: The Case of the Coeymans Lady.” The discovery of a human skull during repairs to the stone foundation at the historic Coeymans House in southern Albany County raised many questions about the person’s identity and manner of death.
Lisa Anderson, curator of bioarchaeology, will take a closer look at the skeletal evidence and historical context of the case.

● March 28 – “Cache and Carry: New Insights on Ice Age Technology of New York Paleoindians.” New York’s first people colonized the state at the end of the Ice Age. Ranging widely across New York and beyond, many have wondered how these hunter gatherers
created a portable stone technology compatible with their mobile way of life. Dr. Jonathan Lothrop, curator of archaeology, describes new insights from the study of a Paleoindian stone tool cache discovered in the upper Susquehanna Valley.

Founded in 1836, the State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New
Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Photo: Coeymans House from LOC Historic American Building Survey Digital Collection.

Bob Weible: NY’s Historical Golden Age is Coming


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If there is one thing historians should know, it is that “things change.” After all, without change, history would have no meaning. And historians would have no jobs. Face it. Everyone may love history. But the reason some of us collect paychecks, practically speaking, is that we perform the unique and essential service of helping people understand history—not so we can all venerate the past but so that we can change the way things are and make history ourselves. Continue reading

State Museum Aquires Unique Stoneware


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After hiding away in private collections – and a California coat closet – for nearly 200 years, a unique piece of early American decorative art is returning home to New York, where it will be housed at the New York State Museum thanks to collector Adam Weitsman. Weitsman, President of Upstate Shredding, also donated a monumental jug, two water coolers considered important by the museum and a gallon jug decorated with the image of a ship.

“The addition of these recent pieces of decorated stoneware surely put the New York State Museum on the map as having the premier collection of American stoneware. Not only are the decorations unique and outstanding as works of American folk art, but the documentation and history of these recent acquisitions enable us to learn so much more about the stoneware industry and those artists who left us such remarkable works of art,” said John Scherer, Historian Emeritus of the New York State Museum.

Weitsman has made a number of donations to the museum in the past, and a Herington incised jug will be an important – and valuable – addition to the collection.

A double-handled, profusely decorated stoneware jug is among the latest items Weitsman has donated. Inscribed “BENJAMIN HERINGTON,” it was bought at auction for what was, at the time, a record-breaking $138,000. The jug, considered by some a masterpiece, was made as a memorial to a 22-year-old potter who drowned in the Norwich, Connecticut harbor in 1823.

The double-handled jug joins two other pottery donations from Weitsman, including a 21 1/2 inch tall jug made in Poughkeepsie in the mid- to late-1800s, and a one-gallon stoneware jug decorated with the image of a ship, made in New York State between 1835-1846. The new acquisitions also include two water coolers made by Jonah Boynton of Albany purchased from New York City dealer Leigh Keno.

Stoneware was an integral part of the history of New York State and the expansion of the country in early days of exploration and settlement. In a time before refrigeration, stoneware was used to store and transport foodstuffs and drinking water. Clay deposits ideal for making stoneware were found around New York State, notably in what is now New Jersey, lower Manhattan and eastern Long Island. New York State became a large stoneware producer and artisans in New York developed durable vessels decorated with rich designs using incision techniques and distinctive rich blue coloring.

Weitsman began collecting American stoneware at age 11 and made his first donation of more than 120 pieces to the museum in 1996. In a 2009 article for Antiques and Fine Art Magazine, ‘Art for the People: Decorated Stoneware from the Weitsman Collection,’ Scherer wrote, “Since his initial donation Weitsman has continued to add at an aggressive pace to the museum’s holdings, making it the premier collection of American decorated stoneware in the country.”

The Weitsman Stoneware Collection is available can be viewed by the general public at the New York State Museum in Albany, New York.

New Contributor: State Historian Robert Weible


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Please welcome our newest contributor here at the online journal New York History, State Historian of New York and Chief Curator of the New York State Museum Robert Weible

Before taking on the role of State Historian Weible served as Director of Public History for the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Acting Director of the Pennsylvania State Archives, Chief of the Division of History for the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, and Historian of Lowell National Park in Massachusetts. Continue reading

Vietnam War Graffiti Exhibit Opens Veterans Day


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The personal thoughts and feelings of American soldiers and Marines going to war in Southeast Asia come to life in the “Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam” exhibition opening Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) at the New York State Museum.

The stories of these soldiers and Marines are told through the graffiti they left behind on the bunk canvases they slept on, aboard a ship that brought them to Vietnam in 1966-67. Eight canvases inscribed by soldiers from New York state are included in the traveling exhibition, open until Feb. 26, 2012. Uncertain about their future, the young troop passengers inscribed personal thoughts about families, hometowns, patriotism, love, anxiety, discomfort and humor.

Their canvases, bunks and personal items were discovered in 1997 onboard the General Nelson M. Walker. The transport ship was being scrapped after seeing service during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. In between it was in reserve status in a Hudson River berthing area, near New York City, for six years. Military historian Art Beltrone discovered the historic graffiti and other artifacts during a trip to Virginia’s James River Reserve Fleet, where the ship had been relocated from New York.

When discovered, the Walker was a veritable floating time capsule, filled with hundreds of historical artifacts relating to the Vietnam War, the 1960s, and the men who went to war. Many of those artifacts will be on display. Included is an original eight-man rack of sleeping bunks, complete with the original mattresses, sheets, pillows, blankets and life vests. The rack shows how confining living space was during the uncomfortable 18-23 day, over 5,000-mile voyage to Vietnam. There also is clothing, shoes, comic books, magazines and copies of The Walker Report, the ship’s official newspaper written, printed and distributed by troop passengers. Other personal objects left behind, such as playing cards, empty cigarette and candy wrappers, liquor bottles, religious tracts and rosary beads, were found hidden under the sheets.

The multi-dimensional exhibition also includes two short films, “Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam” and “Discovery of a Forgotten Troopship,” which can also be viewed online.

The exhibition is curated by Beltrone and his wife, Lee of Keswick, Va. Together they founded the Vietnam Graffiti Project (VGP) which, assisted by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, is dedicated to finding the graffiti writers and Walker voyage passengers to tell and preserve their stories. VGP is still trying to identify many of the writers, including many of those from New York state. Among those who have been found are Harmon Adams of Kenmore, near Buffalo, and Dave Dubreck of Churchville, near Rochester.

State Museum Exhibits Burns Archives Photos


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A new exhibition – Shadow and Substance: African American Images from The Burns Archive – has opened at the New York State Museum, showcasing rarely-seen photographs from one of the largest private photography collections in the world.

Open through March 31, 2012 in the Photography Gallery, the exhibition allows the viewer to perceive how African-Americans were seen by others and how they wished to be seen. These images do not tell a complete story of the past, but their eloquent shadows provide unique glimpses into the lives of African-Americans over the past 160 years.

The 113 images in Shadow and Substance include portraits, snapshots and photographs of celebration, tragedy and quiet joy, work and family, strength and perseverance. From early images of slaves and Civil War soldiers to new voters and political activists, the exhibition is filled with illustrations of achievement and shocking evidence of intolerance. Some images may not be suitable for young children.

The images were culled from the comprehensive Burns Archive of Historic Vintage Photographs that include specializations in medical and health care, death and dying, sports and recreation, in addition to images of African-Americans. The collection was amassed by Dr. Stanley B. Burns, an ophthalmologist, collector and curator in New York City who was the founding donor for several photography collections, including those of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Burns has authored several books including “A Morning’s Work: Medical Photographs from the Burns Archive & Collection, 1843-1939”; “Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America” and “Forgotten Marriage: The Painted Tintype and Decorative Frame, 1860-1910.”

The traveling exhibition is organized by the Indiana State Museum and curated by Dr. Modupe Labode, assistant professor of history and public scholar of African-American History and Museum Studies at Indiana University.

The State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

State Museum, Library, Archives Closed Saturday


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The New York State Museum, State Library and State Archives will be closed to the public on Saturday, September 24 due to semi-annual routine maintenance of electrical systems in the Cultural Education Center.

The Cultural Education Center is closed on Sundays. The State Museum, Library and Archives will reopen on Monday, September 26.

The State Museum, Archives and Library are part of the Office of Cultural Education (OCE) and are programs of the New York State Education Department. They are located on Madison Avenue in Albany. Admission is free. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the OCE website.

Exhibition Celebrates 175 Yrs of State Museum


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The New York State Museum traces its origins to an 1836 survey of the state’s geology, plants, and animals. To celebrate 175 years of adding to the scientific and historical knowledge of New York, the State Museum presents an exhibition that showcases many of its important collections in anthropology, history, and natural science. The exhibition highlights some of the people who, through their work, built these invaluable collections, and presents examples of continuing research based on the collections. Together, the stories of the collectors, the artifacts and specimens in the collections, and the continuing research illuminate the history of the oldest and largest state museum in the nation.

The exhibition “From the Collections” will run through April 2012 in the Exhibition Hall.

Photo: The coyote collection includes skins and skulls that document the expansion of coyotes into New York. Shown here is the skull of a coyote-wolf-dog hybrid from New York state. Scientists at the State Museum recently evaluated skulls and genetic samples of New York coyotes and found they have larger and wider skulls because of hybridization
with wolves. The coyote collection is included in From the Collections, an exhibition highlighting some of the State Museum’s important collections and related research.

1911 Capitol Fire Exhibit Extended


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The 1911 Capitol Fire exhibit in lobby of Cultural Education Center has been extended through October 22, 2011. In the early morning hours of March 29, 1911, a fire broke out in the
northwest corner of the New York State Capitol. Many Albany residents awoke in the early morning hours to see the entire western side of the presumed fireproof building was engulfed in flames shooting 200 feet high. The fast-moving flames destroyed much of the State Library, the fifth largest in the U.S., which was housed in the Capitol.

More than 8,000 Museum objects stored in the Capitol were also destroyed or lost. The fire caused the unprecedented destruction of the state’s intellectual, cultural and historic property and also claimed the life of the lone night watchman.

The exhibition commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Capitol Fire through dramatic photographs, eyewitness accounts, and artifacts that survived the blaze.

Photo: Amateur photographer Harry Roy Sweney captured the Capitol inferno at 3:30 a.m. on March 29, 1911. The New York American paid $25.00 for the first print of this dramatic photograph. Courtesy New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections.

Best of SUNY Student Art Exhibit Opens


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The Best of SUNY Student Art Exhibition has returned to the New York State Museum in Albany, showcasing the work of SUNY’s top student artists from across the state.

Open through August 6, the exhibition features art works chosen by individual art departments across SUNY’s 64 campuses. It is a juried show featuring 64 works selected from more than 144 artistic pieces submitted for the fall 2010 and spring 2011 SUNY student art exhibition at the State University Plaza. The traditional areas of drawing, ceramics, painting, printmaking, photography and sculpture are enhanced by the addition of digital imaging and mixed media installations.

Three student artists in the Best of SUNY Student Art Exhibition will receive $1,000 scholarships. “Honorable Mention” awards of $500 will be given to four other students. The winners have not been selected.

The SUNY student art shows were started in 2002 so that the work of SUNY’s most talented student artists would be seen by a wider audience. This will be the fourth time since 2006 that the State Museum hosted the exhibition.

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive university system in the nation, educating more than 467,000 students in 7,500 degree and certificate programs.

Illustration: An untitled oil by Victoria Wrubel, part of the exhibition “Best of SUNY Student Art Exhibition” at the New York State Museum. Photo courtesy of Joe Putrock.

11th Annual Algonquian Peoples Seminar


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The Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley and The New York State Museum have announced the program for this year’s 11th Mohican/Algonquian Peoples Seminar to be held at the NYS Museum in Albany April 30, 2011.

This year’s featured topics will include: Archaeological Research on First Peoples of Eastern New York and the New England-Maritimes, Life’s Immortal Shell: Wampum as a Light and Life Metaphor, The 150th Anniversay of the Mohican Stockbridge-Munsee in the Civil War, Frank Speck on Penobscot and Iroquois Worldviews in the Cosmological Narratives, Investigation of the Vosburg Archaeological District, Growing up on the Reservation, Lithic reduction & resource use in southern New York State and the Stephentown Mounds


For a complete schedule and registration information email Mariann Mantzouris, Seminar Chairwoman at marimantz@aol.com or call 518-369-8116.

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.

State Museum 1911 Capitol Fire Exhibit Opening


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The “1911 Capitol Fire” exhibition will open at the New York State Museum on March 19 as part of a series of special events and programs commemorating the 100th anniversary of the devastating fire that struck the New York State Capitol.

Many Albany residents awoke in the early morning hours on March 29, 1911 to see the Capitol on fire. The entire western side of the presumed fireproof building was engulfed in flames shooting 200 feet high. The fast-moving flames destroyed much of the State Library, the fifth largest in the U.S., which was housed in the Capitol.

More than 8,000 Museum objects stored in the Capitol were also destroyed or lost. The fire caused the unprecedented destruction of the state’s intellectual, cultural and historic property and also claimed the life of the lone night watchman.

Special events will include a commemoration ceremony at the Capitol on March 29 at 10 a.m., sponsored by the New York State Commission on the Restoration of the Capitol. The State Museum also will host a preview of a WMHT documentary – “The New York Capitol Fire” – in the Huxley Theater on Monday, March 28 at 12:15 p.m. It will air on WMHT on Thursday, March 31.

Open until June 18 in the lobby of the Office of Cultural Education (OCE), the exhibition is a collaboration between the State Museum, State Library and State Archives and chronicles how the fire affected each of the OCE institutions and their collections. It is based largely on the book, “The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911,” written by Paul Mercer and Vicki Weiss, senior librarians in the State Library’s Manuscripts and Special Collections unit.

The exhibition will include dramatic photographs, eyewitness accounts and artifacts that survived the blaze. One of those is a section of the iron chain link that stretched across the Hudson River between West Point and Constitution Island to prevent British vessels from navigating up the river during the American Revolution. West Point was a strategic site because of the s-curve in the Hudson there that forced large ships to slow down and become an easy target. The links were recovered from the State Library ruins after the fire. Another section of the chain is preserved at the West Point Military Academy.

Also on display are an 1892 fire helmet, lantern and fire nozzle, courtesy of Warren W. Abriel, a deputy chief in the Albany fire department and a fourth-generation Albany firefighter. The helmet was worn by Abriel’s great-grandfather, Reuben H. Abriel, who manned Steamer 2 for the Albany Fire Department when it was a volunteer force.

There also will be several objects showing fire damage that were part of the Museum’s world-famous Lewis Henry Morgan collection. New York state commissioned Morgan to gather objects from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) communities in the state and from the Six Nations reserve in Canada in 1849-50. All but 50 of some 500 objects were on exhibit.

On the day of the fire Arthur C. Parker, who was Seneca and the state’s first archaeologist, risked his life to save Museum collections and wrote that he was only able to save about 1,500 of the 10,000 objects. The only items in the Morgan collection that survived were in his office. The Parker family assisted Morgan in assembling the collection.

More information on the Morgan collection will be available at one of the programs planned at the Museum to complement the exhibition. The talks are all on Tuesdays at 12:15 p.m. They are:

* March 29 – Talk and Book Signing: “The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911.” Mercer and Weiss will present dramatic stories and images from their new book. The book will be for sale after the talk and also is available in the Museum shop and from the Friends of the New York State Library – http://nyslfriends.org/, which will receive all royalties from the book.
* April 5 – “The Conservation of Burned Documents.” Paper conservator Susan Bove of the State Archives will discuss contemporary preservation methods that were used to repair documents salvaged from the Capitol Fire. She will also talk about the conservation treatment protocol that she developed to meet the needs of these especially fragile items.
* Tuesday, April 12 – “Lessons Learned: Modern Response to Fire Events in Cultural Institutions.”

Paper conservator Michele Phillips of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s Bureau of Historic Sites will provide an overview of best practices in action to safeguard collections and their impact on salvage and recovery.

Tuesday, April 19 – “A Capitol Loss: The Lewis Henry Morgan Collection.” Dr. Betty J. Duggan, the Museum’s curator of Ethnography and Ethnology, recounts the collection’s history and the experience of its young curator, Arthur C. Parker, during and after the fire.

The State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Photo: Amateur photographer Harry Roy Sweney captured the Capitol inferno at 3:30 a.m. on March 29, 1911. The New York American paid $25.00 for the first print of this dramatic photograph. Courtesy New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections.

Event: State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911


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On Sunday, March 6, at 2:00 pm, the Albany Institute of History & Art will host a free lecture and book-signing by Paul Mercer and Vicki Weis, authors of the recently published book, The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911 (Arcadia Publishing, 2011). The lecture will complement a library case display at the Albany Institute of 10 historic photographs documenting the event, including the only known photo in existence of the full view of the building fully consumed by flames.

Weiss and Paul, of the New York State Library’s Manuscripts and Special Collections will discuss their pictorial history of the fire, which occurred on March 29, 1911. The book combines dramatic photographs with eyewitness accounts of the fire, which severely damaged the western portion of the capitol.

Virtually the entire collection of the State Library—as well as significant holdings of the New York State Museum—were destroyed in the blaze, which struck as the Education Department was mere months from relocating to the State Education Building across the street. The book tells not only the story of the fire and its aftermath, but also recounts the history of the construction of the capitol, as well as the pre- and post-fire history of the library.

The Albany Institute of History & Art’s library case display documenting the event includes a selection of 10 rare photos, showing both exterior and interior views taken during and after the actual fire. It also includes images of many of the firemen who responded to the blaze, The display opens on March 4 and closes in June. Viewing is free and open to the public.

The March 6 lecture and book-signing is free and open to the public. Museum admission is not included. Call (518) 463-4478 or visit www.albanyinstitute.org for more information.

State Museum, Library to Close Saturday, Reopen Mon


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The New York State Museum, State Library and State Archives will be closed to the public on Saturday, March 5 due to an annually scheduled power shutdown to test the emergency power system in the Cultural Education Center building.

The Office of Cultural Education (OCE) building is closed on Sundays. The State Museum, Library and Archives will reopen on Monday, March 7.

The State Museum, State Archives and State Library are cultural programs of the New York State Education Department. They are located on Madison Avenue in Albany. Admission is free. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the OCE website at www.oce.nysed.gov.