What follows is an open letter sent to New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia from Carol Kammen and Judy Wellman.
We write as members of the Commission on Local and Public History that was convened ten years ago by Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education Carole Huxley to advise the Department of Education on the appointment of a State Historian. Continue reading
The role of New York State Historian has been downgraded by the Office of Cultural Education to a lesser paid position reporting to the Chief Curator of the State Museum.
Members of the historical community from across New York State – including former State Historian Robert Weible, who retired in July – had been quietly advocating for a stronger, more independent State Historian with a focus on Public History. Continue reading
When New York’s governor appointed the first State Historian in 1895, the Progressive Era was just getting underway. The appointment was part of a much larger reform movement to strengthen American democracy by professionalizing government and promoting more active and knowledgeable civic participation in public affairs.
Progressives were especially focused on public education, and in 1911 – seven years after the establishment of the State Education Department – New York moved its State Historian from the Governor’s office to the newly formed department. Continue reading
The sudden retirement of Bob Weible, the New York State Historian, provides an opportunity to reassess the position. What does the history community want from the state historian – assuming there even should be one in the first place? Continue reading
The position of New York State Historian was created in 1895. The Historian was appointed by the Governor until 1911, when the position was moved to the State Education Department. Since that time, it has been located in a number of offices including the Office of State History (1966-1976), and since then, in the State Museum.
State Historians’ job descriptions and priorities have varied over the years as well. The first State Historian, Hugh Hastings (1895-1907), had been a New York Times reporter and concentrated on documentary publications. The next one, Victor Hugo Paltsits (1907-1911), a librarian and expert in colonial history, was known for meticulous editing of published editions and laid the basis for expanding the position into the area of archives. Alexander C. Flick (1923-1939) edited and led the publication of a multi-volume history of the state. Louis L. Tucker (1966-1976) held the titles of State Historian and Assistant Commissioner for State History in the Office of State History and, in the early 1970’s, was also Executive Director of the New York State American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. Continue reading
The 2015 New York State Education Department/Office of Cultural Education Uncommon Approaches to the Common Core Conference will take place August 11 and 12, 2015. The Uncommon Approaches to the Common Core annual conference has a target audience of classroom teachers, school, public and academic librarians, public historians and representatives from museums, archives, public television, NYS historic sites, performing arts and other cultural institutions.
The purpose of the conference is to develop an understanding of the Common Core with the goal to create collaboration among classroom teachers and cultural institutions. Continue reading
The NYS Department of Education is about to hire a new State Archivist to replace Christine Ward who left the position in August.
News about the change has only come via a single announcement at www.statejobsny.com, which provided just one week for applications (that week ended Monday). Continue reading
The NYS Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education’s second Uncommon Approaches to the Common Core conference will be held in Albany on Tuesday, August 12, and Wednesday, August 13, 2014.
Proposals for an interactive lab in one of six curriculum areas are invited: The Arts, English Language Arts, Math, Science, Language other than English (LOTE), or Social Studies. Lessons or curriculum used during the lab must be aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards and must demonstrate inquiry through the use of primary sources and/or other cultural resources, such as historic objects, multimedia objects, maps, works of art, or natural resources such as plants, soil or rocks. Continue reading
Paul Grondahl at the Albany Times Union is reporting that the New York State Library is rapidly discarding tens of thousands of items in the stacks of the old State Library beneath the State Education Building.
State Librarian Bernard Margolis, who is overseeing the reduction of the stacks, blames years of State Library budget cuts and an increase in state Education Department paperwork. Opposition from State Library employees, who remain anonymous out of fear for their jobs, has gone unheeded.
Here are some of the details from Paul Grondahl: Continue reading
It’s true. November is New York State History Month.
In 1997, New York’s legislature added Section 57.02 to the state’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Law and 1) designated November as New York State History Month, 2) defined the purpose of the month as the celebration of state history and the recognition of the contributions of state and local historians, and 3) authorized the Education Department to undertake projects to recognize the month (while the legislation failed to identify any specific projects, it did suggest student essay contests as one possibility). Continue reading