Tag Archives: Office of Cultural Education

New Netherland Event:From Vrienden to Wilden (Friends to Savages)


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When the Dutch settlers came to New Netherland in the 1600s, the Native Americans they met were their “vrienden.” After a while, the Indians were called “wilden.” How did the friends turn from friends to savages?

Stephen T. Staggs, a doctoral candidate in history at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Mich., has been studying just that question. He will talk about “From Vrienden to Wilden (Friends to Savages)” at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the New Netherland Institute (NNI) Saturday, May 15, at 12 noon at the University Club, 141 Washington Ave., Albany.

Registration for the meeting is open to the public. The cost of the lunch is $22, payable by mail or at the NNI website at nnp.org. Details of the meeting are available at http://www.nnp.org or by calling the NNI office in the Cultural Education Center, .

Staggs has studied the effect of the Dutch Calvinist concepts on relations between the Dutch settlers and the Indians, analyzing the terminology the provincial secretaries and directors of the colony chose to describe their Indian neighbors.

His studies at the New York State Archives were supported by the Doris Quinn-Archives Research Grant, awarded by the NNI and the archives to facilitate research on New Netherland and the Dutch Colonial Atlantic World. He was recently awarded the New York 400 Fulbright Grant for the 2010-2011 academic year to complete the research phase of his project.

Membership in the NNI does not require Dutch ancestry. It is open to anyone with an interest in the history of New Netherland, a 17th-century territory bordered on the north by Fort Orange, now Albany. Included within its boundaries was much of the present states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and western Connecticut.

The NNI was formed as the support organization of the New Netherland Project (NNP), located at the New York State Library in Albany. The mission of the NNP is to transcribe, translate and publish some 12,000 pages of correspondence, court cases, legal contracts and reports from the period 1636 to 1674.

Now the NNP is to be the heart of the New Netherland Research Center (NNRC), a part of the New York State Library. The center has been initiated with a grant of €200,000 brought to Albany by Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima in September. The NNI has the responsibility of administering the grant and raising matching funds.

At the meeting, Charles T. Gehring, director of the new research center and the translation project, will give a report describing his vision for the NNRC as well as the progress of work on the Dutch colonial documents.

James Sefcik, associate for Development and Special Projects, will give an update on the progress of the NNRC, now in its formative stages.

Throughout the year, the NNI carries on a program of activities to enhance awareness of the Dutch history of colonial America. In addition to the annual meeting, the institute sponsors an annual New Netherland Seminar, formerly called the Rensselaerswijck Seminar. This year’s seminar will be Saturday, Sept. 25.

The NNI administers a number of awards.

• The Doris Quinn-Archives Research Residency Program, of which Stephen Staggs is the 2009 recipient, grants $2,500. An equal amount is given for the Quinn-Library Research Residency.

• The Hendricks Manuscript Award of $5,000, endowed by Dr. Andrew A. Hendricks, is given for a book-length manuscript relating to the Dutch colonial experience in North America.

• The Alice P. Kenney Memorial Award is for an individual or group that has made a significant contribution to colonial Dutch studies and understanding of the Dutch colonial experience in North America.

• The Howard G. Hageman Citation honors Dr. Howard G. Hageman, a founder of the Friends of the New Netherland Project, now the New Netherland Institute, and its first president from 1986 until his death in 1992.

Details about the institute and the awards are also available at the NNI website, nnp.org.

Finger Lakes Museum Selects Keuka Lake Site


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On Thursday, the Finger Lakes Cultural & Natural History Museum Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to select Keuka Lake State Park in Yates County as the future home of the Finger Lakes Museum. The vote was unanimous with one abstention.

After nearly a year of evaluating 19 sites that were originally submitted, the Site Selection Committee, under the direction of chairman Don Naetzker, recommended two sites for the Board’s consideration: Seneca Lake State Park in and adjacent to the City of Geneva, and Keuka Lake State Park near Branchport.

The idea to create a museum to showcase the cultural heritage and ecological history of the 9,000 square-­mile Finger Lakes Region was first floated in a Life in the Finger Lakes magazine article by John Adamski in March 2008.

After enlisting ConsultEcon Inc., a Boston­based market research firm in March, it was determined that the project is viable at either site although for different reasons. Board president, John Adamski added, “While the Seneca Lake site has significant advantages like a central location, the Board determined that the Keuka Lake site more closely met the requirements that were originally established in the Strategic Plan, especially as they relate to natural history programming.”

Among the advantages that he said tipped the scales in favor of the Keuka Lake site are the following:

• There is 700 feet of intimate lakefront with a level, sandy beach.

• The natural history element of the project is predicted to draw the most visitors. The rolling, hilly terrain, ravines, brook, woods, and areas of natural succession that exist there are ideal for wildlife exhibits in natural habitats.

• Several hundred acres of land are available for wildlife habitats and interpretive use—now or in the future.

• A 350­-car paved parking lot already exists.

• Keuka College has offered to add Museum Sciences to its curriculum
and become a partner in the educational aspect of the Museum.

• Yates County and Keuka­area business leaders have pledged over $2 million in start-up funding.

In addition, Adamski said, “The Branchport Elementary School, which is presently vacant, has been purchased by the Finger Lakes Visitors Association for use as the Museum’s base of operation during the project’s start-up phases. The building will provide 15,000 square­ feet for business offices and initial programming as well as storage for the acquisition of artifacts and collections.” Its 13­-acre site provides navigable water access to Keuka Lake.

He also stated, “Finger Lakes State Parks and the Finger Lakes Museum Project will undertake a joint master plan for the entire 620­acre park. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation has been very cooperative and enthused over the proposal and we look forward to working with them to bring the project to fruition.”

Although the Museum will be built on lands leased from Finger Lakes State Parks, it will remain a privately­-owned and mostly privately­-funded not­-for­-profit educational institution.

NYS Museum: Women’s History Exhibit During March


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In celebration of Women’s History Month, the New York State Museum will open a small exhibition March 1 featuring artifacts and images from the woman’s suffrage movement of the early 20th century. “Women Who Rocked the Vote” will be open through March in the Museum’s front lobby window.

The exhibition chronicles the history of the suffrage movement, which was officially launched when Elizabeth Cady Stanton added the demand for equal suffrage to the Declaration of Sentiments at the first woman’s rights convention in Seneca Falls that she helped organize. Modeled on the Declaration of Independence, the declaration condemned male tyranny. It also claimed for women “all the rights and privileges” of citizenship. News of the convention sparked controversy and helped ignite a national movement.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a large wooden wagon that was once covered in suffrage banners and hand-painted signs as suffrage activists used the wagon as both a prop and a speaker’s platform. There also are historic images and a large painted banner carried in a massive suffrage parade up Fifth Avenue in New York City. The parade came just 10 days before the November 1917 election which gave women the right to vote in New York State. Two years later the state ratified the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibited sex-based restrictions on the right to vote.

The New York State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Founded in 1836, the museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the U.S. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open daily 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: Suffrage Parade, NYC 1912

NYS Museum To Close March 6th and 13th


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The New York State Museum will be closed to the public on two consecutive Saturdays in March — March 6 and 13 — to allow for testing of the emergency power system in the Cultural Education Center building. The Museum will reopen with normal operating hours on the Sundays following the closings, March 7 and March 14 at 9:30 a.m.

The New York State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, it is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except 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.

Birds of New York Opens At New York State Museum


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Birds of New York and the Paintings of Louis Agassiz Fuertes opened at the New York State Museum on Saturday, showcasing the original watercolors painted a century ago by one of America’s foremost science artists. The exhibition, in the Museum’s Crossroads Gallery, will run through September 6th. It will feature 40 of more than 100 paintings that Fuertes created to illustrate Birds of New York, a monumental book that combined beautiful art and scientific scholarship. The first edition of the book will be on display, along with a print portfolio and specimens from the Museum’s ornithology collection.

The first volume of Birds of New York – Water Birds and Game Birds – was published to much acclaim in 1910. Volume Two – Land Birds – followed four years later. Birds of New York was collaboration between Fuertes and author Elon Howard Eaton and served as a model for ornithology books that followed. Fuertes’ watercolors celebrated the beauty of wild birds, while Eaton advocated for the stewardship and conservation of birds and their habitats. Produced by the State Museum and published by the University of the State of New York, the book inspired the citizens of New York to observe and care for the state’s birds.

The book was commissioned by former State Museum Director John Mason Clarke, who served from 1904 to 1925. When he began his tenure it had been 60 years since the last book on the state’s birds had been published, and he wanted a new study that would update scientific knowledge. He commissioned Eaton, a biology teacher in Rochester, to research and write the book. Eaton enlisted Fuertes, a famous bird artist from Ithaca, to provide the illustrations.

Clarke’s written correspondence with Eaton and Fuertes, preserved in the New York State Archives, reveals that Clarke was a guiding force in producing the book, sometimes attending to even small details.

Named for the naturalist Louis Agassiz, Fuertes’ interest in the natural world was encouraged and he began to draw birds at an early age. He attended Cornell University in Ithaca. While still a student, Fuertes met a prominent Smithsonian ornithologist who recognized and promoted his artistic talent. This helped launch an active career and, soon, he was considered to be the leading bird artist of his day.

Just as John James Audubon inspired bird painters in the early 1800s, Fuertes influenced artists a century later by skillfully capturing the lifelike poses and natural settings of birds. Roger Tory Peterson, an avian artist and author of well-known field guides, wrote that while Audubon was famous for his dramatic compositions Fuertes “caught more of the character of the bird itself.”

Eaton also was a lifelong student of natural history. As a young man he prepared bird mounts and studied skins after enrolling in a taxidermy course. He established the Department of Biology at Hobart College in Geneva, where he taught from 1908 until his death in 1934. In 1901 he became known statewide when the Rochester Academy of Science published a paper he had written on the birds of western New York.

The lasting scientific importance of Birds of New York stems from Eaton’s authoritative compilation of original research that is included in the book, such as distribution maps, migration surveys and detailed observations of nests, eggs, songs and behaviors. The book continues to be cited by ornithologists studying changes in bird abundance and distribution since that time.

It also has strengthened interest in the study and protection of birds, and spurred the formation of local birding clubs and bird sanctuaries. Sixteen thousand copies of a print portfolio, including all of the color illustrations in the book, were widely distributed and inspired “Bird Day” celebrations across the state.

The State Museum will sponsor a free program in connection with the exhibition. Creative Art Day will be held Sunday, March 28 from 1 to 3 p.m. Families will be invited to participate in artful activities based on the exhibition. More information is available by calling 518-473-7154 or e-mailing psteinba@mail.nysed.gov.

The Birds of New York book is available online through the New York State Library’s digital collections at http://www.nysl.nysed.gov. A video tour of the Museum’s biology range, that includes its bird collection, is available at http://www.youtube.com/nysmuseum.

The New York State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Founded in 1836, the museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the U.S. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open daily 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.

Finger Lakes Boating Museum Moves Forward With Site


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The Board of Directors of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum in Geneva, NY has established a Site Development Committee and are moving forward with ambitous plans for a facility to research, document, preserve, and share the boating history of the Finger Lakes region. The Museum reached agreement with the City of Geneva last fall to establish a permanent home on the Geneva waterfront in association with the Visitor Center. The facility will be located on the current Chamber of Commerce site. The Museum anticipates occupying approximately 20,000 square feet of space initially, with future expansion on the lakefront and off-site eventually growing to approximately 60,000 square feet of space.

Newly elected board president Bill Oben said the Museum has assembled a collection of more than 90 wooden boats built in the Finger Lakes over the past 100 years, as well as numerous related artifacts and extensive reference material. Portions of the collection will be displayed on a rotating basis within the new facility. Also planned are interactive workshops and displays to engage visitors in the design, construction and use of the boats and an active on-water program including sailing and small boat handling.

The board also elected a new slate of officers and appointed four new directors at its January 4th. The officers for 2010 are Bill Oben as President, Ed Wightman as Vice President, Bill Smith as Secretary and Dennis Karalow as Treasurer. The new directors are Chrissy Bennett-West, Dave Bunnell, Vince Scalise and Bruce Tuxill.

Bennett-West is a Geneva native and a graduate of William Smith College. A long-time member of the Seneca Yacht Club, she sails Thistles and serves on the Executive Board as Vice Commodore. She and her husband live in Canandaigua where she is employed as a Special Education teacher in the Canandaigua School System.

Dave Bunnell relocated to Geneva following a 40-year career in law and business. He has practiced law with two commercial law firms in Dallas, Texas, served in senior management positions with international food companies, and engaged in various entrepreneurial activities. He is currently involved with others in efforts to accelerate the revitalization of downtown Geneva. He serves on the Boards of Geneva Growth, the Finger Lakes Regional Arts Council and the Business Improvement District.

Vince Scalise, a Geneva native and Korean War veteran, retired as Superintendent of the Geneva City School System. He has served on numerous boards including Cayuga-Seneca Canalway Trail Association, YMCA, Geneva Growth, Geneva Historical Society, United Way of Rochester and Ontario County, the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce, and the FL Cultural & Natural History Museum. He has also served on the Geneva City Council.

Bruce Tuxill returned to his native Geneva in 2008 following a 40-year career in the Air Force and Air National Guard. At the time of his retirement he was serving as the Adjutant General of the Maryland National Guard. He is currently the President of the Tuxill Group, which provides consulting service for federal, state and local officials in the areas of national defense and homeland security. He currently serves on the Board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Geneva and the Vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church.

Bill Oben, is a founding trustee who has served as president of the 300-member Museum since 2007, commented that the organization is “excited about establishing a permanent home for the museum on the Geneva waterfront. We intend to create a world class facility highlighting the boating heritage of the Finger Lakes region,” Oben said.

Hudson Valley History Day This Saturday


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Representatives from 15 historic sites and cultural institutions will engage visitors in fun, educational activities January 16 during Hudson Valley History Day at the New York State Museum. The free event will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is the highlight of Family Fun Weekend, January 16-17. The snow date will be Saturday, January 23. Activities will be held throughout the Museum’s first floor.

Participants include the State Museum, New York State Library, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt-Springwood, Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, Olana State Historic Site, Hudson River Heritage Organization/Montgomery Place, Albany Heritage Area Visitor Center and Henry Hudson Planetarium, Thomas Cole National Historic Site/Cedar Grove, Clermont State Historic Site, Shaker Heritage Society, Albany County Historical Society/Ten Broeck Mansion, Albany Institute of History and Art, Historic Cherry Hill and Crailo State Historic Site.

Visitors will be able to play the Hudson River Valley Trading Game on a 32-foot long game board at the Historic Cherry Hill table; sketch, write poetry and add to a community landscape at the Thomas Cole table; try weaving and grinding peppermint at the Shaker Society table; design their own stained glass at the Museum table; meet the life-sized Henry Hudson puppet at the Albany Heritage Area Visitor Center table and see historic documents, photographs and other objects at the other locations.

Jeffrey Urbin from the Roosevelt site will offer a lecture at 1:30 p.m. in the Huxley Theater on “How to Prepare Family Archives and a Time Capsule.” At 11 a.m. and noon, he also will provide tours of the This Great Nation Will Endure, an exhibition designed and curated by staff from the FDR site. The exhibition showcases the works of a legendary group of photographers who documented the lives and struggles of Americans enduring the Great Depression.

Tours will also be offered at 1 and 2:30 p.m. of the 1609 exhibition. Michelle Stefanik, a senior exhibition planner at the State Museum, will share information about Henry Hudson and his crew’s exploration of the Hudson River 400 years ago. She also will discuss the Mohican and Native Peoples who were living along the shores, as well as their relationships with the Dutch settlers.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m., visitors will also be able to touch bear fur, try on a cradleboard and learn more about the Haudenosaunee at the hands-on Native Peoples cart, presented by Nancy Berns, a member of the State Museum’s Visitors Services staff.

On Sunday from 1-4 p.m., as part of Family Fun Weekend, the Museum will offer the same stained glass activity as the one on Saturday.

Family Fun Weekends offer theme-based family activities on the third weekend of the month.

The New York State Museum is a cultural program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Started in 1836, the Museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the United States. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except 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 .

10 Most Read Posts On New York History For 2009


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Here is a list of the top ten most read stories at New York History in 2009, in descending order.

OHEKA Castle Chronicled in New Book
A new book released this year chronicled the untold story of the largest restored home in America – OHEKA Castle. The 291-page work, entitled OHEKA CASTLE Monument to Survival, is the definitive behind-the-scenes look at the 20-year and $30 million dollar historic preservation of New York’s largest home and Long Island’s largest Gold Coast mansion which, at 115,000 square feet, is more than twice the size of the White House.

NYC: Douglas Brinkley on Roosevelt, ‘Wilderness Warrior’
Douglas Brinkley (Professor of History and Baker Institute Fellow, Rice University) looked at the pioneering environmental policies of President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid bird-watcher and naturalist at the American Museum of Natural History’s Linder Theater in New York City in April to support his new book The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.

28th Annual Iroquois Indian Festival
The Iroquois Indian Museum of Howes Cave, New York, held its 28th Annual Iroquois Indian Festival to be held on Labor Day weekend. The festival’s goal was to foster a greater appreciation and deeper understanding of Iroquois culture through presentations of Iroquois music and social dance, traditional stories, artwork, games and food. This year’s master of ceremonies was Museum Educator, Mike Wahrare Tarbell, a member of the Turtle Clan from the Ahkwesahsne Mohawk Nation.

1609 Exhibit Will Look at Henry Hudson’s Voyage
As part of the celebration of the 2009 Hudson-Champlain Quadricentennial the New York State Office of Cultural Education (OCE) is presenting the exhibition “1609,” which re-examines Henry Hudson’s voyage, the myths that surround it, and explore the legacies of Hudson’s unexpected discovery. The exhibit runs through March of 2010 in the New York State Museum’s Exhibition Hall.

The New Amsterdam Trail, Free Downloadable Audio Tour
The Dutch and the indelible role they played in the formation of the ideas and ideals that shaped New York City and America are celebrated in a free downloadable audio walking tour of New Amsterdam featuring National Park Service Rangers and an expert cast of historians, scientists, and other great storytellers.

Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Events
New Year’s Day 2009 marked the start of New York’s Quadricentennial celebration commemorating 400 years of history on the Hudson River, New York Harbor and Lake Champlain. Throughout the year, New York honored the 400th anniversaries of the voyage of Captain Henry Hudson, who led (for the Dutch) the first European expedition to sail up the river that now bears his name, as well as the voyage of Samuel de Champlain, the first to discover the namesake lake. Communities from the Big Apple to the Canadian border are prepared events and projects to highlight New York’s rich history of exploration and discovery.

New York’s 400th: River Day 2009 Great Flotilla
Beginning June 6, historic vessels and modern day boats traveled the Hudson River from New York Harbor to Albany for “River Day” Commemorating the Voyage of Henry Hudson. Participating boats and ships included The Half Moon, The Onrust, the Sloop Clearwater and Schooner Mystic Whaler plus the Woody Guthrie, a wooden replica of an 18th-19th century Hudson River Ferry Sloop; the 1890′s-style pilot Schooner Adirondack; the Manhattan, an open boat originally built as a life boat to explore the canals of Amsterdam; and the Shearwater, a classic Maine Schooner. The flotilla spent eight days moving north on the Hudson, stopping at yacht clubs and marinas, and cities and communities.

French and Indian War Reenactment at Old Fort Niagara
Over the Fourth of July Weekend, more than 2,300 historic reenactors brought the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War to life at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY. The event featured authentically-costumed 18th century British and French soldiers and American Indian warriors who recreated historic encampments and the “Siege of Fort Niagara” of July 1759.

The Mannahatta Project Uncovers NYC in 1609
A new web site was launched to show viewers what New York City looked like before it was a city. The goal of the Mannahatta Project is no less than “to re-start the natural history of New York City.” The site includes a virtual Mannahatta map that allows you to see Mannahatta from any location, block-by-block species information, lessons on the science and technology used to create the site, hundreds of layers of digital data, place-based lesson plans for elementary and high school students that meet New York State standards, an online discussion page, and event listing.

Dance Theatre of Harlem History Exhibit at NYPL
The most read story of the year at New York History was the announcement of the exhibition Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts. Through a rich and colorful mix of spectacular costumes, stage props, posters, programs, intimate photographs and video recordings, the exhibit in the Vincent Astor Gallery of The New York Public Library (no longer running) traced the history of the company, its community outreach, renowned productions and cast of legendary dancers, fans and supporters.

NYS Library Offers Civil War Noontime Programs


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The NYS Library will offer two noontime programs in January. On Thursday, January 14th, Christopher Morton will present “A Banner Decade: Ten Years of the New York State Battle Flag Preservation Project.” Morton, who is the Flag Project curator, will discuss the history of the Battle Flag Collection and highlight the Flag Project’s accomplishments to date while showcasing a number of interesting and historic flags from the collection. And on Friday, January 22nd, historian Michael Russert will present “The Edward McPherson Farm and the Battle of Gettysburg.” Russert will discuss how the battle, fought on the McPherson farm and on surrounding land on July 1st, 1863, had a life-changing effect not just on the family that lived on that farm, but on rural Adams County of Pennsylvania and its inhabitants. The programs will be held in the Librarians Room, 7th floor, Cultural Education Center, Madison Avenue, Albany. Those interested in participating can register online here.

A Banner Decade: Ten Years of the New York State Battle Flag Preservation Project

In 2000, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) initiated a preservation campaign and developed plans for archival long-term housing of the New York State Battle Flag Collection administered by the Division of Military & Naval Affairs (DMNA). This inter-agency partnership, known as the New York State Battle Flag Preservation Project, is responsible for the flag collection’s conservation, storage, research, and interpretation. The year 2010 marks the tenth anniversary of the Flag Project. Over the last decade, OPRHP textile conservators from the Peebles Island Resource Center, with assistance from the Flag Project curator, have preserved and placed into temporary storage over 500 flags from the collection and have provided educational and interpretive services for the interested public. Christopher Morton, the Flag Project curator, will discuss the history of the Battle Flag Collection and highlight the Flag Project’s accomplishments to date while showcasing a number of interesting and historic flags from the collection.

The Edward McPherson Farm and the Battle of Gettysburg

War often has a profound effect on the civilian population in its path. This talk will examine how the battle fought on the land of the Edward McPherson farm and on surrounding land on July 1st, 1863 had a life changing effect on the family that lived on that farm. The talk will make use of primary documents such as census records, personal remembrances, and military accounts to personalize how families in the path of warfare are altered. The focus will be on the antebellum history of the property and how the Battle of Gettysburg changed the rural Adams County of Pennsylvania and its inhabitants. Historian Michael Russert will give this presentation.

‘Lincoln and New York’ Opens At New York Historical Society


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From the launch of Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 Presidential campaign with a speech at Cooper Union through the unprecedented outpouring of grief at his funeral procession in 1865, New York City played a surprisingly central role in the career of the sixteenth President—and Lincoln, in turn, had an impact on New York that was vast, and remains vastly underappreciated.

Now, for the first time, a museum exhibition will trace the crucial relationship between America’s greatest President and its greatest city, when the New-York Historical Society presents Lincoln and New York, from October 9, 2009 through March 25, 2010. The culminating presentation in the Historical Society’s Lincoln Year of exhibitions, events and public programs, this extraordinary display of original artifacts, iconic images and highly significant period documents is the Historical Society’s major contribution to the nation’s Lincoln Bicentennial. Lincoln and New York has been endorsed by the U.S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

Serving as chief historian for Lincoln and New York and editor of the accompanying catalogue is noted Lincoln scholar and author Harold Holzer, co-chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. He has also organized the Historical Society’s year-long Lincoln Series of public conversations and interviews. Serving as curator is Dr. Richard Rabinowitz, president of American History Workshop and curator of the exhibitions Slavery in New York and New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War at the New-York Historical Society.

Lincoln and New York brings to life the period between Lincoln’s decisive entrance into the city’s life at the start of the 1860 Presidential campaign to his departure from it in 1865 as a secular martyr. During these years, the policies of the Lincoln administration damaged and then re-built the New York economy, transforming the city from a thriving port dependent on trade with the slave-holding South into the nation’s leading engine of financial and industrial growth; support and opposition to the President flared into a virtual civil war within the institutions and on the streets of New York, out of which emerged a pattern of political contention that survives to this day.

To begin this story, visitors follow the prairie lawyer eastward to his rendezvous with “the political cauldron” of New York in the winter of 1860. Visitors will learn something of his background and of the rapidly accelerating political crisis that had brought him to the fore: the battle over the extension of slavery into the western territories.

Then, in the six galleries that follow, visitors will discover the interconnections between these two unlikely partners: the ambitious western politician with scant national experience, and the sophisticated eastern metropolis that had become America’s capital of commerce and publishing.

Campaign (1859—1860) immerses visitors in the sights and sounds of the city, then the fastest-growing metropolis in the world, while re-creating Lincoln’s entire visit in February 1860 when his epoch-making address at the Cooper Union and the photograph for which he posed that same day together launched his national career. The displays will cast new light on the lecture culture of the antebellum city, the political divisions within its Republican organization, the strength of its publishing industry and the bustling, somewhat alien urban community that Lincoln encountered. The video re-creation of Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech, produced on site with acclaimed actor Sam Waterston’s vivid rendering of Lincoln’s arguments, brings that crucial evening to life. Visitors will re-enact for themselves how Lincoln posed for New York’s—and the nation’s—leading photographer, Mathew Brady, whose now-iconic photograph began the reinvention of Lincoln’s public image. As Lincoln himself said, “Brady and the Cooper Union speech made me President.”

Objects on view will include the telegram inviting Lincoln to give his first Eastern lecture, the lectern that he used at Cooper Union, the widely distributed printed text of his speech, photographic and photo-engraving equipment from this era and torches that were carried by pro-Lincoln “Wide Awakes” at their great October 6 New York march. Also on view will be a panoply of political cartoons and editorial commentary generated in New York that established “Honest Abe” and the “Railsplitter” as a viable and virtuous candidate, but concurrently began the tradition of anti-Lincoln caricature by introducing Lincoln as a slovenly rustic, reluctant to discuss the hot-button slavery issue but secretly favoring the radical idea of racial equality.

The next gallery, Public Opinions (1861—62), registers the gyrating fortunes of the Lincoln Administration’s first year among New Yorkers—especially the editors and publishers of the city’s 175 daily and weekly newspapers and illustrated journals, who wielded unprecedented power. In the wake of his election, and the secession of the Southern states, the New York Stock Exchange had plummeted and New York harbor was stilled. Payment of New York’s huge outstanding debts from Southern planters and merchants ceased, and bankruptcies abounded.

Scarcely one docked ship hoisted the national colors to greet the new President-Elect in February 1861 when he visited on his way to Washington and the inauguration, and eyewitness Walt Whitman described his welcome along New York’s streets as “ominous.” Mayor Fernando Wood proposed that the city declare its independence from both the Union and the Confederacy and continue trading with both sides. Even New Yorkers unwilling to go that far desperately tried to find compromises with the South that in their words, “would avert the calamity of Civil War.”

Just two months later, though, in the wake of the attack on Fort Sumter, it suddenly appeared that every New Yorker was an avid defender of Old Glory. After war was declared, business leaders, including many powerful Democrats, pledged funds and goods to the effort. The Irish community, not previously sympathetic to Republicans, vigorously mobilized its own battalion in the first wave of responses to Lincoln’s call for troops to crush the Rebellion. But after the Confederate victory at Bull Run, the wheel turned again. From July 1861 onward for more than a year, the news was unremittingly bad. Battlefield mishaps, crippling inflation, profiteering among war contractors, corruption in the supply of “shoddy” equipment and clothing for the troops, the ability of Confederate raiders to seize dozens of New York merchant ships right outside the harbor, the imposition of an income tax and a controversial effort to reform banking, alarming New York’s regulation-wary financial institutions: all these led to relentless press and public criticism of Lincoln. New York’s cartoonists, as shown in the exhibition, found every possible way to caricature the President’s homely appearance and controversial policies. Even abolitionists and blacks despaired of the President’s reluctance to embrace emancipation and the recruitment of African-Americans into the Union war effort. Former allies such as Horace Greeley slammed Lincoln for putting reunification above freedom as a war goal.

In this gallery, the objects that tell the story will include colorful recruitment posters for the Union army, the great, seldom-lent Thomas Nast painting of the departure of the 7th Regiment for the Front, rare original photographs of the great rally in Union Square on April 21, 1861, and the bullet-shattered coat of Lincoln’s young New York-born friend, and onetime bodyguard, Colonel Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth, the first Union officer killed in the war.

Gallery 3, titled Bad Blood (1862), illustrates the mutual animosity of New York’s pro- and anti-Lincoln forces by exhibiting bigger-than-life, three-dimensional versions of the era’s political cartoons. On one side are the Democratic Party politicians and their backers, caricatured by their opponents as bartenders in a political clubhouse, “dispensing a poisonous brew of sedition and fear.” On the other side, a caricature of Lincoln’s New York supporters—officials of the United States Sanitary Commission—shows them enjoying a sumptuous feast, celebrating the ethic of economic opportunity for the rich and the values of hard work, obedience, and self-discipline for the poor. Visitors will see how a powerful New York party of Peace Democrats, or Copperheads, portrayed Lincoln as a despot, warned against “race mongrelization,” and encouraged desertion and draft-dodging. At the same time, the gallery will show how some New Yorkers reaped the benefits of the war, given that their city was the principal home of many of the industries and services Lincoln needed: munitions, shipbuilding, medical supplies, food supplies, money lending and more. Interactive media in Gallery 3 will help visitors (especially of school age) explore the economic issues that so bitterly divided New York.

Gallery 4, Battleground (1862—1864), re-creates seven different conflicts in the city between 1862 and 1864. In each one, the visitor is invited to choose a side, listen to “the talk of the town,” and locate historic landmarks that survive from this era. Among the political and social flashpoints were Lincoln’s issuance of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation; the suspension of habeas corpus and press freedom; the institution of a military draft; the promotion (by Lincoln’s elite Protestant supporters) of a new ethic of civic philanthropy, industrial progress, and national expansion; and the bitter Presidential campaign of 1864. Visitors will be brought into the setting of Shiloh Presbyterian Church (on the corner of Prince and Lafayette Street) on “Jubilee Day,” January 1, 1863, when emancipation was proclaimed; re-live the four-day Manhattan insurrection of July 1863 known as the Draft Riots, which claimed more than 120 lives before they were put down by troops from the 7th Regiment, recalled from Gettysburg; glimpse the crowded pavilions of the loyalists’ Metropolitan Sanitary Fair of April 1864; and see a multitude of cartoons, engravings, pamphlets, flags, posters, lanterns, and campaign memorabilia.

The evolution of Lincoln’s image—from Railsplitter to Jokester to Tyrant to Gentle Father—is the subject of Gallery 5, Eyes on Lincoln. Four iconic portraits, all enormously influential, mostly from life, and none ever displayed together in such a suite—one by Thomas Hicks, one by William Marshall, and two by Francis Bicknell Carpenter (of Lincoln alone and of the assembled family)—anchor the investigation. Interactive programs allow visitors to learn more about the creation and re-production of these images, their iconographic roots in western art, and the artists’ biographies.

The last major gallery, The Loss of a Great Man (1865), takes the visitor from Lincoln’s victory in the 1864 election to his New York funeral procession, perhaps the largest such event yet held in world history, involving hundreds of thousands of participants and inspiring an outburst of mourning among whites and blacks, Christians and Jews, that signaled the transfiguration of the late president’s heretofore-controversial image. A video documents the triumphant events of March and April 1865: the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery, the delivery of the second inaugural address, and the surrender of the Confederate armies. In New York, a gigantic parade celebrated Lincoln on March 5, 1865. And then, after Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, the fierce political antagonisms surrounding Lincoln suddenly evaporated, and a new image emerged of a Christ-like, compassionate, and brooding hero who gave his life so that the nation would enjoy a “new birth of freedom.”

A superb collection of memorial material produced and distributed in the city is accompanied by artwork representing Lincoln’s apotheosis. Included will be the recently discovered scrapbook of a New Yorker who roamed the streets after Lincoln’s death sketching the impromptu written and visual tributes that sprung up in shop windows and on building façades in the wake of Lincoln’s murder. Perhaps the greatest memorial of all was New Yorker Walt Whitman’s poem “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”

As a coda, the exhibition concludes with a brief tour of how New Yorkers have continued to memorialize Lincoln—in the names of streets and institutions; in the development of an egalitarian national creed; in a powerful sense of nationhood; and in a constantly evolving sense that this is the most representative and inspiring of all Americans.

Catalogue

The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated, full-color catalogue edited by guest historian Harold Holzer, who has also contributed an introductory essay and a chapter on the city’s publishers and the making of Lincoln’s image in New York. Additional essays have been written by historians Jean Harvey Baker, Catherine Clinton, James Horton, Michael Kammen, Barnet Schechter, Craig L. Symonds, and Frank J. Williams, with a preface by New-York Historical Society President and CEO Louise Mirrer, all featuring seldom-seen pictures, artifacts, and documents from the Society collections.

Support for Lincoln and New York

Objects in the exhibition come from the New-York Historical Society’s own rich and extensive collections; from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit at the New-York Historical Society; Brooks Brothers; and from other major institutions including the Library of Congress, The Cooper Union, Chicago History Museum, John Hay Library at Brown University, Union League Club, New York Military Museum, Cornell University, the University of Illinois, and the New York Public Library.

In addition to generous funding from JPMorgan Chase & Co., the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural (URR) Program, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, additional project support for the exhibition and related programs has been provided by The Bodman Foundation, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Motorola Foundation, Brooks Brothers, Con Edison, and the New York Council for the Humanities. Thirteen, a WNET.ORG station, is media sponsor.

About the New-York Historical Society

Established in 1804, the New-York Historical Society (N-YHS) comprises New York’s oldest museum and a nationally renowned research library. N-YHS collects, preserves, and interprets American history and art. Its mission is to make these collections accessible to the broadest public and increase understanding of American history through exhibitions, public programs, and research that reveal the dynamism of history and its impact on the world today. N-YHS holdings cover four centuries of American history and comprise one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artifacts, American art, and other materials documenting the history of the United States as seen through the prism of New York City and State.

Photo: Print by Currier and Ives “The Rail Candidate, 1860″ Lithograph. New-York Historical Society.

(Forgotten) Melting Pot: A Quadricentennial Discussion


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Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site will hold The (Forgotten) Melting Pot: A Quadricentennial Panel Discussion on Thursday, October 8, 2009 in an attempt to address the historic ethnic and cultural elements oftentimes lost within the “melting pot” of America.

The evening will tackle the transitional 17th century in New York, but will also look to other moments in history, from pre-history to modern day. Our panelists will discuss both the roles of and the cultural shifts within African American, Native American, Dutch and women’s groups.

Panelists will include moderator Daniel Wolff, author of How Lincoln Learned to Read: Twelve Great Americans and the Educations That Made Them, Sherrill Wilson, Ph.D., urban anthropologist and author of New York City’s African Slave Owners: A Social and Material Culture History, David Oestricher, Ph.D., author and curator of the current exhibit Lenape: Ellis Island’s First Inhabitants, Tom Lake, archaeologist and professor of anthropology at SUNY Dutchess Community College and Martha Shattuck, Ph.D., editor and researcher with The New Netherland Project.

At 6 p.m., guests are invited to bring in their American “found objects,” whether pre-historic fossils or African textiles, for friendly analysis by our panel members before the discussion. Art appraiser and consultant Louise Devenish will also be on hand to tell the stories of objects. At 7 p.m. we will begin our panel discussion, immediately followed by a Q & A session for the audience. At 8:30 p.m. a reception and book signing will be held. For further information, please call 914-965-4027 or visit our event information website, philipsemanorhall.blogspot.com. This event is free to the public, but donations are appreciated.

Philipse Manor Hall, a high-style Georgian manor house, was the seat of a 52,000-acre estate and home to three generations of the Lords of Philipsburg Manor. Built between c. 1680 and 1755, it is the site around which the City of Yonkers grew and developed. Philipse Manor Hall is located at 29 Warburton Avenue, at Dock Street, in Yonkers, and parking is available on site. The historic site is one of six state historic sites and 12 parks administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Taconic Region: www.nysparks.com.

Barnabas McHenry’s Greater Hudson Heritage Award


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The Board of Trustees of Greater Hudson Heritage Network (GHHN) will confer special regional recognition to Barnabas (Barney) McHenry through presentation of the Greater Hudson Cultural Heritage Award on October 2, preceding a Historic Site Futures Forum at Bear Mountain, New York.

For 40 years Barney McHenry has worked to protect the Hudson River Valley, its heritage, culture and landscapes. As counsel to DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders of Reader’s Digest, he was the principal architect of the Wallace Funds, which have contributed to the arts, education, humanities and the environment throughout the Hudson River Valley.

Barney McHenry demonstrates his commitment to the region as Chair of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities Council, Co-Chair of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and Member of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, while offering valued trustee-leadership to regional historic sites through his service on the boards of Friends of the Hudson Valley and the Open Space Institute, and as Chairman of Boscobel.

A long time patron of museums throughout the Greater Hudson Heritage Network, Mr. McHenry has served on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, The New York Commission on the Restoration of the Capital and the Empire State Plaza Art Commission.

“Greater Hudson’s vision of ‘communities that value the exploration and preservation of their heritage and cultures, and are empowered to save and interpret them to future generations,’ has been furthered by the work of Barney McHenry,” affirmed Dr. Jacquetta Haley, President of the GHHN Board.

Greater Hudson Heritage Network (formerly Lower Hudson Conference of Historical Agencies & Museums), is a museum service organization that has grown over 30 years to encompass an area and cultural constituency from the Battery to Albany- engaging and informing staff, consultants and trustees of cultural heritage organizations as a catalyst to strengthen professional capacity, define and meet mission, and connect them through best practices in stewardship.

Greater Hudson’s Annual Meeting and Historic Site Futures Forum will take place on Friday, October 2, 2009 at Overlook Lodge, Bear Mountain, NY from 10am – 3pm.

The Hon. Richard Brodsky, NYS Assemblyman, 92nd District (Westchester) will address an audience of museum and historic site professionals on issues of “Smart Stewardship,” as he introduces the morning Historic Site Futures Forum and panel speakers.

The Cultural Heritage Award presentation and Futures Forum will be followed by a buffet luncheon, election of GHHN trustees, and the afternoon presentation of 14 Awards Towards Excellence for organizations and projects selected from submitted nominations by a peer jury, chaired by Greater Hudson trustee Jennifer Plick.

The Greater Hudson Heritage Network’s Awards Towards Excellence program seeks to recognize and commend exceptional efforts among GHHN members. Awards are made to projects and organizations that exemplify creativity and professional vision resulting in a contribution to the preservation and interpretation of the historic scene, material culture and diversity of the Greater Hudson region- from the Battery to Albany.

2009 Awards Towards Excellence are presented to:

BOSCOBEL HOUSE & GARDENS, Garrison, NY (Putnam) for the exhibition, Home on the Hudson: Women and Men Painting Landscapes, 1825-1875. This award is in recognition of the continued effort to explore the works of Hudson River School painters particularly those done by women artists and for incorporating the research of doctoral students in the exhibit catalog.

CLARKSTOWN TOWN CLERK, DAVID CARLUCCI, New City, NY (Rockland) for the preservation of the Town of Clarkstown’s historical records. This award is in recognition of the Town Clerk’s program to preserve, digitize and make accessible over 250 years of town records that, in many cases, are too fragile to be handled.

CONSTITUTION ISLAND ASSOCIATION, INC., West Point, NY (Orange) for the film, “Constitution Island: American Landmark.” This award is in recognition of the endeavor to raise awareness of the historic and cultural significance of the site and its use as an educational tool.

SAMUEL DORSKY MUSEUM OF ART, New Paltz, NY (Ulster) and NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY, New York (NY) for the exhibition and publication, The Hudson River to Niagara Falls: 19th Century American Landscape Paintings from the New-York Historical Society. This award is in recognition of a collaboration that re-interprets the landscape collections of the New-York Historical Society by exploring the importance of the region as a cultural site in the 19th century through the works of Hudson River School artists.

HISTORIC HUGUENOT STREET, New Paltz, NY (Ulster) for the exhibition Before Hudson: 8,000 Years of Native American History and Culture. This award is in recognition of the exhibit and public programming that advances regional history by exploring the history of the native inhabitants of the area using archaeological findings.

KATHLEEN EAGAN JOHNSON, Historic Hudson Valley, Tarrytown, NY (Westchester) for the publication, The Hudson-Fulton Celebration: New York’s River Festival and the Making of a Metropolis, co-published by Fordham University Press and Historic Hudson Valley. This award is in recognition of the extensive research and in-depth study of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909 and its impact on New York City.

LYNDHURST and WESTCHESTER COUNTY, Tarrytown, NY (Westchester) for the public program and community collaboration, Hudson River Fest: A Search for the Past, Present, and Future. This award is in recognition of a collaborative program that celebrated Westchester’s historic ties to the river and land, and explored the respectful stewardship of these important but fragile resources.

MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE – A LIVING MEMORIAL TO THE HOLOCAUST, New York (NY) for the creation of an on-line collection resource. This award is in recognition of an innovative program that invites the public to browse artifacts in a dynamic and user-friendly environment. The online Collection offers information unavailable in the Museum.

NEVERSINK VALLEY AREA MUSUEM, Cuddebackville, NY (Orange) for the exhibit, “The Star is Born: A History of the Movie Star in America from Florence Lawrence and Valentino to Heath Ledger” and a program on women in early films. This award is in recognition of new audience-driven local history programming.

NEW CASTLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY and EAGLE SCOUT MICHAEL MARTINEZ, New Castle, NY (Westchester) for documentation of the Chappaqua Friends’ Graveyard. This award is in recognition of the extensive research, detailed documentation and creation of a searchable database for over 1,000 markers in the local graveyard dating back to 1745.

THE OLANA PARTNERSHIP and NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF PARKS, RECREATION, AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION, Hudson, NY (Columbia) for a new gallery, inaugural exhibit, “Glories of the Hudson: Frederic Edwin Church’s Views from Olana” and its exhibition catalog. This award is in recognition of a public-private effort to broaden the scope of the historic house museum, and a valuable collaborative marketing concept.

THE KNICKERBOCKER ICE FESTIVAL OF 2009: TIMOTHY ENGLERT, CO-FOUNDER & PROJECT DIRECTOR, ROBERT PATALANO, CO-FOUNDER & ICE SCULPTOR, CHRISTIAN NIELSEN, ROCKLAND LAKE STATE PARK SUPERINTENDENT, MARIA RODD, 2009 EVENT PLANNER, ROSEMARIE MONACO, 2009 PR/MARKETING DIRECTOR, GRETCHEN WEERHEIM, 2009 HISTORIC EDUCATION DIRECTOR & HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ROCKLAND COUNTY DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, HEATHER DUKE, ROCKLAND COUNTY DIRECTOR OF TOURISM This award recognizes the collaborative efforts of a dedicated group of professionals to create and excite the public about local history.

LAKEVILLE-IRONWORKS EDUCATIONAL TRAIL and MATTHEW SHOOK, Sterling Forest, Tuxedo, NY (Orange) This award is in recognition Matthew Shook’s dedication, leadership and collaborative skills in bringing together the PIPC, State Historic Preservation Office, NY/NJ Trail Conference, and Rutgers University to preserve, interpret and make accessible to the public a neglected historical resource.

PUTNAM COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY & FOUNDRY SCHOOL MUSEUM, DR. TRUDIE GRACE and DAVID DEARINGER, Cold Spring, NY (Putnam) for the exhibition catalog accompanying the exhibition, George Pope Morris: Defining American Culture. This award is in recognition of the extensive, scholarly research undertaken into the life of George Pope Morris of Cold Spring, and his contribution to 19th century American publishing, music and poetry.

For registration information about Greater Hudson Heritage Network’s October 2, 2009
Annual Meeting, Futures Forum, and Awards presentations at Overlook Lodge, Bear Mountain, please see: www.greaterhudson.org, or contact GHHN: 914.592.6726; info@greaterhudson.org.

NYS Museum Opens ’1609′ Exhibit


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As part of the celebration of the 2009 Hudson-Champlain Quadricentennial celebration, the New York State Office of Cultural Education (OCE) will present at the New York State Museum the exhibition “1609,” which will re-examine Henry Hudson’s voyage, the myths that surround it, and explore the legacies of Hudson’s unexpected discovery. The State Museum, State Archives, State Library and State Office of Educational Broadcasting, which make up OCE, are collaborating on the “1609” exhibition. It opened yesterday, July 3, 2009, and will run until March 7, 2010 in the Museum’s Exhibition Hall.

The “1609” exhibition is presented in four parts. The first section focuses on what life was like for both the Dutch and Native Peoples of New York before 1609 and the events of that year. The visitor will then look at the myths that Hudson planned to come here, and that Native Americans greeted him and his crew with joy and awe. The exhibition will attempt to dispel those myths and explore with the visitor what is known about Hudson and the 1609 voyage and the Native American response. The third section confronts the myths relating to the short-term impact of the voyage – the consequences for the Dutch and the Native Americans. Finally, the visitor will be able to examine the long-term legacy of the Native Americans and Dutch, and how they affected subsequent historical events and American culture today.

Highlighting the important role that the Hudson River played in Hudson’s discovery and in the everyday lives of the Native Americans he encountered, visitors entering the gallery will see the illusion of running water. An outline of the Halve Maen (Half Moon) that carried Hudson to the new world, and fast facts about the ship, will be stenciled onto the gallery floor. The exhibition will also feature many historic drawings, maps and paintings, including some by Capital District expert historical artist L.F. Tantillo.

There will be many touchable objects and a reading area to engage the youngest visitors. Artifacts on display will include an elaborately decorated c. 1700 “Armada Chest” or strongbox, a classic type of chest or portable safe similar to what Henry Hudson most likely had in his quarters on the Half Moon; a dugout canoe recovered from Glass Lake in Rensselaer County similar to those used by Native Americans in the 17th century; a bronze cannon cast for the Dutch West India Company (1604-1661) used at or near Fort Orange and a stained glass window bearing the Coat of Arms of “Jan Baptist van Renssilaer,” patron of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck in the 1650s. A large 1611 etching of the Port of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, courtesy of the Amsterdam Municipal Archives, also will hang in the gallery.

Many of the maps and other 17th-century Dutch colonial documents in the exhibition are from the collections of the New York State Library and the State Archives and will be located in a separate room where lighting is carefully controlled. The New Netherland Project, a program of the State Library, has been working since 1974 to translate and publish these archival records.

Archaeologist James Bradley, an expert on Native Americans, and Russell Shorto, an authority on colonial Dutch history, have written text for the exhibition. Bradley is the author of “Before Albany: An Archaeology of Native-Dutch Relations in the Capital Region 1600-1664,” and a guest curator for portions of the exhibition. Shorto, who resides in the Netherlands, authored “The Island at the Center of
the World,” the epic story of Dutch Manhattan and the forgotten colony that shaped America. Steven Comer, a Mohican Native American living within the original territory of the Mohican people, has provided cultural information and consulting for the project.

The Museum also is celebrating the Dutch influence on Albany and New York State with a trip to Holland and Belgium. This adventure will allow participants to experience these countries and appreciate their effect on Albany’s heritage and architecture. The trip is September 24 through October 1, 2009 and priced at $2,127 per person, double occupancy. Museum members receive a discount of $50. This trip includes a week-long stay in a four-star hotel located in the Hague, Holland’s government capitol. The price includes airfare, transfers, six nights accommodation, breakfast everyday except arrival, three dinners, private luxury coach, and local guides in Amsterdam, Bruges, and Delft. Also included are the entrance fees for windmills, a Delftware factory, New Church Delft, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, canal boat rides, and Aalsmeer Flower Auction. There is one free day with an optional trip to Paris, France. For more information or to register call Susan at (518) 862-1810 Monday through Friday.

The New York State Museum is a cultural program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Founded in 1836, the museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the U.S. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open daily from 9:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Further information can be obtained visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

CBS News To Feature New Netherland Project


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CBS News Sunday Morning will feature the New York State Library’s New Netherland Project as part of a story on the Quadricentennial of Hudson’s discovery of the river that bears his name on Sunday, July 5th. The segment will be aired between 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. and will feature an interview with New Netherland Project Director Dr. Charles Gehring.

One of the most unique history projects in America, the New Netherland Project provided the documentation and inspiration for Russell Shorto’s recent best seller, “The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America.”

A program of the New York State Library, the New Netherland Project has been working since 1974 to translate and publish the official 17th-century Dutch colonial documents of one of America’s earliest settled regions. Originally created under the sponsorship of the New York State Library and the Holland Society of New York, the New Netherland Project has been supported by the National Endowment for the
Humanities (NEH) and the New York State Office of Cultural Education. Translated documents and other work by the New Netherland Project can be accessed at www.nnp.org.

Also based on the work of the New Netherland Project, the exhibit “Light on New Netherland” is the first to introduce adults and children to the scope of the 17th century colony of New Netherland. Previously on view at the State Museum in Albany, the exhibit will tour the regions once encompassed by New Netherland, appearing at venues to include the GaGa Arts Center in West Haverstraw, New York; the Museum of
Connecticut History at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford; the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities in Cold Spring Harbor, New York; Federal Hall in Manhattan; and the FDR Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.

The book “Explorers, Fortunes, and Love Letters: A Window on New Netherland” further explores the history of America’s earliest colony with a collection of twelve essays. Designed to appeal to a general audience and scholars alike, the book features an opening chapter by Russell Shorto, author of The Island at the Center of the World: the Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan & the Forgotten Colony that Shaped
America. The book was published by the New Netherland Institute, formerly Friends of New Netherland, and Mount Ida Press in April 2009. To purchase the book online or by check go to http://www.nnp.org/

New Netherland Project Featured in New Documentary


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The New York State Library’s New Netherland Project is featured in the documentary “Uncovering America’s Forgotten Colony: The New Netherland Project.” The documentary focuses on the work of Dr. Charles Gehring and his colleagues and highlights more than 30 years of uncovering America’s forgotten Dutch colonial history through the transcription and translation of the official archives of New Netherland. The documentary “Uncovering America’s Forgotten Colony: The New Netherland Project” was produced by Mogul One Productions in partnership with the New Netherland Institute. DVDs are available for $19.95, at http://ForPeopleWhoThink.com. Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to support future work of the New Netherland Project.

One of the most unique history projects in America, the New Netherland Project provided the documentation and inspiration for Russell Shorto’s recent best seller, The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America.

A program of the New York State Library, the New Netherland Project has been working since 1974 to translate and publish the official 17th-century Dutch colonial documents of one of America’s earliest settled regions. Originally created under the sponsorship of the New York State Library and the Holland Society of New York, the New Netherland Project has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the New York State Office of Cultural Education. Translated documents and other work by the New Netherland Project can be accessed at www.nnp.org.

Also based on the work of the New Netherland Project, the exhibit Light on New Netherland is the first to introduce adults and children to the scope of the 17th century colony of New Netherland. Previously on view at the State Museum in Albany, the exhibit will tour the regions once encompassed by New Netherland, appearing at venues to include the GaGa Arts Center in West Haverstraw, New York; the Museum of Connecticut History at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford; the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities in Cold Spring Harbor, New York; Federal Hall in Manhattan; and the FDR Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.

The book Explorers, Fortunes and Love Letters (Mount Ida Press) further explores the history of America’s earliest colony with a collection of twelve essays. Designed to appeal to a general audience and scholars alike, the book features an opening chapter by Russell Shorto, author of The Island at the Center of the World: the Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan & the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America. The book was published by the New Netherland Institute and Mount Ida Press in April 2009.

NYS Library Offers Noontime Public Programs in May


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The NYS Library will offer three noontime programs in May. On Wednesday, May 13th, librarian Bill Schilling will present “Patents,” an introduction to the patenting process in the United States. On Wednesday, May 20th, local authors Frankie Bailey and Alice Green will present “Wicked Albany,” a look at the effect that the Volstead Act of 1919, which established Prohibition, had on Albany. Then on Wednesday, May 27th, architect James Comegys and engineer Benjamin Marra from the NYS Office of General Services will discuss the State’s efforts to achieve sustainable building and LEED certification in “Green Building.” All programs are free and open to the public.

Patents (Wednesday, May 13th, 12:15 – 1:45 p.m.)

In the field of invention and design, a United States patent is the grant of an exclusive property right to the inventor for a fixed period of time. This class is an introduction to the patenting process in the United States. It will cover basic concepts about patents and the statutory requirements for obtaining them. It will also include a hands-on introduction to doing a preliminary patent search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s web site using the U.S. patent classification system. Senior Librarian, Bill Schilling will present this program. This program will be held in the Computer Classroom on the 7th floor of the Library and registration is required. No food or drink is permitted in the room.

Wicked Albany (Wednesday, May 20th, 12:15 – 1:15 p.m)

Albany, New York, experienced massive upheaval when the Volstead Act of 1919 established Prohibition. Crime already proliferated in the capital of the Empire State, with rival political machines stooping to corruption and organized crime flexing their heavy-handed powers of persuasion. As it did nationwide, Prohibition in Albany served merely to force alcohol-related commerce underground and lawlessness and violence to the forefront of city activity. Local authors Frankie Bailey and Alice Green chronicle this evolution in Albany, relying on archival records and examining the greater social impact of the city’s moral decline. This program will be held in the Huxley Theater on the 1st floor of the Cultural Education Center.

Green Building (Wednesday, May 27th, 12:15 – 1:15 p.m.)

What does green mean in terms of building design? The attributes of green building design will be discussed by architect James Comegys and engineer Benjamin Marra from the Design and Construction group of OGS. They will describe how the OGS agency’s goal of sustainability in all state operations is reflected in building projects. Case studies of buildings for New York state agencies seeking LEED or green building certification will be presented.

Songs from the Piano Bench (Wednesday, May 27th, Noon – 2:00 PM)

Listen in while enjoying your lunch or lend your voice as singers perform a variety of songs, including popular folk, rock-and-roll, Victorian parlor, Civil War, Sesame Street, etc. Many selections are chosen from the more than 35,000 pieces of sheet music in the New York State Library Collection. Music and words are provided and instrumentalists are welcome. This session is held monthly in the 4th Floor Gallery of the State Museum. For more information, e-mail kstorms@mail.nysed.gov or call 518-474-2274.

1609 Exhibit Will Look at Henry Hudson’s Voyage


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As part of the celebration of the 2009 Hudson-Champlain Quadricentennial the New York State Office of Cultural Education (OCE) will present the exhibition “1609,” which will re-examine Henry Hudson’s voyage, the myths that surround it, and explore the legacies of Hudson’s unexpected discovery.

The State Museum, State Archives, State Library and State Office of Educational Broadcasting, which make up OCE, are collaborating on the “1609” exhibition. It is scheduled to be open July 3, 2009 through March of 2010 in the New York State Museum’s Exhibition Hall.

Other quadricentennial events will include a two-month tour along the Hudson River and Champlain Canal, led by the New York State Museum’s historic Day Peckinpaugh, a 259-foot, 1921 canal boat. The Half Moon, historic barges and other large working boats will also participate in the tour in August and September 2009. It will stop at 15 ports from Burlington, Vt. to New York Harbor. Visitors will be able to step onboard to view exhibits on 400 years of maritime progress and advancement. The tour is organized by the Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor, in conjunction with the State Museum, Saratoga National Historical Park and the New York State Canal Corporation.

The “1609” exhibition will be presented in four parts. The first section will focus on what life was like for both the Dutch and Native Peoples of New York before 1609 and the events of that year. The visitor will then look at the myths that Hudson planned to come here, and that Native Americans greeted him and his crew with joy and awe. The exhibition will attempt to dispel those myths and explore with the visitor what is known about Hudson and the 1609 voyage and the Native American response. The third section will confront the myths relating to the short-term impact of the voyage – the consequences for the Dutch and the Native Americans. Finally, the visitor will be able to examine the long-term legacy of the Native Americans and Dutch, and how they affected subsequent historical events and American culture today.

In addition to artifacts from throughout OCE collections, “1609” will also feature paintings by Capital District expert historical artist L.F. Tantillo.

Archaeologist James Bradley, an expert on Native Americans, and Russell Shorto, an authority on colonial Dutch history, have written text for the exhibition. Bradley is the author of “Before Albany: An Archaeology of Native-Dutch Relations in the Capital Region 1600-1664,” and a guest curator for portions of the exhibition. Shorto, who resides in the Netherlands, authored “The Island at the Center of the World,” the epic story of Dutch Manhattan and the forgotten colony that shaped America.

Steven Comer, a Mohican Native American living within the original territory of the Mohican people, has provided cultural information and consulting for the project.

To complement the exhibition, the Museum also will present a program, “The Stars of 1609” on Saturdays, May 2 and 30 and June 6 and 13 at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Participants will peer through the ages to see the night sky as it looked to Henry Hudson and his crew in 1609. There also will be a discussion about the navigational techniques of European explorers, their tools and equipment and 17th-century astronomy. The program is free but visitors must obtain tickets at the Museum’s front lobby desk.

The New York State Museum is a cultural program of the New York State Education Department. Founded in 1836, the museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the U.S. The State Museum is located on Madison Avenue in Albany. It is open daily 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.

History of Slavery in New York Discussion Today


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Historian Alan Singer, a professor of education at Hofstra University, will address “Time to Teach the Truth: The History of Slavery in New York State,” during a daylong series of talks and workshops at SUNY Cortland and at Cortland Junior-Senior High School on Wednesday, March 4.

“Most Americans are aware of the more than two century-long history of slavery in our country,” explained Keith Smith, director of the Educational Opportunity Program and one of the event organizers. “Most, however, consider slavery to have been limited to the South. Dr. Singer is an expert on the many facets of slavery in the Empire State, and how to teach about them. He is eager to discuss his work with colleagues and students.”

A drop-in discussion session will be held between 9:30-11:30 a.m. in Old Main, Room 127, for any educators, would-be educators, and others interested in conversing with Singer and viewing his teaching materials. Singer will speak on the history of slavery in New York state during a sandwich seminar, which is free and open to the public, at 12:30 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.

He will conduct a workshop on teaching about slavery from 3-4 p.m. at Cortland Junior-Senior High School. For information about attending that event, please contact Karen Hempson, coordinator of the Professional Development School, a SUNY Cortland-Cortland Public Schools initiative, at (607) 753-4209 or by e-mail at: karen.hempson@cortland.edu.

At the Hofstra University School of Education and Allied Human Services, Singer is a professor of secondary education and the director of social studies education. A former New York City high school social studies teacher, he is editor of Social Science Docket, a joint publication of the New York State and New Jersey Councils for the Social Studies. His books include New York and Slavery, Time to Teach the Truth and Social Studies for Secondary Schools (Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates, 2nd edition, 2003).

Singer, who earned a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Rutgers University, is the author and editor of New York and Slavery: Complicity and Resistance, a 268-page secondary school curriculum guide.

The daylong events are being sponsored by a combination of College and community groups. The College sponsors are: Africana Studies Department; Center for Gender and Multicultural Studies; Dean of Arts and Sciences Office; Dean of Education Office; Education Club; Educational Opportunity Program; History Department; President’s Office and the Provost’s Office. The community sponsors include the Cortland Junior-Senior High School Department of Social Studies, the Professional Development School, and the Wilkins Foundation.

Fort Ticonderoga Financial Crisis May Spread


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The Associated Press is reporting that the New York State Board of Regents, which oversees museums in the state, may change their policy to allow museums to sell their collections in order to pay back debt. The change is a result of Fort Ticonderoga’s recent financial troubles. Here is a clip from the story:

The state Board of Regents started working on an “emergency amendment” to the rules governing how museums can manage collections because it appeared that Fort Ticonderoga, a historic site and museum in northern New York, was on the verge of bankruptcy, said James Dawson, chairman of the board’s Cultural Education Committee… State rules currently require museums to use the money from such sales only to buy other works or enhance their collections.

The emergency amendment would allow museums to sell off works to pay down debt if they can show that they have no other way to raise the money and would otherwise go bankrupt. The museums also would only be allowed to sell the works to another museum or historical society in New York.

The Board was to have taken up the amendment at a meeting Monday but Dawson — who represents northern New York on the Board of Regents — said he withdrew the proposal Thursday, partly because Fort Ticonderoga was able to raise enough money to stay out of bankruptcy court.

The plan has come to light just two weeks after the National Academy in Manhattan (not subject to the Board of Regents) sold off two Hudson River School paintings. Other cultural institutions in the state are also facing financial hardships that have been reported here at the New York History blog, including local libraries and Amsterdam’s Elwood Museum. Last month Fort Ticonderoga laid-off four employees and closed an office building (BTW, the Smithsonian is also facing financial hardship and recently cut salaries).

It was announced in July that Fort Ticonderoga faced financial ruin after Deborah Mars, a Ticonderoga native married to the billionaire co-owner of the Mars candy company Forrest Mars Jr., bailed on their long-time support for the fort just before completion of the new $23 million Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. The Mars paid for nearly all of the new building’s construction but left before it was finished leaving Fort Ti about two million dollars in debt. When the building bearing their name opened, they didn’t show.

Other options that have been floated include applying for new short-term loans, a new capital campaign to raise $3 million to $5 million, asking the state for a bailout or to take over ownership of the fort, selling of some of the fort’s property or collections or closing for an indefinite period until the finances are sorted out.
Coincidentally, Ticonderoga was also considering selling a Hudson River School painting, Thomas Cole’s 1831 “Ruins of Fort Ticonderoga.”

According to the Associated Press:

Anne Ackerson, director of the Museum Association of New York, said her group was among those opposing the idea of allowing museums to sell their collections to pay debts. While it might be a short-term fix for some museums’ financial problems, it might dissuade others from seeking other solutions when money gets tight, she said.

The Board of Regents rules governing the sale of museum holdings were established in the early 1990s when the New York Historical Society faced financial problems.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Queens Democrat who chaired an investigative committee at the time, said he was happy to hear the Board of Regents had withdrawn the emergency amendment proposal but remained concerned that they might still try to tweak other parts of the rules that define what qualifies as part of a museum’s collection.

Brodsky said he urged the Regents to hold off on making any changes until after a more thorough review involving museums, the Legislature and others with an interest.

The New Jersey Forum: New Research in NJ Studies


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Although this is a blog of New York History, occasionally we’ll make announcements about regional events that New York historians might have interest in.

The New Jersey Forum: New Research in New Jersey Studies will be held Saturday, November 22, 2008 at the Trenton Marriott Hotel. The event is sponsored by the New Jersey Historical Commission, the NJ State Archives, and the New Jersey State Museum

Registration information and a preliminary program of events is available via word document here.

Expected sessions include:

Hope, Fear and Pestilence: Public Health in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century New Jersey

Newsprint, Fear, and the Cholera: A History of the 1832 Cholera Outbreaks in New Jersey (Margaret Charleroy, University of Minnesota )

The 1918 Influenza Outbreak in New Jersey (Jennifer Harmsen, Hillsborough Middle School + Rutgers-NJIT History Department)

Pestilence Across the Delaware: New Jersey and the Yellow Fever Epidemics of the 1790s (Sandra Moss, New Jersey Medical History Society)

Interpreting a Preserved Landscape: New Jersey Museums and Architecture

New Solutions for House Museums (Donna Ann Harris, Heritage Consulting, Inc.)

Take Any Exit: The Colonial Revival in New Jersey (Harriette Hawkins, independent scholar)

Telling the Straight Story: Truth & Fiction in Building Interpretation (Margaret Westfield, Westfield Architects)

Suburban Stories: Place and Race in Twentieth-Century New Jersey

Extremely Suburban: Narratives from 20th-Century Princeton (Michael H. Ebner, James D. Vail III Professor of History, Emeritus, Lake Forest College)

African American Suburbanization and Racial Politics in Pre-World War II Montclair
(Patricia Hampson, Rutgers University)

A National “Black Brain Center” in Post-WWII Fort Monmouth, NJ (Melissa Ziobro, staff historian, U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command, Fort Monmouth, NJ)

Parks and Bonapartes: Landscapes of 19th and 20th century New Jersey

“He Will be a Bourgeois American and Spend his Fortune in Making Gardens”: A Preliminary Examination of Joseph Bonaparte’s Point Breeze Estate, Bordentown, New Jersey (Richard Veit, Department of History and Anthropology, Monmouth University)

The Development of Branch Brook Park – America’s First County Park (Kathleen Galop, Preservation Possibilities)

Morristown: A Cultural Landscape Study (Gillian Acheson, Department of Geography, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville)

Revolutionary Women: Female Education and Political Activism in Early New Jersey

“A More Accurate and Extensive Education than is Customary”: Educational Opportunities for Women in Early Nineteenth-Century New Jersey (Lucia McMahon, William Paterson University)

The Ladies of Trenton: Women’s Political and Public Activism in Revolutionary New Jersey (Catherine Hudak, Morris Hills High School, Rockaway, NJ)

“Working for the Slave as a Mother would Work for her Children”: Abigail Goodwin and the Anti-slavery Movement in New Jersey (Bruce Scherer, Project Archivist/Librarian, Salem County Historical Society, Salem, NJ)

Eighteenth-Century New Jersey Families

From London Publisher to American Farmer: Benjamin Clarke and his Diary of East New Jersey (Robert Craig, Historic Preservation Office, NJ Department of Environmental Protection)

Black and White Together? Slavery and Freedom in Upper Freehold Township from the Colonial Period to the Early Republic (Sue Kozel, Independent scholar)

Vital History: What Two Generations of a Loyalist Family Reveals About the American Revolution (Donald Sherblom, President, 1759 Vought House, Inc.)