In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to attend and participate in three regional and county history community meetings. These included the annual meeting of the Greater Hudson Heritage Network; a meeting of Region 3 (mainly the Hudson Valley) of the Association of Public Historians in New York State (APHNYS); and the Sullivan County History Conference
These three meetings provided opportunities to meet with colleagues, discuss important issues, and learn what’s happening. What follows are some highlights from those meetings. Continue reading
There’s a crisis in historical societies and historic house museums across the nation. Membership dues and visitation are in decline. The costs of maintaining buildings and collections is exhausting resources.
Volunteers are under pressure to digitize archives and make resources more widely available to the public without having the expertise or budgetary supports that would be necessary to do so. Exhibits and programming are stagnant while trustees work tirelessly to triage the symptoms. And the public is largely unaware of the treasures that these institutions have to offer. Continue reading
Heritage tourism is a new name for an old concept. As an archaeology student in Greece, I remember seeing Lord Byron’s name carved on the Temple of Poseidon. His mark among the hundreds of forgotten names reminds us of the well-established motif of traveling to the classical world as part of the Grand Tour. The German word “Bildungsreisen,” used among the nineteenth century elite in Europe, described travel for educational and cultural enlightenment. Continue reading
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has cut down the Balmville Tree, a historic and unusually large Eastern Cottonwood tree that has been growing since before 1699 in Balmville, a hamlet in Town of Newburgh, Orange County. The tree sat at the intersection of River Road, Commonwealth Avenue and Balmville Road at a place commonly known as the Balmville Tree Circle. It was believed to be the oldest eastern cottonwood tree in America.
DEC issued a statement to the press saying the tree was deemed “an immediate threat to passing traffic” by DEC and Newburgh officials, “due to its deteriorated condition and a greatly expanded crack”. The statement said DEC consulted with a professional arborist who inspected the tree and found it to be an extremely high risk to public safety and recommended removal. Continue reading
Blink and another house is bulldozed. Most don’t even notice, so I’d like to tell you the story of what happened in my backyard. Unfortunately, it does not have a happy ending.
In Rosalie Fellows Bailey’s Pre-Revolutionary Dutch Houses and Families in Northern New Jersey and Southern New York, the Lent House (built in 1752) is linked to Abraham de Ryck, one of the earliest settlers in New Amsterdam. The house was built by or for Abraham Lent, who served as Colonel of the First Regiment of Militia of Fort Orangetown during the American Revolution. Continue reading
Jurassic World, showcases the plight of executive directors of destination tourist sites in continually developing newer and more exciting exhibits to attract an increasingly bored public. The exhibits at Jurassic World are even more thrilling than our best American Revolution or Civil War reenactments. Continue reading
William E. Mapes, a native of Florida, New York, volunteered in the summer of 1862 to save the Union. In this he was no different from any of the 300,000 men who signed up to fight in a war they had expected to be already over. President Lincoln and the loyal governors of the North called upon the eligible male population to enlist before conscription began. If they did so, they could serve with friends and neighbors in a regiment commanded by men they had known most of their lives. Continue reading
James Eldridge Quinlan’s History of Sullivan County is generally regarded as one of the most thorough and entertainingly written local histories. Published in 1873, Quinlan’s history is the undisputed bible of Sullivan County’s past, and yet it is not without its shortcomings. Some have criticized what they view as his selective exclusion of material – he does not, for instance, write much about the Civil War, and it has been said that this was because he was a Copperhead, or a southern sympathizer. And each year in March, Women’s History Month, we are reminded that he afforded minimal space in his writings to the women of the era.
That makes the few women he does write about stand out even more than they might otherwise, and no woman receives greater praise from Quinlan than Phebe Reynolds Drake. Continue reading
On March 19, 2015 at 7 pm, renowned authority on Civil War medicine Carolyn Ivanoff will present a lecture entitled “Myths, Maggots, Minie Balls, Gangrene and Glory”. Ivanoff will explain, among other things, how Civil War surgeons saved lives despite horrific conditions and discuss the subjects of nineteenth century hygiene, military medical practices and surgical innovations. Continue reading
AT&T has given a $20,000 contribution to support the conservation and digitization of documents burned in the 1911 New York Capitol Fire.
The documents are expected to be conserved and digitized are badly fire damaged and contain information about life in the Hudson Valley in the 1700s, primarily in Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange counties. They have been unavailable to the public since 1911; no timetable for online public access has been announced. Continue reading
Even those who are not particularly astute observers of the current battle for casino licenses have recognized that the struggle has devolved into one in which some of those in the running have resorted to pointing out how desperate they are.
Sullivan and Ulster Counties seem to be in the lead in this dubious category, and although it will likely be worth it if it lands a casino for one or both, it remains to be seen what the long term impact of such reverse promotion will be, especially if no casinos are forthcoming. Continue reading
The Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS), Region 3, will hold its 2014 meeting on Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 9:45 am to 2:00 pm at the Westchester County historical Society, 2199 Saw Mill River Road, Elmsford, NY. Region 3 includes Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester, Rockland, and Orange counties.
Registration for the 2014 APHNYS Region 3 Meeting should be mailed to: Suzanne Isaksen, APHNYS Region 3 Coordinator, 10 Windrift Lane, Walden, NY 12586-1524. Include the names and titles (e.g. “Town of Montgomery Historian”) of attendees, along with telephone and e-mail contact information. A fee of $10.00 per person is being charged to help defray costs of lunch and refreshments. Make checks payable to APHNYS. Continue reading
Sunday, June 22nd, marks the opening of a new exhibit by the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands entitled “Made in Newburgh”.
The exhibit, which shares its title with the theme of this year’s Newburgh Illuminated Festival, aims to highlight the manufacturing history of Newburgh. Between 1:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. visitors can expect to be welcomed by the Society’s members as they glimpse into the history of the city’s industries and how they shaped Newburgh. Continue reading
The Revolutionary War spy drama “Turn” on the AMC cable TV network is a much fictionalized version of the activities of a real life American patriot, Ben Tallmadge who headed the “Culper Spy Ring” based on Long Island.
However, Westchester and the surrounding counties of Dutchess, Orange and Putnam have their own connection to Revolutionary War espionage story in the persons of John Jay, Elijah Hunter, and Enoch Crosby. Continue reading
It is time for New York State to boldly go where no state has gone before and go back to the future to resurrect the now extinct mastodon. The effort to bring the mammoth back from extinction recently was the cover article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.
Russia and Japan are working to create mammoths. New York should not be left behind in the de-extinction race. I hereby challenge Governor Cuomo to launch a new “Manhattan Project” so we are the first to bring the paleolithic era to life through the creation of Mastodon Park, our own Ice Age animal, the mastodon. Continue reading
Teaching the Hudson Valley (THV) is has announced the results of its third annual K-12 “Writing about Place” contest. In the coming weeks many of the poems and essays submitted will be published on THV’s blog.
In addition, the following top-scoring authors will host their classmates as they visit the places they wrote about. Continue reading
The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay & the Highlands will host a fifty-year retrospective recalling the 1960’s conflict over a plan to curb welfare costs to help meet the city’s financial struggles. The decision sparked a national debate that became known as the “Battle of Newburgh.”
In August 1961 a national Gallup poll revealed 85% support for the Newburgh City Council’s 13 point plan to balance the city budget by reforming requirements for individuals to receive payments from the welfare relief program. Two months later, the State of New York ordered a permanent injunction, effectively ending the City of Newburgh’s attempts to curb welfare costs. Continue reading
The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor will commemorate the 95th Anniversary of the Assault on the Hindenburg Line, September 29, 1918 on Sunday, September 29th at 2:00 p.m. The assault was an opening salvo in what is often called the Hundred Days Offensive on the Western Front at the end of World War I.
The Allied attack on the German line was made to push the Germans east. Among the heavily engaged units of the 27th Division was the 107th Regiment, many of whose members were from Orange County. Thirty-nine Orange County men lost their lives and many more were wounded on the first day of the assault. Continue reading
The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor will commemorate the 60th Anniversary of end of the fighting in Korea at 2:00 PM on July 27, 2013. The program will present written recollections and thoughts of Korean War Purple Heart recipients and will be followed by a screening of the film Chosin a film produced by two Marine veterans. Continue reading