Kurt Vonnegut, the renowned author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, and Cat’s Cradle, spent an important part of his life in Schenectady. The region influenced his work, and Schenectady appears as the setting for many of his stories, including the novel Player Piano.
K.A. Laity will discuss Vonnegut’s time in Schenectady – as a PR man for General Electric, and as a volunteer fire fighter – and the region’s legacy in his work on Saturday, April 11th at 2 pm at Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction. The vent is part of the “It Came From Schenectady: Science Fiction in the Capital Region” exhibit series. Continue reading
Presented by Robert Pascucci, Ph.D., will present “Electric City Immigrants: Italians and Poles of Schenectady, 1880-1930″, on Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 2 pm at the Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady.
Dr. Pascucci’s presentation will focus on the two largest immigrant groups, Italian and Polish, that settled in Schenectady during its period of rapid economic growth that was fueled largely by General Electric and the American Locomotive Company. How these two immigrant groups adjusted to the city will be examined, as well as the impact that the new arrivals had on Schenectady. Continue reading
Historian Craig Williams will present a program entitled “The Impact of the Erie Canal on Immigration to Schenectady” at Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction on Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 2 pm.
With the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, some Schenectadians falsely believed that users of the canal would bypass the city without stopping. Instead, the Erie Canal brought Schenectady and other cities across New York State waves of new settlers, immigrants, and workers. The Erie Canal attracted new communities from foreign lands to Schenectady, helping to establish its ethnically diverse heritage. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features Maria Riccio Bryce, the composer of the musical Hearts of Fire, a work that commemorated the 300th anniversary of the burning of Schenectady by the French and their Indian allies in 1690. The production was staged in 1990 and 1991. Bryce is now re-releasing the CD of the original cast recording. Featuring a cast of 60, the work is a powerful re-telling of the early struggles and sacrifices made by Schenectady’s first inhabitants. The CDs are available at Proctors Gift Shop and The Open Door in Schenectady and at Old Peddlers Wagon and The Bookhound in Amsterdam. Alternatively, CDs may be purchased by sending Maria Riccio Bryce a check for $21 to P.O. Box 66, Amsterdam, N.Y. 12010. Bryce is also the composer of two other major works, Mother I’m Here and the Amsterdam Oratorio. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
This week on “The Historians” podcast, Jeff Wilkin from the Daily Gazette in Schenectady discusses his long-running Monday morning history picture feature, “Capital Region Scrapbook”. Dan Weaver of Historic Amsterdam League promotes the League’s contest to find the oldest house in Amsterdam that has not been converted to another use. And hear highlights from my final radio show on WVTL in Amsterdam after a ten-year run.
Listen to the program at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
This week on “The Historians”, retired history professor and Schenectady County native Julia Kirk Blackwelder discusses her most recent book Electric City: General Electric in Schenectady. Blackwelder is an emerita professor at Texas A&M University, where she previously served as head of the history department. She currently lives in Ballston, New York.
Listen to the interview at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
The Schenectady County Historical Society will present a talk, “Electric City: General Electric in Schenectady”, which explores the history of General Electric in Schenectady from the company’s creation in 1892 to the present.
Julia Kirk Blackwelder draws on company records as well as other archival and secondary sources and personal interviews to produce an engaging and multi-layered history of General Electric’s workplace culture and its effects on community life. Her research demonstrates how business and community histories intersect, and her nuanced look at race, gender, and class sets a standard for corporate history. Continue reading
This week on “The Historians”, Jerry Snyder of Historic Amsterdam (N.Y.) League on their Ghosts of the Past Tour; Barry Wygel of Time Warner Cable News on the 100th anniversary of the Glove Theatre in Gloversville; my story of two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, one black and one white, who fought in the Civil War
In the second half of the show I talk with Angela Cave, author of the book Keeping Time, the remarkable story of 98-year old drummer Fred Randall from Schenectady.
Listen to the whole program at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
The 2014-2015 series Exploring Schenectady’s Immigrant Past at the Schenectady County Historical Society will celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Schenectady County and will explore the history and significance of immigration in the region.
As part of the series, SCHS is has announced a Call for Submissions for its upcoming community-curated art exhibit, Where Do You Come From. The exhibit, made possible in part by a grant from the Schenectady County Initiative Project, will explore the wide range of cultures that makes up Schenectady County today. Community members, local artists, and students are all invited to submit their artwork, including but not limited to paintings, collages, photography, sculpture, or whichever medium best answers the title question. Continue reading
In a new biography being released in October by SUNY Press, The Last Amateur: The Life of William J. Stillman, author Stephen L. Dyson tells the story of William J. Stillman (1828–1901), a nineteenth-century polymath. Born and raised in Schenectady, NY, Stillman attended Union College and began his career as a Hudson River School painter after an apprenticeship with Frederic Edwin Church.
In the 1850s, he was editor of The Crayon, the most important journal of art criticism in antebellum America. Later, after a stint as an explorer-promoter of the Adirondacks, he became the American consul in Rome during the Civil War. When his diplomatic career brought him to Crete, he developed an interest in archaeology and later produced photographs of the Acropolis, for which he is best known today. Continue reading
My first foray into local history was in 2000 when Steve Dunn and I co-produced the WMHT television documentary “Historic Views of the Carpet City: Amsterdam, N.Y.” Amsterdam is my home town. That same year my first book came out, self published. “You Can’t Go Wrong: Stories from Nero, N.Y. and Other Tales” was a compilation of satirical newspaper columns I had written for the Troy Record and Daily Gazette of Schenectady about Nero, a mythical Upstate New York city settled after all the good classical names such as Troy, Utica and Syracuse had been taken. Nero is a place so negative that “I don’t blame you” is a compliment.
In 2000 I pitched the Daily Gazette on doing “Focus on History”, stories from Montgomery and Fulton Counties. The column ran every other week until 2004 when it became a weekly fixture of the Saturday paper. Until his death last year, the column was edited by the Gazette’s incisive city editor Irv Dean. Continue reading
John Gabriel and Rick Kelly, two cousins who grew up together listening to radio in the Capital Region, have written one of Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series books entitled Capital Region Radio 1920-2011. The book tells the history of Albany region radio programs and personalities from its early days to recent years through more than 200 vintage images.
The General Electric Company, with one of its main plants in Schenectady, began experimental broadcasts in conjunction with Union College in the early 1900s. Using many culled from the miSci Museum in Schenectady, and others, this new pictorial history shares the story of when WGY officially began broadcasting in February 1922 and General Electric started a long and storied history of pioneering radio technology and programming, which ultimately set the pace for worldwide broadcast development. Capital Region Radio pioneer WGY provided entertainment and news nationally during World War II, WTRY kept listeners updated during the blackout of 1965 and WOKO introduced rock and roll to the area. Continue reading
At 2 pm on Saturday, April 12, 2014 the Schenectady County Historical Society will present a talk by Frank Keetz, “Professional Baseball in Schenectady, 1895-1904: A Fascinating Footnote in Local History”
Frank Keetz has written several publications about sports in the Schenectady area, including They, Too, Were ‘Boys of Summer:’ A Case Study of the Schenectady Blue Jays in the Eastern League 1951-1957, Class ‘C’ Baseball: A Case Study of the Schenectady Blue Jays in the Canadian-American League, 1946-1950, and The Mohawk Colored Giants of Schenectady. Continue reading
In the 1800s, free blacks were sometimes lured from the safety of their hometowns, abducted, and sold into slavery. This happened to Solomon Northup, whose story is told in the film “12 Years a Slave.”
But several other black New Yorkers, from various parts of the state, were also kidnapped. Once they were taken to a slave state, their chances of returning home were small. But some victims, like Northup, were rescued from slavery, and their kidnappers were held accountable for their deeds. This presentation will tell their stories. Continue reading
“Who Were the Adirondackers?” a five-part “lunch and learn” series exploring the social history of the Adirondacks with Hallie Bond, will be held at Union College’s Kelly Adirondack Center in Schenectady, beginning Monday, Jan. 13.
Bond was a staff member of the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake for 30 years. Her writing on regional history and material culture has appeared in a number of scholarly journals, magazines and books. She lives in Long Lake with her husband, author and boat builder Mason Smith. Continue reading
Sarah Jones will present and discuss her National History Day website, “‘The City that Kept a Secret': How ALCO’s M7 Turned the Tide in North Africa” on Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.at the Schenectady County Historical Society in Schenectady.
ALCO was an important producer of locomotives and tanks for the war. During the first four years of the war, ALCO produced more product than it had in the first twenty-five years of the 20th century. In 1940, the Schenectady plant received a contract to build medium tanks and the company become the first to produce a satisfactory M3 “General Lee” for the army. Continue reading
The American Civil War represents the first time that a staggering number of women, from both the North and the South, disguised themselves as soldiers to fight for their country. Lisa Potocar present a program about these women and their motivations at Schenectady County Historical Society September 12th.
Lisa Potocar was born and raised in Upstate New York. Potocar’s historical novel about female Civil War soldiers, Sweet Glory, won First Place in the Young Adult category of the 2009 Maryland Writers’ Association’s and SouthWest Writers’ Novel Contests. It also advanced as a semi-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough (YA) Novel Awards. Continue reading
One of my favorite movie scenes is from Working Girl when Melanie Griffith explains while riding up the elevator with Trask and Indiana, how she came up with the idea for the corporate merger. It wasn’t as if she had been thinking about anything even remotely related to it. Her insight derived from a chance juxtaposition perceived by a mind willing to learn and open to new possibilities. Continue reading
The Schenectady County Historical Society will host photographer Geoffrey Gross as he discusses his latest book, which features hidden jewels by the masters of twentieth-century modernist architecture in New England.
Tomorrow’s Houses is a richly photographed presentation of the best modernist houses in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, built during the early twentieth century through the 1960s. Continue reading
Clarissa Putman, the jilted lover of Sir John Johnson, son of William Johnson, has been the subject of much Mohawk Valley mythology over the years.
The Schenectady County Historical Society (SCHS, 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady) will host a talk on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. by Peter Betz entitled The Life of Clarissa Putman to sort out fact from fiction by providing a non-fictional mini-biography of her life based on reliable sources. Continue reading