While recently investigating the dismal record of the Amistad Commission, I came across the Underground Railroad portion of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (State Parks) – there I found reference to the New York State Freedom Trail, which began as a state project with similarly high hopes and followed the same trajectory to substandard results.
According to the State Parks webpage: “The New York State Freedom Trail Act of 1997 proposed the establishment of a Freedom Trail Commission to plan and implement a New York State Freedom Trail program to commemorate these acts of freedom and to foster public understanding of their significance in New York State history and heritage.”
Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, has announced that historian Eric Foner will be awarded with New-York Historical’s annual American History Book Prize for Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015). The award recognizes the best book of the year in the field of American history or biography.
Professor Foner will receive a $50,000 cash award, an engraved medal, and the title of American Historian Laureate, which will be presented on April 8, 2016. The ceremony is part of New-York Historical’s Chairman’s Council Weekend with History, a two-day event featuring an array of speakers discussing important historical events that have impacted New York City and the nation. Continue reading
Between the 1830s and 1860s, a clandestine communications and transportation network called the “Underground Railroad” helped thousands of slaves escape to freedom.
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we investigate this secret network with Eric Foner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad (W.W. Norton & Co., 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/059
The annual New York State History Conference, held at the end of June at Niagara University, demonstrated once again the robust diversity of the state’s historical community and its research, projects, and initiatives. There were many interesting sessions but I wanted to share impressions of five particularly interesting and important themes.
Cooperation. Paul D’Ambrosio, President of the New York State Historical Association, in welcoming conference attendees, emphasized the essential role of cooperation in sponsoring, organizing, and managing the conference. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features an interview with Tom Calarco, who has written six books on the Underground Railroad. Calarco and Don Papson are co authors of Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City: Sydney Howard Gay, Louis Napoleon and The Record of Fugitives. (McFarland, 2015). Listen at “The Historians” online archive here.
The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has opened a new exhibit titled “John Henry & the Baltimores of Troy.” The exhibit is free and open to the public.
“John Henry & the Baltimores of Troy” features over a dozen 19th century photographs of the Henry family who lived in Whitehall, New York. The photographs were re-discovered a few years ago at the Whitehall Library when Clifford Oliver, a photographer who lives in Greenwich, NY, was alerted to their existence. The photos tell the story of the Henry family who were related by marriage to the prominent abolitionist Baltimore family of Troy, NY. Some of the individuals are identified and others are awaiting further research to connect names to their faces. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features Don Papson of Plattsburgh, one of the founders of the North Star Underground Railroad Museum. Papson and Tom Colarco are co-authors of Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City: Sydney Howard Gay, Louis Napoleon and the Record of Fugitives(McFarland, 2015). Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
The 14th Annual Underground Railroad Public History Conference, “Breaking Free: Civil War, Emancipation, and Beyond,” will take place April 17-19, 2015 at Russell Sage College in Troy, NY.
“The Civil Rights Movement: Teaching with Common Core and the NYS Social Studies Framework, in the Shadow of Ferguson, Missouri,” by Alan Singer of Hofstra University, starts off the conference weekend at The Educators’ Workshop, at which anyone interested in the topic is welcome. Continue reading
The National Park Service, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program and friends, will host the 2015 National Underground Railroad Conference in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, June 17-20, 2015.
The theme for this year’s conference is “Into the Light: Striving for Freedom and ‘an equal chance in the battle of life’”. The conference hopes to explore the transition from enslavement to freedom before, during, and after the Civil War, commemorate the sesquicentennial of the end of the Civil War, and the adoption of the 13th Amendment. Continue reading
The new book, Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City (McFarland, 2015), offers first person accounts of the clandestine efforts to help escaping slaves. Drawing on never-before-published Record of Fugitives kept by newspaper editor and abolitionist Sydney Howard Gay, the book provides vivid detail of the lives of Underground Railroad agents, and the harrowing journey that African-Americans undertook to free themselves from slavery.
The co-authors are steeped in this history. Don Papson was founding president of the North Star Underground Railroad Museum in Ausable Chasm, responsible for much of the research that brought the Champlain Line of the freedom trail to light. Tom Calarco is author of three other books on the topic, including The Underground Railroad in the Adirondack Region. Continue reading