Tag Archives: World War Two

Poltics, War, and Personality:
50 Iconic World War II Documents


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Politics-War-and-Personality-Fifty-Iconic-World-War-II-Documents-That-Changed-the-World-HardcoverAuthor Kenneth W. Rendell has gathered 50 of the most important and iconic documents of World War II in Poltics, War, and Personality: Fifty Iconic World War II Documents that Changed the World (Whitman Publishing; 2014).

With the assistance of more than 150 archival images and photographs, Rendell tells the stories of these documents which foreshadowed, announced, or altered the course of war. The book features a foreword by the late John S.D. Eisenhower, son of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Continue reading

The Notable Naval Service of Robert S. Haggart


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RSHaggart 01 NYHMuch of the time spent honoring past members of the military is focused on heroes, or those who died in battle. It’s certainly appropriate, but often lost in the shuffle are individuals who survived unscathed after serving with great distinction. An excellent North Country example is Robert Haggart, who made a career of military service, was known nationally, commanded tens of thousands of men, and was responsible for training vast numbers of naval recruits.

Robert Stevenson Haggart was born in April 1891 to Benjamin and Annie (Russell) Haggart of Salem, New York, in Washington County. After finishing school at the age of 17, he received an appointment to the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Continue reading

The New School To Celebrate The University in Exile


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emigremtgSMThe Center for Public Scholarship at The New School in New York City is hosting a free public event celebrating the University in Exile, on Thursday, January 30, 2014.

The University in Exile was created by The New School’s first president, Alvin Johnson, as a haven for scholars whose careers and lives were threatened in Germany in 1933, when the Nazi Party came to power and acted to expel all Jews and political opponents from German universities. Continue reading

Remembering The Christmas of 1945


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1945 Ad Welcome Home VetsAmong the finest Christmas seasons in America’s long history took place in 1945. We’re constantly bombarded with how special the holidays are, so it’s tough for any one year to stand out as extra special, but 1945 makes the list.

Events across the Adirondacks that year epitomized the nation’s attitude. Surprisingly, it wasn’t all about celebrating, even though the most destructive war in history had just ended a few months earlier. We often mumble mindlessly that we’re proud to be Americans. But the first post-World War II Christmas was the real deal, worthy of the word “pride.”

To set the scene, consider the events that had transpired at that time. After being mired for a decade in the worst financial collapse in our history (the Great Depression), Americans had begun preparing for what seemed inevitable: joining the war in Europe. And then, between the Pearl Harbor attack and the war’s end four years later, hundreds of North Country boys and men were killed in action. Thousands more were injured or missing. Continue reading

Albany Institute to Host Veteran Newspaperman


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From Kristallmacht to Watergate coverThe Albany Institute of History & Art will host veteran newspaperman and Albany Times Union editor at large, Harry Rosenfeld, for a lecture about his recent book, From Kristallnacht to Watergate: Memoirs of a Newspaperman on Sunday, December 15 at 2PM.

Rosenfeld will recount some of the most compelling moments of his life, from his childhood in Hitler’s Berlin, to his years at the Washington Post. After the lecture, Rosenfeld will be available to answer questions about the historic events he witnessed and he will also sign copies of his book. The lecture and book signing is organized by the Museum Shop at the Albany Institute of History & Art and is free with museum admission. Continue reading

ALCO WWII History Program Planned For Schenectady


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Army Navy PosterSarah 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

New Online Collections Related to New York History


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heathHere’s a quick look at some of the latest New York history resources to hit the web:

The University of Rochester has posted an online archive of over 6,000 AIDS information/activism posters. “The posters provide a visual history of the first three decades of the HIV/AIDS crisis from 1981 to the present. Depending on their audience, creators of the posters used stereotypes, scare tactics, provocative language, imagery, and even humor to educate the public about the disease.” The project was launched in 2011 and includes posters from 124 countries in 68 languages and dialects. It’s available online at http://aep.lib.rochester.edu/. Continue reading

The Battle of Plattsburgh and Pearl Harbor Connection


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USS Cassin Pearl HarborThe anniversary of the Battle of Plattsburgh passed recently (it was fought September 11, 1814), and this week, the anniversary of another famous American battle is noted: the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Within the military, both engagements are held in the highest regard as critical moments in American history, and oddly enough, the two have an unusual link of sorts.

I discovered this several years ago while working on one of my earlier publications, The Battle of Plattsburgh Question & Answer Book. What I found was not earth-shattering stuff, but instead more of an “I’ll be darned!” moment that happened during research. Continue reading

Student Historians Exhibit:
WWII Photography and Propaganda


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WWII & NYC at Governors IslandFrom unearthing black-and-white photos of New York Harbor to planting an authentic Victory Garden, New-York Historical Society high school Student Historians paint a vivid picture of World War II-era New York in WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda, a new exhibition on Governors Island.

Installed within a 19th-century home previously used by military officers during World War II and other conflicts, the exhibition prompts visitors to consider a time when virtually every aspect of New York life was transformed to support Allied victory. WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda will be on view with hands-on activities for families on Saturdays and Sundays from July 13 through September 2. Continue reading

New York City: What Is Your World War Two Story?


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When the New-York Historical Society set out to create its WWII & NYC exhibit, we knew that personal histories would be an important part of our presentation and our approach to soliciting visitor responses. Many visitors would have served on the home front or war fronts, or experienced the “War Emergency” as children. Others would have heard stories from their parents and grandparents. Continue reading

Four Freedoms Park, NY State’s Newest, Opens


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The newest New York state park, located on Roosevelt Island in the East River New York City, has opened. Four Freedoms Park, which is New York’s 214th state park, is tribute to the life and work of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a former governor of New York State who as President led our nation out of the Great Depression and guided America during World War II. The Park opened to the public on October 24.

The four-acre park is the last design of the iconic American architect Louis I. Kahn – the only design by Kahn in New York City. The park features a granite plaza at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, tree-lined paths and a bronze bust of Roosevelt by acclaimed portrait sculptor Jo Davidson.

The name of the park refers to a speech delivered by President Roosevelt on January 6, 1941, in which he described his vision for a world founded on four essential human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
 
The Park has been decades in the making. Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Mayor Lindsay announced the project in 1973, appointing Kahn as its architect; Kahn died unexpectedly shortly after completing the Park’s plans and the City of New York’s financial troubles dampened momentum for the project. More than 30 years later, former Ambassador to the United Nations William vanden Heuvel and the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy spearheaded a philanthropic effort to revive the park, enabling construction to begin in 2010.

The Park will offer a free interactive digital educational resource that visitors will be able to access on any mobile device. It will provide a multi-media narrative critical to understanding President Roosevelt’s significance, and was designed with the encouragement of the National Endowment for the Humanities with the help of historians and FDR scholars. For more information visit: http://www.fdrfourfreedomspark.org/

With the addition of Four Freedoms, the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation operates 179 state parks and 35 historic sites. Four Freedoms will be the first new State Park in New York City since East River State Park opened in Brooklyn in 2007 and the first new State Park in the state since the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park opened outside of Poughkeepsie in 2009. Park maintenance, programming and security will be provided cooperatively by State Parks, Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation.

Longshore Soldiers: Life in a WWII Port Battalion


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The Schenectady County Historical Society will host a book talk and signing entitled “Longshore Soldiers: Life in a WWII Port Battalion” by Andrew Brozyna on Saturday, October 13, 2012, at 2 pm.

Brozyna will discuss the World War Two experiences of Schenectady native Cortland Hopkins and other area GIs who served with him – from welding tanks at ALCO, to storming the beach in Normandy, to braving V-bombs in Antwerp.

Brozyna’s book, Longshore Soldiers, chronicles the wartime experiences of port battalion veterans, part of the US Army’s Transportation Corps, responsible for ensuring military were delivered to the front line. Longshore Soldiers offers a compelling narrative, packed with first-hand accounts and personal histories, of an overlooked aspect of World War Two. The author examines how these veterans kept the Allied armies moving as they marched into the Reich.

Brozyna works in book publishing and is the grandson of Cortland Hopkins, a veteran of the 519th Port Battalion.

The cost is $5.00; Free for SCHS Members. For more information, contact Melissa Tacke, Librarian / Archivist at the Schenectady County Historical Society, by phone at 518-374-0263, option 3, or by email at librarian@schist.org. The Schenectady County Historical Society (SCHS), located at 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady, NY, is wheelchair accessible, with off-street parking behind the building and overflow parking next door at the YWCA.

New-York Historical’s World War Two in NYC Exhibit Opens


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The most widespread, destructive, and consequential conflict in history will be the subject of WWII & NYC, a major new exhibition now on view at the New-York Historical Society through May 27, 2013. Restoring to memory New York’s crucial and multifaceted role in winning the war, the exhibition commemorates the 900,000 New Yorkers who served in the military and also explores the ways in which those who remained on the home front contributed to the national war effort. Continue reading

On Dupont Circle: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt


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In On Dupont Circle: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Progressives Who Shaped Our World (2012, Counterpoint Press), Author James Srodes offers an inside and sometimes scandalous portrait of the twelve young men and women who made up the famous Dupont Circle Set.

Prize-winning author James Srodes offers a vivid and scintillating portrait of the twelve young men and women, who, on the eve of World War I, came together in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood. They were ambitious for personal and social advancement, and what bound them together was a sheer determination to remake America and the rest of the world in their progressive image. Continue reading

New Book: The Mafia at War


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The Mafia at War: The Shocking True Story of America’s Wartime Pact with Organized Crime (2012, Skyhorse Publishing) is a dramatic account of how a criminal organization exploited the grim realities of war to revive its fortunes and dominate global crime. Anyone with a passion or interest in World War II or the history of organized crime in America will find it engrossing reading.

Using firsthand testimonies and declassified intelligence reports, author Tim Newark (the author of several crime and military history books) traces the relationship between the Mafia, Hitler, and Mussolini, and tells the remarkable story of Mafia—Allied collaboration during World War II. For The Mafia at War, Newark also carried out archival research in London, New York, Washington, and Sicily.

Newark shows how Jewish gangsters clashed with Nazis on the streets of New York City; how Mafiosi nearly issued contracts to kill top Nazis, including Hitler; how British “Bobbies” patrolled the then deadly streets of Palermo; and how Mafia-backed bandits conducted a guerilla war for Sicilian independence including General Eisenhower’s arming of the Mafia during the invasion of Sicily.

Author Tim Newark is also the author of Boardwalk Gangster: The Real Lucky Luciano; Empire of Crime: Organised Crime in the British Empire; and Highlander. He has also worked as a TV scriptwriter and historical consultant, resulting in seven TV documentary series for BBC Worldwide and the History Channel, including the thirteen-part TV series Hitler’s Bodyguard. He contributes book reviews to the Financial Times. Visit www.timnewark.com.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

N-Y Historical Society Planning WWII & NYC Exhibit


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The most widespread, destructive, and consequential conflict in history will be the subject of WWII & NYC, a major new exhibition planned for the New-York Historical Society from October 5, 2012 through May 27, 2013. The exhibit is expected to feature New York City’s multifaceted role in the war, and commemorate the 800,000 New Yorkers who served in combat while also exploring the many ways in which those who remained on the home front contributed to the war effort. Continue reading

‘Churchill: The Power of Words’ Exhibit at the Morgan


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Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) is considered by some to be among the finest orators and writers of the twentieth century. His speeches galvanized Great Britain at its darkest hour during World War II, and his letters to President Franklin D. Roosevelt were instrumental in building support for the war effort from the United States, the country of Churchill’s mother’s birth. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 for his contribution to the written and spoken word, Churchill became an icon of the post-war age and an internationally recognized leader.

Churchill: The Power of Words, on view from June 8 through September 23, 2012 at The Morgan Library & Museum, hopes to bring to life the man behind the words through some sixty-five documents, artifacts, and recordings, ranging from edited typescripts of his speeches to his Nobel Medal and Citation to excerpts from his broadcasts made during the London blitz. Items in the exhibition are on loan from the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, as well as from Churchill’s house at Chartwell in Kent, which is administered by Britain’s National Trust.

The exhibition includes an audio-visual space where visitors may listen to Churchill’s major speeches, as well as an interactive timeline with touch screens that explores the context of Churchill’s broadcasts and writings with related images.

“Few modern statesmen have approached Sir Winston Churchill’s skill with the written and spoken word,” said William M. Griswold, director of The Morgan Library & Museum. “He made his name as a writer, he funded his political career with his pen, and he carefully crafted his words to serve as tools for international diplomacy and as patriotic symbols for a nation at war. This exhibition shows why words matter, and how they can make a difference for the better, and it is therefore particularly appropriate that the Morgan, with its extraordinary literary collections, should host this exhibition.”

The physical and intellectual heart of the exhibition is Churchill’s own voice, as recorded in some of the broadcasts that were received in the United States, and as set out on the page in his own annotated speaking notes. The exhibition highlights a number of the speeches that he made between October 1938, when Hitler began to dismember Czechoslovakia, and December 1941, when Pearl Harbor brought the United States fully into World War II.

Churchill’s broadcast to the United States on October 16, 1938 was made from the political wilderness, as he no longer held high political office in Britain, but is a powerful articulation of the need for the United States to become more engaged in Europe and to play a role in containing Hitler. It is also a clear statement of the power of words and ideas: “They [the dictators] are afraid of words and thoughts: words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home – all the more powerful because forbidden – terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.”

Churchill became Prime Minister on May 10, 1940, the very day the Germans launched the blitzkrieg offensive against France and the Low Countries. Within weeks, France had fallen, and Britain was facing the possibility of invasion. Churchill’s speeches during the aerial Battle of Britain and the German bombing campaign known as the ‘blitz,’ were composed and delivered at a time of extreme national emergency. Yet Churchill’s words were carefully chosen to deliver several messages simultaneously: maintaining British morale, while also sending a message of hope to occupied Europe, a message of defiance to the enemy, and an appeal for help to President Roosevelt and the people of the United States.

Churchill’s speech of September 11, 1940, is a dramatic example, and reaches across the years to another, more recent September 11. His response to the blitz bombing of London, which had begun two days earlier, was to invoke British history in order to send a personal message of defiance to Hitler, stating, “It ranks with the days when the Spanish Armada was approaching the Channel” and, “He [Hitler] hopes by killing large numbers of civilians, and women and children, that he will terrorize and cow the people of this mighty Imperial city, and make them a burden and anxiety to the Government, and thus distract our attention unduly from the ferocious onslaught he is preparing. Little does he know the spirit of the British Nation.”

The documents on view provide a unique insight into the development of these great speeches, from the first heavily annotated typescripts to the final speaking notes, set out in a blank verse format that enabled Churchill to achieve the memorable rhythm, emphasis, and phrasing of his speeches and broadcasts. Churchill’s typed speeches served as a prompt-copy for his performance, and in these documents one can see vividly his mind at work.

How did Churchill’s power with words develop? His school records show that he was far from a model pupil. But the early death of his father, and the sudden need to make a name and an income, led him to pick up his pen while serving as an officer in the British army.

The exhibition features some of Churchill’s early letters and writings. In 1897 he managed to get himself attached to the Malakand Field Force fighting against the Pathan people in what is now Afghanistan. A letter to his mother, written after his return, reveals his yearning for a mention in military dispatches: “I am more ambitious for a reputation for personal courage than of anything else in the world. A young man should worship a young man’s ideals.”

One of the few handwritten pages that survive from Churchill’s draft of his first book, The Malakand Field Force, is on view. Written one hundred and fifteen years ago, and published in 1898, his remarks about the challenges of fighting in the hills of Afghanistan resonate to this day.

Progressing through the exhibition, the visitor is able to see Churchill’s writing grow in breadth and confidence. Churchill not only made history, he wrote history, and in 1953 he was rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Nobel Medal and Citation, on loan from the National Trust, Chartwell, are a fitting centerpiece to the exhibition.

Churchill’s public writings and speeches are juxtaposed with some of his personal and official correspondence. While resolute in public, his telegram to Roosevelt’s key adviser Harry Hopkins, written in August 1941, sees him voicing his fears over lack of greater American involvement in the war: “…there has been a wave of depression through Cabinet and other informed circles here about President’s many assurances about no commitments and no closer to war etc.” Churchill’s immediate response to Pearl Harbor was to fire off a telegram to Irish Prime Minister Eamon de Valera, offering, “Now is your chance. Now or Never. ‘A Nation once again’.”

By opening up the Churchill dispatch box we gain some insights into the personalities behind the politics; Roosevelt’s telegram to Churchill on D-Day, or King George VI’s handwritten message to Churchill about Roosevelt’s death, serve to remind us that these were real people wrestling with enormous challenges.

On a lighter note, Churchill’s letter to the Duke of Devonshire upon receiving the gift of a living lion in 1943, reveals his mischievous side, showing that, even at times of great stress, words and wit could be used to enliven events.

Half American by birth – his mother, Jennie Jerome, who became Lady Randolph Churchill, was born in Brooklyn, New York – Churchill became an Honorary United States Citizen just before his death. He was a lifelong observer of American affairs, and New York was both the first (1895) and last (1961) American city he visited. Churchill’s first experience of Manhattan came in November 1895, just short of his twenty-first birthday, and en route to observe military action in Cuba. He was well looked after by his mother’s friends and relatives and in a letter, featured in the exhibition, wrote: “What an extraordinary people the Americans are! Their hospitality is a revelation to me and they make you feel at home and at ease in a way that I have never before experienced. On the other hand their press and their currency impress me very unfavourably.”

While New York was often a place to relax, there were incidents. In December 1931 he made the very British mistake of looking the wrong way while crossing Fifth Avenue and was hit by an automobile. The collision occurred at Fifth Avenue and 76th Street, at a time when traffic was still two-way on Fifth. For Churchill the accident meant a hospital stay, a lecture tour postponed, and a long recovery. Yet he turned it to his advantage, writing some newspaper articles on what it was like to be run down, and securing a doctor’s prescription, on view in the exhibition, for alcohol – for medicinal purposes – at the height of prohibition.

In March 1946, Churchill came to New York fresh from having delivered his famous “Iron Curtain” speech at Fulton, Missouri. It is now largely forgotten just how controversial that speech was, criticizing the Soviet Union, with whom the United States and Britain were still allied, so soon after the end of the Second World War. Churchill was forced to defend his remarks in the address he gave at the Waldorf Astoria, and found himself on the receiving end of both a ticker tape parade and some protest demonstrations.

Churchill was only the second person to be accorded Honorary US Citizenship (ironically, the first was Lafayette, for fighting the British). The exhibition features the grant of Citizenship, signed by President Kennedy in April 1963, and the accompanying passport, which Churchill was not able to use before his death in January 1965.

Additional Public Programs

LECTURE: We Shall Not Fail: The Inspiring Leadership of Winston Churchill
With Celia Sandys
Friday, June 8, 6:30 p.m.

Celia Sandys, internationally acclaimed author, television presenter, and granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill, will provide insight into Churchill’s extraordinary leadership skills and his fascinating political and personal life. This lecture, part of the The Tina Santi Flaherty – Winston Churchill Literary Series, is presented in partnership with Hunter College/The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute and The Writing Center, and The Churchill Archives Centre. Free; Advanced reservations: 212.685.0008, ext 560, or tickets@themorgan.org.

CHURCHILL ON FILM
To coincide with the exhibition, the Morgan will screen two dramas and one documentary that explore both Churchill’s public and private life.

The Gathering Storm
Friday, June 15, 7 p.m.
(2002, 96 minutes)
Director: Richard Loncraine
Based on Churchill’s memoirs about his life leading up to World War II, this biographical drama won two Golden Globes and stars a stellar cast. Albert Finney plays Winston Churchill, who struggles to establish his political presence in the House of Commons. With Vanessa Redgrave as his wife Clementine, and also featuring Derek Jacobi, Jim Broadbent, and Ronnie Barker. Free

Winston Churchill: Walking with Destiny
Friday, July 6, 7 p.m.
(2011, 101 min)
Director: Richard Tank
This compelling documentary film highlights Churchill’s earlier political years, focusing on the period just prior to his ascent to prime minister, through the end of 1941 when America entered World War II. It examines why Winston Churchill’s legacy continues to be relevant in the twenty-first Century and explores why his leadership remains inspirational to current day political leaders and diplomats. Narrated by Sir Ben Kingsley and with commentary by historian John Lukacs, and Churchill’s official biographer Sir Martin Gilbert, among others. Free

Young Winston
Friday, July 27, 7 p.m.
(1972, 157 minutes)
Director: Richard Attenborough
This historical drama is an account of the early life of Winston Churchill (Simon Ward), including his childhood years, his time as a war correspondent in Africa, and culminating with his election to Parliament at the age of twenty-six. Based on Churchill’s book My Early Life: A Roving Commission, it also stars Robert Shaw (Lord Randolph Churchill), John Mills (Lord Kitchener), Anthony Hopkins (David Lloyd George), and Anne Bancroft (Churchill’s mother). Free

GALLERY TALK
Churchill: The Power of Words
Friday, June 22, 7 p.m.
Declan Kiely, Robert H. Taylor curator and head of the Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts, will lead an informal tour of the exhibition. Free

RELATED PROGRAMMING

* Bloomsbury.com will make available a selection of important Churchill documents free of charge as part of its launch of the comprehensive online collection of Churchill Papers.

* Hunter College will sponsor a three-part Churchill Lecture Series, the first of which will be held at the Morgan on Friday, June 8, to coincide with the opening of the exhibition. The Hon. Celia Sandys, granddaughter of Churchill, will discuss his leadership style in a talk entitled, “We shall not fail.”

* The Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, New York, will host a one-day seminar/symposium on the topic of the close and complex relationship between Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

* In conjunction with the exhibition opening, author Sir Martin Gilbert will publish an edition of Churchill’s writings titled Churchill: The Power of Words (Da Capo Press).

The exhibition is organized by the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, in conjunction with Chartwell, Churchill’s house in Kent, which is administered by Britain’s National Trust.

The exhibition is curated by Allen Packwood, director of the Churchill Archives Centre, and by Declan Kiely, Robert H. Taylor curator and head of the Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts at The Morgan Library & Museum.

The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. Today, more than a century after its founding in 1906, the Morgan serves as a museum, independent research library, musical venue, architectural landmark, and historic site. In October 2010, the Morgan completed the first-ever restoration of its original McKim building, Pierpont Morgan’s private library, and the core of the institution. In tandem with the 2006 expansion project by architect Renzo Piano, the Morgan now provides visitors unprecedented access to its world-renowned collections of drawings, literary and historical manuscripts, musical scores, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, printed books, and ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets.

Photo: Churchill as a young officer, c1895 (Courtesy of the Churchill Family).

Women’s Rights NHP Showing ‘Top Secret Rosies’


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Women’s Rights National Historical Park will show the documentary film Top Secret Rosies this Friday and Saturday, March 30 and 31, at 12:00 noon.

Top Secret Rosies documents the lives of the female mathematicians who designed ballistics tables and programmed computers for the United States Army during World War II. This film is 60 minutes long.

The film is being shown as part of Women’s Rights National Historical Park’s first Winter Film Festival. The park exists to commemorate and preserve the events of the First Women’s Rights Convention that was held in Seneca Falls in 1848. “We are proud to be part of the National Park system, and we invite everyone to join us in celebrating our shared history and culture through film,” said Superintendent Tammy Duchesne.

The park is also showing the film as part of its celebration of Women’s History Month in March. “We are inspired by the courage of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and countless other women and men who struggled for equal rights in this country,” said Duchesne. “Their stories continue to resonate with people across the globe.”

Top Secret Rosies is approximately 60 minutes long and intended for a general audience. All Winter Film Festival movies will be shown at 12:00 noon on Fridays and Saturdays, November through April, in the Guntzel Theater, located at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park Visitor Center at 136 Fall Street in downtown Seneca Falls. Because film lengths vary, visitors are encouraged to call if they are interested in a particular showing. All park programs are free and open to the public. For more information, please visit call 315.568.0024.

You can also follow the park’s social media sites for Facebook and Twitter to learn more about their upcoming events and programs.

WWII NY National Guard Records Go Online


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When 28,969 New York National Guard Soldiers mobilized in the fall of 1940 as the United States prepared for war, clerks filled out six-by-four inch cards on each man.

Now, thanks to a team of 15 volunteers, those records–listing names, serial number, home, and unit, and later on annotated with hand written notes on whether or not the Soldier was killed or wounded– are available online from the New York State Military Museum.

“I’ll bet you that we are the only state that has such an item on the web,” said retired Army Col. John Kennedy, one of the volunteers who turned the index card information into digital data.

Kennedy, a World War II veteran himself, and the other volunteers spent a year keying the information on the cards into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. The digital information is now available on the museum’s website and can be downloaded and searched.

The museum put this information online so it can be used by people researching their family history or the history of World War II and New York’s role in it, said Jim Gandy, the assistant librarian and archivist at the museum.

“Not only can you research a specific individual but you can also research who enlisted from what town; where men in the New York National Guard were born, or how old the average age of the men was. We indexed most data points on the cards including: date, city, state and country of birth; ID number; hometown, unit; rank; as well as enlistment and separation dates”, Gandy explained.

In September 1940-a few months after France was overrun and defeated by the German Army and the British were fighting for survival in the air-the United States had an Army of 269,000 men. The German Army, meanwhile, had 2.5 million.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt convinced Congress to call up the 300,000 men in the National Guard for a year to double the size of the nation’s Army and prepare for any German threat.

On Oct. 15, 1940 the 28,969 members of the New York National Guard, including the entire 27th Division, reported to their armories to begin processing for a year of active duty. This is the data now available from the museum website.

For the 90-year old Kennedy, who keyed in the data on 6,500 Soldiers, the task brought back memories of his own World War II service. A Cohoes native, he joined the Army Reserve in 1940, transferred to the New York National Guard in 1941 and went to war in Europe in 1944 with the 8th Infantry Division.

He recognized the names of many of the 108 Soldiers on the list who cited Cohoes as their hometown because he had grown up with them, Kennedy said.

Kennedy, who now lives in Florida and served in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard until retiring in 1981, volunteered to help with Gandy’s project because he’s made the history of World War II and the role of New York’s units in it his hobby.

Bruce Scott, an Albany resident and another volunteer who keyed in the data, got involved in the project because he wanted to do something from his home that would be useful to others.

Scott, Kennedy and the other volunteers were critical, Gandy said. Without their work this kind of project would be impossible for the museum to carry out.

Eventually the Soldiers of the 27th Infantry Division who were called for training in the fall of 1940 went on to serve in the Pacific, securing Hawaii from a feared Japanese invasion in February 1942, invading Makin Atoll and the Island of Saipan, and eventually fighting on Okinawa. Other New York National Guard Soldiers called up in 1940 served in rear area security duty and fought in Europe.

The museum’s next web project is to create an index of which battles New York’s Civil War Regiments fought in, Gandy said. The data base will make it easier for historians to determine which regiments fought in which battles and the losses that were sustained in each fight. If anyone would like to volunteer, they may contact the museum at 518-581-5100, Gandy said.

The index card database can be found on the museum website.

Photo: A typical index card of a New York Army National Guardsman. Each card was 6 inches wide and 4 inches high.

Charles Jennette: ‘Called Too Old to Marry’


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In 1936, at a birthday party in the Adirondacks, the honoree claimed he would be married within two years. He passed away six years later, but during that span, he received more than 100 letters and 9 personal visits from female suitors; became engaged; was dumped the day before the wedding; was the guest of honor at several dinners, birthday parties, and parades; regularly mowed his lawn with a scythe; joined a ski club; and received the Purple Heart for war injuries.

Nothing particularly unusual―unless, of course, at that party in 1936, the birthday boy was turning 99 years old. Review those events from that perspective, and now you’ve got something.

Meet Charles Jennette, for a time the most famous man in the Adirondacks. His greatest fame came in his 100th year, when he became engaged to Ella Blanch Manning, a New York City woman who had attended his 99th birthday party several weeks earlier. Days before the wedding, an Albany headline read “100 Called Too Old to Marry; Man Will Take 3d Wife at 99.”

But after a visit with her daughters, and just 24 hours before the wedding, Ella changed her mind. Already a media sensation (and despite being left high and dry), Charles continued with his post-wedding plans of a boat ride and dinner, remaining hopeful of marriage in the near future. After many interviews, he was only too happy to return to an otherwise quiet, humble life.

Jennette was born in Maine in 1837. The family moved to Canada when he was five, and returned to the US when the Civil War began. At Malone, Charles enlisted for three years with Company A, 95th NY Volunteers, but served only nine months. His time was cut short in 1865 when he was wounded in the Battle of Hatcher’s Run (also known as Dabney’s Mills) in Virginia. He was still in the hospital when the war ended.

In 1866, he married Emily Proulx in Ottawa, a union that would endure for 57 years. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, Charles tried to enlist at the age of 61, but was refused. He lived much of his life in the St. Regis Falls area as a lumberman, toiling in partnership for many years with his son, John.

They ended the business relationship in December 1915 when Charles was 78. In the following year, he built a cottage at Old Forge. In 1921, the 84-year-old was one of only six attendees at the final meeting of the Durkee Post GAR in St. Regis Falls. GAR represents Grand Army of the Republic, the title given to Union forces in the Civil War. Because few veterans remained, the local group was discontinued.

His wife (Emily) died in the mid-1920s. Charles began spending summers in Old Forge and winters in Ilion (near Herkimer). He also made regular visits to family in Tupper Lake. In 1935, he married for a second time (in Montreal), but his new bride died just two months later.

He was generally known as a remarkable old-timer, but fame arrived in 1936 when, at his 98th birthday party, Charles announced he expected to wed again before he reached 100 (because, he said, “over 100 is too old”). Several hundred people attended the festivities.

After addressing more than a hundred female suitors (ages 42 to 72), he made plans to marry Ella Manning. Instead, at 99, he became America’s most famous groom to be jilted at the altar.

After that, it seemed anything he did was remarkable, and at such an advanced age, it certainly was. In 1937 (age 100) he rode in a Memorial Day parade as guest of honor. Shortly after his 101st birthday, he attended the Gettysburg Annual GAR Convention, 72 years after his combat days had ended.

In 1940, on his 103rd birthday, he used a scythe to mow the lawn, and otherwise continued his daily ritual—trekking nearly two miles to retrieve the mail, and taking time to read the newspapers (and he didn’t need glasses!). He made maple syrup every spring and tended a garden each summer.

In August 1940, at Oneida Square in Utica, Charles was honored in a ceremony at the Soldiers’ Monument, which was built in 1891 to memorialize the Utica men who “risked their lives to save the Union.” Seventy-five years after suffering wounds in battle, Charles Jennette became a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (which had been formed during WW I).

At age 104, perhaps still holding a marriage possibility in the back of his mind, Charles became the first male allowed to join the Old Forge Sno-Flakes, an all-girls’ ski club. He soon expressed regret at not having taken up skiing “when I was young, say 70 or so.”

In mid-1942, in support of the WW II effort, a photo of Charles purchasing war bonds was widely distributed among newspapers. He continued to attend American Legion rallies and make other appearances. Finally, in December of that year, he passed away at the age of 105.

Photos: At age 99, Charles Jennette with his fiancé, Ella Manning; one of many headlines generated by Jennette’s story.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.