November Is New York State History Month

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NYS History Month logo_colorIn 1997, the New York State Legislature established November as New York State History Month “to celebrate the history of New York state and recognize the contributions of the state and local historians.” The celebration has been mostly ignored since 2002.

In 2014, the New York State Museum launched a New York State History Month page on its website, which included links to state-wide and regional history resources and a listing of museum events. This year, there is a more comprehensive History Events web calendar.

The Museum also created a New York State History Month logo for organizations around the state to use in promoting the importance of New York State’s history through public programs, exhibitions and other learning opportunities.

To learn about upcoming history events throughout New York State, visit the New York History Events web calendar.

To have an event listed on the New York State History Events web calendar, visit:

Organizations and individuals interested in hosting New York State History Month events can find help in a press kit here.

7 thoughts on “November Is New York State History Month

  1. Karen Beck

    Good to read about something that IS alive and well. Perhaps a month other than November, however, might be considered? Could it not be scheduled to coincide with Paths To History to the benefit of both efforts? A month with longer, warmer days when our historic sites are open to the public would increase the possibilities and stimulate more participation.

  2. Helen Nerska

    Check out the Clinton County Historical Association’s Facebook Page. Sharing and celebrating Clinton County History is our mission and New York History Month is just one more opportunity for us to do that.

  3. Jennifer Dorsey

    Thank you for reminding us about New York State History Month! I would like to make a plug for a lecture, discussion, and book signing with author and archivist Bruce W. Dearstyne. The event will take place at 6:30pm on Thursday, November 12 at the Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany (see link above)

    Bruce will discuss his new book The Spirit of New York: Defining Events in New York State History (SUNY Press 2015). The book explores sixteen dramatic events and historical turning points in New York State history from the adoption of the 1777 constitution to 9/11. Dearstyne will talk about his research and the events and people who are the subject of this book.

    I have been teaching The Spirit of New York in my New York State History class at Siena College and my undergraduate students genuinely enjoy it. It is accessible and informative, and I deeply appreciate the breadth of it. It will make a great stocking stuffer for enthusiasts of New York State history.

  4. Peter Evans

    I agree totally with Karen Beck’s comment.
    The two to three weeks sandwiched between Halloween and Thanksgiving just isn’t ideal.
    And, yes, basically our 20 museums and historical societies here in Wayne County have all been put to bed for the long winter except for year end annual meetings and one last holiday party.
    Year end reports have been finalized and people are working on plans and budgets for 2016.
    All the “snow birds” are itching to get out of here. Only scheduling it for December could be worse.

  5. Alan D Roberts

    History Matters?

    Sort of Ironic that November is New York State History Month and the fate of the Historic Adirondack Rail Corridor which is on both the National and State Historic Registers hangs on the decisions of the Governors Office, DEC, DOT, and APA at Thursday’s (11/12/2015) Adirondack Park Agency meeting. Historic Preservation issues are being skirted in the proposed action to destroy 34 miles of contributing structural components (rails and ties) of the Adirondack Railroad Historic District between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to create a recreational trail. This is a travesty which is being perpetrated during New York State History Month – How Ironic!

  6. Keith Barber

    Here we are in History Month and New York State seems ready to rip out a big portion of one of our important historical sites, on both the state and national registers, 34 miles of the Adirondack Railroad. A bureaucrat justification is that even though it’s an operating railroad, it can still be an historic site if they put up some signs saying it is.

  7. Christopher K. Philippo

    Assemblyman Jack McEneny, a historian, was the sponsor of the bill. See the Governor’s Bill Jacket, L. 1997, ch. 113

    The Sponsor’s Memo is considered part of the legislative intent of the bill. Quoting from Robert Allan Carter’s Legislative Intent In New York State (linked from that webpage) one of the powerful statements:

    “In construing a statute its purpose may not be ignored. Rather, its object should be the polar star of the court, when the course has become obscured by decisions where, manifestly, the port for the time has been lost. (Failing v. National Bond and Investment Corporation, 168 Misc. 617, 621, 6 NYS 2d 67, 1938)”

    The justification for the bill reads (minus the typos):
    “The recognition of a month where we can celebrate history and those of historical importance is appropriate. This legislation will allow the Commissioner of the Department of Education to undertake efforts to recognize the historical achievements of New Yorkers and New York as a State. Various organizations have expressed an interest in the designation of a month as New York state history month and this legislation will meet the goals of such organizations.”

    Kathy A. Ahearn of the State Education Department wrote in part, “The Department supports the bill because it would help to focus school year activities on the historical achievements of New Yorkers and New York as a State. The bill would help foster a valuable educational experience for the students of our State.”

    Impressively, it was passed the first year it was introduced. A lot of bills have to be reintroduced year after year. I suppose claiming there were “no fiscal implications” for the bill helped it pass into law, something which in turn unfortunately has not helped the implementation of the law….

    The best I can gather from the Governor’s Bill Jacket is that November might have been chosen to enable the NYS Education Department to focus school year activities and possibly for textbook publishing purposes. Whether November would make the most sense for that, or whether in practice that has happened much (if ever) since the law was enacted, I don’t know.

    Jack McEneny, Purple Mountain Press, or Black Dome Press could perhaps be contacted for further information about what the reasoning was behind choosing November.

    “publishers, many of whom specialize in topics of local interest, have banded together to form the New York State Regional Publishers Association, a group that is celebrating its first big victory, New York State History Month.
    “The association developed the concept to encourage readers to discover the state’s heritage through books. The Legislature and governor signed on, as did The New York Times, state historical association, state museum and state Education Department.
    “The result was a kickoff event Nov. 3 featuring Gov. George Pataki, at which the Times announced it would donate nearly 1,000 copies of a biography published by Black Dome Press Corp. in Hensonville, Greene County, to middle schools.”
    Moorse, Alan. “Small publishers battle for shelf life.” Albany Times Union. November 7, 1997: E1.

    The NYS Regional Publishers Association apparently no longer exists.

    There seeming to be no strong justification for November, it doesn’t seem like changing it would be much of an issue. It would require a bill to change the month named in the law, but given a reasonable justification (and perhaps tying it into the “Path Through History” and support of historical and/or tourism and/or publishing organizations that might go through relatively quickly.


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