Author Archives: Chris Kretz

Chris Kretz

About Chris Kretz

Chris Kretz produces and co-hosts the Long Island History Project. He is the Head of Stony Brook University's Southampton campus library and the co-author of Oakdale from Arcadia Press.

Anna Smith Strong: Patriot and Spy


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long island history project logoWith the story of the Culper Spy Ring enjoying a renaissance, we talk with Margo Arceri of Strong’s Neck in Setauket, Long Island, who heard the story of from the great-great-granddaughter of one of the spies herself.  She went on to found Tri-Spy Tours and Culper Spy Day while also working with the Three Village Historical Society.

As a bonus, we also had Danielle Campbell join the conversation. Danielle is an anchor and reporter for News 12 Long Island and produces the Long Island’s Hidden Past segment for the cable channel. Continue reading

Notable Women In Long Island History


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long island history project logoBehind every great woman is another great woman and Natalie Naylor is bringing them all to light. Her book Women in Long Island’s Past (History Press, 2012), highlights the accomplished and acclaimed women who have been connected to Long Island over the centuries.

From early Algonquian sunksquaws to 20th century suffragists, from First Ladies to famous flyers, Natalie gives us a wide-ranging look at what women have accomplished on the Island. Just some of the notables include Julia Gardiner Tyler, Ethel Roosevelt Derby, Elinor Smith, and Barbara McClintock. Continue reading

A Tumultuous History of Long Island Ducks Hockey


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Long Island DucksFrom 1959 to 1973, the Long Island Ducks brought their signature style of hockey to the Long Island Arena in Commack. Aggressive, hard-nosed, and always entertaining, they remain a point of local pride. They’ve also entered the popular culture. Paul Newman’s character in the 1977 movie Slap Shot was based on Duck’s captain John Brophy.

Chris Vaccaro, director of the Sufolk Sports Hall of Fame, relates the history of the Duck franchise within the context of the Eastern Hockey League and the sports cutlure of the time. As an added bonus, Connie Currie shares her own first-hand experiences attending Ducks games in the 1960s.   Continue reading

Culper Ring: Washington’s Spy Letters


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long island history project logoThe Culper Spy Ring has taken hold of the public imagination in recent years. From the work of historian Alexander Rose to the AMC series Turn, this story of a tight-knit group of Long Island natives spying for George Washington during the Revolution provides a compelling narrative.

On the latest episode of the Long Island History Project, we take a closer look at the primary sources that help document the Culper story. Kristen Nyitray, Director of Special Collections and University Archives at Stony Brook University, and Chris Filstrup, former Dean of SBU Libraries, discuss their pursuit and acquisition of two letters by George Washington to Benjamin Tallmadge about the operations of the spy ring. We also discus how the letters helped form closer ties among community groups involved in interpreting and promoting this fascinating aspect of Long Island history. Continue reading

Long Island History Project: The South Shore Signal


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long island history project logoHenry Livingston came to Babylon in 1869 and founded the South Shore Signal. He made an immediate splash advocating for Babylon to split from the town of Huntington and went on to lead the newspaper into the 20th century.

On this episode of The Long Island History Project, Babylon Town Historian Mary Cascone relates the history of the paper: it’s influence, evolution, and style. We also trade stories of newspaper research, microfilm readers, and the glory of digitized collections. Luckily, the South Shore Signal has gone to newspaper heaven and can now be fully searched through the New York State Historic Newspapers site. Continue reading

Long Island: Newsday’s History With Bob Keeler


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long island history project logoNewsday has helped shape the development of Nassau and Suffolk counties since its first edition rolled off the presses in 1940. And it never would have happened without the unique marriage of Alicia Patterson and Harry Guggenheim.

Learn the backstory of Long Island’s paper of record, as told by former Newsday reporter Bob Keeler. Bob spent years researching the lives of Alicia, Harry, Bill Moyers, and all those involved in Newsday‘s first half-century.

His book Newsday: A Candid History of the Respectable Tabloid, published in 1990, is required reading for anyone interested in Long Island, journalism, and post-WWII politics. Continue reading

Long Island: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Time On The North Shore


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long island history project logoThe Great Gatsby left its mark on both Long Island and literature. But while F. Scott Fitzgerald spent two riotous years living in Great Neck, it took a move to France to turn those experiences into a masterpiece.

On the latest episode of The Long Island History Project, Charles Riley explains the history of the North Shore of Long Island in the 1920s and why Fitzgerald had to leave to get Gatsby written. Riley, author of Free as Gods: How the Jazz Age Reinvented Modernism, is also the director of the Nassau County Museum of Art.

Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading

Longwood: Long Island History Project Podcast


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Gordon Heights adLongwood on Long Island is a school district, a public library, and fertile ground for stories. The Long Island History Project captured some of those stories during a conversation with Longwood Local History Librarian Melanie Cardone-Leathers.

Among the topics covered were Civil War tragedies, Revolutionary War triumphs, Nazis, Harlem Hellfighters, wrong-way aviators, runaway monkeys, and Irving Berlin.

Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading