Before the Declaration of Independence…

Portrait of John Dickinson published by R. Wilkinson, May 1783. PR 52 Portrait File

Portrait of John Dickinson published by R. Wilkinson, May 1783. PR 52 Portrait File

The line between historical obscurity and fame is often a fine one. It’s not surprising then that on July 4th no one thinks about the most important document produced by Congress before the Declaration of Independence: the Declaration of the Causes and of the Necessity of Taking Up Arms. As its title implies, it was a justification for armed resistance to England’s abusive treatment of the colonies, with a chronicle of outstanding grievances.

Like many such historic texts written “by committee” its authorship has been the subject of some curiosity. Roger L. Kemp offers the now accepted explanation in Documents of American Democracy: A Collection of Essential Works. On June 26, 1775, after Congress had scrapped the first draft by John Rutledge of South Carolina, it appointed to the committee Thomas Jefferson and John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania. Ultimately, Dickinson wrote the final version, incorporating content from a previous draft by Jefferson. Though that draft is held by the Library of Congress, an original draft, in Dickinson’s hand, resides at the New-York Historical Society.

The first page of Dickinson's draft of the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, 1775. AHMC - Dickinson, John

The first page of Dickinson’s draft,1775. AHMC – Dickinson, John

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Campaign to Preserve NYC Carnegie Libraries Launched

Closed LibraryThis year the Historic Districts Council launched a new campaign to combat the potential loss of historic community libraries. The campaign is expected to lead to the nomination of all the New York City Carnegie Libraries to the New York State and National Register of Historic Places.

Listing on the Registers would both provide a variety of incentives for the libraries: they would be eligible for special funding of capital needs, appropriate alterations, renovations or restorations would have the added benefit of guidance from the New York State Office of Historic Preservation (SHPO) and protections: demolitions or serious alterations would be reviewed and discouraged by SHPO, and communities would be given a clear path to weigh in their concerns.

Several of the Carnegies, including Brooklyn’s Macon and Bedford branches, Manhattan’s St. Agnes and 67th Street branches, and the Bronx’s Hunt’s Point and Mott Haven branches have been renovated in recent years, adding state of the art technology while restoring period details and providing improved public access.

The Historic Districts Council is hoping to raise $15,000 to complete the National Register nominations. To Make a donation to the Campaign to Preserve the Carnegie Libraries click here.

Photo: An Elmhurst Carnegie Library opened in 1906 and demolished in 2012.

History And The Regional Economic Development Councils

Regional Econmoic CouncilsHere is some information about the latest round of proposals through the Regional Economic Development Councils. These regional councils provide a vehicle through which history tourist proposals which provide economic development could be submitted.

I would be curious to know if the history community is working with these Regional Development Councils since as everyone knows tourism is big business in New York. People may mistakenly think these councils are only for factories or projects of that nature. As a result the history community may shut itself off from where the real money is.

Don’t confuse the Regional Economic Development Councils for the Path through History, a top-down project which is poorly funded for actual distributions at the local or regional level. These regional councils are much more grassroots based.

Regional Economic Development Councils

In 2011, Governor Cuomo created 10 Regional Councils to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. A key component of Governor Cuomo’s transformative approach to economic development, these councils are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations.

Over the past two years, as part of a process that has awarded over $1.5 billion for job creation and community development, the Regional Councils produced innovative plans and implementation agendas that truly reflect the distinct characteristics of each of the 10 regions of our great state.

New York is keeping the momentum going with a third round of funding this year for the Regional Councils, including $220 million to implement regional strategies and priorities.

The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach. The third round of awards will once again allow the regions to continue pursuing and investing in its own economic destiny.

About the Consolidated Funding Application

As part of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to improve the state’s economic development model, a NYS Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) was created to streamline and expedite the grant application process. The CFA process marks a fundamental shift in the way state resources are allocated, ensuring less bureaucracy and greater efficiency to fulfill local economic development needs. The CFA serves as the single entry point for access to economic development funding, ensuring applicants no longer have to slowly navigate multiple agencies and sources without any mechanism for coordination. [Emphasis added] Now, economic development projects use the CFA as a support mechanism to access multiple state funding sources through one application, making the process quicker, easier, and more productive..

There are 26 programs available through 13 state agencies in 2013, including Empire State Development; NYS Canal Corporation; NYS Energy Research and Development Authority; Environmental Facilities Corporation; Homes and Community Renewal; Department of Labor; Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; Department of State, Office of National and Community Service; Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance; Higher Education Services Corporation; Department of Environmental Conservation; and Council on the Arts.

The 2013 Available CFA Resources Manual, which outlines the funds available from 29 state agency programs, and the 2013 REDC Guidebook, which provides the competitive guidelines for this year, are both available at

Upcoming CFA Workshops

As I examined the schedule of meetings below I recalled the complaint I made about the Mid-Hudson regional meeting in January for the Path through History project: there was one meeting for the entire region and it was in Dutchess County. The location was convenient for the organizers but it was not the demographic, geographic, or tourist center of the region. By contrast notice how many workshops are being held in each region of these councils which reflect a greater emphasis on reaching out to the community they serve.

Capital Region (Capital-Saratoga on Path website including Schenectady from the Mohawk Region )

7/10/2013 1:00-3:30 pm Empire State Plaza

7/15/2013 9:30 am – 12:00 PM Columbia-Greene Community College

7/19/2013 9:30 am – 12:00 PM SUNY Adirondack

Central Region

6/27/2013 12:00-2:30pm Cazenovia College

7/10/2013 2:00-4:30pm Cayuga Community College

7/24/2013 9:30am-12:00pm LeMoyne College

Finger Lakes Region

6/18/2013 4:00-6:30pm Memorial Art Gallery

6/20/2013 4:00-6:30pm Hobart and William Smith Colleges

6/24/2013 4:00-6:30pm SUNY Geneseo

6/27/2013 4:00-6:30pm SUNY Genesee Community College (GCC)

Long Island Region

Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 3:00pm

Farmingdale State College, Campus Center Ballroom

2350 Broadhollow Road, Melville, NY 11735

Mid-Hudson Region (Hudson Valley on the Path website plus there is a Catskill region)

7/9/2013 6:30pm-9:00pm Manhattanville College

7/10/2013 6:30pm-9:00pm Mt. Saint Mary College, Aquinas Hall

7/11/2013 6:30pm-9:00pm Dutchess County Community College

Mohawk Valley Region (no such region on the Path website and it appears to have been split into multiple regions based on the principle, no doubt, that the Mohawk Valley is not a tourist destination in anyone’s mind while Central New York is a name known around the world)

6/20/2013 9:00am-11:30am SUNY IT

7/10/2013 9:00am-11:30am SUNY Cobleskill

7/17/2013 2:00pm-4:30pm Fulton Montgomery Community College

New York City Region

6/17/2013 10:00am Brooklyn College

7/9/2013 10:00am-12:30pm College of Staten Island

7/11/2013 9:00am-11:30pm Hostos Community College

7/17/2013 10:00am-12:30pm John Jay College of Criminal Justice

7/23/2013 9:00am-11:30pm LaGuardia Community College

North Country Region (divided into the Adirondacks and Thousand Island Seaways on the Path website which at least are legitimate tourist names)

6/18/2013 2:30-5:00pm SUNY Potsdam

6/26/2013 9:00am-12:00pm Clinton Community College

6/28/2013 9:00am-12:00pm Dulles State Office Building

Southern Tier Region (divided into the Finger Lakes, Central New York, and the Catskills on the Path website)

6/18/2013 6:00-8:30pm Holiday Inn Downtown (Ithaca)

6/20/2013 6:00-8:30pm Corning Community College

6/25/2013 6:00-8:30pm Morrisville College

6/27/2013 1:30-4:00pm Binghamton University

Western New York Region (divided primarily into Greater Niagara and Chautauqua-Allegheny on the Path website)

6/25/2013 2:00-5:00pm Buffalo State College

7/8/2013 2:00-5:00pm Conference Center Niagara Falls

7/22/2013 9:00am-12:00pm Jamestown Community College – Olean Campus

7/22/2013 3:00pm-6:00pm Jamestown Community College – Jamestown Campus

As you can see, the ten regions of Cuomo’s new Regional Economic Development Councils do not match the ten regions of Cuomo’s new Path through History project so you may have to investigate to determine exactly what region you are in. To make matters more confusing, longstanding statewide history organizations use other regional divisions. The NYSOPRHP uses 12 regions (really 13):

1 – Niagara

2 – Allegany (the typo is from the website)

3 – Genesee

4 – Finger Lakes

5 – Central

6a – Adirondack

6b – Catskill

7 – Taconic

8 – Palisades

9 – Long Island

10 – Thousand Islands

11 – Saratoga/Capital District

12 – New York City

There is no Mohawk Valley, no Adirondacks, and no Hudson Valley. APHNYS, the organization for municipal historians uses a 12-region division with numbers and not names that do not exactly match up with the others either. It appears that only New York City and Long Island are consistent regions. So besides the perennial game of where does Upstate begin and what is North Country we can add “What region are you in?” to the myriad of challenges designed to maximize the head spinning.

Names matter. The babel of regional names isn’t simply an issue of someone struggling to know what region he or she is depending on what issue is being addressed. Even besides that confusion, there is a tourist consideration. Part of tourism is branding. Names like the Palisades, the Hudson Valley, the Catskills, the Champlain Valley, the Mohawk Valley, the Finger Lakes mean something. No one says, “Let’s plan a vacation to central New York.” And while the Taconic Parkway exists in Westchester it is because the parkway goes to the Taconics, not because Westchester is in the Taconics. Branding helps promote tourism if used intelligently.

In any event, the history community needs to be aware that these Regional Economic Development Councils exist, that they offer one-stop shopping among a myriad of state agencies, that real money is involved, and they are the only serious opportunity to get money. These meetings are your chance to make a local connection and you should take advantage of them. Remember, by and large the business people on the Regional Economic Development Council don’t know who you are. I have been ceaselessly touting the need for collaboration especially at the county level among the Tourist Department, County Historian, and historic organizations. The Regional Economic Development Councils are one place where such partnerships might pay off in money if not this round then in setting the foundation for the next one. The potential path to money is through these Regional Economic Development Councils. Make the effort to find out what’s going on.

This Weeks Top New York History News

Latest New York History News

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Peter Feinman: The Intersection Of History And Tourism

I-LOVE-NY-FACEBOOK-600x270Tourism is in the news and from a variety of angles. The New York State history community is encouraged to be connected to what’s going on in order to maximize the attendance to their sites.

There are a plethora of audiences which can be reached out to that may be overlooked at present. Continue reading

This Weeks New York History Web Highlights

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Olivia Twine: Suffrage and Global Citizenship

suffrage wagonThe sturdy wooden wagon on display in the New York State capital last summer was the centerpiece of an exhibit called “From Seneca Falls to the Supreme Court- New York’s Women Leading the Way.” Unheard of in 1776 and unsecured until 1920, the women’s vote has become critical to candidates’ success.

The suffrage movement of the early 20th century evokes the stamina and discernment needed to address the overwhelming values crisis that’s challenging the American spirit now. Continue reading

Chris Pryslopski: Working On The Weekends, For History

DSC_6283One of my favorite things about working at The Hudson River Valley Institute is the wide variety of random (though usually regional) questions that we receive by phone and email. (The answer to the most frequently asked question is still “Bannerman’s Island.”

Recently, the random question came from within Marist College: “Can you get us a boat for graduation?” This had first occurred serendipitously in 2009 when The Half Moon was sailing past during the ceremony as part of the Quadricentennial events. Last year, the college worked with the Beacon Sloop Club to bring the Woody Guthrie for the day.

This year, I reached out to Engineer Jessica DuLong and our friends aboard the historic fireboat John J. Harvey- the stars aligned, even though the rain clouds never cleared, and the Class of 2013 was treated to a full salute of the ship’s water cannons as they were dismissed. Continue reading

JFK Terminal Among 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Boeing 707 at Worldport (JFK) in 1961Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport to its 2013 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

This annual list spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.

More than 240 sites have been on the list over its 26-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost. Continue reading

Olympia Brown: Crusader for Women’s Rights

07350rOlympia Brown made U.S. history in the North Country 150 years ago, early this summer. She became the first woman to become a fully ordained minister with a degree from a regularly established theological school. Olympia was ordained in the Universalist Church of Malone by the St. Lawrence Association of Universalists on June 25, 1863 and graduated from the St. Lawrence University Theological School in Canton two weeks later, on July 9, 1863.

Throughout the remainder of her 91-year-old life, she was an outspoken Universalist preacher and a fearless campaigner for suffrage and equal rights for women. Olympia marched, lectured, testified, published, protested and picketed a myriad of times from coast to coast. Continue reading