It was from the Hasbrouck House in Newburgh that General George Washington commanded the final 16 months of the American Revolution. And it was from that house that he set out to quell a mutiny that was brewing amongst his officers. He triumphed in both of those instances. Read more
First came the secular Y2K ending, then the Christian rapture in 2011, and now the Mayan recycling of 2012. The ending of the world has become as frequent as the storms of the century. We scarcely have time to catch our breath before once again the world will fall over its cliff into an abyss from which it can never recover. Read more
One of my favorite movie scenes is from Working Girl when Melanie Griffith explains while riding up the elevator with Trask and Indiana, how she came up with the idea for the corporate merger. It wasn’t as if she had been thinking about anything even remotely related to it. Her insight derived from a chance juxtaposition perceived by a mind willing to learn and open to new possibilities. Read more
The essay on public history in the newly published second edition of the Encyclopedia of Local History, provides some fresh insights. The Encyclopedia, edited by Tompkins County Historian Carol Kammen, a long-time leader in the field, and Amy H. Wilson, an independent museum consultant and former director of the Chemung County Historical Society in Elmira, is a rich source of fresh insights on all aspects of local history. Read more
I was disappointed to hear the recent news that Schenectady County officials have chosen to cut funding for their county historian. This decision appears to have less to do with the historian than it did with the county’s fiscal problems.
Many of us are familiar with the state law that requires municipalities to appoint historians, and as Gerry Smith has pointed out, NYS County Law, section 400, also requires counties to make similar appointments. Many counties and many municipalities comply with these laws. Many don’t. But that’s not what’s at stake here. Read more
The Woman of History award acknowledges Martha Washington’s important place in history as a devoted patriot in support of the American Revolution and the ensuing new nation. This is the eleventh year the award has been given, continuing the site’s mission to educate the public about the history of our great state and national heritage.
There are many women who are dedicated to sharing and preserving our history. Perhaps you know of a woman who shares her love of history with children by taking them to historic places during her free time? Is there a woman who has done research about the Hudson Valley and has shared her findings to encourage others to do the same? Do you know a woman who has used her private time or resources to preserve a landmark of historic significance? These are just a few examples of what could qualify a woman to be a recipient of the award. The nomination field is open to any woman who has cultivated interest and awareness of Hudson Valley history, either locally or nationally.
Nominations must be completed and submitted by January 4, 2013. To download a nomination form, go to the Conservancy
Photo: Women of History Award winners Mary McTamaney (2007), Betsy McKean (2009), Stella Baily (2012), and Mara Farrell (2011), with Washington’s Headquarters Site Manager, Elyse Goldberg.
In keeping with the legacy of one of America’s greatest Founding Fathers, the John Jay Medal recognizes individuals who demonstrate a selfless spirit of commitment and engagement with their community.
As an early member of the Jay Coalition, Catherine “Kitty” Aresty helped harness the energy of thousands of volunteers and citizens to save the Jay Property when it was threatened by commercial development in the early 1980s. She was one of 5 dynamic women who formed the vanguard for preservation of the site, finally securing a victory in 1992 but her total commitment to seeing the property restored for public use extends more than 30 years including 22 consecutive years on the JHC Board.
Similarly, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel’s career spans more than 40 years. She has been a pioneering champion of preservation and the arts, credited with bringing the first public art to Bryant Park and the first public performance to Central Park. The first Director of Cultural Affairs for New York City, she was the longest term Landmarks Commissioner in the city’s history, spanning four mayoral administrations from 1972 to 1987. Her expertise and advocacy of historic preservation has garnered her countless honors and prestigious appointments from nor fewer than 4 US Presidents. Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel is the current Vice Chair of the New York State Council on the Arts.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino served as Honorary Co-Chairs of the evening which drew over 170 people from Manhattan, Westchester and Greenwich to the National Historic Landmark site. While the event also marked an important 2 decade milestone for the organization, adding to the festive feeling was the recent announcement of a public private partnership between JHC, New York State Parks and Westchester County to manage and restore the entire 23 acre Jay estate as a historic park and educational resource. The site has been a member of Westchester County’s African American Heritage Trail since 2004 and was added to the prestigious Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area following its nomination in 2008 by County Legislator Judy Myers.
JHC President Suzanne Clary commended the men, women and coalition of non-profits that first saved Jay’s home but also emphasized the “new coalition” they are forming with other museums and preservation groups like the NY Preservation League, The Landmarks Conservancy, Audubon NY, the World Monuments Fund and more. Congresswoman Lowey recognized the power of bi-partisan support that continues to guide JHC’s success.
Ken Jenkins, Chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators presented a proclamation to both honorees and added his strong words of support for the Jay Heritage Center’s mission to revitalize one of Westchester’s premiere heritage destinations. Steve Otis, former Mayor of Rye brought accolades from Sen. Suzi Oppenhiemer and personally congratulated the two medal awardees on their vision and tenacity- he reminded the audience how dilapidated the Jay site was when first acquired and how miraculous its transformation had been under JHC’s trusted stewardship. Both honorees gave moving remarks and thanks and underscored the continued need to stay “passionate” about preservation.
The theme of the night was Roaring 20s – guests dressed in everything from raccoon coats and spats to flapper dresses and boas made for an evening that was simply “the bees knees!” Proceeds form the event benefit JHC’s programs which benefit schools through Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley region.
Learn more about the Jay Heritage Center at
These grants support programs that use dialogue as an integral way to engage the public, furthering the Council’s mission to help all New Yorkers become thoughtful participants in their communities. The nine awarded projects are:
Abolition–Two Worlds on Staten Island, a community dialogue and exhibition exploring the contested history of the Underground Railroad on Staten Island.
The Baobab Film and Dialogue Series 2012-13 a year-long series of community dialogues in Rochester, many of them using films as a catalyst for discussion.
The Battle of Queenstown Heights Commemoration in Lewiston, which includes 18 dialogue stations to help mark the first major battle of the War of 1812.
Epic Theatre Ensemble’s Spotlight on Human Rights Festival at the John Jay College for Criminal Justice in New York City.
Frederick Douglass in Ireland: The Irish Influence on America’s Greatest Abolitionist, a day-long program of public discussions at St. John Fisher College in Rochester.
RACE: Are We So Different? A series of radio programs and a public forum in Rochester in conjunction with an exhibition about the historical, cultural, and scientific understandings of race.
The Counterculturalists: Towards a New Canon, a series of online interviews, discussions and a culminating symposium exploring new understandings cultural identity offered by the Asian-American Writers Workshop.
The D.R.E.A.M. Freedom Revival, four events in Syracuse that use performance and dialogue to engage participants about a range of issues from participatory democracy to aging.
The Guantanamo Public Memory Project, which will use discussions and mobile phone engagement to help New Yorkers understand the role and legacy of Guantanamo.
“These innovative projects show how the humanities can be central to promoting community engagement and civil discourse across our state,” says Council Executive Director Sara Ogger. Directors’ Project Grants are available to any tax-exempt organization in New York State.
Applicants should be prepared to demonstrate the exemplary nature of their project, and explain how it uses dialogue to spark public engagement. The next deadline for application is December 15, 2012 with notification 12 weeks later. More information about the grant guidelines and application forms can be found online at
In 2011, the Council awarded almost half a million dollars to public humanities projects, mostly in the form of small grants of up to $3000. To learn about the Council’s other grant opportunities, including its Special Initiative War of 1812 Project Grants, visit
The Council’s grant program is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Legislature of New York State. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the funded programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Founded in 1975 and supported by Federal, State, and private sources, the New York Council for the Humanities helps all New Yorkers become thoughtful participants in our communities by promoting critical inquiry, cultural understanding, and civic engagement.