Here’s a quick look at some of the latest New York History resources to hit the web:
The Syracuse University Archives has completed the processing of the George Fisk Comfort Family Collection, dating from 1822 to 1956, which contains a significant amount of material from George Fisk Comfort (1833-1910), the first dean of the (now defunct) College of Fine Arts at Syracuse University, and was involved in the establishment the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as what is now the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. The collection also includes material associated with Silas Comfort, a Methodist minister and Anna Manning Comfort. Various items, such as letters and family photographs, were digitized and are available in the online finding aid. Continue reading →
The same “prove or disprove” mission I undertook to investigate Mary Johnson’s claims (to have passed as a man and fought in the Civil War) was attempted by Eleanor Vashon after interviewing Mary Johnson in 1924. Several parties were involved: a pension attorney- the Massachusetts adjutant general- the Daughters of Veterans- the Convent of St. Rock, Quebec- the Canadian Red Cross- the Tewksbury Hospital- and acquaintances of Mary with whom she had shared the unusual story of her life.
The Red Cross managed to confirm that Thomas Hill indeed served in the Massachusetts 53rd, but found no record of a Saul Hill in the same outfit. They did find a Joseph Saul, and considering Mary’s age and her earlier jumbling of General Nelson Miles as Mills Nelson, the similarity was noted as a possible link. Continue reading →
The Central New York Genealogical Society and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society are cosponsoring what they are calling “the first-ever statewide genealogical conference in New York.”
New York State poses numerous challenges for even the most experienced family history researcher. The New York State Family History Conference is hoped to help break down research barriers and provide a forum that brings people together to share their research knowledge and problem-solving experiences and to collaborate on key research issues. Future conferences are expected to be scheduled at regular intervals. Continue reading →
New York author L. Lloyd Stewart has recently published an extensively researched and documented book on African American history in New York State titled, The Mysterious Black Migration 1800-1820: The Van Vrankens and Other Families of African Descent in Washington County, New York.
The author will be at the Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) during May’s Troy Night Out, on May 31, 2013. Stewart will give a presentation at 6:30 pm and will be available to sign copies of his book afterward. Continue reading →
In the 1830s, hundreds of inventors around the world focused on attempts at automating farm equipment. Reducing the drudgery, difficulty, and danger of farm jobs were the primary goals, accompanied by the potential of providing great wealth for the successful inventor. Among the North Country men tinkering with technology was Eliakim Briggs of Fort Covington in northern Franklin County.
Functional, power-driven machinery was the desired result of his work, but while some tried to harness steam, Briggs turned right to the source for providing horsepower: the horse. Continue reading →
We are a story-telling species. Storytellers need an audience. Storytellers and the audience need a place to meet. The venue may vary, the technology may change, the message evolves, but somehow, in some way, we will tell stories. They define who we are as individuals and as members of something larger than ourselves, a family, a community, a county, a state, a country, or a religion.
How exactly would we celebrate Easter or Passover without a story to tell? Would we even celebrate them if there were no story? With these thoughts in mind, I would like to turn to some examples of the importance of storytelling and community which I have noticed. Continue reading →
Attendees will have an opportunity to advance their skills in researching New York State families and to build general skills. The two-day conference — scheduled for Friday and Saturday, September 20-21, 2013 – includes twenty lectures in two parallel tracks- a Thursday evening reception- two luncheons and a dinner banquet, speakers, and exhibits by vendors and societies. The conference takes place in the Holiday Inn and Conference Center, Liverpool, New York, just outside Syracuse. Continue reading →
Who are we? Where do we come from? These are questions that genealogists, new and experienced alike, love to reflect upon and research. By collecting family stories and photographs, following the paper trails left behind across generations, and learning about the history of communities and nations, you can discover your lineage, develop awareness about the lives of your ancestors, and better understand your place in history and in your family.
On Saturday, October 27, participants in Genealogy Day at the Schenectady County Historical Society will explore many possible ways to uncover your family history. Genealogy Day will feature four speakers. Joan Parslow, Director of the Albany Family History Center, will discuss the genealogy resources available at the Family History Center and talk about recent changes in the www.familysearch.org website. Attorney John Gearing will examine legal records as a resource for genealogy researchers. Michael Aikey, Director of the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs, will focus on the genealogy resources available at the NYS Military Museum and the museum’s website, with an emphasis on researching New York State Civil War ancestors. Brian Kasler, Division Chairperson for the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service and a member of the Capital District Funeral Directors Association, will speak about funeral homes as a resource for genealogists.
Genealogy Day also offers participants the opportunity to explore the resources available at the Grems-Doolittle Library. The Librarian and library volunteers will be on hand to field questions, assist researchers, help participants get started in their genealogy research, or brainstorm strategies to overcome “brick wall” genealogical research problems that appear too difficult to solve.
Pre-registration for Genealogy Day is suggested, due to limited seating. The cost of admission for the day is $5.00- admission is free for members of the Schenectady County Historical Society. There will be a break for lunch for attendees to eat off-site- a list of nearby restaurants will be provided. For a detailed schedule for Genealogy Day, or to pre-register, contact Melissa Tacke, Librarian/Archivist at the Schenectady County Historical Society, by phone at 518-374-0263, option “3”, or by email at email@example.com. The Schenectady County Historical Society is wheelchair accessible, with off-street parking behind the building and overflow parking next door at the YWCA.
The National Archives and Records Administration has announced a fall 2012 opening of the new location for the National Archives at New York City—the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at One Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan.
“This exciting new venture will bring the records of American history to life through exhibitions, educational and research opportunities, an expanded research room, and public programs for hundreds of thousands of new visitors each year. We are thrilled to bring the National Archives to New York City – a location close to my heart” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, who formerly served as Director of the New York Public Libraries.
The National Archives’ New York research facility was on Varick Street in Greenwich Village for 20 years. The new location at the Alexander Hamilton U.S.Custom House will provide greater visibility and accessibility to the important Federal records originating in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It will allow the Archives to expand its research functions in New York and create a new educational destination in a building that already welcomes museum visitors through the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. The new educational spaces and exhibitions are made possible by a public-private partnership between the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives.
Components of the National Archives at New York City, all free and open to the public, will include: A Welcome Center to introduce visitors to the National Archives and the depth and diversity of Federal records. The Center will feature a small exhibition gallery with a changing selection of original documents from the National Archives, in addition to an opening exhibition in the grand rotunda of the Alexander Hamilton U.S.Custom House.
A Research Center for scholars, genealogists, and the general public to conduct their own research using original records and microfilm holdings with the assistance of professional archivists. Researchers will have free access to resources including online subscription services such as Ancestry, Fold3, Heritage Quest, and ProQuest.
A Learning Center to welcome school groups and families and to encourage them to explore National Archives records through workshops, school programs, online access, “Archival Adventures,” and more. Exhibitions in the Alexander Hamilton U.S.Custom House Rotunda featuring holdings from the Archives. The opening exhibition, “The World’s Port: Through Documents of the National Archives,” opens September 21, 2012, and runs through November 25, 2012.
Public Programs in the Welcome, Research and Learning Centers and in the Alexander Hamilton U.S.Custom House’s 300-seat theater and lecture halls to highlight the nation’s history and New York’s special role in shaping the nation. Outreach programs will increase awareness of National Archives resources in New York and nationwide.
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent Federal agency that serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The agency supports democracy, promote civic education, and facilitate historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and on the Internet at www.archives.gov.
The Foundation for the National Archives is an independent nonprofit that serves as the National Archives’ private-sector partner in the creation of and ongoing support of the National Archives Experience, which includes permanent exhibits, educational programs, traveling exhibits, special events and film screenings, and historical/records-related products, publications, and media. The Foundation helps the public understand the importance of the holdings of the National Archives by presenting the depth and diversity of the records through award-winning, interactive educational exhibits and programs. It generates financial and creative support for the National Archives Experience from individuals, foundations, and corporations who share a belief in the importance of innovative civics education. In addition, the Foundation has taken the Archives nationwide through online initiatives such as the Digital Vaults online exhibit and DocsTeach, a web-based educational resource. These components make the rich resources of the National Archives accessible to Americans nationwide.
The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, completed by architect Cass Gilbert in 1907, is a magnificent Beaux-Arts style building located at the junction of the Wall Street Financial District and the Battery Park tourism district. Its exterior and interior are decorated with carvings, murals and sculpture, including work by Daniel Chester French, Louis Tiffany, and Louis St. Gaudens. The site itself is historically significant, from its origins as the location of Fort Amsterdam, the nucleus of what would become New York City. The National Archives at New York City will occupy space on the 3rd and 4th floor of the Custom House. The rotunda, auditorium and lecture halls are shared spaces.
This is a family event to celebrate the history of freedom seekers who came to Peterboro with the aid of abolitionist Gerrit Smith. The morning program begins with a reception and refreshments, tent meeting, annual group photo, procession to Peterboro Cemetery, wreath ceremony to honor Gerrit Smith and a memorial dedication of a stone for a freedom seeker who is buried in the Peterboro Cemetery. The afternoon program will include a tour of the estate, games and contests for children, and a talk by guest speaker Hugh Humphreys at the Smithfield Community Center on Pleasant Valley Road in Peterboro at 2:00 PM. Humphreys’ presentation titled “Dr. King and the Mighty Stream of Righteousness- a Journey from Peterboro to Montgomery.” will explore the history and influences of early reform on the Civil Rights movement. The 2012 celebration marks the 3rd year the event has been revived in Peterboro from its early beginnings in the 19th century. A $5 donation at admission is suggested and the event is open to the public. For more information: 315-280-8828 and firstname.lastname@example.orgMorning registration will take place at the Gerrit Smith Estate at 5304 Oxbow Road in Peterboro, NY at 10:00 AM. Parking is free. No lunch will be served, but there will be a break for families to picnic.
The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (GSENHL) is on the state and national Underground Railroad trails. The GSENHL is open in 2012 on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 – 5 pm from May 19 to September 23, by appointment, and for special events. Admission is $3 for adults and free for students. For more information: 315-280-8828 or www.gerritsmith.org.
Photo: Jim Corpin, one of the organizers of the 21st C. Peterboro Emancipation Days examines a family genealogy chart brought to the 2011 Peterboro Emancipation Day. Photo provided.