Tag Archives: Material Culture

Request for Pictures of Ulster County Veterans

Friends of Senate House are seeking pictures of Ulster County’s veterans and active duty military to use in their holiday decorations at the Loughran House located on the grounds of the Senate House Historic Site.

The front room of the Victorian Italianate-style home will be decorated in a military theme, and the volunteers will decorate the tree (the largest one in the house), with the pictures they receive. Volunteers will copy and mount the pictures as ornaments which will list the name of the service member, their military branch and dates of service. Continue reading

A History of the Albany County Hall of Records

The following essay by Albany County Clerk Thomas Clingan is reprinted with permission from the Tivoli Times, the newsletter of the Albany County Hall of Records (ACHOR). ACHOR celebrated its 30th Anniversary in October.

Albany County can trace its records management program to a 1978 National Historical Publications and Records Commission (“NHRPC”) grant of $9235 to inventory Albany County Clerk records, accepted by the Albany County Legislature in Resolution 99 of 1978. This first modern inventory was completed and printed in 1979. The theft and quick recovery of County Clerk’s oldest Dutch record book in May 1980 increased public awareness of the need to safeguard these documents, and in January 1981, Resolution 10 of that year accepted a further $20,000 NHPRC grant to study the possibility of a joint city and county archives and records management system.

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Contribute To A History of NYC in 100 Objects

A Checker taxicab, a conductor’s (OK, not just any conductor but Leonard Bernstein) baton, the blue-and-white Greek coffee cups and the elevator safety brake. A subway token and a mastodon tusk. Inspired by the British Museum’s ”A History of the World in 100 Objects,” The New York Times recruited historians and curators to identify objects that embody the narrative of New York City. Now they’re expanding that list into a book and need your help!

The museum’s ”History of the World” was limited to objects in its own collection. We have no limitations, except that when we asked readers for their suggestions, we probably should have defined “objects” more specifically. Readers suggested a number of people (former Mayor Edward I. Koch, among others) and some things like Central Park, Grand Central Terminal, Kennedy Airport, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building and the Unisphere, which wouldn’t fit in a museum.

Readers recommended the subway token (substituted for a NYC MetroCard), Bella Abzug’s hat, and a hearty helping of food, from pizza slices (triangular and square)- egg creams (made with Fox’s U-bet chocolate syrup)- pastrami sandwiches- Mello-Rolls and other ice cream treats- seltzer bottles- Ebinger’s blackout cake- the cream-cheese sandwiches at Chock Full o’Nuts- plantains- cheesecake from Junior’s and Lindy’s- Charlotte russes- a pickle barrel- and hot dogs from Nathan’s and from carts under the ubiquitous blue-and-yellow Sabrett umbrellas.

Only a few symbols summon the city more immediately than the ”I love NY” logo, designed by Milton Glaser in 1977 for a state campaign to spur tourism, but does that qualify as an object? Also, we are looking for quirky, other-than-obvious objects that don’t just evoke New York, but that also could be used to tell the story of the city: A lottery wheel from the Civil War draft, a crack vial from the 1980s, the 1-inch-by-3 inch Delaney card, the visual attendance record invented by a Bronx teacher that, the reader wrote, ”held the power of life and death over a student” and Con Edison’s orange-and-white chimneys placed over manholes to allow steam to escape without scalding passers-by or obscuring visibility.

Any suggestions would be very welcome. Send them to Sam Roberts at The New York Times (samrob@nytimes.com).

Seneca Falls Wesleyan Chapel Pews Updated

Women’s Rights National Historical Park Superintendent Tammy Duchesne has announced that replacement cushions for the “recycled pews” in the Wesleyan Chapel have been installed. “We are pleased with the new cushions. When we installed the wooden pews in July, we had plans to finish them with cushions so they would resemble the originals,” said Duchesne.

Park Historian Anne Derousie explained more, “The pews that are now in the Wesleyan Chapel were originally built in 1871 for the First Congregational Church of Seneca Falls, a descendant church of the Wesleyan Chapel. Nine of these pews were purchased by the Park in June, along with a set of pew cushions that were very worn.” These worn cushions were a valuable resource and were used to determine the size, color, and construction of the replacement cushions.

Public programs in the Wesleyan Chapel are offered daily at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. “Everyone is invited to experience the new cushions for themselves and join us for one or all of our ranger programs,” added Duchesne. The Wesleyan Chapel is the site of the First Women’s Rights Convention held July 19 and 20, 1848 and is the centerpiece of Women’s Rights National Historical Park.

For more information visit their website at www.nps.gov/wori or call (315) 568-0024. You can also follow the park’s social media sites for Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/womensrightsnps) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/WomensRightsNPS) to learn more about their upcoming programs.

Albany Institute Launches New Lecture Series

Beginning this month the Albany Institute of History &amp- Art will launch a new monthly lecture series entitled Making It American. The series will take a broad look at what art and material culture can teach us about the development of American history, culture, the arts, politics, and our identity as a nation.

In this series, invited scholars will analyze American values and ideals to enhance our experience and understanding of our world. A painting or school of painters, or a spinning wheel or farm kitchen tools will serve as touchstones for the series. Continue reading

Ticonderogas 2013 Material Culture Weekend Set

Fort Ticonderoga will host its Third Annual “Material Matters: It’s in the Details” the weekend of January 26 and 27, 2013. This weekend event focuses on the material culture of the 18th century and is intended for collectors, re-enactors, and people with a general interest in learning more about objects of the 18th century and what they can tell us about history. “Material Matters” takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center at Fort Ticonderoga and is open by pre-registration only. Continue reading

Holidays: Model Trains, Toys at N-Y Historical Society

Magnificent model trains, train stations and sheds, bridges and tunnels, carousels and Ferris wheels—all populated with toy figurines in colorful nineteenth-century dress, will be on view this holiday season at the New-York Historical Society, in the first museum exhibition of selections from the renowned Jerni Collection. Continue reading

Manumission Document Tells Story Emancipation in NY

The Jay Heritage Center (JHC) has announce the gift of an original manumission document for its African American History collection. The word “manumission” means to emancipate or free from bondage.

Manumission documents like this one issued by a New York slaveholder are rare. In this instance, the signatory freeing a slave known only by the name of “Lewis,” is identified as Richard Hatfield, Jr. Hatfield was the son of a leading lawyer, Richard Hatfield, Sr. (1750 -1813) a delegate to the NY State Convention that ratified the constitution. It is recorded that he inherited land (and presumably slaves) that stretched “from the Scarsdale or “Indian Line of Marked Trees” to, or almost to, the then Road to Rye Neck, (now Old Mamaroneck Road, Gedney Way and Mamaroneck Avenue). His property would have passed to his son, Richard Hatfield, Jr. who was an attorney as well.

Instruments like this one were often recorded in the Libers of Conveyances in the Recorder’s Office of the City of New York, usually at the request of the freed slave as an added protection. Another signature on the paper that merits interest is that of Richard Riker (1773-1842) who served as NY Recorder, prior to and after John Jay’s eldest son, Peter Augustus Jay.

But unlike Jay and Jay’s fellow members of the NY Manumission Society who actively fought to end slave trafficking, Riker is rumored to have been complicit in the kidnapping of freed blacks for purposes of selling them back into slavery. This document helps vividly narrate a chapter in African American history when freedom was not only hard won but also uncertain to last- even elected officials could not be trusted to abide by legal writs.

The document was donated by Carol Ubosi nee Smith of the Purdy, Bell and Potter families who have resided in Westchester County since the 1700s. It was found in the 1980s by Ms. Ubosi’s mother, May Potter Smith, amongst several nineteenth century items in the attic of their family home in Harrison. Although this important story was carefully preserved in a family bible, it is still not known how “Lewis” was connected to the Purdy/Bell family of Harrison. A search for further information and context is ongoing.

Last fall, after contacting JHC president Suzanne Clary for research help about the historic African Cemetery in Rye where her ancestors are buried, Ubosi expressed her interest in making the gift to JHC where it could be made available to area schools and scholars. Ubosi grew up in Mamaroneck and New Rochelle and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. She attended Central State University in Ohio and has taught in White Plains and Silver Spring. She is presently working on a book about the genealogy of her family with Alesia McFadden, a historian of African American History. As an educator, Ubosi hopes this manumission document will shed some light on the rich history of African-Americans living in Westchester and inspire others to explore and share their own family heritage

The Jay Heritage Center is equally delighted that this primary source will be shared with the many middle school history classes who regularly come through its doors to learn about African American History in New York and Westchester. “When students ask us, ‘What does manumission mean?’ says Clary, “this remarkable document will tangibly show them one man’s transition from servitude to freedom almost 200 years ago. The mere fact of its existence demonstrates how precious this paper was to its owner and his descendants. For those families who will see it firsthand at our site it will prompt the necessary questions that are central to an ongoing discussion about the evolution of social justice in our country.” The Jay Heritage Center has been a member site of the African American Heritage Trail since 2004- John Jay and his family played active roles in abolishing slavery in New York.

Cayuga Museum Opens Historic Maps Exhibit

The Cayuga Museum of History and Art has opened their main fall exhibit You Are Here! Putting Auburn on the Map. The exhibit, which explores the variety and history of maps, and how they are made and read, was inspired by maps held in the Museum, mostly in the General John S. Clark collection. Continue reading

New-York Historicals World War Two in NYC Exhibit Opens

The most widespread, destructive, and consequential conflict in history will be the subject of WWII &amp- NYC, a major new exhibition now on view at the New-York Historical Society through May 27, 2013. Restoring to memory New York’s crucial and multifaceted role in winning the war, the exhibition commemorates the 900,000 New Yorkers who served in the military and also explores the ways in which those who remained on the home front contributed to the national war effort. Continue reading