Votes for Women History Trail Makes Progress

The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 signed by President Obama authorized the Women’s Rights National Historical Park (NHP) to administer a Votes for Women History Trail Route that would link properties in the New York State that are historically and thematically associated with the struggle for women’s suffrage in the United States.Upstate New York is home to some of the most significant locations of the women’s suffrage movement and the trail is expected to recognize some of the courageous women who led the way to equal rights and will also allow visitors to see the historic places where these pioneering actions occurred.

Although Women’s Rights NHP was authorized to develop and administer this vehicular route, until now no funds had been appropriated for this purpose. The National Park Service recently provided funds through the Park Service’s Washington office to begin the process of formally establishing the trail by defining the criteria for participation and a selection process by which trail sites would be selected.

The Women’s Rights NHP will be holding a public meeting to seek public comments and
suggestions on Wednesday, August 22, 2012 in Seneca Falls regarding the Votes for Women History Trail Route. All are invited to attend this meeting and share ideas. More information about the time and location of the August public meeting will be made available as soon as it is available.

For more information, please the website or call (315) 568-0024. 

To be considered for inclusion in the trail, the National Park Service requires that properties be historically significant and easily accessible to the public. The list of potential sites includes:

* Susan B. Anthony Memorial, Rochester

* Antoinette Brown Blackwell Childhood Home, Henrietta

* Ontario County Courthouse, Canandaigua

* M’Clintock House, Waterloo

* Jane Hunt House, Waterloo

* Jacob P. Chamberlain House, Seneca Falls

* Lorina Latham House, Seneca Falls

* Wesleyan Chapel, Seneca Falls

* Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, Seneca Falls

* First Presbyterian Church, Seneca Falls

* Race House, Seneca Falls, Seneca Falls

* Hoskins House, Seneca Falls

* Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, Auburn

* Harriet May Mills House, Syracuse

* Matilda Joslyn Gage House, Fayetteville.

Regional Economic Councils and Heritage Tourism

The great Yogi said &#8220when you come to the fork in the road, take it.&#8221 Truer words of wisdom were never spoken. I thought of this gem of Americana following my recent post about the Path through History sign project.

Appropriately, I will be presenting two responses from two people from two different regions, one private individual and one public employee, one by email with attachments and one by email and phone call. The two individuals will remain anonymous and I will present their thoughts in the order in which they were received. Read more

Andrew Cuomo and New York History

Through several initiatives and statements, Governor Andrew Cuomo has become a highly visible proponent of New York State history. Taken together, his projects constitute evidence of vision, interest, and support. Cuomo sees history as something that can be used to deepen understanding, provide perspective, and help guide us into the future. Read more

Hudson River Greenway Offers Trail Grant Program

Applications are now available for the 2012 Greenway Conservancy Small Grant Program from the The Hudson River Valley Greenway. A total of $50,000 is available for matching grants in this year’s program.The Greenway Conservancy Small Grant Program is an annual competitive grant funding opportunity available to communities and not-for-profit organizations within the designated Hudson River Valley Greenway area, which extends from Saratoga and Washington counties to Battery Park, Manhattan.
The program offers funding for trail planning and design, construction and rehabilitation, and education and interpretation. Emphasis is placed on trail projects that seek to implement the goals of the Greenway Trail Vision Plan, fill in identified gaps in the Greenway Trail System, and make improvements to designated Greenway Trails. Copies of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail Vision Plan may be downloaded online. This annual program has offered technical and financial assistance to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations since 1995.

Projects that will be considered for funding through this year’s grant program include:

· Education and Interpretation projects, including trail signs, kiosks, guides, maps, brochures, one-day conferences or workshop series. 

· Projects to construct, design or plan trail segments or trail links that further the goals of the Greenway Trail Program.

· Rehabilitation projects to improve trails/trail segments that further the goals of the Greenway Trail Program.

Applications can be requested by calling (518) 473-3835, by emailing the Greenway at [email protected], or by download from the Greenway website. All applications must be postmarked by 5:00 pm, August 17, 2012. Late, incomplete, faxed or emailed applications will not be accepted.

New Leadership for Great Lakes Seaway Trail

Seaway Trail, Inc. has named Michael “Mike” Bristol as its new President and CEO. The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a 518-mile, two-state National Scenic Byway, a New York State Scenic Byway, and a state-designated Bicycle Route in New York and Pennsylvania. Bristol becomes only the second President and CEO in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail’s 34-year history.

The Seaway Trail scenic driving route was designated in 1978. The Seaway Trail, Inc. nonprofit organization formed in 1986 with Teresa Mitchell as its first director. Mitchell passed away in January and Charles “Chuck” Krupke served as Interim Executive Director.

Mike Bristol began his new leadership role July 2, 2012. He brings nearly 30 years’ experience in tourism, athletics and nonprofit management to the tourism and economic development organization based in Sackets Harbor, NY.

A Florida State University graduate, Bristol was the Associate Director of his alma mater’s Seminole Boosters, Inc., a national-level fundraising corporation. He served as President and CEO of the Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau from 2002 to 2005.

Upon returning to his native northern New York, Bristol served as Director of Marketing and Outreach for The Antique Boat Museum on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in Clayton, NY. Bristol is a member of the Clayton Local Development Corporation Redevelopment Committee that is overseeing a new dock and hotel development.

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail organization is known for diverse travel theme marketing, a “Best of the Byways” guidebooks series, Great Lakes Seaway Trail “Outdoor Storyteller” signage, and innovative programming that includes a American Volkssport Association-approved series of War of 1812-theme walks.

Popular travel themes include scenic driving road trips, maritime and military history, four seasons’ outdoor recreation, birdwatching, lighthouses and shipwrecks, bicycling, quilting and cultural heritage.

To learn more about the Great Lakes Seaway Trail byway that runs alongside the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania, go online to

Photo provided.

Signage Plans Focus on Local Historians

Is resurgence in the interest in history a sign of the time?  It seems so as two initiatives to promote the importance of history and heritage of New York both use signs as a means to the end.

At the 2012 conference of the Association of Public Historians of New York State on Long Island, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation used that opportunity to announce that their organization was taking their interest in historical markers statewide. Read more

Peter Feinman: Cuomos Path Through History Project

Our Governor’s father, also a Governor, was a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln. The son wants to make history as the first President of Ellis Island origin. He has gained a reputation as a passion advocate for the restoration of the Capitol, so much so that he was said that he seemed &#8220at times more like its chief historian—or at other moments, its chief architect, interior decorator and custodian&#8221 (New York Times). Read more

Debi Duke: Make No Little Plans

Peter Feinman may be the Daniel Burnham of New York History. Burnham, born 1912 in Henderson, NY, was an architect and urban planner. Among his many projects were the Flatiron Building in NYC and master plans for Chicago and Washington, DC. He once told his colleagues “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans. Aim high in hope and work.” Peter stirs the blood of those of us who want to encourage appreciation for and preservation of our state, regional, and local culture and history. He’s great at pointing out bureaucratic folly, confused thinking, and just plain laziness in every quarter, and he offers useful advice about promoting what I would call a place-based agenda.
I’ve often hesitated to engage Peter—in person or here on New York History—precisely because he doesn’t think small, and I feared my ideas would fail to stir souls. As someone who works with teachers and informal educators at museums, historic sites, parks, and so on, stirring souls means taking on those whose actions, if not words, are changing for the worse the way all of us think and talk about education. As individuals the folks I serve often feel there is little they can do to change decisions being made at the state and national level. These actions increasingly equate learning with test scores leaving shallower curriculum in their wake. Teachers and informal educators also often feel powerless to alter an amorphous atmosphere that seems bent on erasing every opportunity to draw on students’ interests, community happenings and resources, or their own creativity. Yes, they encourage their organizations to do the right thing when these issues are on the table, but many aren’t really interested in becoming policy experts or spending time lobbying. Yes, they apply for grants to make field trips possible, even when they’ve been cut from district budgets. If they have time they may get to know the staff at the local historical society, museum, or environmental group. But where, I wondered, is the BIG idea worthy of Burnham or Peter? I think I may have found it in one of my favorite blogs, “Bridging Differences,” published by Education Week. Taking turns, veteran educator and author Deborah Meier and NYU education historian Diane Ravitch take on the biggest issues in education sharing insights, differences, and more. In her June 7 post, Meier articulated perfectly a big idea many teachers and informal educators I know live by even if they don’t articulate it as bluntly as she does. Early in her career Meier was taken aback when “a lady arrived from ‘downtown’” and criticized her classroom. It seems Meier wasn’t following “the curriculum guide” and had instead interpreted its themes in ways she thought would engage her students including, as it happens, anchoring it in the place she was teaching.As Meier puzzled over how to respond to the lady from downtown, her colleagues “came out of hiding,” Meier wrote, and reassured “me that she’d never be back. They apologized for not having explained ahead of time what one does in such circumstances. Which is, essentially, to lie and apologize.“I spent many years following that advice—and truly no one ever ‘came back.’ And I passed on this advice to student-teachers….” Meier added.So, is the big idea “lie and apologize?” Maybe. But maybe it’s this: while we’re trying to change curriculum, standards, tests, and all the other constraints that make it hard to incorporate place-based learning, let’s do what we can to let teachers know that we want them to use their judgment and creativity even when it feels like no one else does.

Debi Duke is coordinator of Teaching the Hudson Valley, a program of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area & Greenway, the National Park Service’s Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites, NYS DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program, and the Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College.