An Innovative 3D, Augmented Reality Shaker Village Project

virtual-geShaker Heritage Society recently completed a dynamic on-line resource called Virtual Watervliet (VWV).  Virtual Watervliet provides a high quality experience via a website or mobile application that helps users better understand the significance and development of America’s first Shaker settlement.

At the core of VWV, is the digital reconstruction of all known Shaker structures built in the publically accessible areas of the Watervliet Shaker National Historic District since the late 18th century.  The digital reconstruction allows users to fly through the historic site and to rotate 3D models of historic Shaker architecture. Read more

Mount Lebanon Herb Festival at Historic Shaker Village

2nd annual mount lebanon herbfest finalThe Mount Lebanon Herb Festival will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, rain or shine on the campus of the Darrow School in New Lebanon, NY, the historic grounds of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village.

New Lebanon has a remarkable history with herbs. Its famous warm spring feeds the Shaker Swamp in the village of New Lebanon, and that supported an extraordinary collection of wild herbs long used by Native Americans. The Shakers, who based their national headquarters in New Lebanon, expanded on the uses of these herbs and created an industry around their sales. In 1824, Elam Tilden (father of politician Samuel J. Tilden) put this knowledge toward the start of one of the nation’s first pharmaceutical companies, the Tilden Company, using herbal tinctures, extracts and compounds derived in New Lebanon that were eventually marketed around the world. Read more

Guided Tours at the Shaker Heritage Society

The Shaker Heritage Society is offering guided tours of America’s first Shaker Settlement. Tours will run every Saturday beginning May 5th through September 29th. Participants will learn the story of the Shakers, a group that played important roles in shaping local and national history. The grounds also house a historic herb garden, chickens, turkeys, and oxen, the grave of Shaker founder Mother Ann Lee and other important Shakers in the Shaker cemetery.

Guided tours begin the 1848 Shaker Meeting House at the site of America’s first Shaker settlement. The historic site is adjacent to Albany International Airport off of Heritage Lane. Tours begin at 1:00pm. There is a suggested donation of $5.

For more information visit or call 518-456-7890.

19th Century Divorce, Shakers Subject of Author Talk

Ilyon Woo, author of The Great Divorce: A Nineteenth-Century Mother’s Extraordinary Fight against Her Husband, the Shakers, and Her Times (2010), a new work of popular history set in the Capital Region, will discuss the book at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, October 21, 2010, in the Shaker Meeting House, 25 Meeting House Rd, near Albany International Airport. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. the author will present an informal seminar in the Standish Room, Science Library on the UAlbany uptown campus. Sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and the Shaker Heritage Society, the events are free and open to the public.

Ilyon Woo’s first book is a highly-praised work of popular history set in the Capital Region. Eunice Chapman is compelled to seek custody of her three children after their 1814 abduction by her estranged, alcoholic husband James, who elected to become a member of the Shaker community. James, who had sold the family home in Durham, New York, absconding with the money and leaving his family destitute, first brings the children to live at the Watervliet Shaker Settlement, located near what is now the Albany International Airport, before taking them into hiding at another Shaker site in New Hampshire. Much of the action also takes place at sessions of the New York State Legislature, where Eunice is compelled to use &#8220feminine wiles,&#8221 and a previously untapped talent for public speaking, in order to win lawmakers over to her cause.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Debby Applegate called the book &#8220masterfully written, deeply suspenseful, and filled with fascinating facts and insights,&#8221 and National Book Award winner Nathaniel Philbrick said, &#8220Woo brings the past to life in all its wonderful strangeness, complexity, and verve…. This is what history is all about.&#8221 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner in nonfiction, John Matteson said, &#8220A writer of extraordinary empathy and great resourcefulness, Ilyon Woo has transformed a neglected historical record into a vivid evocation of an era and an amazing tribute to a remarkably tenacious woman, Eunice Chapman. Meticulously researched and compellingly narrated, &#8216-The Great Divorce’ will stand beside the work of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in the pantheon of American women’s history writing.&#8221

A graduate of Yale and Columbia, Ilyon Woo has been interested in the Shakers since girlhood. In 2000 she starred in a short film directed by celebrated African American film pioneer Charles Burnett about the inter-generational divide between a young Korean American woman and her grandmother, set against the backdrop of a Little League baseball game. In recent days, she has been working on dramatic readings of portions of &#8220The Great Divorce,&#8221 which have been staged at Harvard University’s Fruitlands Museum and other venues.

For more information contact the New York State Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or visit

Women and Divorce: 19th Century Outrage-21st Century Strategies

The Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, in collaboration with co-sponsors Adrienne Rothstein Grace, Certified Financial Planner, and the Western New York Women’s Bar Association, will present &#8220Women and Divorce: 19th Century Outrage/21st Century Strategies,&#8221 an evening of speakers on the topic of the changing rights and history of women and divorce in New York State on Thursday, August 26, at 7 p.m.
at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, 25 Nottingham Court (at Elmwood Ave.).

Keynote speaker Dr. Ilyon Woo is the author of The Great Divorce: A Nineteenth-Century Mother’s Extraordinary Fight against Her Husband, the Shakers, and Her Times (Atlantic Monthly Press). The book tells the story of Eunice Hawley Chapman, whose husband left her, taking their children, and joined the Shakers, a reclusive religious sect. At the time, a married woman in her circumstances had few rights and no legal identity. Chapman sought unprecedented intervention, and fought hard for the return of her children, rallying even the State legislature. Dr. Woo will speak on the topics addressed in her book. She will also sign copies of the book, which is available in the Museum’s gift shop

Attorney Carol A. Condon will address present-day New York State divorce law. New York is the last state in America to consider putting no-fault divorce laws on its books. Condon is a member of the Family Law Committee of the Bar Association of Erie County, and of the New York State Bar Association. She is a frequent speaker and author on topics related to divorce and family law. Condon is the past president of the Western New York Chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York.

Co-sponsor Adrienne Rothstein Grace, Certified Financial Planner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, will present information specifically on the topic of divorce financial planning. Rothstein Grace has a widely varied background in financial services. She is currently with Mass Mutual/The Buffalo Agency. In concert with attorneys and mediators, Rothstein Grace helps clients in divorce gain clear ideas of their financial position, outline different settlement scenarios, and forecast long term effects.

The event is $7.00- Free to Historical Society and Western New York Women’s Bar Association members. For more information log on to, e-mail [email protected], or call 873-9644 x319.