Historic Local Recordings Now Available in Plattsburgh

Access to hundreds of audio recordings that reveal the rich histories of Clinton, Essex, and Franklin Counties are now available at SUNY Plattsburgh’s Feinberg Library’s Special Collections.

Recordings include Adirondack Folk Music- Clinton, Essex, and Franklin County oral histories, including those by local residents born prior to the American Civil War- SUNY Plattsburgh concerts- a 1963 recording of Edward “Doc” Redcay on piano and Junior Barber on dobro- and four-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Frost reading his works.

The collection of recordings is the result of a collaborative effort by SUNY Plattsburgh Communications Professor Timothy Clukey and Feinberg Library’s Special Collections staff. According to a statement released to the press &#8220copyright restrictions require that researchers visit Special Collections during open hours to listen to any of these recordings.&#8221 The recordings are available as mp3 files on a new Audio Station computer kiosk.

A Soundscriber Recorder was used in the mid-20th century by Marjorie Lansing Porter, historian for Clinton and Essex counties. Porter recorded 456 interviews with elderly local residents telling stories and singing traditional Adirondack folk music.

Among the folk music examples, Granma Delorme sang more than one hundred folk songs for Porter, including a Battle of Plattsburgh ballad composed by General Alexander Macomb’s wife. Included also is &#8220Yankee&#8221 John Galusha singing &#8220The Three Hunters,&#8221 &#8220A Lumbering We Shall Go,&#8221 and &#8220Adirondack Eagle.&#8221 Francis Delong sings &#8220My Adirondack Home,&#8221 and &#8220Peddler Jack.&#8221

Many of the recorded songs deal with mining, lumbering, Adirondack folk tales, and other subjects, as well as traditional Irish and French folk music handed down through generations. The Porter Oral History Interviews cover many topics of historical interest in Clinton and Essex Counties, such as ferry boats, Redford glass, mining, and lumbering.

The Audio Station also includes 96 interviews conducted by William Langlois and Robert McGowan with elder Franklin County residents in the 1970s.Plans in the works for additions to the Audio Station include:

Rockwell Kent audio recordings (now on reel-to-reel tapes in Special Collections’ Rockwell Kent Collection)-

SUNY Plattsburgh Past President Dr. George Angell speaking on antiwar action in 1967—“Protest is Not Enough&#8221-The 1965 SUNY Plattsburgh Students for a Democratic Society and S.E.A.N.Y.S. teach-in, “The Vietnam Question,” with introduction by Dr. Angell- A1964 speech by Senator-Elect Robert Kennedy on the Plattsburgh campus- and a 1964 meeting between Senator-Elect Kennedy and Dr. Angell, discussing various local and county concerns and other topics.For more information, contact Debra Kimok, Special Collections Librarian (email: [email protected] telephone: 518-564-5206).

During the summer, the Feinberg Special Collections will be open on Mondays and Tuesdays, from 1 pm – 4 pm, and on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, from 10 am &#8211 noon and 1 pm – 4 pm. Saturday appointments can be arranged with the Special Collections Librarian.

Lies My Teacher Told Me Author Event Friday

James W. Loewen, award-winning author of the popular Lies My Teacher Told Me titles, will visit the North Country tomorrow Friday, October 14 from 10-12 pm at SUNY Plattsburg.

The freedom education project John Brown Lives! and SUNY Plattsburgh’s Honors College, Department of Anthropology, Department of Education, Health & Human Services and the Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion are teaming up to sponsor Loewen.

Loewen’s address, “Lies My Teacher Told Me About the Civil War—And How They Still Affect Civil Rights Today”, is open to the general public. Known for his engaging style and gripping retelling of U.S. history, Loewen has inspired K-16 teachers across the country to get students to challenge, rather than memorize, their textbooks. His best-selling title, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, resulted from two years studying U.S. history textbooks and it has sold more than 1,250,000 copies.

Currently residing in Washington, D.C., Loewen taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont and previously at the predominantly black Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He has been an expert witness in more than 50 civil rights, voting rights, and employment cases and is also Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, Visiting Professor of Sociology at Catholic University in Washington, DC, and Visiting Professor of African-American Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign.

Books: The War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley

As the 200th anniversary approaches, there will be a steady stream of new books about the War of 1812. But for readers interested in the effects of the war on the ground in the Champlain Valley, there remains just one foundational text, now available for the first time in paper by Syracuse University Press. Although first issued in 1981, Allan S. Everest’s The War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley is still required reading for those hoping to understand the Plattsburgh campaign, considered critical to the war.

The War of 1812, ranks with the often overlooked American conflicts of the 19th century, but unlike the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) or the Spanish-American War (1898-1902), the War of 1812 really was a Second War for Independence. America stood at the other side of Britain’s own Manifest Destiny, the homes, farms, property, and lives of Americans in the Champlain Valley stood in the middle.

The first months of 1814 spelled gloom for America, then only 35 years old. The war against England was stalled. The British continued to kidnap and impress American for service on their warships. They supported Native Americans who attacked outposts and settlements on the American frontier. American harbors were blockaded by the British and New England, never sympathetic with the narrow vote of Congress for war, had become openly hostile and was threatening to secede.

Still worse, Napoleon had been defeated in Europe and Britain could now devote more time and effort to America. The British saw an opportunity to split the new American republic and once again take control of sections of the young colonies. The bold plan called for a combined army and naval strike at Plattsburgh, followed by a drive down the lake and through the Hudson Valley to New York City, splitting the colonies in two. The Americans saw that opportunity too.

The Navy Department contracted Noah Brown, one of New York’s finest shipwrights, to build a fleet to protect the way south from Canada along Lake Champlain. In less than two months, Brown constructed, armed, and launched a total of six of war ships: Allen, Borer, Burrows, Centipede, Nettie, and Viper. With the help of the small Vermont town of Vergennes and its iron foundry that could supply spikes, bolts, and shot, and it’s water-powered sawmills, and surrounding forests filled with white oak and pine for ship timber, Brown built the 26-gun flagship Saratoga, in just 40 days, and commandeered the unfinished steamboat and completed it as the 17-gun schooner Ticonderoga.

Vastly out-manned and outgunned on both land and sea, a rag tag inexperienced group of 1,500 Americans commanded by Capt. Thomas Macdonough met the greatest army and naval power on earth. Because of a serious shortage of sailors for his fleet, he drafted U.S. Army soldiers, band musicians, and convicts serving on an army chain gang to man the ships.

Their leader Macdonough had some experience. He had served against the Barbary pirates in North Africa, but two decades of warfare had given the British considerably more experience. It had for instance, led to the promotion of officers by merit, rather than by purchase or birth. As a result the British forces were the best trained and most experienced in the world and they enjoyed the backing of the world’s greatest military power. Sir George Prevost led the large British army and its fleet into New York and down Lake Champlain to meet the Americans. But what happened that September 11th no one could have predicted.

By the end of the day, the U.S. had achieved the complete and unconditional surrender of the entire British fleet and the full retreat of all British land forces. More importantly, the American victory at Plattsburgh helped persuade the British to end the war.

That’s the bigger story, but the local story is the strength of Allan Everest’s history. As a professor of history at SUNY Plattsburgh, and the author of Moses Hazen and the Canadian Refugees in the American Revolution, Our North Country Heritage, and the seminal book on the region’s prohibition history drawn from local interviewees, Rum Across the Border, Everest had a grasp of the topography of the region’s political, social, and cultural history.

Over some two and a half years, the region saw armies raised, defeated, and disbanded, including their own militia, which was repeatedly called out to protect the border areas and to serve under regular army units. Everest catalogs the political and military rivalries, and the series of disheartening defeats, loss of life, and destruction of property and markets resiliently borne by local people, who were forced to flee when battle threatened, and returned to rebuild their lives.

2001&#8242-s The Final Invasion: Plattsburgh, the War of 1812’s Most Decisive Victory painted with a broader brush and suffered criticism for misunderstanding the Plattsburgh campaign. As a result, Everest’s 30-year-old work &#8211 despite its age &#8211 is still the definitive work on the impact of the War of 1812 on northern New York.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Life of Fugitive Slave Lavinia Bell to be Presented

One hundred and fifty years ago, few knew about Lavinia Bell, a fugitive from slavery who trekked from a Texas plantation to Rouses Point, New York, in search of freedom in Canada. Now, for the first time, her experiences will be presented to the public in “Never Give Up: The Story of Lavinia Bell,” reenacted by Melissa Waddy-Thibodeaux at Plattsburgh State University’s Krinovitz Recital Hall. The presentation will begin at 7:00 PM on February 11, 2011. The event is free and open to the public.

Ms. Thibodeaux’s visit to Plattsburgh in February will be her first to the North Country. She has already earned national acclaim for her sensitive depictions of Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks. The North Country location of the premiere of Mrs. Bell’s story, in the region where her vision was at last realized, is as fitting as are the sponsoring organizations: the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, Plattsburgh State University, and Clinton Community College.

Ms. Thibodeaux will also offer performance workshops for university and college students during her stay in Plattsburgh. On February 12, she will cross into Canada
where, under the sponsorship of the Negro Community Center in Montreal, she will
introduce Mrs. Bell to a waiting audience.

To see Ms. Thibodeaux portray Harriet Tubman visit You Tube.

To learn more about this event, contact Don Papson at [email protected] or
(518) 561-0277.

Slavery in New York, Slavery Today Event

Teachers, librarians, local historians and teaching artists are invited to explore slavery in New York State, historically and today, with guest scholars, curriculum specialists, and front-line investigative reporters on Friday, December 3, 2010, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Heaven Hill Farm, on Bear Cub Road in Lake Placid, New York.

This conversation on slavery and human trafficking in the Empire State, will include special guests:

Margaret Washington, Professor of History at Cornell University and award-winning author of Sojourner Truth’s America, a groundbreaking biography examining the harsh realities of Dutch New York slavery that helped forge one of the nation’s greatest and most widely admired reformers.

John Bowe, prize-winning journalist and author of Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the Global Economy, an eye-opening look at labor abuse and cases of outright slavery in the U.S. today.

Cost: $55 per person includes a box lunch, lesson plans, and other resource materials. Reduced rates are available at $100 for 2 people or $150 for 3 people per institution. Books and other teaching tools will be available for purchase.

SLAVERY IN NEW YORK? SLAVERY TODAY? is part of the Anti-Slavery Convention in the Adirondacks on December 3-5, 2010 and is a joint program of John Brown Lives! and Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion at SUNY Plattsburgh.

For information and to pre-register contact Martha Swan (518-962-4758 [email protected]) or Lindsay Pontius (518-962-8672 [email protected]).

Former Plattsburgh State Museum Director Recognized

SUNY Plattsburgh has announced that the recipient of the college’s 2010 Distinguished Service Award is Edward R. Brohel. After 30 years and 10,000 works of art, Brohel hung his last painting as Plattsburgh State Art Museum director in the summer of 2008.

When Brohel arrived on campus in 1978, the college was a different place. In the words of E. Thomas Moran, SUNY distinguished service professor and director of the Institute for Ethics in Public Life, &#8220The galleries were undeveloped and underutilized. Much of the architecture seemed cold and austere.&#8221

During his tenure on campus, Brohel went a long way toward changing all of that. Under his leadership, the college’s art collection grew from less than 500 pieces to 10,000 pieces and came to include the Meisel Collection, the Student Association Collection, the Nina Winkel Collection, and the Slatkin Study Room and Collection. In addition, Brohel helped to oversee the installation of the Rockwell Kent collection, a gift Sally Kent Gorton bestowed on the college because of the Kents’ friendship with then-President George Angell. This collection represents the largest gathering of Kent’s work in the world.

In addition, new galleries took shape, including the Hans and Vera Hirsch Gallery, the Louise Norton Room, the Winkel Sculpture Court and the Rockwell Kent Gallery.

But Brohel’s work was not limited to galleries. He changed the face of the campus by erecting the Museum Without Walls – a network of art, placed in public spaces and offices throughout campus, based on a concept by Andre Malraux. And, with the help of co-curator Don Osborn, he put in place the college’s sculpture park – a permanent collection of monumental pieces.

&#8220In addition to beautifying the campus in ways that cannot be measured, Ed’s efforts have helped to raise more than $1 million in charitable gifts to the college’s museum, including the George and Nina Winkel, Rockwell Kent, Regina Slatkin, Don Osborn and Hasegawa Art Collections endowments,&#8221 said SUNY Plattsburgh College Council Chair Arnold Amell, &#8220His service has, indeed, meant a lot to this campus.&#8221

As Moran said at a retirement reception honoring Brohel two years ago, &#8220In the end, he created everywhere on campus little grottos of beauty and contemplation. In doing so, he gave our college genuine distinction and amplified the ideal and the essence of what a campus should be.&#8221

Brohel and his wife, Bette G., reside in Plattsburgh.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented by the College Council to honor individuals who have made a lasting contribution to the college, community, state, nation and/or to the international community. The award will be given to Brohel during the college’s commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, May 15.

Adirondack Iron Ore Program in Wilmington

The Wilmington Historical Society will sponsor the program &#8220Adirondack-Champlain Iron: Creator of Boom Towns & Ghost Towns, 1750s-1970s&#8221 with guest speaker John Moravek, Associate Professor of Geography, SUNY Plattsburgh. The program will be held at the Wilmington Community Center on Springfield Road in Wilmington, Essex County, NY on Friday, July 17, at 7 pm. The public is encouraged to attend. Refreshments will be served. For further information, contact Karen Peters at 946-7586 or Merri Peck at 946- 7627.

About the speaker: John Moravek has been on the faculty at SUNY Plattsburgh since arriving in fall semester of 1969. Now an Associate Professor of Geography, he teaches a variety of courses, including Physical Geography, Historical and Cultural Geography of the United States- as well as the History and Cultural Geography of Russia. He has also offered a popular and intensive two-week workshop (a 3-credit course) on the Historical Geography of the Adirondack Region every July for the past 26 years consecutively which he considers a genuine labor of love as an incorrigible &#8220Adirondackophile&#8221. John is also an official Forty-Sixer, having climbed the first 45 mountains solo. His doctoral dissertation, completed in 1976, investigated a number of facets of the history and geography of the Adirondack-Champlain Iron Industry. He has also presented several papers on the topic at professional meetings, with aspirations of writing a book on the topic at some future date. Currently, his publications include a number of Review Essays/Book Critiques on various topics, primarily related to the Adirondack Region.

New Rockwell Kent Exhibition at NYS Museum

The next exhibition in the Great Art Series &#8212- Rockwell Kent: This is My Own – opens at the New York State Museum on November 22. On view through May 17, 2009 in the Museum’s West Gallery, the exhibition is the 20th installment of the Great Art Exhibition and Education Program, which brings works from New York State’s leading art museums and collections to the State Museum. This exhibition will feature works from the collection of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, State University of New York at Plattsburgh, the most complete and balanced collection of Kent’s work in the United States. The collection was established by a gift and bequest from Kent’s wife, Sally Kent Gorton. This exhibition is curated by Cecilia M. Esposito, director of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum.

&#8220We at Plattsburgh, and I as a Regent, are delighted to share the life work of Rockwell Kent with visitors to the New York State Museum from across the state and the nation,” said James Dawson, member of the State Board of Regents. “This powerful and unique exhibition will give visitors an opportunity to engage with, and understand, the life and artistic contributions of Rockwell Kent to American art. As a faculty member at the State University of Plattsburgh, I have been familiar with the Kent Collection for decades. So, I am delighted to see that others in the state and nation will have this same profound opportunity to share in Kent’s incredible artistic talent.”

A critically acclaimed artist who provided the illustrations for such classics as “Moby Dick” and the “Canterbury Tales,” Kent succeeded in multiple endeavors during his lifetime. He was a painter, muralist, illustrator, printmaker, book designer, graphic artist, architect, builder, writer and editor, lecturer, navigator, world traveler and political and social activist.

Kent once said that “art is no more than the shadow cast by a man’s own stature.” This exhibition is unique in the breadth of materials on display, including hundreds of items that chronicle Kent’s life and work, reflecting remarkable personal experiences and a deep sense of moral and political principle. On display are paintings, drawings, prints, books, bookplates, photographs, dinnerware, advertising art and more. “Rockwell Kent,” a documentary produced by Frederick Lewis, and the book, “Rockwell Kent: The Art of the Bookplate” will be for sale in the Museum Shop.

Born in Tarrytown in 1882, Kent experienced a comfortable, upper middle-class lifestyle until the sudden death of his father in 1887. As a young boy he developed a resilience and remarkable work ethic that was evident in all of his future endeavors.

From 1900 through 1902, while studying architecture at Columbia University in New York City, Kent attended painter William Merritt Chase’s summer school for art at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island. He changed his studies to painting and continued classes with Chase in New York. He spent the summer of 1903 with artist Abbott H. Thayer in New Hampshire. Bolstered by the sale of two paintings he quit Columbia and enrolled in the New York School of Art, where he was instructed by Robert Henri, the leader of what is now known as the “Ashcan School.”

Kent achieved both critical and financial success as an artist during the 1920s and 1930s. He became well-known for his book illustrations, bookplates and commercial work. Private collectors and major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, acquired his paintings and prints.

Between 1918 and 1935, Kent traveled to remote parts of the world, often staying for long periods of time to learn about the people who lived there and to express and record his experiences through his paintings and books.

In 1915, during World War I, he was ordered to leave Newfoundland over fears that he was a German spy. While in Newfoundland he painted one of his major works, “House of Dread.” In Alaska, as in other countries he visited, Kent demonstrated his building skills, renovating an abandoned goat shed and turning it into a comfortable home. “Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska” chronicled his adventures there. He also traveled to Tierra del Fuego, where he wrote “Voyaging” about his dangerous travels through the most exposed islands of the archipelago. “N by E” was about another hair-raising adventure &#8212- an ill-fated cruise he took to Greenland in 1929. He returned to Greenland in 1931 where he wrote “Salamina,” named in honor of his housekeeper and mistress. Kent also designed dinnerware by the same name.

Kent purchased a dairy farm in the Adirondacks, outside of the village of Au Sable Forks, in 1927 and named it Asgaard, meaning “home of the gods.” It served as his retreat for the rest of his life. From 1912 to 1968, Kent practiced the time-honored art of the bookplate, creating more than 185 custom-designed bookplates in response to mail orders that came his way, including one for Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.. He also pursued wood engraving, a passion that rivaled his great love for painting.

Kent painted several major murals during the 1930s and 40s. His designs for the 1939 Christmas Seals campaign were used on billboards, stamps and posters. During this time, Kent also produced political art, becoming very active in social and political issues as a member of the Socialist Party he had joined in 1908. In 1953, he was summoned to appear before a subcommittee, chaired by U.S. Senator

Joseph McCarthy, to answer questions about his membership in the Communist Party. From 1957 to 1960, three major exhibitions of Kent’s work were held in the Soviet Union, and in 1960 he gave the country 80 canvases and 800 drawings and prints. He traveled to Moscow in 1967 to accept the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples.

One of Kent’s last lucrative commercial contracts was with General Electric (GE). His painting of a solitary farmhouse on a winter’s night was reproduced in GE’s 1946 calendar and proved so popular that he was asked to provide another for the following year. In January 1946, Kent walked a picket line at GE in Schenectady at the request of the striking workers there. GE officials were not pleased and tried to cancel Kent’s contract but reneged after he threatened a lawsuit.

Kent died at the age of 88 and is buried at Asgaard. His gravestone bears the title of his first autobiography “This is My Own,” a line taken from “Native Land,” a poem by Walter Scott.

On February 14, from 1 to 3 p.m., the Museum will sponsor “ARTventures,” a program planned to complement the Kent exhibition. During a hands-on, art-making experience with instructor Peggy Steinbach, participants will visit the exhibition and then create their own interpretations in paint. Pre-registration is suggested. Call 518-473-7154 or e-mail [email protected]. The program is limited to 15 participants. It is free for Museum members and $5 for non-members.

The New York State Museum expresses its gratitude to Bank of America, the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly for making the Kent exhibition possible. Additional support is provided by The Times Union, WRGB (CBS 6) and Potratz Partners Advertising.

The New York State Museum is a cultural program of the New York State Education Department. Started in 1836, the Museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the United States. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information c
an be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.