On Saturday, June 16, 2012, the Schenectady County Historical Society will host a reunion of Civilian Conservation Corps alumni, family, & friends from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady. Marty Podskoch, author of Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Their History, Memories and Legacy, will give a short presentation and will invite participants to share their memories of the camps. [Read more…] about Schenectady Civilian Conservation Corps Reunion
On May 10, 1862, as the nation was consumed by the ravages of the Civil War, Troy NY faced a devastating fire. As a train crossed the Hudson River on the Troy-Green Island Bridge, a spark from the engine ignited the wooden bridge. The fire spread rapidly, ultimately destroying over 600 buildings in the heart of the city in only six hours. Newspaper accounts, personal letters and even artist renderings depict a city in chaos as people struggled to save their homes and businesses. The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has opened a new exhibit commemorating the 150th anniversary of Troy’s Great Fire. The exhibit runs through August 18, 2012.
Stacy Pomeroy Draper, RCHS Curator, said, “The Great Fire is one of Troy’s most significant events as it dynamically altered the look of the city. As many local towns learned after the hurricane and tropical storms of last year, natural disaster can dramatically change a location in the blink of an eye. The story of Troy’s rise after the fire is one that can inspire us today to rebuild after a tragedy.”
Advances in fire fighting technology, such as the use of steam-powered fire engines were applauded for their role in saving the city, and citizens joined together to re-emerge from the catastrophe. Well known architects designed new buildings in the latest styles and new building codes were introduced mandating the use of fire resistant building materials.
The exhibit focuses on four main themes; Troy in the 1860s, Mid-19th Century fire fighting techniques, the event itself known as The Great Fire of May 10, 1862 and the aftermath, including personal impacts, changes to city code and fire safety. A number of early photographic images, several recently discovered, show the city just before the fire and document the devastation.
Artifacts on display include firefighting equipment such as fire buckets, a rare fireman’s jacket and helmets. Accounts of the event from local newspapers and eyewitness descriptions found in personal letters, several of which came to light as research was undertaken, tell the story firsthand. A number of fire related artifacts from public institutions and private lenders will also be on display for the first time, including a toy steam fire engine from the FASNY Museum of Firefighting in Hudson, New York.
Programming during the exhibit will include a trip to see the extensive fire collections at the FASNY Museum of Firefighting. RCHS will lead a walking tour of the district impacted by the fire on Saturday, May 12 at 10:30am. The tour departs from the Market Table at the Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market. Tour is $5 per person, free for RCHS members.
Stacy Pomeroy Draper, RCHS curator, is available to give illustrated lectures about the fire.
The exhibit is sponsored in part by B-Lann Equipment Co., John G Waite Associates and the Troy Uniformed Firefighters Association.
Illustration: Grandma Moses, “The Burning of Troy in 1862” (1943)
“Our parks are one of the hidden treasures of our state,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said today, inviting New Yorkers to participate in the first ever I Love My Park Day, a statewide event to enhance the state’s parks and historic sites and bring visibility to the entire park system and its needs.
Thousands of New Yorkers are expected to turn out on Saturday, May 5, to volunteer to help improve our state parks. Volunteers will celebrate New York’s state park system by cleaning up park lands and beaches, planting trees and gardens, restoring trails and wildlife habitats, removing invasive species, and working on various site improvement projects.
There are more than 35 participating state parks and historic sites. Bring your friends and family to your favorite park this Saturday and help preserve the beauty of this great state. You can click here to find a park or historic site and sign up, or just show up!
Historians recognize the taking of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 as one of the first great American military victories of American Revolution. As early as the fall of 1776, however, there were hints from the fort’s commander that, owing to a lack of men, the Americans may not be able to hold the spot. General Anthony Wayne (1745-1796) wrote in November 1776: “We shall be hard pushed for time and materials, to put this place in any tolerable state of defence.”
In February 1777 Wayne reported “I have done everything in my power to render this place tenable—by surrounding the Works with wide and good Abbettus [abbatis, a type of breastwork defense]—I have also provided timber for two Block Houses—which will be erected in a few days—and dropt the Notion of Pickets as we could not man them.” Wayne somewhat underestimated Ticonderoga’s readiness.
A battle is brewing in Fort Ann, Washington County. Troy Topsoil has purchased part of Battle Hill, the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Fort Anne. The company hopes to mine the battlefield, where an estimated 100 to 200 men were killed, wounded, or captured.
A group of historians and volunteers has planned a day of events to highlight the history of the Battle of Fort Anne, including an afternoon roundtable discussion on the current threat to the battlefield this Saturday, April 28th at Fort Ann Central School. [Read more…] about Company Wants to Mine Fort Anne Battlefield
The Albany Institute of History & Art has unlocked its vault to present some of the little-known objects in the new exhibition Great, Strange and Rarely Seen: Objects from the Vault opening Saturday, April 14, 2012. A special exhibition opening reception will be hosted on April 12.
The exhibition reveals the cosmopolitan breadth of the Institute’s holdings with stunning Chinese lacquer, intricately carved Japanese netsuke, and 18th-century English porcelain statuettes. Other collections, like patent models and human hair jewelry, demonstrate the ingenious and quirky sides of human creativity. Also to be included are panoramic photographs, unusual clocks, a chronology of mirrors, women’s bonnets and hats, British and American fortepianos, and riches from the Library.
Individuals are invited to celebrate the opening of the exhibition with a special reception on Thursday, April 12 from 5-7 PM at the Albany Institute. Guests will enjoy a preview of Great, Strange and Rarely Seen followed by wine and light hors d’oeuvres. This event is free of charge.
Great, Strange and Rarely Seen is on display in the Main Floor Galleries of the Albany Institute of History & Art, located at 125 Washington Avenue, Albany. This exhibition has been generously funded by the Buchman Foundation and Elle Shushan, and will be on view through August 26, 2012.
The 11th Anniversary Conference on the Underground Railroad Movement, sponsored by the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region Conference, will be held at Russell Sage College in Troy, April 13-15th. This year’s conference, “The Underground Railroad Turned On Its Head – Old Themes, New Directions,” focuses on new research on the Underground Railroad, slavery, abolition and the 19th century. Old assumptions such as “There is little documentation of the Underground Railroad”, “The UGRR was a string of safe houses to Canada” and numerous other ideas are challenged by new research and interpretations.
The conference will feature:
Friday, April 13, 2012
An Educators’ Workshop
Opening Address – Manisha Sinha, PhD
“Fleeing for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves and the Making of American Abolitionism”
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Keynote Address – Barbara McCaskill, PhD
“A Thousand Miles for Freedom: A New Take on the Old Story of William and Ellen Craft, the Georgia Fugitives”
Artists in Residence – Miles Ahead Jazz Quartet
Spectres of Liberty
Experience history – step into the recreated Liberty Street Presbyterian Church of Henry Highland Garnet
Over 20 Workshops, plus Vendors & Displays
Sunday, April 15, 2012
A bus tour of UGR Sites in Rensselaer County by Kathryn Sheehan, Rensselaer County Historian.
The Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region researches, preserves, and retells New York’s regional history of the Underground Railroad, highlighting the role of African-American freedom seekers and local abolitionists.
More information can be found online.
A short booklet, From Forest to Fields: A History of Agriculture in new York’s Champlain Valley published by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Essex County and the Lake to Locks Passage Scenic Byway highlights the rich history of the Champlain Valley with a focus on the region’s farms and fields.
From Forests to Fields is authored by Anita Deming, who has more than 30 years experience as an agricultural extension agent with CCE, and Andrew Alberti, Program Manager for Lakes to Locks Passage since 2008 (where he focuses on 21st century technology applications and local and regional interpretation and planning) and a contributor here at New York History. Alberti is also editor for the Lakes to Locks Passage and National Geographic Geotourism website.
Chapters cover Native American agriculture, early explorers and settlements, the agricultural revolution, farming in the modern era and a short review of the architecture and use of farm buildings and a list of resources. The authors explain the impact of the 1807 Embargo Act, the influence of the opening of the Champlain Canal in 1823 on local farm trade, the grange movement, and changes in the local sheep and dairy industries, and more.
The booklet is 48 pages and profusely illustrated. You can request a copy by contacting Lakes to Locks Passage. There is a suggested $10 + S&H donation.
The Albany Institute of History & Art has announced its 2012 Spring Lecture lineup. From April through June, visitors are invited to attend lectures given by local authors and nationally recognized scholars. Topics will range from United States presidents to New York’s French history to Japanese netsuke.
All of the lectures listed are with museum admission. Lectures are presented in the Key Cultural Center at the Albany Institute of History & Art, located at 125 Washington Avenue, Albany. The schedule is as follows:
* Susan Leath, “Bethlehem: Stories beyond the Book”
SUNDAY, APRIL 15 | 2 PM
* Dennis Gaffney, “The Presidents”
SUNDAY, APRIL 22 | 2 PM
* Eloise A. Brière “J’Aime New York”
SUNDAY, APRIL 29 | 2 PM
* Rob Naborn, “Memories of Eilardus Westerlo”
SUNDAY, MAY 6 | 2 PM
* Elle Shushan, “The Albany Influence: Portrait Miniatures in Federal New York”
SUNDAY, MAY 20 | 2 PM
* Sam Aldrich, “Dancing with the Queen, Marching with the King”
SUNDAY, JUNE 3 | 2 PM
* Jeffrey Klotz, “Netsuke: Function and Decoration”
SUNDAY, JUNE 10 | 2 PM
For more information on any of these lectures, visit albanyinstitute.org or call (518) 463-4478.
In preparation for the 2013 exhibition The Mystery of the Albany Mummies, the Albany Institute of History & Art’s two mummies, each thousands of years old, will be brought to Albany Medical Center for CT scans and x-rays, using modern imaging techniques to learn the mummies’ genders, causes of death, and more. Leading experts in body imaging and Egyptology will direct the procedures and analyze results.
The Albany Institute of History & Art’s two mummies were acquired from Cairo, Egypt in 1909, were brought to the Albany Institute from Cairo in 1909 by Samuel W. Brown, a member of the museum’s Board of Trustees. The mummies and their coffins have been seen by generations of visitors.
Arthur Pielli, Radiology Manager at Albany Medical Center, and two radiologists, Phuong Nguyen Vinh, MD, and Michael Edward Schuster, MD will examine the mummies. The results will then be analyzed with the help of Egyptologist and medical doctor Dr. Robert Brier, a Senior Research Fellow at Long Island University known as “Mr. Mummy,” and Dr. Peter Lacovara, the exhibition’s guest curator and Senior Curator of Egypt, Nubia and Near East at the Carlos Museum at Emory University.
The mummies were last examined by x-rays and CT scans on November 12, 1988. This preliminary analysis helped to determine the mummies’ sex, approximate ages, and various insights into the mummification process. The x-rays and CT scans show a number of bundles inside both of the mummies. Based on the last scan, it was determined that the partially unwrapped mummy is Ankhefenmut, a priest in the temple of Mut at Karnak in Thebes during Dynasty XXI (c.1085-945 BC).
Ankhefenmut is reported to have died in 966 and was probably between 55 and 65 years old at the time of his death. The wrapped mummy is a woman. Her name is not known because the top of the coffin was badly deteriorated and left in Cairo by Samuel Brown in 1909. According to Brown she also came from the cache at Deir el-Bahri. X-rays reveal that she was probably between 35-45 years old when she died.
During Dynasty XXI, a change in the practice of mummification occurred. The internal organs were no longer placed in canopic jars, but were usually wrapped in linen packages. These packages were then placed in the empty body or placed between the legs. Canopic jars, however, continued to be a part of the funerary equipment, but were made smaller.
Perhaps the most interesting discovery was a well-crafted fake toe, possibly made of ceramic, carefully attached to the right foot of the wrapped mummy. It is presumed that the toe was fashioned for the woman during the mummification process because of the belief that one had to be physically intact to enter the afterlife. This discovery was highlighted on The Learning Channel’s program, The Ancient ER, in February 2003.
The initiative is a collaboration between the Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany Medical Center, University at Albany Foundation, and the University at Albany Center for Humanities, Arts, and TechnoSciences.
Photo: Partially unwrapped mummy of Ankhefenmut, a priest in the temple of Mut at Karnak in Thebes during Dynasty XXI (c.1085-945 BC). Courtesy Albany Institute of History and Art.