On October 21, 1941, 46 days before Pearl Harbor, The National Academy of Sciences Uranium Committee met in the office of Dr. William C. Coolidge, director of the General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady. This top-secret meeting was historic for two reasons. [Read more…] about J Robert Oppenheimer in Schenectady
This week on The Historians Podcast, When Mommy Was a Commie (Troy Book Makers, 2022) is a comic historical novel set in Schenectady in the early 1950s, inspired by real-life episodes from America’s spy war with Russia. Author Jon Sorensen was a newspaper reporter for The Schenectady Gazette, Buffalo News and New York Daily News. [Read more…] about When Mommy Was a Commie
Schenectadians’ interest in protecting and exploring wilderness has its roots in the mid 1800s with industrialization and westward expansion. The wilderness was at risk of disappearing, and influential nature lovers used their writings to convince Americans that preserving land and wildlife was vital. Many Americans, including people in Schenectady, could easily see the case for this. [Read more…] about Schenectady and the Adirondacks: A Legacy of Conservation
A lot has changed in Sweet Briar Bay on Lake George since 1936, the first year Dr. Doug Langdon looked out upon the lake from the property he now owns. Horace Barber’s Boat Livery is gone, and so is the Algonquin Hotel above the lake road.
The hotel’s lakefront has been replaced by the Algonquin restaurant and Chic’s Marina, and the level of boat traffic in the bay probably could not have been imagined in 1936. [Read more…] about General Electric & Lake George: Lasting Links
A century after the first commercial radio station began broadcasting, 83% of Americans ages 12 or older listen to the radio in a given week. It’s a technology that we may take for granted now, but the rapid development of radio technology and programming in the early 1920s led to significant changes in American culture and communication. [Read more…] about The WGY Players: A Pioneering Radio Acting Troupe
Few New York State farms had electric power in the 1920s. Even as late as 1930 ninety percent of farm families nationwide had no line-run electricity. On long winter evenings city dwellers could read and sew long past sunset, but farm families sat in near darkness and did chores, such as milking the cows, in the dim light of kerosene lanterns.
Some farmers used Delco-Light Plants made up of ranks of glass-jarred lead-storage batteries located in dirt-floored basements for electric power. As Delco’s slogan was, “Delco systems sell best by night,” Delco salesman cleverly arrived at dusk with small Delco systems to demonstrate to farmers how these DC-units, when sufficiently massed, could bring to the farm what folks in the cities enjoyed. But Delco systems were expensive, and the batteries had to be recharged with a generator powered by a gasoline engine. [Read more…] about The Night the Lights Came On: Electricity on New York State Farms
Barker Schwarz said WGY when it began in 1922 “was really at the cutting edge of technology and the caliber of the music being played was of such high quality.” Violinist Edward Rice played a piece called “Romance” by renowned Polish composer Henri Wieniawski during WGY’s first broadcast on February 20th, 1922. [Read more…] about High Quality Music in Radio’s Early Years
In Celebration of Black History Month, the Schenectady County Historical Society has released A History Erased: Rediscovering Black Schenectady, a new documentary exploring the history of Black people in Schenectady.
A History Erased: Rediscovering Black Schenectady is produced by SCHS and investigates the missing story of Schenectady’s 19th century Black population. From the beginning, Schenectady’s African American population was a small and marginalized community. This documentary looks at what happened to Black Schenectadians over the course of the 1800s; how they responded to the end of slavery, to industrialization, and to ongoing racial concerns; why the small community nearly vanished; and the marks it left on Schenectady’s culture and society. [Read more…] about New Documentary Celebrate Schenectady Black History
Capital Region radio station WGY, New York State’s oldest broadcaster, will celebrate their 100th year with a live afternoon of broadcasting on Sunday, February 20th.
WGY’s original licensee was General Electric (GE), headquartered in Schenectady. In early 1915, the company was granted a Class 3-Experimental license with the call sign 2XI. That license was canceled in 1917 due to the First World War, but 2XI was re-licensed in 1920. [Read more…] about Radio Station WGY’s 100th Anniversary of Broadcasting
This week on The Historians Podcast, a look at the 100th anniversary of WGY, the pioneer Schenectady radio station founded by General Electric in 1922. GE sold the station in the 1980s. Featured are the voices of broadcasters Kolin Hager, Martha Brooks, Howard Tupper, Earl Pudney, Don Tuttle, Elle Pankin and Diane Ward. [Read more…] about New York’s First Radio Station WGY Celebrates 100 Yrs