The new children’s book Jacob Riis’s Camera: Bringing Light to Tenement Children (Calkins Creek, 2020) by Alexis O’Neill and illustrated by Gary Kelley, is a revealing biography of a pioneering photojournalist and social reformer Jacob Riis, showcasing how he brought to light one of the worst social justice issues plaguing New York City in the late 1800s – the tenement housing crisis – using newly invented flash photography. [Read more…] about Children’s Book Features Reformer, Photographer Jacob Riis
The “Man with the Muck Rake” appears in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as a person who only looks down gathering filth. His vision is fixed on carnal, not on spiritual matters. By seeking out what is disagreeable, he is blind to divine grace.
In a speech on April 15th, 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt referred to this passage when he acknowledged that men with ‘muck rakes’ may be indispensable to social well-being, but that applies only if they know “when to stop raking the muck.” There is a rich Anglo-American tradition of muckraking that has been instrumental in exposing injustice and corruption. Today, investigative journalism is under threat. [Read more…] about Slum Tours and Muckrakers in London and New York
Through Sophie’s Eyes (Cahaba, 2008) is a remarkable memoir by Sophie Kussmaul (1875-1968), granddaughter of Princess Regina Henry, first cousin to Frederick III, Emperor of Germany, and niece of Dr. Adolf Kussmaul, a noted Heidelberg physician.
Edited by Sinclair Seevers, the memoir spans her first six decades, two thirds of Kussmaul’s long life. It’s a vivid account of her shy childhood in the 1870s through the years of the Great Depression. [Read more…] about Memoir Recounts The Remarkable Life of Sophie Kussmaul
In 1850, after a long journey, a large German family sailed from Hamburg into New York Harbour. There was no Statue of Liberty to welcome them. Newcomers faced no questions or restrictions. There was no Castle Garden (opened in 1855), no Ellis Island (opened in 1892) – they simply made their way and settled in the city.
The family brought music to New York. [Read more…] about German Immigrants & Instruments: 48ers, Slomans and Steinways
Say caricature, think politics – ever since the age of James Gillray and the British mockery of Napoleon, caricaturists have made a career out of political commentary. To this day, their work appears on the editorial pages of newspapers or magazines.
Traditionally, we appoint politicians and turn them into caricatures and to elect a caricature and raise them to the status of a politician is a more recent phenomenon. But the genre flourished away from politics. From Italian origins, it developed as a game, a form of entertainment, and a genteel salutation. [Read more…] about Caricature: The Italian-American Connection
The Rev. John G. Fitzgerald, or “Father Fitz,” as he was known to contemporaries, was the first resident Roman Catholic priest in Old Forge. He is fondly remembered as a missionary to the widely scattered working people of the region and as a prolific builder of churches. [Read more…] about Father Fitz: Missionary to the Adirondacks
An often overlooked and forgotten New York City landmark, Castle Clinton welcomed many of the city’s residents into its walls as a place of innovation, entertainment, and new beginnings.
The circular sandstone fort which currently stands in Battery Park, was built to improve harbor fortifications in 1811. The Southwest Battery, as it was known, never fired a shot. [Read more…] about Castle Clinton: New York’s Almost Forgotten Landmark
The Ticonderoga Historical Society is set to open for their 2020 season on Friday, March 27 with “The Singing of the Green, The Irish in American Musical Theater,” a presentation by Diane O’Connor. [Read more…] about Ti Historical Opening With ‘Singing of the Green’
In his new book Dagger John: Archbishop John Hughes and the Making of Irish America (Cornell University Press, 2019) biographer John Loughery tells the story of John Hughes, son of Ireland, friend of William Seward and James Buchanan, founder of St. John’s College (now Fordham University), builder of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, pioneer of parochial school education, and American diplomat. [Read more…] about Dagger John: Archbishop John Hughes and Irish America
Early Americans asked and grappled with these questions during the earliest days of the early republic. [Read more…] about Birthright Citizenship