A fiery anarchist and an ambitious political boss with judicial aspirations never actually met, but their lives collided twice in the first decade of the twentieth century, with national repercussions amid changes in law, politics, and culture that heralded the new American century. [Read more…] about The Judge and the Anarchist
New York State Archives
Active Dissent: 1970s College Protests in New York
On May 8th, 1972, New Paltz students went from dorm to dorm at the state university, pulling fire alarms, their reaction quick and spontaneous. Few students had television sets, but word spread quickly about President Nixon’s broadcast announcing he had ordered the mining of North Vietnam ports.
Just hours after Nixon’s address, around midnight, the college’s assistant director of housing placed a frantic call to campus security. [Read more…] about Active Dissent: 1970s College Protests in New York
David Lowe Dodge: The Merchant Peacemaker
While carrying a large sum of money on a business trip in 1805, the well-to-do city of New York merchant, David Low Dodge, who had been fast asleep in a tavern, was suddenly awakened by the noise of someone jiggling the lock to his bedroom door. Startled by the rattling doorknob and as the door slowly opened, Dodge, not taking any chances, quietly turned and reached for the pistol he always carried for protection.
And then, just before he was about to discharge his pistol, he recognized the suspected intruder as the innkeeper who had come to prepare the room for other guests. [Read more…] about David Lowe Dodge: The Merchant Peacemaker
Archives Magazine To Expand Reach To Young Readers
The award-winning New York Archives Magazine is expanding to include a new Jr! educational insert and other related enhancements thanks to a $150,000 grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.
The Jr! insert is expected to expand access to young New Yorkers and offer educators another tool for bringing primary sources into the classroom. Each issue will contain learning activities specific to a local history story published in the quarterly magazine and geared to building historical thinking and civic literacy skills that meet 4th-7th grade curriculum standards. [Read more…] about Archives Magazine To Expand Reach To Young Readers
Franklin Williams: An Unsung Civil Rights Hero
Larger-than-life figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King and, going back further, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington, functioned as the “celebrities” of the equal rights movement, the public face of the crusade for racial justice.
But outside the spotlight, “bridge figures” such as New Yorker Franklin H. Williams — men and woman unencumbered by the sometimes blinding “star quality” of the Kings and Marshalls while also shunning the divisive tactics of militants such as Bobby Seale, Huey Newton, and Malcolm X — made enormous but often underappreciated contributions. [Read more…] about Franklin Williams: An Unsung Civil Rights Hero
New York State’s Movie Censorship History
In the days before the Motion Picture Association developed a film rating system, movie producers and distributors had to apply for a permit with New York’s Division of Motion Picture to show their film in the state.
The New York State Archives preserves one of the largest collection of film scripts from 1921-1965 in the world. [Read more…] about New York State’s Movie Censorship History
Records Reveal an Overlooked Hero of the Culper Spy Ring
In late 1777, Patriot and Long Island-native Selah Strong was arrested for what in present-day terms would be regarded as spying. While Selah’s spouse, Anna “Nancy” Strong, and his close friends would be considered part of George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, only a few historians have included Selah as a member.
This network of spies operated during the Revolutionary War and smuggled information out of the British headquarters in New York City via British-occupied Long Island and across the Long Island Sound, eventually to the Commander-in-Chief himself. By re-examining primary sources for the first time in hundreds of years, Selah’s heroic role in the Culper Spy Ring finally comes to light. [Read more…] about Records Reveal an Overlooked Hero of the Culper Spy Ring
Defending New York City in 1814 Program Set For Wednesday
The New York State Archives will host “Defending Gotham in 1814: Why New York City is not the Home of the Star-Spangled Banner,” a program set for Wednesday, September 14th. [Read more…] about Defending New York City in 1814 Program Set For Wednesday
1813: Fall of Fort Niagara & Burning the Niagara Frontier
In December 1813, during the War of 1812, there was a human catastrophe as a result of the burning of the Niagara Frontier. Only one home was spared along the 37-mile-long border and upwards of 6,000 refugees fled into the snowy forests heading for the Genesee River and safety.
Richard V. Barbuto’s book New York’s War of 1812: Politics Society and Combat (University of Oklahoma Press, 2021), looks back to the War of 1812, from the beleaguered Fort McHenry to the burning White House to an embattled New Orleans. [Read more…] about 1813: Fall of Fort Niagara & Burning the Niagara Frontier
Documents Reveal Sojourner Truth’s Battle to Free Her Son from Slavery
In February 2022, the New York State Archives announced that archivists had uncovered court records detailing the 1828 legal battle by Sojourner Truth to secure her enslaved son Peter’s freedom. According to archivist Jim Folts, this case was the first time in United States history that a Black woman successfully sued a White man for a family member’s freedom.
After passage of the New York State Gradual Emancipation Act in 1799, some slaveholders illegally sold enslaved Africans to Southern planters for the expanding cotton industry. When Sojourner Truth, then known as Isabella Van Wagenen, escaped from enslavement in 1826, her former “owner,” John J. Dumont of New Paltz, Ulster County, NY, sold her five-year old son Peter to Eleazer Gedney who planned to take the boy with him to England.
When this plan fell through, Eleazer Gedney sold Peter to his brother, Solomon Gedney, who resold Peter to their sister’s husband, a man named Fowler, who was a wealthy Alabama planter. [Read more…] about Documents Reveal Sojourner Truth’s Battle to Free Her Son from Slavery