Beginning in 2018, Richard Frishman embarked on a 35,000-mile journey, crossing the United States several times, traveling from his home state of Washington to Maine, from Mississippi to Michigan, and everywhere in between. Frishman was driven by a deep concern for capturing traces of the nation’s history of segregation, slavery, and institutional racism embedded in everyday American architecture. [Read more…] about The Ghosts of Segregation: Racism Hidden in Plain Sight
The latest episode of the A Minute In New York History podcast tells the story of the 1839 La Amistad Rebellion, in which 53 illegally enslaved Africans rose up against their Spanish captors off the coast of Cuba, took over the ship, and attempted to sail it to freedom. [Read more…] about The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom
Traveling from Washington D.C. to Milwaukee, Dutch journalist Bas Blokker makes a stop-over in Hurley, Ulster County, NY, and discovers its Dutch history. His curiosity is piqued and he dives into the past to find the nineteenth-century views of the Dutch colonizers very different from modern ones.
During the last five years, I always crossed the Susquehanna River just north of Baltimore when driving from my house in Washington DC to New York. Once on the bridge the same scene unfolded again and again in my mind’s eye: a sailing ship changing course from the Chesapeake Bay to enter the river’s mouth and drop anchor at what is now Havre de Grace or Garret Island. [Read more…] about Nieuw Dorp, Now & Then: Dutch History in Ulster County
One of the major frustrations for historians who want to know and share the diverse stories of their communities is the lack of archived material on persons of color. We have bits and pieces documenting the early African Americans of New York State, but very rarely can read and “hear” their own voice in the records.
Recently in Warwick, Orange County, NY, newly digitized newspapers revealed a long hidden treasure: A formerly enslaved man publishing his case that he was, indeed, a free man. [Read more…] about Slavery in New York: Platt Defends His Freedom
For many years, there has been great debate regarding the origins of the name of Lake Tonetta in the Town of Southeast in Putnam County, New York. Lake Tonetta, also known as Tone’s Pond or Waring’s Pond, has been associated with a great deal of folklore.
It was often suggested that the lake was named after Tone, an enslaved Black man who was promised his freedom by Southeast resident John Waring in exchange for his service in the Revolutionary War. [Read more…] about Lake Tonetta’s Black Revolutionary War Heritage
Admired by George Washington, ridiculed by Thomas Jefferson, published in London, and read far and wide, Phillis Wheatley led one of the most extraordinary American lives. Seized in West Africa and forced into slavery as a child, she was sold to a merchant family in Boston, where she became a noted poet at a young age.
Mastering the Bible, Greek and Latin translations, and the works of Pope and Milton, she composed elegies for local elites, celebrated political events, praised warriors, and used her verse to variously lampoon, question, and assert the injustice of her enslaved condition. [Read more…] about The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley
This photograph of abolitionist and inventor Thaddeus Hyatt was sent to his Massachusetts lawyer and fellow abolitionist Samuel E. Sewall in April of 1860 from Hyatt’s cell in a jail in Washington, DC.
He wrote below his image, “Presented to his friend, Mon. S. E. Sewall, Washington Jail, April 21, 1860.” [Read more…] about Thaddeus Hyatt: Radical New York Abolitionist
In this archive episode of The Historians Podcast, Purdue University Professor Emeritus Robert May weighs in on whether enslaved people were better treated during the Christmas season in the Old South.
May is author of Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas and Southern Memory (2019). He earned his undergraduate degree at Union College in Schenectady. [Read more…] about Slavery, Christmas and Southern Memory
Niagara Falls and nearby Lewiston in Western New York were a U.S. endpoint for self-emancipating formerly enslaved people fleeing to Canada before and during the Civil War. [Read more…] about The Cataract House at Niagara Falls: A Slaves’ Portal to Freedom
In 1799, Cato, an enslaved man who resided in the Brick House, attempted to escape to freedom, taking only the clothes on his back. The Mabees took out an advertisement in a local newspaper to attempt to re-enslave him. [Read more…] about Former Slave Dwelling in Schenectady County Needs Preservation