The most recent episode of Empire State Engagements features a conversation with Dr. Thomas J. Balcerski of Eastern Connecticut State University about his New York History journal article “‘The Little Spark of Manhood I Have Left’: Governor Thomas Melville and the Aged Seamen of Sailors’ Snug Harbor,” and his recent monograph Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019). [Read more…] about Sailors’ Snug Harbor on Staten Island (Author Interview)
This week on The Historians Podcast, Aja Raden is author of The Truth About Lies: The Illusion of Honesty and the Evolution of Deceit (St. Martin’s Press, 2021), a history of con artistry and deception. [Read more…] about The Truth About Lies: A History of Deceit
The online project New York 1920s, 100 Years Ago Today (When We Became Modern), sponsored by New York Tech (the New York Institute of Technology), features near-daily posts based on events of the day that occurred 100 years ago in the city of New York. The posts highlighting the culture and zeitgeist of 1920s in the city. [Read more…] about New Project Highlights New York City in the 1920s
In the latest episode of Empire State Engagements Dr. Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada talks about her ethnographic study of Italian-American men’s Catholic devotion, Lifeblood of the Parish; Men and Catholic Devotion in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (NYU Press, 2020). She discussed her experiences over six years of work engaging the parish community; reading tattoos as devotional texts; playfulness and devotion in masculine spaces; the rich history of Italian-American Catholicism in Williamsburg; and the endurance of this parish, tradition, and community – despite decades of challenges ranging from reactionary clergymen to Robert Moses to gentrifying hipsters. [Read more…] about Parish Lifeblood: Italian-Americans In Williamsburg (Podcast)
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Jill Lepore’s book, If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future (Liveright, 2020) is an account of the Cold War origins of the data-obsessed, algorithmic twenty-first century.
Launched in 1959 by some of the nation’s leading social scientists, the Simulmatics Corporation mined data, targeted voters, manipulated consumers, destabilized politics, and disordered knowledge ― decades before Facebook, Google, and Cambridge Analytica. [Read more…] about Historian Jill Lepore On Data Mining and Voter Manipulation
On April 15th, 1842, Henry A. Vrooman, a forty-one-year-old farmer living in West Charlton, Saratoga County, passed away in his home near the intersection of what is now Eastern Avenue and Sacandaga Road. He was laid to rest in the nearby West Glenville Cemetery. Only eight months earlier he had married forty-year-old Eliza McClelland, a widow with two children from nearby Blue Corners on the western edge of the Town of Charlton. It was a roller-coaster eight months. [Read more…] about The Short Eventful Marriage of Henry and Eliza Vrooman
Throughout the nineteenth century, prostitution was rife in American cities. In 1820 there were an estimated two hundred brothels in New York, growing to more than six hundred after the Civil War. By the early 1840s the city was the nation’s whoring capital, its own Gomorrah.
Most houses of assignation before the Civil War were owned and controlled by women. Some madams made spectacular careers, nobody more so than Fanny White whose Mercer Street brothel was, from 1851 onward, a meeting place for Congressmen, dignitaries and diplomats – a Manhattan whoreocracy. [Read more…] about Manhattan ‘Flash’ Culture: Madams and Sporting Men
“Editor G.A. Weller of The Granville Sentinel rejoices over the addition to his family of a feminine ‘supplement’ weighing over eleven pounds,” The Morning Star of Glens Falls reported on September 22nd, 1885. [Read more…] about 19th Century Birth Announcements: Elements of Style
As the Town of Niagara, NY municipal historian I’m researching the lives of those buried in one of our local cemeteries. Witmer Cemetery was originally the burying ground of the Witmer family, who settled here after arriving from Pennsylvania in 1811. The earliest gravestone in the cemetery is from 1828, but it’s estimated that about 200 people have been buried there since.
I began my research at the front row, where a toppled headstone marked the final resting place of George Martin and Jane, his wife. [Read more…] about Slave To Soldier: George Martin’s Fight For Freedom
Equestrian artist Philip Astley was a pioneering entertainment entrepreneur. His demonstrations of trick horse-riding at London’s Royal Amphitheatre in 1768 constitute the origins of modern circus.
Astley performed his routine in a circular arena which would subsequently be referred to as the ring. He interspersed his displays with a variety of additional acts. Both in Europe and America other producers copied and expanded his new style of entertainment. [Read more…] about Circus Artists and the Flying Trapeze Metaphor