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Book Review: Kingston—The IBM Years

IBM_Cover          IBM’s arrival in Kingston triggered a period of massive change for the town and its residents. At its peak, the company employed 7,100 people in the mid-Hudson Valley. Kingston—The IBM Years is a collection of essays and photographs that brings this turning point in Hudson Valley history to vivid life. Featuring essays from six different authors, this book examines the impact of IBM from various perspectives including professors, novelists, journalists, and first-hand accounts from former IBM employees. Collectively, these vastly different chapters work together to create a panoramic vision of Kingston during these years. The photographs that accompany these essays are as evocative as the essays themselves, capturing the mood and lifestyle of an era.

The first essay, written by Harvey Flad of Vassar College, details the rise of IBM in Poughkeepsie and Kingston as a primarily military company. The S.A.G. E. system developed here in 1957 was the first of its kind, an expansive air warning system relied on by the United States Air Force. The essays that follow relate similar signature achievements of IBM in Kingston, including the production of the FAA nationwide airline control system and the invention of the first interactive software systems, software that laid the groundwork for computers as we know them today.

There is a wealth of information here about the sociological effects of IBM in the Kingston area, but information is not the sole purpose of this book. What makes Kingston—The IBM Years so unique is its exploration of the personal and the intimate, as it looks beyond mere facts and statistics and gives us a glimpse into the real lives of the people involved. Perhaps the most fascinating portion of the book is the essay by Lowell Thing, a former employee of IBM Kingston who experienced firsthand the changes detailed in the other chapters. The small details that Thing provides, such as how his daughters learned to swim at the IBM recreation center, bring the history from the regional to the personal. The book gives a wholly human perspective on a period of massive change in Hudson Valley history.

The publication of Kingston: The IBM Years was coordinated with a multimedia exhibition put on by the Friends of Historic Kingston on the same era. The organization described the program as its “most ambitious annual exhibition ever,” and ran it from May to October. More details can be found about The Friends of Historic Hudson at www.fohk.org. The book may be ordered online at www.blackdomepress.com

Allegany to Appomattox: The Life and Letters of Private William Whitlock

Allegany to Appomattox

The Life and Letters of Private William Whitlock

By: Valgene Dunham

   The 188th New York Volunteers was a regiment from upstate New York that formed towards the end of the Civil War in October of 1864. One of these late war volunteers was a Private William Whitlock who corresponded with his wife “Lide” throughout the course of his service. Allegany to Appomattox is a compilation of these 40 letters between the two which tell the story of the 188th. Background information and narration is provided by William Whitlock’s great grandson Valgene Dunham, the author of the book. Dunham has a background in the sciences so this is his first historical writing. The excitement that comes with this coupled with his personal connection to Whitlock can be seen in his writing.

Dunham is very detailed in his writing providing a plethora of background information surrounding the letters, which is mostly very useful but at times can seem a bit extraneous. In works such as this where we have a compilation of personal letters we often have a microhistory that tells us what the everyday experiences of soldiers were for example and this book is certainly no different. In focusing on these letters and the life of William Whitlock as our microhistory we can learn a good deal about the experiences of the 188th New York and what role they played in the Civil War. For example Whitlock chronicles his battle with a nagging cold over the course of a handful of letters which was tough to kick during the cold winter of 1864.

Dunham organizes the letters by topic in the book which does a nice job of using these letters to speak to the greater events occurring like the Battle of Hatchers Run, Siege of Petersburgh, and the Battle of Five Forks, which the 188th was involved in. Anyone interested in the individual aspect of the late years of the Civil War or looking for very detailed descriptions of those conflicts would benefit from this book.

– Joe Candarelli

New York State Reading Association Annual Conference 2014

On November 9th-11th, 2014 I had the privilege of attending the New York State Reading Association annual conference in Syracuse, New York. The conference was an educationally rewarding experience where I had the chance to present one of my latest projects in addition to attending many other presentations, workshops, and networking opportunities that help current and future teachers (like myself) meet professional development needs. This year’s theme, Literacy within the Disciplines, reflected the need to seamlessly integrate content and our literacy instruction in order to address Common Core Standards. My presentation focused on the theory of summarizing and the results that I found when implementing particular literacy strategies into my lesson plans. After scaffolding the different steps to creating a summary, such as determining important information vs. interesting information, note taking strategies, and GIST summaries (generating interaction between text and schemata), I saw that the student I was tutoring still struggled with being concise yet cohesive. As a result, I concluded that students need additional instruction on how to annotate readings concisely as well as writing concisely. Presenting my research and results was rewarding in and of itself, but only grew as I was offered to submit my research to The Language and Literacy Spectrum Journal of the NYSRAC.

In addition to presenting my own research, I was able to observe several panels on different topics ranging from music literacy to science and ELA intersected instructional strategies. One in particular that I found the most unique and inspiring was “We Are Readers, Writers, Artists, and Producers! The Power of Radical Youth Literacies and Community Engagement,” by Marcelle Haddix. Ms. Haddix, from Syracuse University, presented on the topic of helping teachers learn how to develop 21st century writers and radical literacy workshops. With increased demands placed on under-resourced, low performing schools to meet high stakes standards and various assessment benchmarks, there is little time for authentic writing that captures the interests and experiences of young people. Instead, more emphasis in writing instruction is placed on making sure that students are able to “pass the test” and graduate. These goals were not and should not be mutually exclusive. The talk highlighted the experiences of young writers, teachers, parents, artists, and community members who partner together to cultivate spaces for authentic writing practices within an urban community through the Writing our Lives, a youth writing project for youth grades 6-12 in the greater Syracuse area.

With afterschool writing programs, summer writing institutes, book clubs, digital composing programs, staged theatrical performances, and an annual youth writing conference, Writing Our Lives provides an example of a civically and community engaged approach with aims to address the problem of the achievement gap for urban youth, one that aligns with CCLS for authentic writing for real purposes and audiences. Although Syracuse is located outside of the Hudson River Valley, Writing Our Lives demonstrates the meaningful impact on students’ civic engagement as a direct result of teachers centering instruction on young peoples’ interests in addition to contemporary and local issues. By doing so, teachers bestow upon their students a higher sense of agency as well as higher expectations. As I reflect upon the presentation, I felt that it serves as a valuable lesson to all social studies teachers. Teachers should work to help their students make connections about what they’re learning in their social studies/history classes and what is going on in the world around them, both regionally and globally speaking. As students are exposed to the events outside of the classroom, teachers should help their students develop the ability to articulate their ideas and advocate their opinions in a professional and academic manner.

-Rosemarie Martens

A.L. DuBois: The Big Apples of New York

 

C:Documents and SettingsHP_OwnerDesktopapple events etcfronThe author of “The BIG APPLES of New York: the story of how New York became THE BIG APPLE,” has fond memories of cooking with her mother, and has a connection with New York history as a relative of the French Huguenots who founded New Paltz, New York.  Learning to ask “why?” when researching has taken her on many journeys, but one thing remains the same and that is that, “New York is a magical state and it will stay that way.” In this interview with A. L. DuBois, she shares with us her experiences as a historian and botanical artist and how the two melded together in this book.

 There is an incredible amount of information in your book “The Big Apples of New York: the story of how New York State became The Big Apple” it is practically three books in one, a historical account of apples in New York, botanical apple art, and apple recipes. How long did this book take you to complete?

 

The amount of time to complete the book has been 3+ years. Two years for the botanicals that were done from life and required traveling to many orchards from August to November. Food history is an interdisciplinary field that examines the history of food, and the cultural, economic, environmental, and sociological impacts of food.  Food history is considered distinct from the more traditional field of culinary history, which focuses on the origin and recreation of specific recipes.  I look on food as one of the most important elements of cultures, reflecting the social and economic structure of society.

As an author what is your preferred method of research, i.e. archives, oral history, ECT?

I do all that I need and I go where the book takes me.  This book took me on quite a journey, as with any research the story creates a life itself.  I enjoy research and in my own research I just keep asking “why?” and that carries me through the project.  History is life and a very interesting field to be involved with, it has been amazing where this project has brought me.

As an artist what is your preferred medium, is this the same medium you used to create the plates in your book?

The medium I used for this book involved graphite, Derwent color pencils, watercolor and tempera paint.  My subjected use usually dictates the medium, i.e. I do large landscapes in oil on a wood panel.

You chose the empire apple for the cover, did you choose it because as you mention it is the most popular apple?

Yes. It is popular and has been one of the most successful apples, introduced by Cornell, but I chose it because I was lucky enough to get its flower.

(Follow up) Is the empire apple you favorite apple?

No, but definitely one of my favorite from out of 10,000 varieties.  Some apples I favor for pies, others for kuchen ect. Originally only Spiters were used for cider and now people look for specific varieties for cider.

 You included quite a few recipes for cooking with apples in this book, is cooking another one of your talents? Did you ever consider a stand-alone apple cookbook?

I do enjoy cooking and I have fond memories in the kitchen with my mother.  Of course out of the recipes included in my book hers are my favorite, but I’m not interested in devoting the time and developing the skill it would take for me to do a cookbook.

Your book could be of interest to a variety of people did you have a particular audience or purpose in mind?

Yes, people who are interested in Agricultural/Food history and hopefully to increase that interest.

(Follow up) Do you see this as being used as a reference book in educational curriculum?

      Junior High and High School level definitely.  I have very fond memories of my own high school history teacher Mrs. Grief.  She taught her class with passion, enthusiasm, and brought history to life in her classroom.  Mrs. Grief was always asking “why?” to further the student understanding and knowledge, she had a tremendous influence on me and how I do my own research.

 You mentioned the historical significance of the French Huguenots in apple history, DuBois is a name commonly associated with the Huguenots, do you have any personal connection?

Yes, I’m a direct descendent of Louis DuBois (grandfather 8 times removed) the founder of New Paltz.  Our royal crest indicates that we were the Keepers of the Woods.  I like to think I inherited my interest in plant life.

#ApplePicking has been mentioned nearly a quarter million times on Instagram this season alone, how do you feel about the family entertainment aspect of apple picking?

Farming has always been a family/community activity. Traditionally we sang about it, danced, and played games as a part of harvest time. Our community structures and content has changed but the urge and need to gather for the harvest is still there.

With the interest to buy local, the success of the green movement, and the increase in farmers’ markets that you mention in your book, in one hundred years how do you think history will view this time period in terms of apple growing in New York?

Food and good fresh food will always be central to us.  Now and I fear more so in the future the poor will not be included and the corporate power will be more in evidence. This won’t be just New York but global. As a society we are socialized to our food in relation to our choices in food, and in changing our perception we can create new relationships with food.

Will you be having any events coming up that those with interest in botanical art and history could attend to meet with you and purchase your book?

 

I’ve listed my events on my website, http://thebigapplesofnewyork.com/ , I will be having events at both the Hyde Park Free Library as well as the FDR Library.

You have an upcoming project you are working on, “Plants of Life (plants are people and people are plants),” can you tell me more about that?

Yes, if we are what we eat we are then plants. Even the meat we eat is from vegetarian animals. At this point I’m seeking a publisher and I’m also working on “The Grapes of New York,” a companion book to the apple book.

-Emily Lombardo

dubois

Handel-Krom Lecture in Hudson River Valley History

On Thursday October 10, 2014, thanks to The Handel-Krom Lecture in Hudson River Valley History, The Hudson River Valley Institute had the outstanding success of coordinating a talk to promote knowledge of and appreciation for the rich history of this unique and important region. Russell Shorto, the speaker for the evening’s lecture, is a senior scholar at the New Netherland Institute in Albany, N.Y. and a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. Shorto is the author of several works, including his most recent, Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City and the bestselling The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America.

Shorto took his audience through an exploration of the Dutch and their influence within the Hudson River Valley. The lecture began with a brief background on the manorial system which had existed and functioned in the majority of Europe during the medieval ages. By doing so, he set up a perfect contrast to the way society functioned in the Netherlands, where the geography had a great deal to do with the innovation fostered in this region. Shorto depicted how the collaborative pooling together among the Dutch people facilitated a new awareness in addition to a unique community empowered through a collective instinct. The Dutch people’s balance of individualism and communalism was what set them aside from all other countries in Europe.

As their society developed, a commercial sphere emerged as a result of their value in the individual and also in the community. Shorto provided specific examples to depict this development such as the first stock market, the herring industry, the elaborate infrastructure, etc. Through the Dutch people’s innovation and emerging awareness of individuality, the values and ideals of liberalism were born. Shorto then discussed how the Netherlands was evidently regarded as a melting pot based on the conceived notion of tolerance. Unlike the rest of Europe where rulers persecuted people because of their faith, the Dutch did not see foreigners as those of a lesser race or peoples. According to Shorto, the Netherlands existed as population of mixed religious and racial people.

With the growth of liberalism and expansion of the commercial sphere, the Dutch ideals and values were transported across the sea to the New World. As the Dutch expanded their territory, Shorto explained how the spirit of innovation and of business was transported to the Dutch colony New Amsterdam. At this point in the lecture, Shorto began his extensive discussion on the New Netherlands. As a default of the Dutch society, New Amsterdam consequently formed as a melting pot that came to be known as Manhattan; it became so massive that the English desired to take over this new and successful land. Shorto concluded that despite the takeover by the English empire, the ideals and values of the Dutch still live on in the Hudson River Valley as well as in the United States in general. By tracing the ideas of sensibility and individuality which are evidently prevalent within our society, Shorto argued that the Dutch values had been crystallized in Amsterdam and transplanted to New Amsterdam, which has remained in New York.

  • Rose Marie Martin

Painters, Writers, and Tourists in the Nineteenth-Century Hudson River Valley; Autumn 2014 Review

The Hudson River Valley Review Autumn 2014 issue

Out now!

31pt1_front_cover

One of the most popular forms of public entertainment in the nineteenth-century United States was to participate in the “landscape experience.” Depending on one’s circumstance, this could mean owning an original Hudson River landscape painting, visiting the Catskill Mountain House, purchasing an engraving or taking a steamboat upriver to the Hudson Highlands, or attending an exhibition at the National Academy in New York. Central to all these experiences were paintings and writings, and the artists and authors who created them. Over the last several years, scholars have been re-examining the intersection of the landscape, nineteenth-century art, the viewing public, and the related growth of scenic tourism to the sites of the painters’ subjects. The essays in this volume are a fresh exploration of that intersection of the social, cultural, and artistic context in which the landscape experience developed and flourished.

This issue is a partial proceeds from the symposium “Revisiting the Hudson” sponsored by the State University of New York at New Paltz Art History Department and the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art. It coincided with an exhibition of works in the permanent collection of the New-York Historical Society. Kerry Dean Carso, associate professor of art history at SUNY New Paltz, organized the symposium with the assistance of Sara Pasti, the Neil C. Trager Director of the Dorsky Museum, and her staff. Dr. Carso then worked together with our Director Thomas S. Wermuth to transform those illustrated talks into the articles published here.

You can preview the issue, read the contributors’ notes, Book Reviews, and New and Noteworthy Books online at: http://www.hudsonrivervalley.org/review/.

The Hudson River Valley Review is available at select booksellers and museum giftshops throughout the region for $15.00 each. Subscriptions are available through the website at: http://www.hudsonrivervalley.org/review/subscribe.html, or by calling 845-575-3052. A one-year subscription (two issues) is $20.00, save even more by subscribing for two years at $35.00.

Articles in the Autumn 2014 issue:

The Geography of the Ideal: The Hudson River and the Hudson River School,

Linda S. Ferber

Pencil and Pen in Defense of Nature: Thomas Cole and the American Landscape,

David P. Schuyler

Ruins on the Hudson and Beyond: The Nineteenth-Century Delight in Decay,

Kerry Dean Carso

Maya on the Hudson: Church’s Cayambe and Cruger’s “Folly”,

Kevin J. Avery

Glories of the Hudson: Frederic Church’s Views from Olana,

Evelyn Trebilcock and Valerie Balint

“‘His Nooks and Hiding Places’: Asher B. Durand’s Retreats in the Hudson Highlands,

Kenneth W. Maddox

Scenes “most impressive and delightful”: Nineteenth-Century Artists in the Shawangunks, Harvey K. Flad

Regional History Forum:

Russel Wright’s Manitoga,

Laila Shawwa

 

 

Fun in the Hudson River Valley

During this autumn season in the Hudson River Valley, we have a number of fun and intriguing events at site throughout the area. One of the first events coming up soon is at the St. James Episcopal Historic Graveyard, located at 4926 Albany Post Road. Visitors will have the spooky chance to meet the ghosts of those buried in the graveyard at this historic church in Hyde Park. Come and listen to hear their accounts of events dating back to the 1700s, how wealth and privilege bought a soldier substitute to fight for him in the Civil War and from one who died in the Battle of Gettysburg. The guided graveyard tours are on October 5, 12, 19 and 26 and November 2. Tours are at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m., and 8:30 p.m. each date. Admission is $15 per adult while children 12 and under are free. For more information please call (845) 229-2820.

Another interesting upcoming event is on Sunday, October 12 from 6 to 9PM at Boscobel. (For those who are unaware of what Boscobel is, it’s a restored Federal-period house that was built in the early 1800s.) Boscobel is inviting everyone, family, friends and loved ones, to gather around for a traditional family bonfire night. Whether you’re in search of a spot to spark a romance, eager to cozy up with friends or even just a chance at some quality time with the kids, head out to Garrison on 1601 Route 9D and jump in on a roaring good time. There will be some seating will be provided; however, feel free to bring your own chair. There is a $12 fee for admission, but children under 10 are free, this fee includes marshmallows and toasting sticks, stargazing with Lisa DiMarzo, and live entertainment such as fireside songs performed by Rick Soedler on acoustic guitar. For more information please call (845) 265-3638.

Additionally at the Boscobel, there will be a Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival production. Get ready to spice up your Halloween and get spooked with The Turn of the Screw, which is a lusciously creepy ghost story by Henry James, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher for two actors. In this play, a young governess journeys to a lonely English manor house to care for two recently orphaned children and begins to see ghosts…or does she? This is sure to be an unforgettable evening of spine-tingling mystery and intrigue. Go ahead and purchase a ticket online at The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s website. 4 evenings at 7pm: Wednesday, October 29 through Saturday, November 1. All performances will take place in the grand entry hall of Boscobel and will be followed with a reception in the Carriage House. For more information please call (845) 265-3638.

Finally, on the Albany Institute of History & Art there will be a lecture and book signing of the novel The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy by Jacopo della Quercia. Join Albany historian and writer Giacomo Calabria (pen name, Jacopo della Quercia) on Sunday, October 5 from 2 to 3:30PM for a lively talk about his recently published historical novel that is part sci-fi, part action adventure, and part comedy fixed in a narrative based on careful research. The result is an eccentric secret history that lines up perfectly with national as well as the city of Albany historical record. Calabria is an educator and history writer whose work has been featured on BBC America, CNN Money, and the Huffington Post. The museum is located at 25 Washington Avenue in Albany. For more information please call (518) 463-4478.

-Rosemarie Martens