This is a calendar of State Library and Friends events. Click on an event for more details. You can switch between calendar views by using the options in the upper right-hand corner of the calendar.



Past Events hosted by the Friends of the New York State Library

 July 2014:

150 Years of Racing in Saratoga

Robert Allan Carter, former law librarian at the New York State Library for thirty years and current historian at the National Museum of Racing, will share stories from his 2013 book 150 Years of Racing in Saratoga: Little-Known Stories and Facts from America’s Most Historic Racing City in preparation for the upcoming Saratoga racing season.

 June 2014:

From Amsterdam to Albany:  An Address by Russell Shorto


Russell Shorto, the 2013 New Netherland Research Center Senior Scholar and author of The Island at the Center of the World and Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, as well as other acclaimed works, will talk about Dutch cultural heritage from Amsterdam and its influence on Albany, New York.

The talk will be followed by a signing of his most recent book Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2013 and described as “an expertly told history of a city of new, shocking freedoms and the tough-minded people that developed them.” Copies of the book will be available for sale.

Russell Shorto’s research with the New Netherland Research center has focused on following several families from New Netherland though early American history and exploring their paths during the American Revolution. He is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and former Director of the John Adams Institute in Amsterdam. Mr. Shorto’s books have won several literary prizes including the New York City Book Award, the Washington Irving Prize, and the New York Public Library Award. In 2009 he received a knighthood from the Dutch government for advancing Dutch-American Relations.




April 2014:

Henry Johnson—Hero of Harlem’s Rattlers:  The Man and the Legend

Harlem RattlersJeffrey T. Sammons, coauthor of the new book Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African American Quest for Equality, discusses the glorious military exploits and bleak post-World War I existence of Albany’s Henry Johnson.







Novelist Julia Glass to read from her new novel, And the Dark Sacred Night

Image Source: SUNY Albany

Julia Glass, National Book award-winning author of Three Junes (2002) , will read from her new novel, And the Dark Sacred Night at the New York State Library. Cosponsored by the New York Writer’s Institute and the Friends of the New York State Library. (Image Source: SUNY – Albany)





January 2014:
Bobsledding:  An Albany Invention

Image Source: NYS Library Manuscripts & Special Collections

Image Source: NYS Library Manuscripts & Special Collections


Sponsored by the Friends of the New York State Library.  Featured speaker:  Christopher Lindsay, Esq. discusses his research at the New York State Library establishing that bobsled races originated in Albany

Want to learn more about bobsled racing in Albany? Read the colorful article on, highlighting the history of this popular winter sport.






October 2013:
Historical Ghost Legends of the New York State Capitol

Capitol Haunting

Stuart W. Lehman, Education Coordinator for the New York State Capitol, visits the New York State Library to give a slide show lecture on the strange incidents rumored to have occurred at one of New York State’s architectural treasures, the Capitol building in Albany.





September 2013:
Steve Reynolds visits the New York State Library to give a talk about Albany architect, Marcus T. Reynolds

Image Source: Stephen Reynolds

Image Source: Stephen Reynolds

Retired attorney Stephen Reynolds discusses the life and work of his great-uncle Marcus T. Reynolds, Albany’s most prominent 19th century architect.  Learn about the Reynolds family and the work of the designer of the State University of New York Central Administration Building (formerly the Delaware & Hudson Railway Co. headquarters), the Albany Academy, the First Trust Company Building, and many other iconic area landmarks.





June 2013:
David Hochfelder visits the New York State Library to discuss his book, The Telegraph in America, 1832-1920 |

Image Source: SUNY Albany

Image Source: SUNY Albany


Historian, electrical engineer, and University at Albany professor David Hochfelder will visit the New York State Library to discuss his well-researched and argument-driven book, The Telegraph in America, 1832-1920. Nineteenth-century America was introduced to a revolutionary mode of communication, the telegraph, which enabled information to travel at speeds comparable to the internet today. In his book, Hochfelder presents a complete history of the telegraph and draws on the thought-provoking relationship between technological innovation and social change. The groundbreaking technology played a major role in assisting the Union war effort during the Civil War and brought speedy information on current news and stock updates in real-time. Join the Friends of the New York State Library to learn how the telegraph has left its mark on technological and social communications in the modern age.




May 2013:
Russell Shorto visits the Cultural Education Center, 222 Madison Avenue in Albany, New York to preview his anticipated book, Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City (2013)

Russell-ShortoBest-selling author of The Island at the Center of the World, Russell Shorto is renowned for popularizing the history of New Netherland. American-born Shorto currently lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, but returns to the U.S. to research a new book on the American Revolution. On May 3, 2013, Shorto will make a special visit to the Cultural Education Center to preview his soon-to-be-published book, Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City. This event is jointly sponsored by the New Netherland Institute, the History Department of SUNY Albany, the New York State Writers Institute, and the Friends of the New York State Library. (Image Source: New York State Wrtiers Institute).



April 2013:
Marguerite Holloway discusses her new book, The Measure of Manhattan (2013) at the Friends of the New York State Library’s Annual Meeting


Marguerite Holloway, author of the new acclaimed book, The Measure of Manhattan will present on the fascinating history of John Randel, Jr., the surveyor who plotted the rectangular grid of modern-day Manhattan. Holloway’s book is the first biography to be published on Randel and provides in-depth and illustrative information on how he transformed the hilly terrain of the island into the geometric metropolis it is today. Join the Friends of the New York State Library and Marguerite Holloway at the Friends annual meeting to learn more. Free and open to the public, this program is made possible with the joint-sponsorships of the Friends of the New York State Library, the New York State Writers Institute, and the New York Council for the Humanities.
(Image Source: SUNY – Albany).


March 2013:
Jo-Ann Graham lectures on Abstract Expressionism and the African American Artist
Jo-Ann Graham

The Friends of the New York State Library will present a lecture by Jo-Ann Graham on “Abstract Expressionism and the African American Artist.”  Free and open to the general public, the event begins at 6:00 p.m. on March 13 at the Huxley Theater of the Cultural Education Center.  This event is made possible through Speakers in the Humanities, a program of the New York Council for the Humanities.  Speakers in the Humanities lectures are made possible with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Professor Graham will correct the common misconception that Black artists’ paintings are limited to representational works and will discuss the powerful and critically acclaimed work of black artists who are abstractionists.  Among those whose work she will cover are first generation artists such as Norman Lewis, second generation artists like Ed Clark, mid-career artists, and emerging artists.

Jo-Ann Graham earned her Ph.D from New York University and taught at the City University of New York. Among many things, she has served with the Cinque Art Gallery, a not-for-profit institution dedicated to promoting opportunities for the African-American artist. Graham gives an inspiring lecture on the role of the African American artist in the past and present world of abstract art.
(Image Source: New York Council for the Humanities).

Christa Parravani talks about her new acclaimed memoir, her (2013)

Image Source: NYS Writers InstituteChrista Parravani grew up in Schenectady, NY with her sister and single mother, under financial strains. Christa and, her identical twin sister, Cara shared hardships and tears as young children, but always had each other for support. In spite of a challenging childhood, the twins earned their way to prestigious colleges. After graduation, they married and became talented artists: Cara a writer and Christa a photographer. Over time, Cara’s internal struggles with her father leaving them as children, abusive father figures who took his place, and a rape that happened later down the road, led her to depression, drug use, and eventually, overdose.

Parravani will give an intimate talk about the life and death of her sister, Cara, and the battle she faced to move beyond the tragedy in her new memoir, her (2013). In the aftermath of her sister’s untimely death,  Parravani  learns about the shocking statistic of an identical twin’s chances of survival after the other twin dies. “Flip a coin,” she writes ”. . . those were my chances of survival.”
(Image Source: SUNY – Albany).

Cosponsored by the New York State Writers Institute (SUNY).

February 2013:
Historian Dominick Lizzi lectures on Governor Martin H. Glynn, the Forgotten Hero

Image Source: New York State Library

Called the “shooting star of the American Progressive movement in the first quarter of the twentieth century,” Valatie’s Martin Henry Glynn (1871-1924) served as U.S. congressman, state comptroller, lieutenant governor, and the state’s first Catholic governor (1913).  He was also editor and publisher of the Albany Times Union and a member of the New York State bar.

Renowned for his oratorical skills, Glynn delivered the keynote address at the 1916 Democratic National Convention, where his famous “He kept us out of war” speech nominated President Woodrow Wilson to a second term.  Glynn was also a skilled diplomat, helping originate negotiations between the Irish freedom fighters and the British government which led to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Beset by chronic pain, Glynn died under tragic circumstances in 1924, which led to his accomplishments being forgotten.  The upcoming centennial of his 1913 gubernatorial inauguration provides a rare opportunity to shine the spotlight on the accomplishments of one of New York State’s outstanding twentieth century statesmen.  Author Dominick Lizzi solved the mystery and has restored Glynn’s role in American society.

Join our award-winning writer, lecturer, educator, and former Valatie Village Historian Dominick C. Lizzi as he reads from and discusses his book Governor Martin H. Glynn, Forgotten Hero.

November 2012:
The New Netherland Research Center: Promoting Scholarship and Knowledge of this 17th century Dutch Colony in North America

Image Source: New York State Library


Dr. Charles Gehring, Director of the New Netherland Research Center, will discuss the Center’s promotion of scholarship and knowledge about the seventeenth century Dutch colony of New Netherland in North America. Dr. Gehring’s lifework has been to transcribe, translate, and publish Dutch colonial documents for over 30 years.  He is recognized as one of the world’s most renowned scholars of this important historical period. Sponsored by the Friends of the New York State Library.





October 2012:
Dr. Mary Walker, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

In 1865, Oswego, New York native, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker was the first woman awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for her contributions as a surgeon during the Civil War. Moreover, she is the only woman in history to receive the award. Shortly after receiving her doctor of medicine degree in 1855 from Syracuse Medical College, Dr. Walker began practicing medicine in Rome, New York. When the war was waging and because the Union Army refused to hire women doctors, she went to Washington to volunteer as a nurse in the Union and then headed to Virginia to provide medical aid for the wounded. She was temporarily appointed surgeon in an Ohio Regiment. Later, she was contracted as acting assistant surgeon with the Ohio 52nd Infantry. By 1865, Dr. Walker was recognized for her war efforts and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. However, in 1917, her name was removed from the honor list due to a reappraisal in the terms of eligibility for the award. Proud physician and advocate for women’s rights, Dr. Mary Walker refused to return the medal and, instead, wore it the rest of her life. Join the Friends of the New York State Library and Oswego Town Historian George DeMass for a lunchtime talk on Congressional Medal of Honor Winner, Dr. Mary Walker.
(Image Source: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC–USZ62-8542).

September 2012:
The Excavations of Fort Orange

Image Source: Len Tantillo


Fort Orange, 1635. Historical and marine artist Len Tantillo’s depiction of the first permanent Dutch settlement in New York State, located in the present-day city of Albany. (Reproduced by permission of the artist).

Fort Orange was a trading center built by the Dutch West India Company in 1624. The fort was located outside of Beverwijck (present-day Albany), to the south and near the riverbank.  In 1647, Petrus Stuyvesant, representing the West India Company as director of New Netherland, began to allow private traders to build houses inside the fort.  Other traders built houses close to and outside the fort, which Stuyvesant considered to be illegal.  Consequently, Stuyvesant established the settlement of Beverwijck as a town at what he considered a satisfactory distance away from the fort.  The fort and all ofNew Netherland were taken by the English in 1664 during peacetime.  The fort was retaken briefly by the Dutch who then returned it to the English, and it was finally abandoned in 1676 by the English.  The English then built a new fort on the State Street hill in Albany.  Join The Friends and Dr. Paul Huey, now retired as archeologist for the New York State Historic Sites system (Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation) who will present a talk on the history of Fort Orange and the excavation in 1970 and 1971 of archeological remains of the fort ahead of the construction of Interstate 787, an event which inspired a revival of interest in the history of Albany in the Dutch period.

July 2012:
Railroads of Rensselaer

Image Source: New York State Library


From the 1840s to today Rensselaer has seen a rich array of locomotives, structures, and notable trains, all helping to establish Rensselaer’s rail prominence and the industry’s importance to and involvement in the community. In this program, sponsored by the Friends of the New York State Library, historian Ernie Mann will talk about the history of railroads in Rensselaer. The lecture will be based on his book Railroads of Rensselaer (Arcadia Publishing, 2009).