Image Source: Google
The New York State Library presents its latest exhibit from Manuscripts and Special Collections in the glass cases on the 7th floor: Music for the Season. The exhibit highlights the musical collection from the 1800’s – 1900’s, including works by such talented artists as Albany-born composer George William Warren and American folk singer, songwriter, and musician, Jean Ritchie.
George William Warren was born August 17, 1828 in Albany, New York. He was born into a family that settled early in the Northeast. Incidentally, his most notable ancestor was Richard Warren, one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact in 1620. Warren began playing music recreationally, but never studied it in school. In fact, he spent much of his time in business as a young adult. Eventually, however, Warren began playing the organ regularly for St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Albany and from that time forward, he left behind his life in business to pursue a profession in music. In the first glass case, Warren’s musical career is told through visuals of pictures and sheet music.
The second glass case showcaes holiday music from American folk music icon Jean Ritchie through prints, posters sheet music, and even a three-stringed Applachian dulcimer, the instrument that she made famous. Jean Ritchie was the youngest daughter of 14 children, born in Viper, Kentucky on December 8, 1922. Ritchie showed musical talents from an early age, performing at dances and county fairs, even winning first place in music contests. In college, she learned how to play the piano, but pursued her studies in social work. After graduating in 1946, she moved to New York City to work at the not-for-profit Henry Street Settlement. In New York, Ritchie’s singing and dulcimer-playing, soon attracted the notice of folk music fans—and she quickly became a well known presence in the booming urban folk music revival where she was introduced to the talents of other musicians including the Oscar Band, Leadbelly, and Pete Seeger. Eventually, Ritchie would be known as the “Mother of Folk,” performing at coffeehouses and music festivals, and appearing regularly on television and radio. Throughout her 50-year international performing and recording career, she lived in the town of Port Washington on Long Island. Her life and music are documented in the Jean Ritchie Collection, acquired by the State Library in 2011.
The last glass case exhibits sheet music performed by various artists singing popular Christmas classics, such as Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, White Christmas, the Chipmunk Song, and much more. Although, Christmas is now over and we’re all about to embark upon a new year, you can still check out this exhibit online or by visiting the State Library to learn more about these collections.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Nicholas of Myra was born during the 3rd century A.D. in Patara, Lycia, an ancient city that is now part of present-day Damre, Turkey. At a young age, Nicholas became an orphan when his parents died of an epidemic. Soon, he moved in with his uncle, Nicholas, a bishop living in Patara, who raised him and taught him how to read. During his youth, he became very religious in such a way that he engaged in a rigorous observance of fasting twice a week. Eventually, he was ordained a priest. Nicholas was a very generous man, after inheriting his parents’ wealth, he was known for giving much of it to the sick and poor.
There are many stories surrounding the legend of Saint Nicholas. The most famous story by far tells how Nicholas had saved a poor man from having to sell his three daughters into prostitution because he was too poor to pay their dowries. There are four different endings associated with this story. One account tells how Nicholas secretly slipped a bag of gold into the man’s house one night. Another account tells how he slipped a bag of money into his house for three nights in a row. The third account tells how he had repeated this kind gesture of giving, nightly, for three years in a row. The final account tells how one night Nicholas dropped the bag of gold into the chimney where it happened to land into one of the daughters’ stockings which was hanging and drying over the fireplace. All the while, the poor man was always in wait to meet his generous donor. Other stories associated with his legend tell how Nicholas had saved three innocent men from imprisonment and death while other stories credit him for helping children and sailors.
Indeed, many different accounts tell the story of Saint Nicholas’s giving nature, but it was the Dutch customs that turned this historical man into the iconic Sinter Klaus of Christian folklore today.
During the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation caused the formation of many Christian factions. These new Protestant groups stopped the practice of worshipping saints in many parts of Europe, but Holland continued to honor Saint Nicholas. As December 6th was the feast day of Saint Nicholas, the Dutch prepared to celebrate this day through a common cultural practice. Dutch children would place their shoes outside on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, only to find presents left in them the next morning. When many of the Dutch began to emigrate to the United States, the children continued to practice this tradition in the New World, which effectively influenced American culture in the 1700’s and on.
Eventually, Saint Nicholas became better known as Santa Claus for his gift-giving and generous ways. The current representation of Santa Claus originated from a 19th century poem about a jolly old man who goes down chimneys to leave presents and rides a sleigh with reindeer and a drawing of a heavy-set man dressed in a red suit and hat.
You can learn more about Saint Nicholas by visiting the New York State Library and looking into these titles:
-Stories of Saint Nicholas.
Paulding, James Kirke. 1995.
-Saint Nicholas of Myra, Bari, and Manhattan: biography of a lengend.
Jones, Charles Williams. 1978.
-A visit from Saint Nicholas.
Moore, Clement Clarke. 1971.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
When people think of November, they may think of fall days, Thanksgiving Day, even Black Friday, but November is also American Indian Heritage Month. Originally, proponents for recognizing an American Indian holiday had advocated for an American Indian Day from the early 1900’s until the end of the last century.
Dr. Arthur Caswell Parker, of Seneca and Scot-English descent, was a notable authority figure in American Indian affairs and a founder of the National Congress of American Indians. What’s more, Dr. Parker worked full-time at the New York State Museum as their first anthropologist. Dr. Parker had proposed that the Boy Scouts of America observe a day to honor and commemorate the “First Americans.” Subsequently, they celebrated a First Americans Day for three years, but the tradition didn’t last beyond that time.
In 1914, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, traveled across the country in pursuit of obtaining the support of each state for an American Indian Day. In the following year, the Congress of the American Indian Association gathered for their annual meeting in Lawrence, Kans., to discuss among many things, enacting a national holiday for American Indians. In September, Reverend Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe Indian and president of the association, issued a proclamation to declare the second Saturday in the month of May as American Indian Day. Three months later, Red Fox James’ tireless determination would assist the association’s efforts to enact a national holiday for American Indians by presenting the endorsement of 24 states to the White House. Nevertheless, a national holiday did not go into effect.
Eventually, individual states began observing an American Indian Day as a national holiday had yet to be proclaimed. For example, New York was the first state to celebrate such a day which took place on the second Saturday of May in 1916. Soon, more states would follow by example and celebrate an American Indian Day on Columbus Day. Unfortunately, this day never gained legal recognition to validate its standing.
In 1990, George H. W. Bush proclaimed November as “National American Indian Heritage Month” and there have been many variants of the title. From that time forward, American Indians not only received a day, but an entire month to honor and celebrate the rich culture and history they have contributed to the United States of America.
For more information on American Indian history and culture, visit the New York State Library and borrow a book today!
-The forced removal of American Indians from the northeast : a history of territorial cessions and relocations, 1620-1854
Miller, David. 2011.
-All Indians do not live in teepees (or casinos)
Robbins, Catherine. 2011.
-Atlas of the North American Indian, 3rd ed.
Waldman, Carl. 2009.
The texture of contact : European and Indian settler communities on the frontiers of Iroquoia, 1667-1783
Preston, David L. (David Lee). 2009.
Depiction of the First Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock. (Image Source: NYS Education Dept. The Digital Collections from the NYS Library, NYS Archives, and NYS Museum)
The United States celebrates Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November each year. Family and friends come together to make and eat one of the biggest meals of the year. The holiday’s favorite dishes fill the table with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, cranberries, corn, and much more. But why do we celebrate Thanksgiving in the first place?
It has been tradition in many Native North American cultures to hold ceremonies and celebrations to thank the Creator for successful harvests and for the hope of more good fortunes to come. Likewise, many European cultures have celebrated plentiful yields with feasts and recreation since ancient times. In 1621, fifty-three Pilgrims and ninety Wampanoag Native Americans, two very different cultures with one very similar tradition, came together to celebrate the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock after a successful harvest in the New World.
But was it the first Thanksgiving?
Evidence from historical documents has shown that Plymouth Rock may not have been the actual first occurrence of Thanksgiving. In fact, Maine, Virginia, Texas, and Florida each claim their state as the actual place and occasion of the first Thanksgiving with events occurring long before the Pilgrims landed in the New World. These accounts reveal that early Spanish explorers and English colonists were holding ceremonial feasts in celebration and in thanks-givingafter yields of successful harvests for many years prior to the famous account at Plymouth Rock. For example, the Spaniards in Florida were celebrating this joyous occasion with the Timacua Indians as early as September 1565!
While evidence reveals that these accounts certainly took place, they have been virtually unknown until the last century. Over time, the Thanksgiving holiday that Americans came to know and celebrate, before and since President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it as a national holiday, is the event that occurred at Plymouth Rock in 1621 with the Pilgrims and Native Americans.
As it turns out, the origins of the national holiday of Thanksgiving which we learn about in elementary school and celebrate every fourth Thursday of November is based on a mythical first event that actually happened long after many first events had already occurred in the New World. Despite the fact that these accounts were isolated and, subsequently, forgotten over time, doesn’t mean that they are any less important to the history of Thanksgiving Day. On the contrary, integrating these lost accounts into the history of the holiday may only further enrich the legend, the symbol, and the tradition of Thanksgiving Day — every fact and fiction.
Want to learn more about Thanksgiving history? Visit the New York State Library to access these resources and more. Here’s a peak into the collections for this topic:
-Happy Thanksgiving. By Bob Falk. 1991.
-A great and godly adventure: the Pilgrims & the myths about the first Thanksgiving. By Godfrey Hodgson. 2006.
-The Thanksgiving ceremony: new traditions for America’s family feast. By Edward Bleier. 2003.
In the north, Union supporters contributed to the war effort by establishing the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) which administered medical aid to Union soldiers. Among other means, the USSC raised funds by holding “sanitary fairs.” These fairs generated nearly $4.5 million in total for the organization through various events and entertainment.
In New York State, the city of Albany held a sanitary fair, called the Army Relief Bazaar, at Academy Park in early 1864, A poster advertising the fair read “for the benefit of the sick and wounded soldiers.” The bazaar was a success; people from all over the area came to join in the festivities. In fact, the bazaar ended up lasting a week longer than was originally planned due to its high popularity. The Albany Army Relief Association (ARA), a group of well-connected Albany society women arranged the bazaar, which featured patriotic displays, concessions, and events such as auctions and raffles of goods donated by local residents, businesses, and organizations. The recording secretary of the ARA was Emily Weed Barnes, daughter of political power broker and journalist, Thurlow Weed and wife of Albany Republican activist William Barnes.
William Barnes headed a special committee formed to oversee the most important prize to be raffled at the bazaar, a preliminary draft of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation inLincoln’s own hand. The committee’s members, personally recruited by Barnes, included many important public figures, among them the wealthy abolitionist and philanthropist, Gerrit Smith. He purchased 1,000 lottery tickets for $1,000 evidently intending to win the raffle at all costs. The raffle for the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was the crowning event on the closing day of the bazaar, and, not surprisingly, Smith won.
After Gerrit Smith had won the bazaar’s most desired prize, Barnes suggested he give the document to the New York State Library. President Lincoln had donated the document to the Albany Army Relief Bazaar, and to Barnes, the State Library in Albany was the document’s rightful place.
Smith would not be so easily swayed by this suggestion. He wanted to sell the document to the highest bidder, to raise more money for the Union cause. Over Barnes’ objections, he considered offering it to the Metropolitan Fair in New York City, and even entertained foreign offers. In the meantime, he left the document in Barnes’ Albany office, but made clear that his ultimate intention was to give it to the USSC to dispose of as they saw fit.
Barnes meanwhile attempted to push the New York State Legislature to purchase the document from Smith at his asking price, but without success. Finally, in 1865, after President Lincoln’s funeral train stopped in Albany, the legislature voted to pay the USSC $1000 for the purchase of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Soon, thereafter, the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was deposited in the New York State Library, where it remains today.
(The information in this blog is based on “With the President’s Permission…” How New York Acquired the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, by Paul Mercer, Senior Librarian, New York State Library, 2010.)
For more information on how the NYSL acquired the preliminary EP, please visit: http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/ep/acquisition.htm
For more information on the traveling exhibition of the EP, please visit:
Image Source: Loretta Ebert
National Friends of the Library Week is upon us and it’s happening this week, October 21-27! What is it, you ask? It’s that time of the year to celebrate the kind and generous services provided by people who volunteer their time to support libraries across America: the Friends.
The Board of the Friends of the New York State Library celebrated the non-profit organization’s 18th anniversary on October 9, 2012, with special guests State Librarian, Bernard Margolis, Research Library Director, Loretta Ebert and RPI Adjunct Professor, Chris Lindsay.
In 1993, the Legislature and Governor Mario Cuomo cut the State Library’s acquisitions budget entirely when they announced the new budget for 1993-1994. Alerted by the action, supporters of the State Library banded together and helped get $500,000 restored for the Library’s acquisitions budget that year. Those supporters soon became the first committee of the Friends: retired engineer and author, Morris Moses; retiree of the New York State Library, Helen V. Collard; Pulitzer-prize winning author, William F. Kennedy; and Professor from the University at Albany, Richard V. Halsey. Still, it wasn’t until 1997 that the Friends of the New York State Library adopted their official name. In the following year, the New York State Department of State incorporated this non-profit organization.
The New York State Library opened its doors nearly two centuries ago and in this time it has added some of the most valuable resources to its collections in areas of local history, genealogy, humanities, law, science and technology, health and medicine, and more. In addition to conventional resources, the library offers access to over 1,000 databases and other electronic services, teaches classes on many of these services, holds programs in genealogy and historical events, provides a library devoted to audio and Braille resources for upstate New Yorkers who cannot read conventional print, preserves historical manuscripts and special collections, and so much more. In fact, the latest event highlighting the importance of the State Library is the traveling exhibit of the treasured preliminary draft of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The State Library has maintained this historical document since acquiring it from the State Legislature in 1865.
The State Library has been on a budgetary rollercoaster throughout the years, but with the support of its librarians, staff, and Friends recognizing the richness of its services, resources, and value, advocating for its unyielding growth, and contributing to its cause, the continuity of the New York State Library remains strong.
A special thank you goes out to every member of the Friends of the New York State Library for volunteering your time and efforts to aid the New York State Library in its mission to serve the government and people of New York State.
The first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation before the Cabinet. (Image Source: Library of Congress)
On September 22, 1862, shortly after the Union victory at Antietam, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Antietam had driven the Confederacy out of Maryland and gave the president the political strength to issue the proclamation. The preliminary Proclamation did not immediately put an end to slaverly. Rather, it gave the South a hundred days’ notice to stop the rebellion and return to the Union; otherwise, forfeit their slave labor. In spite of the president’s order, the rebellion waged on.
The final Emancipation Proclamation was signed by the president on New Year’s Day of 1863. The immediate effects were modest, freeing thousands of slaves, including those who were held within Union states. However, millions were still enslaved behind Confederate lines and even exempted Union-occupied areas. The final Proclamation did provide the legal grounds to free those slaves living in Confederate states that were still in active rebellion against the Union.
Former slaves, newly freed by the Emancipation Proclamation were now able to join the Union Army and help the war effort. It is estimated that the Union forces added some 200,000 new soldiers to their ranks.
The Civil War came to an end in April of 1865. Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not free all slaves, it marked the beginning of a significant and necessary change in American history. While some slave-states moved slower to change, including exempted Union-occupied areas, little-by-little slavery was prohibited in these states. Finally, in December of 1865, the abolishment of slavery was achieved by the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
One of the greatest national treasures in the New York State Library’s collections is an orginal, signed, manuscript of Abraham Lincoln’s preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The Library acquired the document in 1865. As the U.S. prepares to observe the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the New York State Library prepares to observe this unforgettable time in history by sending the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation off on a statewide tour. The tour begins on September 21, 2012 in New York City at the Schomburg Center. For more information about the tour, please visit: http://www.oms.nysed.gov/press/PreliminaryEmancipationProclamationExhibit.html.
For more information about the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, please visit: http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/ep/
Image Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Advertising is a method of communicating a specific idea or message (political, religious, educational, commercial – you name it) to the public and/or interested parties to influence the targeted or potentially-targeted readers, listeners, or viewers. Some of the earliest forms of advertising were done on walls, rocks, and papyrus paper, but when the printing press was developed in the 15th century by Johannes Guttenberg, the world of not only literature but advertising had changed. While the common people were finally able to afford books, along with the clergy and the wealthy, businesses were also able to market their trade and products to a greater populace because early print advertisements were found in newspapers.
The first newspaper advertisement in America was featured in the Boston News-Letter in 1704. The advertiser was interested in finding a buyer for their Oyster Bay, Long Island estate. In 1729, the Pennsylvania Gazette was published by Benjamin Franklin featuring a section with advertisement pages. What’s more, Franklin’s magazine called General Magazine was the first American magazine to include advertisements in 1742. By the mid-19th century, the success of print advertising had influenced the first advertisement agency to open in Philadelphia by Volney Palmer. In 1868, Francis Wayland Ayer began N.W. Ayer & Son and revolutionized the industry by implementing the first commission-based system of open contracts with popular clientele, such as Montgomery Ward, Singer Sewing Machines, and more.
The 20th century exploded with new forms of advertising, such as radio and television to name a few. Radio played a major role in advertising by promoting commercial businesses as well as public service announcements. For instance, in 1920, Pittsburg was the first radio station to broadcast the results of the presidential election. The late 1940s and into the 1950s brought commercial advertising to a new level: television. Whereas newspapers and magazines provided visual appeal to its readers and radio provided audio stimuli to its listeners, television brought both aspects to its viewers. But that’s not where it ended, just before the new century, the advent of the Internet helped to further revolutionize the industry in the mid-to-late 1990s, transforming the physical print press into a digital one.
If you’re interested in learning more about early American advertising, visit the New York State Library and check out the 7th floor exhibit, Tide magazine. Tide magazine was the leading trade magazine during the mid-1900s. The exhibit is available until the end of August. Also, browse our catalog to find more resources on advertising in our collections.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
July 20th marked the day for the opening of the 2012 horse racing season in Saratoga Springs! This special and very popular time of the year runs from late July to early September. Originally, the races went on for only four days in the summer, but over time the races were extended from four days to four weeks to five weeks and then to six weeks long. In 2010, the races were held four days over the six-week-meet, by the New York Racing Association (NYRA), lengthening the meet to 40 days from then on forward.
Saratoga’s horse racing track opened on August 3, 1863 when horse owners, John Hunter and William R. Travers, decided to build a track to race their thoroughbred horses. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the English began crossbreeding native mares with Arabian stallions to produce what we now know as the tall, slim, and athletic race horse, the Thoroughbred breed. The race track was originally built on the north side of Union Avenue which is presently home to the Oklahoma Training Track. But, a year later, the race track moved across Union Avenue where it is currently located.
The horse races draw in tens of thousands of visitors each year. In fact, the attendance for the 2012 opening week was well over 75,000 people. The popularity of the Saratoga horse races has grown with good reason: the Saratoga Race Course is the oldest racetrack in the U.S. as it is housed in the oldest venue in the U.S. Not to mention, the top American jockeys and thoroughbreds race at the annual sports event. The remote location of the racetrack, unlike the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and Belmont Park Racetrack in Elmont, has enabled it to bypass major reconstruction to its 19th century design. Moreover, much of Saratoga has retained its historic look, such as the old Victorian houses that align Union Avenue, so in addition to watching the horse races from the creaky stands of the old venue, visitors have the opportunity to admire Upstate New York’s classic beauty.
The New York State Library has many resources on Saratoga’s horse races and various subjects related to historic Saratoga Springs:
-The Press book: Saratoga. New York Racing Association. 1970.
-Scrapbooks, 1828-1938. By Gerald L. Todd.
-Saratoga stories: gangsters, gamblers, & racing legends. By Jon Bartels. 2007.
-Saratoga Springs, New York: a brief history. By Timothy Holmes. 2008.
To find more related titles visit the New York State Library M-F from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. and Saturdays from 9:30 A.M. to 5 P.M.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Summer has certainly arrived and New Yorkers are feeling the heat from all corners of the state to the highest peaks of the Adirondacks. Incidentally, did you know that the highest peak of the Adirondack Mountains is over 5,000 feet tall? In fact, 5,344 feet above sea level stands the great Mount Marcy. In addition, the Adirondacks comprise 46 peaks, called the High Peaks, standing higher than 4,000 feet tall. In geological time, the majestic Adirondacks are relatively young, but the metamorphic rock, of which they are comprised, date to well over a billion years old from the Middle Proterozoic Era.
In 1838, the Adirondack Mountains were named by 19th century geologist, Ebenezer Emmons, when he was assigned to take a geological survey of the northern district of New York State. The name “Adirondack” derived from the Mohawk, meaning “barkeaters,” a term thought to have derogatory intent towards the neighboring Algonquin; historically, accounted for eating the buds and bark from trees during times of food scarcities. Originally, the two Indian nations had claimed the Adirondacks, but never settled on their lands. Still, tensions were apparent as they often fought over the region’s resources, such as the modern-day Lake George/Lake Champlain water route because it was the easiest way through the mountains.
The Adirondacks are rich with historical events dating to the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War. During the French and Indian War in 1757, the English defeated the French, causing them to flee the region. By 1763, the English gained power over eastern North America. In short, the French and Indian War raged from 1754 to 1763, accounting for the largest land battle prior to the Civil War. Two significant events occurred during the Revolutionary War: the fall of Benedict Arnold’s fleet at Lake Champlain and the Battle of Lake George.*Now that you have become a little more familiar with these historical mountains and you’re interested in visiting this summer, mark your calendar:
On September 7-9, Lake Placid brings the Cultural Heritage of the Adirondacks to you with photography, literature, film, and fine art.
*In addition, if you’re interested in learning more, the New York State Library has a plentiful amount of resources on the Adirondacks.
Whether your interest is history, research, hiking, sight-seeing or what have you, the State Library has a little bit of all and more. Here are a few titles to get you started:
- Main routes to Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain Bridge Commission. 1932. Available in D-MAPCASE.
- Wildlife images of the Adirondacks. By Eric Dresser. 2011. Available in C-STACKS.
- Contested terrain: a new history of nature and people in the Adirondacks. 2nd Edition. By Phillip G. Terrie. 2008. Available in R-REF.