Immigration: Melting Pot in American History

Date: October 30, 2010

Location: Adriance Memorial Library
93 Market Street, Poughkeepsie, NY
844 485-3445
Time: 9:00-5:00
Contact Hours: 7.5
Cost: $55 (includes lunch)
Cutoff Date: October 20, 2010
Click here for registration form

Immigration is as American as apple pie and even older than the country. It is part of the story of American history, New York State history, and Hudson Valley history. Join us in experiencing the world’s greatest melting pot. Examine how one community has addressed the issue. Learn how America’s Pastime also is America’s story.

9:00 Welcome and Introductions
9:15 The Immigrant Experience in American History, Peter Feinman, IHARE

The immigrant story is a long one in American history that continues to this very day. This talk will address some of the earlier immigrant experiences and examine how disparate groups became “American” over time. Examples will be provided during the presentation and the audience will be asked to guess which immigrant group is being referred to, when, and by whom. From these vignettes, it will be possible to develop an understanding of the role of the immigrant in American history.

Peter Feinman is the founder of the Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education, an organization to providing education programs to students, teachers, and the general public on topics in American and ancient history. This program is one of series of programs being offered this fall by IHARE.

10:15 The New York State Narrative, Peter Eisenstadt, editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of New York State

There is a long story, four centuries long, of migration into and out of New York State. No state has had as many immigrants, and no state has lost as many residents through migration. This process began early in the colonial period when Europeans moved in and much of the native Indian population left or was forced out. In the immediate post-revolutionary settlement, the state lost as much as a quarter of its population. Thereafter, migrants from New England poured into Central and Western New York, and shortly thereafter, left in large numbers for the Mid West and Far West.

The early 20th century saw new waves of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe, and African Americans from the South. But by the second half of the 20th century, there was a massive migration to the South and West, centered on Florida and California. In the state’s recent history, it is once again defined by contrasting waves of in-migration and out-migration.

Peter Eisenstadt is an expert on the history of New York City and New York State, and was the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of New York State (2005) and managing editor of the Encyclopedia of New York City (1995). He is the author of numerous works on New York State history.

11:15 The Immigrant Experience in Poughkeepsie, Harvey Flad, Vassar College

The history of growth, decline, and revitalization in Poughkeepsie, New York, parallels that of many other small northeastern cities. Main Street to Mainframes tells the story of Poughkeepsie’s transformation over the past three centuries–from an agricultural market town, to a small city with a diversified economy centered on Main Street, to an urban region dependent on the success of one corporation–and how this transformation has affected the lives and landscape of its inhabitants. As it adjusted to major changes in agriculture, transportation, and industry, Poughkeepsie was also shaped by the forces and tensions of immigration and race. The voices of immigrant and migrant newcomers, from the Germans, Irish, and African Americans of the nineteenth century to the Italians, Poles, and Latinos of the twentieth, enliven the narrative and offer personal perspectives on the social and demographic shifts that have taken place over the years. The book also places Poughkeepsie in the context of the mid-Hudson Valley’s other cities–Kingston, Newburgh, and Hudson–as they competed from the colonial period onward. Finally, the book examines recent revitalization efforts based on tourism, culture, and the arts.

More than just a local history, Main Street to Mainframes addresses important issues in urban and regional planning, community development, and sociology. Like a palimpsest, Poughkeepsie shows how past landscapes live on in the present, and how, over time, popular perceptions both shape and reflect urban and rural realities.

Harvey K. Flad is Emeritus Professor of Geography at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. He received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University in 1973. From 1972 to 2004 he taught courses in Geography, American Culture, Environmental Studies, and Urban Studies. Dr. Flad’s scholarship has focused on cultural and historic landscapes, conservation history, and environmental and urban planning in America. He has published numerous articles on 19th century landscape design theory and practice, including the influence of the Hudson River School of Art, the role of Andrew Jackson Downing, and the evolution of Mohonk Mountain House.

His testimony on the aesthetic impact of the proposed Greene County Nuclear Power Plant in 1979 led to its defeat and the development of the requirement for Visual Impact Assessment by New York State’s SEQRA. His work in film, video and photography has included the film Hyde Park (1977), first prize winner at the National Trust for Historic Preservation film festival; an essay on landscape photography available online on the Smithsonian Institution Click! Photography Changes Everything website (2009); and writer and narrator of the 2006 DVD A Digital Tour of Poughkeepsie (to be re-released on-line 2010). Research for the latter led to the best-selling book Main Street to Mainframes: Landscape and Social Change in Poughkeepsie, co-authored with Clyde Griffen (SUNY Press, 2009); both authors received the 2010 award for historical research from the Dutchess County Historical Society.

Flad has been a consultant to numerous museums and art galleries, and done research and lectured internationally, including the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Tourism of the Commonwealth of Dominica, the University of Klaipeda, Lithuania, and the American University of Central Asia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. He is the recipient of a Fulbright award and the Russel Wright Award for environmental preservation.

12:15 Lunch with speakers

1:15 “Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio,” Jackie Robinson, and Hank Greenberg: Ethnic Heroes in Baseball’s Melting Pot, William Simons, SUNY Oneonta

As a means of illuminating America’s racial and ethnic past, this lecture examines and compares an iconic baseball triumvirate: Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, and Hank Greenberg. Prior to the sport’s travails of recent years, baseball long reigned as the undisputed “national pastime.” Then, the microcosm of baseball reflected the main currents of American life and culture. We explore the game’s golden age, when it possessed the power to dramatize the imperfections of the nation’s melting pot. Jackie Robinson’s battle to integrate baseball, for example, symbolized the collective struggle of blacks against racism. Likewise, Italian-American superstar Joe DiMaggio and the Jewish slugger Hank Greenberg possessed profound meaning for their respective ethnic groups. Today, even in its current state, the ascent of Latin and Asian baseball stars provides minority America with symbolic heroes.

William M. Simons, Professor of History at SUNY Oneonta and a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, is a specialist in baseball studies. Simons serves as the Managing Director of the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, an annual conference co-sponsored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He has edited four baseball books, and his articles, essays, and reviews on sports have appeared in numerous books, journals, and newspapers.

2:15 Ellis Island: A Health Perspective – Dorothy Hartman, Ellis Island Institute, Save Ellis Island, Inc.

Dorothy Hartman, V.P. Program and Planning, Save Ellis Island, Inc., will discuss the impact of federal immigration legislation on the immigrant experience during processing on Ellis Island, especially regarding health inspection and the U.S. Public Health Service hospitals built on the island to treat immigrants who arrived ill or infirm. Ten percent of the immigrants who arrived on Ellis island were detained due to medical conditions stipulated in the legislation as excludable, and 250,000 were admitted for treatment.

Save Ellis Island, Inc. is the National Park Service non-profit partner for the restoration and re use of the twenty-nine unrestored buildings on Ellis Island, most of which were the U. S. Public Health Service hospitals that operated there from 1901 to 1951. Ultimately, the buildings will house the Ellis Island Institute, dedicated to civic discourse and scholarship about the on-going immigration narrative in America.

3:15 Expressing the Immigrant Experience: A Panel Board Display – George Lukacs, Poughkeepsie City HistorianGoverning in an Immigrant Community: A Mayor’s Perspective – Nancy Cozean, former Poughkeepsie Mayor

George Lukacs is a subject expert in stoneware and ceramics who has collected, researched, and studied Hudson Valley stoneware for over 25 years. In his book, “Poughkeepsie Potters and the Plague,” he combines his knowledge and skill in identifying significant artifacts, and his dedicated pursuit of history, with a stunning collection of nearly 200 photographs and illustrations. Examining the utilitarian stoneware that was owned by everyday merchants and farmers of the Hudson River Valley, Lukacs’ book begins with a butter pot, which was among the first items created by one of the migrant potters who fled New York City during the yellow fever epidemic of 1795 to 1805. The book goes on to uncover the significance of early stoneware production in Poughkeepsie, making an important contribution toward an understanding of the stoneware tradition of the Hudson Valley.

A resident of Poughkeepsie, Lukacs is a graduate of Marist College with a degree in political science. He has been engaged in the antiques business for more than 20 years and has given lectures on his stoneware research at numerous historical societies and events. A member of the Century Museum Village, Lukacs has also served as Poughkeepsie City Historian since 2007.

Nancy Cozean is the founder of Cozean Communications. As a businesswoman she has more than 35 years experience as an award winning broadcast journalist and public relations professional, specializing in programming, presentations, advocacy and event planning. She formally served as mayor of the City of Poughkeepsie.

Ms. Cozean has created and produced broadcast programs, reported and anchored newscasts in major television market, and currently serves as a media and public relations advisor for private and non-profit organizations. She has also served as regional communications director for tourism and public relations director for a regional health organization.

As a professional broadcaster, Ms. Cozean was a reporter and anchor of major markets, including Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Missouri, and Albany, New York. She also helped launch the area’s first televised tourism program, Hudson Valley Magazine’s GETWAWAY (broadcast in New York, New Jersey and Manhattan). Previously, she was part of a start-up team for the Hudson Valley’s first commercial television station, WTZA-TV (RNN), and also developed and produced weekend programs for Cablevision’s first 24-hour news station in New Jersey, NEWS 12 NEW JERSEY.

Additionally, she served as the Director of Tourism Communications for New York State’s Department of Economic Development Regional Office, where she coordinated and developed tourism projects, as well as marketing and public relations programs for the Hudson Valley as part of the “ I Love New York” program. While at NYSDED, Ms. Cozean headed a joint news conference with several other state agencies as part of the successful 25th anniversary of Woodstock II for New York State.

Ms. Cozean is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where she earned her M.A. and B.J. degrees. She is also a graduate of Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she received a B.A. She has been an adjunct professor at Dutchess Community College, State University of New York-New Paltz and Marist College.

4:15 Immigration Workshop – Peter Feinman

For further information contact IHARE at 914-939-9071 or email us at: