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Create the New York Association for State and Local History (NYASLH)

A Map of the History of New York State by Alexander C. Flick & Paul M. Paine (David Rumsey Historical Map Collection)

The time has come to create the New York Association for State and Local History (NYASLH). There is a void, an absence of leadership in the state history community. There is no one to speak on behalf of the community at the statewide level. Many people work quite hard and often for no money on behalf of a beloved local historical organization, to remember a person, to commemorate an event. These people are the unsung heroes of the state history community but their dedication, their devotion, and their commitment are not enough. There is a need for leadership at the state level and none exists.

The name for the proposed organization is a direct borrowing from an existing national organization. This borrowing should not be construed as suggesting that American Association for State and Local History is officially connected to this effort or is working to build support for creating an NYASLH.

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) is a national association that provides leadership and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful to all people.

In 1904, the American Historical Association, itself a fledgling professional body, established the semi-autonomous Conference of State and Local Historical Societies to serve the leaders of those agencies. In 1939, a group of Conference members discussed and then proposed the creation of an independent entity. Its job would be to better coordinate the activities of historical societies and stimulate the writing and teaching of state and local history in North America.

On December 27, 1940, the Conference of State and Local History met and disbanded itself. Then the American Association for State and Local History was born. Its first charter stated that AASLH’s purpose was, simply, “the promotion of effort and activity in the fields of state, provincial, and local history in the United States and Canada.”

Now, the AASLH is providing services and assistance to over 5,500 institutional and individual members, as well as leadership for history and history organizations nationally. It is the only comprehensive national organization dedicated to state and local history.

The functions of the organization are fourfold.

1. Advocacy – AASLH knows it is important for all public officials (local, state, and national) to know about the vital work historical organizations do to educate the general public—the constituents of public officials—about your work and its role in a democratic and civil society, making citizens more thoughtful about the decisions they make and the consequences of those decisions. Advocacy and lobbying are also important leadership services provided by AASLH. AASLH sponsors, advocates, and lobbies on behalf of state and local history at the national level through strategic partnerships with several organizations.
2. Leadership: We create and run high quality continuing education programs for individuals and organizations, including the first-ever national standards program for small and medium history organizations (StEPs).
3. Community: We facilitate networking and discussion both in person at our Annual Meeting and on-site workshops as well as online through our website, Online Conference, and Affinity Groups.

The organization does not have local or state chapters so there is an opportunity for New York to be the first. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We need to make the existing one work for us. NYSHA could have done this job but it didn’t.

In a previous blog, I posted an email I had received from Terry Abrams, the Administrative Coordinator for the Western New York Association of Historical Agencies (WNYAHA), on the subject of the Yorkers and his own experiences with it.

In a second email, Terry described his experiences as an adult and his observations about what New York is not doing compared to other states.

As a member of the Field Services Alliance (FSA), an affinity group of AASLH, I have had the opportunity to work with others doing the same type of work I do. One of the significant differences between NY and other states, is the absence of a local history program in a state historical society

There is a simple explanation for the absence of a local history program in a state historical society – THERE IS NO STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY. There is the Connecticut Historical Society. There is the Massachusetts Historical Society. And yes there is The Rhode Island Historical Society. There is a New York State government museum in Albany. There is the New-York Historical Society in New York City. And there was a New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown with two museums. But the sad reality is that there is no history organization in New York State functioning in a leadership role.

Terry then noted his experiences with state organizations elsewhere.

If you look at Minnesota’s Historical Society, the Ohio History Connection, and the Indiana Historical Society among others, you can see that all of these states, which geographically, are smaller or equivalent to NY, and population-wise are smaller; all are much more active in promoting and serving local history. 

Just one example, the Indiana Historical Society’s Local History Services department has four full-time people for a state that is just over 36,000 square miles, (ranked 38th), and has a population of a little over 6 million (ranked 17th). Compare that with NY, with just over 54,000 square miles (ranked 27th) and a population just under 20 million (ranked 4th). [information gathered from Wikipedia, for what it’s worth.] 

Indiana Historical Society’s Local History Services department is larger than MANY, WNYAHA and GHHN combined. Keep in mind, also that MANY’s mission is to serve all museums, not just historical agencies. 

I had the opportunity to host the spring training meeting of the FSA this year [2017] at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Historic Site. 17 members from across the country came and shared information about what we are doing, and discussed important developments in our field. Erika Sanger came and spoke about the Museum Education Act, and the work MANY has been doing providing information about Common Core to museum educators, and others. We also had a presentation from Dr. Patrick Ravines, director of the Buffalo State Art Conservation Program.

To get a better sense of what Field Service professionals do, click on “core documents.” You can go through and find almost all you need to know about field services. (The information on the listing of field service providers is slightly out of date). I believe this is what is primarily lacking in the history community of NY. 

In this example, Terry points out the obvious fact that New York is one of fifty states. Therefore it becomes possible to benchmark the performance here against other states. It would be good to attend a best practices session or some other session at a national conference devoted to what the states are doing. While New York loves to brag about being the only state to require municipal historians, an unenforced and unfunded law, it is forced to hang its head in shame for the void in leadership of the state history community, especially compared to what used to exist.

An editorial in the Lake George Mirror  highlights what once was.

Lake George residents have a special interest in the former Association, in part because it was founded on Lake George in 1899, met annually at the Fort William Henry Hotel and counted residents like John Boulton Simpson among its first trustees. It also had its first permanent headquarters in Ticonderoga’s Hancock House, built specifically for that purpose by Horace A. Moses in 1926.

Of greater importance, without the New York State Historical Association, there would be little of Fort George or the Lake George Battlefield left today. New York State had begun to acquire the parcels that comprise the parks in the 1890s, but had little idea of what could or should be done with them.

The Historical Association stepped in and assumed responsibility for maintaining the sites.

Under the association’s auspices, the stone bastion was rebuilt and the bronze statues honoring Sir William Johnson and King Hendrick, Isaac Jogues and the Native Americans were installed.

The association assumed responsibility not only for protecting the sites but promoting them, as a 1930 editorial in the Lake George Mirror acknowledged. “An officer of the New York State Historical Association told the Mirror editor a few days ago that something could be done at Fort George Park if the people of this section would only ask for it,” editor Art Knight wrote.

By “something,” the officer and Knight meant a reconstructed fort and a museum to house artifacts similar to that of Fort Ticonderoga’s, which was already attracting 80,000 visitors a year.

The plight of New York state history has been a constant source of anguish. Bruce Dearstyne, formerly of the Office of State Historian, in a post for New York History Blog, wrote about the history of NYSHA and identified its five goals:

1. To promote and encourage original historical research.
2. To disseminate a greater knowledge of the early history of the State by means of lectures, and the publication and distribution of literature on historical subjects.
3. To gather books, manuscripts, pictures and relics relating to the early history of the State, and to establish a museum at Caldwell, Lake George, for their preservation.
4. To suitably mark places of historical interest.
5. To acquire by purchase, gift, device, or otherwise, the title to, or custody and control of, historic spots and places.

He also mentioned one key ingredient to making the organization work – money.

Benefactors are highly desirable and important. Horace Moses, a wealthy owner of paper mills, provided NYSHA’s first headquarters in Ticonderoga. The Clark family, beginning with Steven Clark and continuing to his granddaughter Jane Forbes Clark, provided substantial resources for NYSHA. But this also means that the organization needs to be attuned to their interests and priorities.

Perhaps instead of in Cooperstown, the proposed NYASLH should be headquartered where the action is. The New-York Historical Society is over two centuries old and began as museum of the world (including possessing Egyptian artifacts and I don’t mean from Cairo, New York). The New-York Historical Society also houses the collection of the Gilder Lehrman Institute. And even though Lewis Lehrman was a candidate for governor of New York, the Gilder Lehrman Institute has no particular interest New York State history. Its purview is American history. Manhattan is the center of the universe so its taking a leadership role in the state is not going to happen.

Our capital, of course, is not in New York City. There are many groups located in Albany or nearby advocating on behalf of a state wide constituency. I expect to attend two such advocacy days in March. There is none for history. Perhaps the Albany Institute of History and Art founded in 1791 could fill this void or agree to house a new non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for New York State history. Maybe somewhere else could. Does anyone have any ideas? Does anyone have any money?

NYSHA Responds to Advocacy for Local and State History Post

New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown

In a previous post, I reported on a petition initiated by the New York Academy of History in support of local and state history.  Much of the details of the letter were against recent actions of the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA). That organization has undergone some changes in 2017 as reported in New York History Blog by editor John Warren and columnist/advocate Bruce Dearstyne.

My post also led to a response by Paul S. D’Ambrosio, President & CEO, Fenimore Art Museum & The Farmers’ Museum aka NYSHA. He sent me an email asking if I would publish it. I agreed to do so and he then sent a second draft which is published below.

This is in response to the recent blog post by Peter Feinman entitled “History Professors Protest for State and Local History.” The post was unfortunately misinformed and inaccurate, and it is regrettable that no one from Fenimore Art Museum (the “Museum”), formerly known as the New York State Historical Association, was approached for comment prior to its publication. Accordingly, I write to you now to correct the record and provide an accurate description the Museum’s current and future activities. 

Most crucially, the notions that NYSHA is “defunct” or “ceases to exist,” or that any of its programs are “at risk,” could not be more incorrect. The organization formerly known as NYSHA has simply changed its name (formally adopting the name that it has legally used as a “d/b/a” for many years), while continuing to carry on a wide range of activities promoting an appreciation of art, history, and culture. The Museum thus has been, and remains, a private, non-profit organization chartered under the New York State Education Law and recognized by the IRS as exempt from taxation under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). Indeed, the Museum’s status as such was re-affirmed by the IRS on October 17, 2017 in response to a submission including the Museum’s amended charter.  

The charter amendments were driven by the Museum’s desire to reflect the broad range of its long-standing activities, to avoid the misconception that it was a state agency, and to correct the ongoing confusion with the New-York Historical Society in Manhattan. The Museum also desired to address the fact that its collections have never been limited to New York State and, in fact, our important art collections, including our American Folk Art and American Indian Art, have been national in scope for decades. The charter amendments thus allow the Museum to present an institutional identity to the public that fully reflects its collections and the experience it offers.

Most important to the concerns in Mr. Feinman’s blog post is what the charter amendments did not change – the scope or quality of our educational programming. We still host more than 7,000 school children each year in organized tours on a range of historical and artistic topics.  We continue to operate our Research Library, a vital resource for the region with more than 100,000 volumes and a large collection of unique original manuscripts. The Library continues to be staffed by professional librarians as it has been for many years. We continue to serve New York as the statewide coordinator of National History Day, a competitive program that reaches more than 10,000 students throughout the state. We maintain a close partnership with The Farmers’ Museum, a living history museum dedicated to promoting an understanding of the rural and agricultural history of New York. We share most of our professional staff with this prominent history museum. Please know as well that we are committed to ensuring the continued publication of the journal New York History, and that its future is not in jeopardy. Finally, of course, we bring world-class art exhibitions to New York State every year, including artists such as Andrew Wyeth, Ansel Adams, and (upcoming in 2018) Thomas Cole.

In short, our museum campus continues to thrive as Fenimore Art Museum, and we maintain the same reverence for our state’s rich past as we always have. We are firmly committed to providing cultural enrichment and a better quality of life for New Yorkers, and critical educational opportunities for the youth of the state.

I would be happy to answer any questions anyone may have about Fenimore Art Museum and its range of activities. Please feel free to contact me directly at or call me at 607-547-1413 if would like to discuss this matter further. Thank you for your attention and interest.


Paul S. D’Ambrosio
President & CEO
Fenimore Art Museum & The Farmers’ Museum

His response reflects the dual nature of the Cooperstown organization. On the one hand, there is a museum, actually two museums. I have been to both museums as part of Teacherhostels/Historyhostels and attending conferences. Those conferences have been both a local one for social studies teachers (which I believe have been discontinued or at least I stopped getting notices about them) and state ones such as for the New York State History Conference which NYSHA helped run.  The museum part of the operation of the organization is not defunct. It continues to function as a museum and my post was not directed towards this aspect of its identity.

The second part refers to its statewide identity and function. In previous posts I have written about the need for the history community to organiza and advocate. I confess when I wrote these various posts, the name that came to me as the perfect vehicle to express what I wanted was the New York State Historical Association. Here is where I have a problem with NYSHA. It is partially addressed in the letter from Ken Jackson that initiated this sequence and not really addressed in the respose by Paul D’Ambrosio. The true issue is not the functioning of the museum but the absence of any leadership position as a statewide advocacy group for history.

At the end of my post, I suggested the following actions be taken:

Let’s pick three days to advocate on behalf of state and local history during the 2018 legislative session:

1. a day when the legislature is not in session and advocacy can be done locally (such as a Friday)
2. a day when the legislature is in session (such as a Tuesday or Wednesday)
3. a day when the Regents is in session (monthly meetings).

We need to become a squeaky wheel.

Notice what Paul D’Ambrosio’s response in his post was to my suggestions  – there is none whatsoever. In my email to him, I even asked what he thought of my suggestions. In other words, I gave him the opportunity to revise his own response to include an endorsement or recommendations of his own on behalf of state advocacy for history. His email response to me is private but clearly his published response does not address the deeper concerns I raised. One should note that he once was a member of the Regents  Advisory Council on Museums reported on in post dated November 9, 2017 so he has been involved at the state level. What lessons can he share from that experience as part of an advisory council that nobody outside a small circle even knows exists?

Over the past few years, I have participated in advocacy days for tourism and state parks. Both of these days are organized by private organizations with full-time staff  who have the mission of having a statewide perspective. They are not trapped in the day-to-day necessities of running a museum, park, or hotel. Their job is to monitor the events in the state capital as they relate to their respective sectors and to be on top of developments. Obviously teachers and libraries also pack a wallop along with numerous other sectors like preservation.

History and museums have no such state voice. Yes, MANY exists and with a lobbyist but it is a small staff and I am not sure it has the resources to create a Musem Advocacy Day (MAD) in New York. MANY is not a purely history organization either since its mandate includes art museums, science museums, zoos, and acquariums. And the 600-pound history gorillas in New York City tend to do their own thing without consideration for a state leadership role. There are more fulltime people at the New-York Historical Society building than in just about any individual county in the state. It operates in a separate world from the history museums and societies in the towns and villages throughout the state …. or even their equivalent organizations in the neighborhoods of the city.

NYSHA should be the history organization that galvanizes the history community. It isn’t and it is not going to be. So what do we do instead? Perhaps being squeaky as I suggested in the earlier post isn’t enough. We need to get MAD!

Peter Finch in Network

And just as was about to post this blog to the IHARE website, look what I received.

November 29, 2017

Dear Friends, Members, and Supporters,

I’m pleased to share the news that I have been invited to testify on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at the New York State Assembly’s Standing Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts, and Sports Development’s Annual Budget Oversight Hearing of the 2017-2018 State Budget. The purpose of this hearing will be to review the impact and effectiveness of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) grants awarded throughout the State and arts projects funded by NYSCA.

I would like to include information from as many members of New York State’s museum field as possible in my remarks. This is a link to a survey that will take less than 5 minutes of your time to complete. Please click the link above and submit your answers before Friday, December 1 at 5 PM when the survey will close.

The information gathered will be shared with the Committee next Tuesday and with you later next week. Please feel free to forward this email to colleagues.

Unless you choose otherwise, I will aggregate and reported responses anonymously.

Thank you for sharing your information and helping me to prepare my testimony.

Erika Sanger
Executive Director
Museum Association of New York

History Professors Protest for Local and State History

Who advocates for New York State history? I have frequently bemoaned the absence of a history agenda, an organized history community, and history advocacy day here.  Last year, Ken Jackson, Columbia University and plenary speaker at the kickoff of the Path through History program, ridiculed that very program in his plenary address to the Great Hudson Heritage Network (GHHN).  That plea was followed up by a letter to the Governor through the auspices of the New York Academy of History.  Naturally, there was no response, not even a form letter.

So he tried again this time using the demise of the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA) as the impetus. John Warren, editor of New York History Blog reported the event on April 2, 2017 in  a blog entitled NYSHA Defunct: New York State Historical Association Is No More. Bruce Dearstyne, another long-time advocate for local and state history, wrote about the end of NYSHA for New York History Blog in a piece entitled New York State History in the Post-NYSHA Era. Bruce recounts the history of the now-defunct organization and highlights the need for an organization to do what NYSHA has not been doing for decades. Exactly. We need a state organization to do precisely what the name that organization implies it did.

Into to fray now steps Ken Jackson, a former trustee of that very organization. The letter reproduced below was sent out in October to every state legislator and Regents As you will see, the list of signers is an impressive one. Of course, you already know what the response was.

Dear [State Legislator or Regent],

We write to alert you to a series of actions which will seriously compromise and undermine New York State’s prominent role in our national heritage.  On March 14, 2017, the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA) in Cooperstown, NY, ceased to exist when the State Board of Regents approved a name change from NYSHA to the Fenimore Art Museum (FAM).   No prior notification of this action was ever given to the affected communities, and the name change was but one of dozens of official acts by the Regents on that day.

As professional historians, museum curators, prize-winning scholars, distinguished archivists and librarians, and leaders of historical organizations, all of whom are elected Fellows of the New York Academy of History, we are angered about and oppose this action.  This change, which is the final step in the degrading of NY history in Cooperstown, will damage the Empire State’s rich history and hinder its preservation.  At risk are teacher education programs; History Day, for public school students; the important Library Collection, which holds almost 100,000 volumes and priceless archival materials; the future of New York History, the oldest and only historical journal on our state’s history; the annual New York State Conference on History has ceased to exist; and the standing of New York as preeminent in national history, as it will become virtually the only state in the nation without its own history association.

NYSHA came into existence thanks in large part to a bequest from a private foundation, the Clark Estates. The original charter and the three amended versions (1913, 1926, and 1945, as well as the 2017 one) all specify that New York history is a prime focus. NYSHA was incorporated in 1899 “to promote historical research, to disseminate knowledge of the history of the state by lectures and publication.”  The stealth charter change in March 2017 retained those phrases but shockingly broadened the areas of interest to extend outside New York State. We are surprised that legally this does not violate the organization’s 501(c)3 status.  In addition, public money is annually allocated to NYSHA– now the Fenimore Art Museum– to promote New York history, but the organization is now failing to fulfill this mission at present.  

We ask you as an important public official to contact Paul D’Ambrosio (email to: or phone 607-547-1400) and the Board of Directors (Douglas E. Evelyn, Kathleen Flanagan, Nellie Gipson, Shelley Graham, Robert S. Hanft, Josef E. Jelinek, Erna Morgan McReynolds, Anne G. Older, Jeffrey H. Pressman MD, Thomas O. Putnam, John B. Stetson, Ellen Tillapaugh, Richard Vanison, and Charles B. Kieler) of the newly-named Fenimore Art Museum to urge them to take actions to preserve not simply the name NYSHA, which he insists belongs to FAM, but also the duties and responsibilities of NYSHA. Please urge him to do the following:

1. Continue NYSHA as an organization with real functions;
2. Enable New York History to keep publishing by placing it in the hands of a reliable not-for profit publisher who will invest in it and expand it;
3. Resurrect education programs for public school students;
4. Request that NYSHA strengthen its ties with the State Historian office, the State Museum, the New York Academy of History, and local historians/librarians, to ensure a real and active state network;
5. Continue all other established activities such as the Dixon Ryan Fox Prize.

Thank you.


Kenneth T. Jackson: President, New York Academy of History; President emeritus, New-York Historical Society; former trustee, New York State Historical Association; Jacques Barzun Professor of History, Columbia University; Editorial Board member, New York History.

Paula Baker: Associate Professor of History, Ohio State University;  Editorial Board member, New York History.

Stuart M. Blumin: Professor Emeritus of American History, Cornell University; former Trustee, New York  State Historical Association; Editorial Board member, New York History.

Patricia U. Bonomi: Professor Emerita, New York University;  Fellow  &  Former President of the New York Academy of History; Fellow of the Society of American Historians; Editorial Board member, New York History.

Leslie Fishbein: Associate Professor of American Studies, Rutgers University; Winner, 1976 New York State Historical Association Manuscript Award for “Radical Renaissance: The Ideological Conflicts of the Radicals Associated with The Masses;” Editorial Board member, New York History.

Timothy J. Gilfoyle: Professor and former Chair of History, Loyola University Chicago; Past President, Urban History Association; Associate Editor, Journal of Urban History; Editorial Board member, New York History.

Laurence M. Hauptman: SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History.

Lisa Keller: Professor of History, Purchase College SUNY; Secretary, New York Academy of History; Editorial Board member, New York History.

Dennis Maika: Senior Historian and Education Director, New Netherland Institute.

Robert W. Snyder: Professor, Journalism and American Studies, Rutgers University-Newark; Editorial Board member, New York History.

Timothy J. Shannon:  Professor and Chair of the History Department, Gettysburg College; Editorial Board member, New York History.

Carol Berkin: Presidential Professor of History, Emerita, Baruch College.

Richard Lieberman: Professor of history, Director of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, LaGuardia Community College.

Jeffrey Kroessler: Associate Professor, Lloyd Sealy Library, John Jay College.

Mike Wallace: Distinguished Professor, John Jay College and Graduate Center, CUNY;  Founder, Gotham Center for New York City History;  Pulitzer Prize Winner.

David Schuyler: Arthur & Katherine Shadek Professor of the Humanities and American Studies, Franklin & Marshall College.

Philip Ranlet: Adjunct Associate Professor of History,  Hunter College, CUNY.

T.J. Stiles: National Book Award Recipient; Pulitzer Prizes Recipient, for Biography and for History;Guggenheim Fellow.

Edward T. O’Donnell: Professor of History, Holy Cross College.

Clifton Hood: Professor of History, Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Owen Gutfreund: Associate Professor, City University of New York; Fellow, New York Academic of History; former Chair, New York Council for the Humanities (Humanities New York).

Nan Rothschild: Barnard College, Columbia University.

Jean Ashton: Executive  Vice-President and Library Director, Emerita, The New-York Historical Society; Chairman of the Board, Humanities New York (formerly The New York Council for the Humanities).

Charles Gehring: Director, New Netherland Research Center.

Field Horne: Author and Independent Historian.

Peter Galie: Professor Emeritus, Canisius College, Buffalo, NY.

Judith Wellman: Professor Emerita, State University of New York at Oswego.

Daniel Czitrom: Professor of History, Mount Holyoke College.

Jon Butler: Howard R. Lamar Professor Emeritus, Yale University; Past President, Organization of American Historians.

Leslie M. Harris: Professor of History, Northwestern University.

John Kasson: Professor Emeritus of History and American Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Edward Countryman: University Distinguished Professor of History, Southern Methodist University; Recipient, Bancroft Prize.

Kathryn Kish Sklar: Distinguished Professor Emerita, State University of New York, Binghamton.

Jeffrey S. Gurock: Klaperman Professor of American Jewish History, Yeshiva University.

Carol Kammen: Senior Lecturer, retired, Cornell University Department of History, New York State Public Historian of 2004, and Tompkins County Historian.

Simon Middleton: Associate Professor of History, William and Mary; Editorial Board Member, Cultural and Social History and Early American History Series, Brill; Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Philip Terrie: Emeritus Professor, American Culture Studies and Environmental Studies Bowling Green State University.

Elizabeth Blackmar: Professor of History, Columbia University.

Tyler Anbinder: Professor of History, George Washington University.

David Nasaw: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History, CUNY Graduate Center; President, Society of American Historians.

Steve Zeitlin: Executive Director, City Lore.

Deborah Dash Moore: Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History and Judaic Studies, University of Michigan.

Thomas A. Chambers: Professor of History, Niagara University; President, Niagara Falls National Heritage Area.

Ivan D. Steen: Associate Professor of History Emeritus, University at Albany, SUNY; Co-Director, Center for Applied Historical Research.

Jerald Podair: Professor of History and Robert S. French Professor of American Studies, Lawrence University.

Vincent J. Cannato: Associate Professor of History, University of Massachusetts, Boston.

John Winthrop Aldrich: Retired New York State Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation.

Daniel K. Richter: Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History, University of Pennsylvania.

Tom Bender: University Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History Emeritus, New York University.

Ellen M. Snyder-Grenier: REW & Co., Research, Exhibitions, Writing.

Carol Willis: Director, Skyscraper Museum.

Barnet Schecter: Independent Historian.

Graham Russell Gao Hodges: George Dorland Langdon, Jr. Professor of History and Africana Studies, Colgate University.

Pamela Greene: Weeksville Society.

David Rosner: Ronald H. Lauterstein Professor of Sociomedical Sciences and History, Columbia University.

Natalie Naylor: Professor Emerita, Hofstra University.

David Reimers: Emeritus, New York University.

Myra Young Armstead: Lyford Paterson Edwards and Helen Gray Edwards Professor of Historical Studies, Vice President of Academic Inclusive Excellence, Bard College.

Jonathan Soffer: Professor of History and Chair, Department of Technology, Culture & Society, NYU Tandon School of Engineering; Associated Faculty, NYU Dept. of History.

Robert A. Orsi: Professor of History, Northwestern University.

Susan Ingalls Lewis: Associate Professor of History, SUNY New Paltz.

Ruth Piwonka: Independent historian, Kinderhook NY.

Firth Haring Fabend: Independent historian.

David Hammack: Hiram C. Haydn Professor of History, Case Western Reserve University.

Richard Plunz: Professor of Architecture, Director Urban Design Program, Columbia University.

Eric Homberger: Professor Emeritus of American history, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

David Stradling: Associate Dean for Humanities , Zane L. Miller Professor of History, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Cincinnati.

Jameson Doig: Professor Emeritus, Princeton University.

Lynne Sagalyn: Earle W. Kazis and Benjamin Schore Professor Emerita of Real Estate, Columbia Business School.

John L. Brooke: Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor of History, Dept. of History, Ohio State University.

Max Page: Professor of Architecture and History &  Director of Historic Preservation Initiatives, University of Massachusetts.

Marci Reaven: Independent Historian.

Seth Kamil: Public Historian; President, Big Onion Walking Tours.

Dean R. Snow: Professor of Anthropology, Penn State University.

Virginia Sanchez Korrol: Professor Emerita, Brooklyn College, CUNY.

Faye Dudden: Professor of History, Colgate University.

William Graebner: Professor Emeritus, State University of New York, Fredonia.

Sara Johns Griffen: President Emerita, The Olana Partnership; board member and former  Chair, Hudson Valley Greenway Conservancy.

Lara Vapnek: Professor of History, St. John’s University.

Evan Haefeli: Associate Professor of History, Texas A & M University.

Richard Greenwald: Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University.

Miriam Cohen: Professor of History, Vassar College

Joseph J. Salvo: Director, Population Division, New York City Department of City Planning.

Michael Frisch: Professor of American Studies and History/ Senior Research Scholar, Emeritus, Univ. at Buffalo, SUNY; Talking Pictures, LLC / The Randforce Associates, LLC.

Charles Sachs: Independent Scholar; retired, Senior Curator, New York Transit Museum.

Michael Leroy Oberg: Professor of History, Geneseo, SUNY.

David William Voorhees: Jacob Leisler Institute.

Thomas Kessner: Professor of History, CUNY Graduate School.

Amy Godine: Independent Scholar, Saratoga Springs.

Jaap Jacobs: Professor of History, University of St Andrews.

Andrew S. Dolkart: Professor of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, Columbia University.

Stefan Bielinski: Senior Historian emeritus, the New York State Education Department.

Lillian S. Williams: Associate Professor, Transnational Studies Department, University at Buffalo, SUNY.

George Chauncey: Professor of History, Columbia University.

Charlotte Brooks: Baruch College, CUNY.

Nicholas Westbrook: Director Emeritus, Fort Ticonderoga.

Joseph S. Tiedemann: Professor of History, Loyola Marymount University.

Tom Lewis: Professor Emeritus, Skidmore College.

Annie Polland: Independent Historian.

Celedonia Jones: Former Manhattan Borough Historian.

While the petition focuses on the NYSHA, it opens the door to all the history issues which have been raised in the blogs here. The signers include not just college professors but representatives from historical organizations, municipal historians, and former state government employees. In other words, the state government thumbed its nose at a fairly distinctive and broad-based list.

Unfortunately the story gets even worse. I recently received a notice from the Museum Association of New York (MANY) promoting the annual February excursion to the nation’s capital on behalf of Advocacy Day for humanities. Generally, New York has a big contingent for a series of meetings with administrative and legislative officials. The irony, of course, is the absence of such a meeting in the state. How come we can marshal people to go to the nation’s capital to advocate but not to the state capital?  Perhaps that is part of the reason why the Regents, Legislators, and Governor don’t give the history community the time of day. We haven’t learned how to ask for it. So instead of just sending a letter, let’s pick three days to advocate on behalf of state and local history during the 2018 legislative session:

1. a day when the legislature is not in session and advocacy can be done locally (such as a Friday)

2. a day when the legislature is in session (such as a Tuesday or Wednesday)

3. a day when the Regents is in session (monthly meetings).

We need to become a squeaky wheel.